Were you born on the sun?

It’s not just Wednesday workouts  that are tough during the summer.

What’s the weather like out there?

It’s hot, damn hot.

Thursdays at 6 P.M., it’s still almost 100*. The mile “warmup” run (along a busy road with no shade) just to get to the workout meeting place might as well take place in front of a hair dryer. Or an industrial-sized convection oven. Fortunately the workout had some built-in rests so I could cool down a little between reps. We ran at 5K pace around a neighborhood block that was just over a quarter-mile, allowing us to stop for water and iced towels after each loop, then walk/jog a short distance before repeating the lap.

About half of it was shaded, and one guy had turned on a sprinkler. He invited us not only to run through it, but stop for beers too. I only took him up on the sprinkler part.

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I ran six repeats at a pace I was pretty pleased with; with the warmup and cool-down (also a misnomer) out and back from Rogue, I only ended up with 4.5 miles, but I felt like I’d run twice that. And the sting site on my leg had flared back up and was an angry red blotch the size of my hand. Before I went to bed I put some Benadryl gel on it and took an oral Benadryl as well.

Fridays are usually rest days, but I had to get up early to supervise as B checked in online for a Southwest flight–can’t snooze on that one! Since I was up, I did a short pilates core workout. Later that day, I attended the memorial service for a former student who was tragically murdered overseas. I taught him a decade ago, but once they’re my kids, they’re always my kids. On a positive note, I caught up with some of his classmates and was gratified to learn about their now-adult lives–college graduations, impressive career prospects, and other successes. But it was emotionally draining–and it wasn’t easy following that up by dropping my kid off at a friend’s house for a weeklong trip out of state either–so I didn’t get to bed until late Friday night.

Which made my 5:00 A.M. alarm very unpleasant.

But I got up and dragged myself over to Rogue in the dark. I’ve reduced my long-run mileage a bit for the summer, so I was only running eight miles. Two friends who were running ten invited me to join them on the way out. They’re both faster than I am, so I felt bad that I was slowing them down, but it was nice to have the company.

By the halfway point, when I said goodbye to my friends, I was ready to be done–which is never a good sign. There was no breeze, and the humidity made it feel like a tropical swamp. But I slogged along, walking some, and finished most of it before the sun got too high overhead. But still, the last mile was even more unpleasantly warm. And the blotch on my leg had gotten darker, parts of it looking almost bruised. One of my friends, a nurse, urged me to keep an eye on it and if it started hurting or I had any other unusual symptoms to get it checked out.

I won a raffle prize at Rogue, which was exciting. But I was so sapped–emotionally and physically–I didn’t even go out for coffee afterward. I went home and crashed on the couch with a movie. I planned to pick up some dinner at my favorite noodle place, but then a thunderstorm rolled in and I had no desire to leave the house. So I cobbled together a sad dinner and decided to go to bed early.

I started to wonder if I was having some kind of reaction to the topical Bendadryl I’d been using, so I swabbed the whole area with alcohol and left it alone, although I took another oral dose of Benadryl. Then I crashed for the next 12 hours. And when I woke up, I noticed the angry redness had all but disappeared, leaving just a small pinkish spot where the skin felt a little bumpy. Not sure there’s a cause-and-effect here, or if it were clearing up anyway, but either way it looks a whole lot better today.

I slept so late, there was no way to get in even a short recovery run this morning. I think I’ll stick with an indoor core workout today. ‘Cause it’s hot. Damn hot.

 


What kind of indoor (non-treadmill) workouts do you do? I’m a fan of Fitness Blender–I just stream it from my laptop to my TV.

Ever been stung by a bee? Assuming you’re not allergic, how long did it take for the reaction to go away?

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Love-hate

I love summer–I have a long break from school, I don’t have to guess at weather-appropriate clothing, and there’s no worry that I’ll be too cold. But summer running is tough.

I’ve decided that I’m struggling with my evening runs not because of some lingering jet lag, or because I spent two weeks in a cooler climate. No, I think it’s because it’s been a couple of years since I’ve been part of a summer training group that meets at 6:00 P.M., which is practically the hottest part of the day this time of year in Austin.

The past two summers, I focused on strength and cross-training with a weekly early-morning Fit to Run class on Wednesdays. We usually got in a couple of miles afterwards, at 6:30 A.M., and we ran after Monday evening core classes too. Plus our usual Saturday morning mileage beginning at 5:30 A.M.. But my evening runs were on my own, and I usually didn’t start until at least 7:30 or 8:00 at night, after temperatures dropped below 97.

