Sunday, October 07, 2007


When I woke up Saturday morning to prepare for my long run, a check of the weather showed why I was already sweating: 72 degrees at 6:15 am, upper 60% dewpoint, 85% humidity, and no wind. In other words, a sauna. Sounds like I'm talking about July or August, doesn't it?

But I was happy to see that did not put me off. I decided to run at the park on the river trail where it might be cooler, and certainly shadier. It didn't occur to me that maybe I would find someone to run with.

When I got there, I saw the "7 at 7" runners--7 miles at 7 am, and then head back to the park for more. So you get the level of speed I'm talking about when someone can run 7 miles or more in an hour. And its not an easy course, particularly now in the dark.

And then I saw Sue, a woman I have biked with quite a bit. While she is a powerful biker, she isn't that fast of a runner, yet I still find it hard to hang with her. She asked how far I was going, I said probably 9 miles. She wanted to do 12. She was waiting for another woman I didn't know, but did say they would start with 9 and see how they felt.

We started ahead of the usual group, 4 of us, since one of the fast guys was heading out with us. I still haven't figured that out, unless he had already run 20 miles before! That immediately pushed our pace, but it didn't feel too bad to start. I told Jan, the new woman, I was doing an 8/2 routine, since I was trying to build my mileage back up. She said she was really stressed and needed to "work it" today. With this kind of weather, I questioned that plan, but said "Go for it." But she stayed with me until I hit my 2 minute walk. At that point, the rest of the group started passing me too, but I held my ground and did my walk, watching my 3 get farther ahead but not so far I couldn't see them. I was already dripping with sweat, but my breathing was okay. Just about the time I started running again, they were walking. Sue had said she was doing 15/1, but a look at my watch told me they were only at about 11 minutes. "They're going way too fast (for them) for today's weather," I thought.

This pattern continued even as Jan took off with Sue's husband (running!), and Sue and Greg stayed together, but they were taking more frequent walk breaks. The river path eventually goes through a locked gate and out to the main road, with a walkway around the gate for runners or bikes, but doesn't allow any vehicles through. I had actually run with another guy who came up behind me on my break, but he turned at the gate. Jan and Sue were actually walking here, but I was beginning to think that anytime they saw me get close enough to catch them, they took off again! I don't think that was it, but it was how it seemed.

It didn't matter. I was still feeling remarkably good, and seemed to be holding a pace with my run/walk pattern. And I ran the hills if I was on a run, while Sue and Jan walked, so I felt good about that too. By now the rest of the group was returning, and I know they were surprised to see me out there that far!

I decided to turn around at 50 minutes, and it was here I was within a distance to catch Sue and Jan. They were walking--again. They urged me to come with them, but I said I would turn at 50 minutes (it was 48 something). Once again, just when I got back to a run, they took off. But then the longest hill came up and while I ran, they walked. They were still too far to catch, but I was starting to see some hope there. The gap was narrowing. I kept on my pacing, stopping once for more water at a water stop for some other group, and then continuing on through the gate and back to the river trail. They were always within sight, but I didn't push the pace to catch them. I was starting to realize it would happen soon.

By this time too, the sun was coming out full force, so running through areas not shaded was like running through this heat shield or something. It was really weird the difference in temperature; it was that warm out! I was really glad I had stayed on the path instead of heading back on the road with the hills and little or no shade.

The river trail has one bridge that crosses to the other side of the river, but there are a couple of other highway overpass bridges you go under, so I have always thought of this as my bridge-to-bridge run. If I'm having a bad run, I run to one bridge, walk a bit, and continue to the next. Today, I was able to keep going after crossing the one bridge, but I was starting to get that sick stomach feeling, I'm sure from the heat, and which I get occasionally. And here, once again, Jan and Sue were walking. I passed them, and they started running with me, and I explained my pacing. They decided to go along with it, even though I was almost ready for a walk. We were about 1.5 miles from finishing, so I really did not want to go down to a continued walk with them, so I was glad they were doing my thing.

Both of them were whipped. The heat and humidity had gotten to them, due mostly I'm sure to running too fast in the beginning. I told them I had no speed but a lot of endurance, and they started seeing the wisdom of my methods.

Eventually, getting back to the road, and heading back to the park, I was struck by the horrible stomach ache I felt coming on earlier, so I did have to take an extra walk break, but I have found if I limit it to 2 minutes only, I can keep going later. So I did this, and for some reason they dropped back. I actually ended up beating them back to the park (and I made sure I didn't stop again!), but nearly hurled at the end accomplishing this!

I may not be the speediest turtle out there, having slowed down considerably over the years what with one thing or another, but I know I have enough experience to get me through these things at whatever pace it takes to get it done, so I guess I can pat myself on the back for that.

And maybe I will have some running partners next week too!


bunnygirl said...

Good job! That kind of humidity is the norm around here and summer runs usually start out at least 10 degrees warmer, so your strategy was completely correct. High humidity will really get you, and it's best to just get rid of the ego, take things easy and focus on just getting the job done.

Good luck on getting regular running partners!

WADDLER26.2 said...

Great job on the run. Pace is so important asn you stuck to your plan.

Lisa - Slow & Steady said...

Way to get it done! Maybe next time they'll try your thing from the beginning.

jahowie said...

Great job on the run!! You are very smart to stick to your pace. I see so many people who try to go out too fast only to suffer at the end of their runs. Hopefully those two will learn from you and you can all have fun running together next time.

See Zanne Run said...

good for you for sticking to your guns & staying with your plan ... totally paid off in the long run. pun intended. sounds like maybe you found some of those running partners you were looking for. maybe they'll see the wisdom of your ways!