For weeks now I've been forcing myself to run in the heat. Every single Thursday night I do hill repeats with a triathlon group in Georgetown and for the past few weeks the temps have not been below 90 degrees. The last couple weeks they pushed 95. This past Monday night I ran 3.25 in 95 degree temps as well. I have a half marathon in San Francisco on July 29 so I have no choice but to keep doing long runs. Even early morning temps are rarely below 75, with 80+% humidity...very uncomfortable for a long run....so by forcing myself to run in even worse conditions I hoped I would eventually just get used to it.
Last Saturday (June 16) I attempted 7 miles in warm sticky weather and just felt awful. Of course, I had a hamstring pull from my 20+ mile trail run 6 days prior that was barely healed, and quite frankly was probably still recovering from the sheer distance of that run. But I just really really felt bad. I ended up only running 5.7 miles before my hamstring tightened up and I walked the last 1.6 miles home. It was a little disheartening, although my running pace was 9:28...not bad, but not my usual pace.
My goal in San Francisco is a 1:55, which is 8:50 pace. I was getting slightly worried that if I couldn't run long at close to race pace, I wasn't going to be able to pull it off. But the weather conditions were really getting to me. Even my shorter speedwork days were starting to feel pretty tough.
This morning I woke up to better conditions. At my trail the temps were 72 degrees. I didn't check humidity, but I think it must have been maybe 70%, so not as bad as usual. It felt pretty great outside, actually. Once I started running (the plan was for a 10 miler) I marveled that it didn't really feel warm at all. 3 miles into the run and I still felt like I had just started. I kept my pace relatively conservative for those first 3 miles just in case the wheels started falling off. First mile splits were 9:57, 9:39, and 9:26.
I intentionally sped up after this and tried to get my miles closer to 9-9:15 pace, and then hoped to be able to do the second half at sub-9 pace. At the 5 mile turnaround I fueled up and crossed my fingers that the good feelings would continue.
I didn't even feel that sweaty. I knew the temps had climbed just a bit, but it was still bearable.
Could I pull off a super fabulous run??
Sometimes I do this crazy mental game where I count my strides, so I tried that to take my mind off the distance. There are 1/4 mile markers along the trail so I concentrated on counting how many strides it took to reach each one, with the hopes that I could reduce the time it took over the course of the final miles. Strangely enough, it worked and made the next 3 miles fly by. Once I hit 8 miles I knew I was going to do just fine. My splits from miles 4-8 were 9:10, 9:02, 9:16, 8:56, and 8:57.
I pushed it for Mile 9, figuring maybe I'd use Mile 10 as a cool down and slow down just a bit. Mile 9 was 8:43, but I still felt really good. My legs just wanted to fly so I went with it.
Mile 10 was 8:19.
When I glanced at my watch and saw I had run 10 miles in 1 hour, 31 minutes in warmer than usual conditions....IN JUNE IN TEXAS....I was elated. The more I thought about it the happier I got. It was third fastest 10 miler ever. The 2 faster runs were in cold conditions.
I HAD A REALLY FREAKING FABULOUS LONG RUN!!!!
And best of all, it showed me I absolutely can nail that half marathon in San Francisco.