After at least three solid months of training through the summer, you’d think I’d be used to the heat and humidity. Before training for the Chicago Marathon, I was all about running in this weather. I loved track workouts in the summer sun, I enjoyed running hills and trails at Chestnut Ridge, even in the thick of the trees, and I definitely didn’t mind long runs early in the morning even when I left the house when it was 80 degrees at 7am. Running aside, I hate air conditioning and am completely happy to be in my apartment with just a few fans. Call me crazy, but I kind of love extremes.
This past weekend, the heat and humidity hit the east coast in extremes. Originally I was supposed to be working a 3 day carnival so Laura arranged my training to have a shorter long run considering I’d be on my feet for over 30 hours. I ended up not having to work and flipped my long runs around — 20 miler this weekend and 14 next weekend for recovery. Unfortunately, neither 14 nor 20 happened this weekend. Thanks a lot, heat and humidity.
After last weekend’s great 18 miler, I felt surprisingly great. The weather was great that morning, cloudy and not too humid. I felt like summer was ending and the cooler, rewarding temperatures were on their way in. I was wrong. They came back with a vengeance.
Tuesday was hot and I had a great CrossFit workout concentrating almost solely on form with two 800m runs to close out the class. Each run was closer to .61 miles (two laps around the block) but I averaged 6:48/mile. Talk about impressive, to me, especially after that long run on Sunday and the heat didn’t seem to affect me. Heat and humidity – 0, Brittany – 1.
On Wednesday I was volunteering at Habitat for Humanity. I spent the majority of the day in jeans that got tighter as the day went on (thanks, sweat) trimming the deck of four new build homes in my area. I drank water, but certainly not enough, and my hopes of an easy run were demolished when I started to feel dizzy as I was finishing out my afternoon. I thought I could remedy it by drinking a good 60 oz of Nuun over the next few hours and squeeze in an evening run, but I couldn’t shake the queasy, over-exerted feeling I had. Heat and humidity – 1, Brittany – 1.
Thursday was equally hot and humid. I stepped outside at work before going home and was hit with what felt like a thick cloud. I’m used to humidity but that was something else; I could actually see the haze blocking my car in the parking lot. Looking at the forecast, 80 degrees, felt like 88 and 67% humidity, I thought there was no way I could hit anything close to my target paces. I surprised myself by nailing each pace quicker than I was aiming but had gas in the tank. Each lap felt comfortable and my form was more relaxed than ever. The amount of bugs I ran through was incredible, they were everywhere. When I went to shower, I was finding dead bugs in places I never knew they could reach. Overall, I felt like either I was getting faster and back to the place I was two years ago or I was really going to crash and burn from paces that were too fast for me, especially in this humidity. Heat and humidity – 1, Brittany 2.
After a wedding on Friday, I knew getting up early Saturday might be challenging even if I didn’t drink or stay out late. I made sure to stay hydrated, enjoyed two beers and went to bed before midnight, but I still didn’t wake up until close to 10:30am. I was still determined to get in my 14 miles, even though I had to start closer to noon by the time I ate and drank. I made it two laps around Delaware Park before stopping. It was unbearably hot and I figured it was better to stop early if I knew 14 wasn’t happening, rather than have tired legs for attempt #2 on Sunday. I spent the day drinking as much water as possible because I knew the following run wasn’t going to be any easier. Heat and humidity – 2, Brittany – 2.
I had already agreed to volunteer at the Biggest Loser Half Marathon, so running beforehand wasn’t an option unless I started around 5am. I considered it, but knowing I’d then have to stand for at least 3 hours in the sun without the opportunity to refill my water or eat enough sounded like a recipe for disaster. Instead I decided to run closer to dusk; I’ve done 10-11 milers without issue after work in the summer, so why not 14 on a weekend? I headed out around 4pm and it was still warm, but I’ve managed 16 before in the same weather so I figured I’d just push through again. Not so much. My legs felt great and my paces were comfortable despite the heat, but in my 5th (and therefore final) mile, my ears started to buzz and dizziness wasn’t far away– an attempted finish was not worth it. Heat and humidity – 3, Brittany – 2.
It sucks to look at the week and see the lowest mileage you’ve had since starting your marathon training. It sucks to feel like you did everything right within your control but it still wasn’t enough. It sucks to see people racing in the same (and worse conditions), but performing so well and you couldn’t even finish 14 easy paced miles. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy for everyone that had a successful weekend! Maybe it was the heat, maybe it was the 18 finally catching up with me, and maybe it was paces too quick on Thursday, but this week was almost a total bust. I wish after my great Thursday workout, my body wanted to stay on the same path.
On the bright side, the weather is starting to get cooler as this week goes on. The extended forecast shows Thursday through next Wednesday with temperatures in the upper 60s and lower 70s, some showers, and plenty of clouds. I’m ready for football, three amazing weeks to close out the heart of marathon training, and the glorious taper. Training for a goal race throughout the winter never looked as amazing as it does right now!