Since last summer, though, I moved from a race-specific training program to a year-round ongoing one. And instead of swapping programs for the summer, I just added the Wednesday F2R class to the mix. Which is why I still find myself meeting up with my training group on Thursday evenings much earlier than I’d normally set out to run.

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Last night, the first mile wasn’t too bad. But it went downhill from there.

Our coach had brought a cooler of iced towels, and after every mile loop I stopped and held ice/ice water to my head and the back of my neck. Each time it took forever for me to cool down enough to go back out again. The middle two miles were supposed to be at half-marathon pace, and I think I missed that by at least a minute per mile. Even though we ran the semi-shady trail around the park rather than on the track, and even though there was something of a breeze, it was brutal. I ran five miles with another mile or so of cool-down walking, but it felt like I’d done double that.

I don’t expect things to get any easier for a while, either. August is typically hotter than July, so all I can really do is suck it up and do the best I can. At least I’m not training for anything specific for a while.

But on the plus side, I can sleep late, then enjoy my recovery on my couch or at lunch with a friend. I love that part of summer!

What’s cooking?

The other day I ran across a tool that calculates how much slower you can expect to run, depending on the heat index. It told me that for four miles in 100*, I should expect to take three minutes longer than if it were 60*.

I don’t know who the hell came up with that algorithm, but I’d wager it was someone whose idea of hot is a little different from mine.

Sunday evening, I ran my 4.25-mile route. I left at 7pm–the sun was dropping, but it was still in the upper 90s. I must have stopped eight times for water. A few of those times I just needed to cool my body temperature a little–which is difficult to do when the breeze is as hot as the surrounding air. It sort of feels like running in front of a hair dryer while standing in an oven.

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I promise it took me a lot longer than three additional minutes to complete that sucker. Hell, I spent more than three minutes standing on the sidewalk in front of the sprinklers in some random person’s yard.

Then Monday night after core class, S and I went out for three miles. By my count, we stopped four times, although by the last stop I was out of water. My legs felt okay and I didn’t have trouble breathing, but I just got so damn hot. S, who’s normally quite stoic and doesn’t stop for much, needed these breaks as much as I did. We even stopped with a half-mile to go, just to be able to run the rest of the way.

Yes, I’ve lived here most of my life, and yes I’m used to being outside when it’s hot. But I heat up fast when I run, and even with warm-climate cred, I struggle in the summer.

So naturally, I’m going to the beach.

Runnin’ with the devil

This is my last full week of summer break, so I’m gonna enjoy a few more days sans alarm clock. That means I get up too late to run, though, so I’ve put it off until it cools down a little.

Central Texas had a mild start to the summer, but the last few weeks, someone’s turned up the temps. And all of those “How to beat the summer heat!” articles in running magazines only state what is brutally obvious to anyone who lives in this region: hydrate often, wear loose clothes, and don’t run in the heat of the day. Maybe this passes for advice in other climates, but in Texas in the summer, we select parking spaces not on proximity to a store’s entrance, but availability of shade. “The heat of the day” pretty much starts with sunrise.

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Yep, still 95* at 9pm.

So for the most part, I’ve been running in the evenings. By 7:30 it’s not really cooler, per se, but at least the sun is low in the sky and not actively baking my skin. I take an electrolyte capsule before I leave, I wear sunscreen and a visor, and I run with water and stop every mile or so. It’s unpleasant, my pace is sluggish, and I end up swimming in sweat. But if I waited for temps below 90*, well, there’s always late September.

My mantra: running with Van Halen in this sauna all summer will pay off in the fall. 

Agua

We got home from the lake early Sunday afternoon. It rained on us the last half of the drive, and overcast skies kept the temperature down. Since I was still annoyed at my failed six-mile Saturday run, I decided a rainy Sunday was as good a time as any to redeem myself. I’ve got a pretty good 10K route from my house, and I hoped since it was relatively cool and cloudy I would be okay just carrying my water bottle.

Except before the halfway point, the sun peeked around the clouds, which turned the rain to steam. My water bottle was empty.

As I approached the high school, I could see a few cars in the parking lot outside the gym. I headed that way, hoping maybe the doors would be open and I could find a water fountain.

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Oasis

Fortunately they were, and I did.

I drank some, sloshed some on my face, drank some more, and filled up my bottle. FYI, the water fountain on the right dispensed much colder water.

