It seems like just yesterday I was ruing the darkened, cold and snowy days of winter, wondering if warmer temperatures would ever emerge from hibernation. With this past weekend’s highs eclipsing the 80 degree mark, Mother Nature once again proved herself resilient. As one whose inner body temperature “runs hot,” it was a stark reminder that I’d once again have to learn how to race in sweat-drenched conditions.
Saturday’s 9:00 am start time for the UAE Healthy Kidney 10K allowed just enough time for the morning fog to clear, but the 94% humidity hung over the hilly course like a dense, disgusting coat of film. It had been just over a month since my most recent 10K, and I was excited to see how my consistent training might pay off. But since I hadn’t mentally factored in the much warmer conditions until about a mile in, I began questioning my naiveté. During the fall, winter and early spring months, I generally don’t need to hit the water stations for a 10K. By the second mile, however, I knew water would be a necessity. I’ve yet to master the art of sipping while on the run. I could definitely star in one of those “how not to” videos, as too often I gulp, choke and spill more than I intake. Oh well, on a day like Saturday, spilling water on myself wasn’t the worst thing that could happen!
I resolved to run the best race I could, though the humidity made the steepest hills even more unpleasant. At mile four I took my first cup of water, managing to down barely a sip or two. My mile five stop was an improved effort, spilling more, but also downing more. At about the 5 1/2 mile mark I was reminded that as ridiculous as I must have appeared, I had made the right decision. Rounding that point in the course I passed a runner in distress who was already being aided. My heart went out to the poor guy, and I was glad I had listened to my parched body. Best to adjust to the conditions at hand rather than succumb to the elements.
Though I stopped my Garmin as I crossed the finish line, I didn’t immediately look down to check my time. Hydration was all I could think about! My hair was drenched, my body was soaked and I was spent – all in a good way. Ultimately, I bettered my previous 10K outing by more than 30-seconds, finishing in 51:02 with an 8:14 pace. Given the conditions, I was satisfied. Knowing that I may not achieve many personal bests in the coming summer months, I decided to savor this one. Until the next day’s race, at least.
Fortunately, the humidity gave way for Sunday’s Japan 4 Mile Run, though the bright, sunny skies made it feel warmer than one might expect. But since it was just a 4-miler, I decided I would aim to run as strong as I could, and rehydrate at its conclusion. After a string of 4-milers in which I had PR’d, breaking the sub-8:00 barrier and contenting to inch further downward, my heart was set on continuing the trend. As I encountered the hilliest stretch in the third mile, I could taste the sweaty salt that was dripping from my face with each gulp of air. At one point I reached my right hand behind my head. The hair on the back of my head felt as though I had just stepped out of the shower. Honestly, it made me smile; I felt like an athlete!
The weekend’s crash course reminder on running in warm weather made completing the race double-header all the more rewarding. I was thrilled that Sunday’s effort saw my best overall pace per mile tick down even further to 7:52.
Despite the challenging weekend conditions, they served as a nice preview of what’s to come. A reminder that my body must begin adjusting to the warmer temperatures, and I’ll need to temper my performance expectations accordingly.
By keeping the proper perspective and remaining consistent with my training I’m hopeful that even though the rising temperatures may obfuscate the progress being made, these coming summer miles will yield fall surprises.