Kids Love Dr. Barton

Running In The Heat

by Dr. Douglas Barton, M.D., Pediatrician 06/28/2009

           This is a little different from my usual post.  It’s all about me and my running habit.
           So...Sunday, long run day! I've finally gotten to the point that I truly love the long run. I disappear from the house for 2 or more hours and run through one of our local parks. Always beautiful. Always new. Always peaceful. Temp is supposed to be 10 degrees cooler today than yesterday (though no one is calling 87 cool). Rained last night some, so the air just feels a little better. I had decided a trail run would be good. Twice around the trails is just about 17 miles, as opposed to 4 laps of the paved roads just to get to 15.2, so twice around the trails it was. The training schedule calls for 16 miles.
           Up at 5:00, banana and coffee and half bagel, the usual long run fare. 6:00, I'm at my usual parking spot, but that's when the park is closed. It's Sunday, I think to myself, let me see if the front gate is open early (they leave the gate open if there are campers in the park). I pull around to the front, and sure enough, the gate is open. This is going to be a good day. Everything is going my way so far. So I park at the trail head. 32 oz water in my belt. 4 Acel Gels in my pockets and off I go. I figure I'll refill on water after the first lap.
           Now, the first quarter mile or so is through field and there is grass on the trail. So far so good. As I get under the trees, I run into my first problem. This is the first time this summer I've been the first one on the trail. I had forgotten how many spider webs there are first thing in the morning. Normally, I just sort of deal with them and pull them off my face every so often, but today seemed particularly bad. The second problem didn't take very long to show itself. I'm sure some of you have seen it already. I misjudged how much rain there was. Out in the field, the water was hidden by the grass. Under the trees, there is no grass, just dirt paths that are no longer dirt. Large puddles of standing water are in the middle of the trail. Where there isn't standing water, there's slick mud. Ok, no problem, I've run this as a mud run before. I can do it. Well after two plus miles of this, my glasses are fogged, my legs and shirt are muddy from one fall even though I've been taking little steps and running slowly. I finally decide to bail on the trails and move to the road. The bad news is that I'm really not sure how far I ran on the trail. Somewhere over two miles.
           So, I get to the road, whew, out of the mud. Something doesn't feel right though. There's no way I was going faster than 10 min/mile on the trails, but I'm tired! I'm normally a 9:00 to 9:10 min/mile long runner. What gives? As I hit about mile 4, I'm beat. I've drunk 16 oz of water in an effort to stave of the heat. But I've run into my final foe, the sun. I normally run while the sun is still asleep, often finishing my runs by 6:00 am. This morning, the sun was in full force. Long stretches of shadeless road left me as wilted as the peas that have stopped growing in my garden. So, more water! I assume that I'm just not used to this and decide to keep going. Besides, I just finished an uphill climb. Now that I'm going downhill, I feel better, right? Wrong! I get to the flats and OMG, I just feel like both legs are made of lead. So now, I'm five miles into it. One gel down. A stop at the drinking fountain and more water goes down. I'm going to keep going. I planned 16 miles, I can't stop at 5. Besides, I'm off that miserable trail. It can only get better, right? NOT!!! Another lap around the park (3.8 miles and one long hill), and I've finished more water and another gel and I've had it! At mile 7, I've decided that by the time I get back to the car, I'm done. Finally, at about mile 9+, I'm back at the car, gulping down water and telling myself that's the worst run I've had in years. Final time, 90 minutes. Lots of walk/run in there. I almost never walk/run. Slowest pace I've set in a very long time.
           Lessons learned? Drink more water. Know my body and limits a little better (I wasn't ready for full sun). Know the environment better (I really didn't expect the trails to be so bad. I also thought 10 degrees cooler this afternoon meant 10 degrees cooler this morning. It wasn't, it was still 70, and with last night's rain, REALLY humid). Who knows the real reason for this morning's bonk. Last week's training? Nutrition yesterday and this morning? Lack of sleep through the week? Heat and humidity? Wore myself out in the mud before I hit the road? Who knows. Lessons learned. I'll be back out Tuesday morning for my recovery run.
           Hope you all you wonderful people have a wonderful weekend. I'm staying inside for the most part!



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