I trudged along, stopping every half-mile or so for a few gulps of water. I tried to ration it, knowing I had a couple of miles still ahead of me, but because of the humidity, I just couldn’t cool off much at all. I didn’t want to play Damsel in Distress, but I became more sluggish by the minute–with almost two miles still to go. I texted M, knowing in the back of his truck there was a cooler with a dozen bottles of water, still iced down from the lake trip.

Ten minutes later, he met me at the entrance to our neighborhood. As I stood there guzzling ice-cold water, a light rain began falling. I felt better–cooler, and grateful for the help–and as he drove away, I headed the same direction on foot. This time I completed the 10K that had eluded me the day before.

I think going forward I’ll stick with routes that have water access, though.

Mostly dead

As I laced up my running shoes and left the house barely 24 hours removed from a hardcore (see what I did there?) strength workout, B stuck his head around the door and shouted, “Have fun storming the castle!”

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I’ve trained him well.

Anyway, this morning at 8:00 S and I met up at the YMCA where the Brushy Creek Regional Trail begins. In hindsight, it was a tactical error as we had to navigate a steady stream of parents dropping kids off at YMCA day camp. But eventually we got going. She insisted that running would help loosen up our sore… everything. I suggested “misery” for the word of the day. But since I’m traveling tomorrow and will miss my Saturday long run, we needed to get out there.

The first mile wasn’t too bad. It’s mostly downhill or flat, but on the hillier segments my increasingly-sore quads expressed some concern. The trail was pretty quiet, some clouds obscured the sun periodically, and a good portion of our route was shaded. But ugh, the sunny sections very quickly sapped my energy.

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We reached the sports park and decided to turn around just beyond it at the 2.5 mile marker. On the way back, we swung by the pavilion for a pit stop and water break. I noticed that the grounds crews had the sprinklers turned on (despite the recent flooding that has damaged the same trail we were running) and was glad I’d brought my phone in a ziplock bag.

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I didn’t run through the sprinklers so much as … wander through five or six of them. Slowly. Then I turned around and went through them again. My shoes squished, my clothes were soaked, my hair dripped. But I started to feel kind of human again, especially after the breeze kicked up.

We ran-walked the 2.5 miles back. It was torture slow going, even in the shady spots. My quads were fried and I think my 12-year old can walk faster than I was running. In fact, a small boy on a scooter passed me. Twice.

It would have been nice to have Fezzik carry me, but that wasn’t an option so I finished under my own power. My shoes still squished, my legs felt like lead, I was out of water, and I was just completely sapped.

When I got home, B asked how I was feeling after my run. “Mostly dead,” I replied.

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But since mostly dead is still slightly alive, once I stop sweating I’ll hang out on the couch, drink a lot of water, and start packing for tomorrow’s trip to Virginia and The Great Chesapeake Bay Swim!

Mind games

Yesterday at 6pm it was 90*, but this time next month it will be ten degrees hotter than that. I need to get used to it because it won’t cool down again until October. So I headed out to run the three-mile loop–with a slight adjustment to run where it was a little shady–around my neighborhood.

I applied sunscreen, tucked my frozen water bottle into my flipbelt, and wore sunglasses and a visor. I carried a washcloth so I wouldn’t have to wipe my sunscreen-y face on my shirt when the sweat rolled into my eyes. And I selected the Stuff You Should Know podcast called “How Therapeutic Hypothermia Works,” on the off-chance listening to a discussion about dropping a patient’s body temperature would trick my mind into thinking I wasn’t about to burst into flame.

Yeah, no. None of those things made my run any easier. I stopped for water after half a mile. I stopped again around one mile. I ran-walked a bunch of the second mile. Around 2.25 I forgot how to drink out of a bottle and nearly choked on my water. Half a mile after that (only half a mile? it felt like a trek across the Sahara!) I had to walk again. I finally finished–it took FOREVER–and concluded that my mind game totally didn’t work.

Tricking my brain is not an area in which I excel. The minute I try to tell myself “just run the mile you’re in!” I immediately think about how far I have to go. It’s like telling someone not to think about an elephant.

(Don’t lie, you’re thinking about an elephant now.)

So obviously I need to work on strength-training my brain as much as my body. Is there a Jedi mind trick out there that can help me focus on something other than the heat, the misery, and the distance?

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Podcasts give me something else to think about, but they aren’t always enough of a distraction–even a hypothermia episode couldn’t help yesterday. The Force is not very strong in this one.