The enemy

With every marathon I have trained for, there’s always been at least one disastrous run. I thought I would get off lucky this time around as every run has been great. Most have even been spectacular. Then this weekend happened.

During training for my first marathon in 2004, I remember saying to someone in my training group during the taper that we were “only running 13 miles this week.” That person came back and said, “Isn’t it crazy to consider a half marathon distance a short run? I bet 12 weeks ago you never would have thought you’d hear yourself say that.” He was right and it’s funny how your mindset changes through the course of a training season. I can tell you, just a few weeks ago, 13 miles seemed pretty daunting. But I got up Saturday morning and thought, “I only have to do 13 today.”

That was my first mistake.

I guess since it was “only” 13, in other words, a little more than two hours, as opposed to 20 miles, or three and a half hours, I didn’t feel compelled to get out of bed for an early start. I slept in. Then I got up and watched part of the morning news. Then took the dogs on a leisure walk. Then I finally got around to starting my run sometime around 8:30.

My late start wouldn’t have been a huge deal if it weren’t for the fact that we had our warmest days so far this year over the weekend with temps in the 90s. It didn’t quite reach 90 while I was running, but it was close enough.

I carried water with me and refilled my water bottle twice while on the run. I also took an extra pouch of energy gel, but I just couldn’t break out of slow-mo. After a not spectacular, but ok first couple of miles, my pace slowed down about 20 seconds, and I just kept getting slower as the sun got warmer. I ran in the shade as much as possible, but the heat was still so intense. By the time I hit 11.5 miles, I had nothing left to give.

I slowed down to a walk, intending to walk one minute, catch my breath, and start running again. Once that minute passed, I picked up my knees and feet and started doing something resembling a jogging motion. I think it was that point I heard that screeching sound like a needle on a record. If my body would have had the energy to yell, it would have shouted –very loudly — NOT HAPPENING!!!

At this point the thought of walking the last mile and a half back to my house seemed too strenuous of a chore. Running? Simply not an option. I seriously could have laid down on any given lawn, flat on my back staring up at the sky. The only thing that kept me from doing so was the thought of getting back up.

I was exhausted and light-headed but still so very disappointed at myself for stopping. But I didn’t have enough energy to do anything about it.

As I said earlier, I usually have at least one disaster run each training period. And I know this disaster was a result of the heat. But now I am worried that if the race day weather is anything like it was over the weekend, I’ll be lucky to finish, let alone set a PR.

I know I’ll have an earlier start on race day, but there’s no guarantee extreme temps won’t kick in before I finish. I’m kind of freaking out a little bit.

It’s just hard to believe what an impact the heat has on my performance! Or maybe I’m just a wuss! Or maybe I’m doing something wrong, or don’t know a certain trick. I’ve run in heat before and while I’ve never quit a race because of it ( with the exception of the 2007 Chicago Marathon when the course was closed due to the heat) I know it slows me down considerably. Much, much slower. I’ve never been more focussed on setting a PR and I refuse to let some stupid heat ruin my goal!

Sooo….if heat does, in fact, become an issue in this race, does anyone have suggestions on how to not let it ruin the race for me? Will drinking more gatoraid than water help matters? More energy gels? Something else?


About travelerontherun

I am a chronic adventurer who loves to see and experience new places. What I really love most is experiencing those places after parking my RV and lacing up my running shoes.
This entry was posted in exercise, Fitness, health, Marathon training, Running. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to The enemy

  1. NoodlesinChi says:

    Good luck, sunshine. First, trust your training — even if your last long run screws with your head. And make sure you have a Plan A (A PR), a Plan B (what to do if the temperatures are extreme) and a Plan C: (Finish Standing.) I’ll be thinking of you!

  2. Okay, you know I am not a runner but I do work in an industry that heat effects my workers. The only thing to make it better is conditioning for it. You know it is going to probably be a warm day, so unfortunatly I would say you need to start running indoors with a portable heater in the room. Get the temp up a bit. Or start running with more clothes on? They say after 7 days your body is conditoned for the weather (so after 7 days our guys should not be passing out in the field when it is 100 degrees outside but prior to that we work short hours, more breaks, ect). They say that for every gatorade you drink in heat, you need to drink 2 bottles of water. So I am not sure more gatorade will help. But again I am not a runner, so working in heat may be on a different level than running in it. GOOD LUCK!

    • Well, I will be in Arkansas next week where it is 90 degrees after the sun goes down, so I’m hoping to get a few practice runs in, but since I am so close to race day, I can’t do any heavy mileage.
      That’s so interesting how your guys condition for seven days for the heat! I just can’t imagine having to work outdoors in extreme heat every day. I’ve never been a huge gatoraid drinker while running, so the gatoraid to water ratio is definitely something to look in to!

      • Ooo! Yeah definantly do some running down there! Just spending time outdoors will help get your body used to being in the heat. Some is better than nothing. I will see if I can actually find where the gatorade stuff came from (it could just be a health and safety officer spouting off at the mouth). If I find anything I will post it for you 🙂

        I will be praying for you and your body to get used to some heat or maybe not to have a super hot run day! Have a great Memorial Day!

  3. Slightly overweight fan of cupcakes... says:

    I think the best thing you can do is simply do your best. Lame statement i know but its true. Do not push it too far and listen to your body, do what is right. There’s always another race to get your personal best. It’s better to run, not beat a record and finish than to run for a PR and get hurt or worse. My opinion is always to look at the bigger picture and take everything into account versus the one and immediate goal. When your body says no, you can ignore it once or twice but completely ignoring it will be problematic down the road. Have fun, run your ass off but more importantly be careful.

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