Too Hot for 20

Today I was supposed to run 20 miles. When I looked at the hourly weather report last night, it was to be 81 degrees at 6 a.m. and up to 90+ a heat index of over 100 by 9 a.m. I hoped to be home by then. I left the house at 5:52 and within my first steps I felt dehydrated. By the first half mile my four frozen water bottles were thawing out. And within the first three miles I had decided I would reevaluate my run at a certain point in my route at which I could return home early or stick it out for 20 miles.Sometimes when I run I distract myself by counting specific ‘categories’ of people I see on the trail: bikers, dog walkers, runners and walkers. This morning the trail was mostly empty and by mile 5 I had a few folks in each category but quickly lost count–now, I’m bad at math but to me this was a sign that I might not be able to maintain 20 miles in sweltering heat, thick air and crazy humidity. Around mile 6 on my route was the ranger station on the B&A trail where I hit the head and filled up one already empty water bottle. At this point I had decided I would not be able to hang for 20 miles and that I would use my turnaround point to head home early.

I’m doing the ‘Run Less, Run Faster’ plan which is only 3 days a week of quality work-outs so even the Long Slow Distance run is supposed to be at a manageable fast pace. My pace for today was to be 19 seconds faster than marathon pace which would’ve been 8:31. I was lucky to keep it under 9 minute miles.

Halfway to my turnaround point I wasn’t even sure I’d make it that far. I had taken three ShotBlok chews and gone through another 16 ounces of water. I was evaluating the distance I had left and picturing the training plan on my fridge. The next LSD run was to be 15 miles and at my last chance to cut my 20 miler even shorter, I took it and decided to do the 15 this week and do the 20 next week. My digestion issues promptly kicked in and I wasn’t sure I could even finish 15 unless I found a bathroom. I was at 12.5 miles. (Thank you Einstein Bagels for letting me sneak in!)

I finished the last 2.5 miles sipping the last of my water and shuffling along. I was so hot and so sweaty I wasn’t even sure I had sweat. Have you ever had that feeling? Not to fear, I was indeed drenched.

My average pace for the 15 miles was 8:58 so all in all I’m actually pleased with that given the Maryland heat. Supposedly the heat wave is supposed to break. With seven weeks of marathon training left, I sure hope so as those long runs are critical to the physical and mental preparation!

Summer runners, feel free to share your woes in the comments. Misery loves company!

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