Sunday, July 19, 2009

Hot weather running tips I learned from my dog...

If you go running at 9:30 in the morning in July here in Phoenix, it's hot. It was 100' when I walked out the front door this morning for my run. The sun was literally straight up over the city, which means very little shadows to be found. Now, my guess is there is about a 20' difference in temperature between being in the sun and getting under some shade when it's this hot out. That makes shade kind of important.

If you know much about me, you know I have two little Miniature Schnauzers, and I live in a high rise condo in the middle of downtown Phoenix. The point of me telling you this is that it means we have to walk our dogs in the middle of the city, even when it's 115' outside, multiple times per day. When you weigh 13 pounds, and you're covered in black hair, it doesn't take long for your core temperature to shoot through the roof. That being said, my dog Diamond doesn't like phoenix a whole lot during the summer.

When we take her for a walk on hot days, she will stop where she is without any notice and just turn her head and look back over her shoulders at our building. I always assume that she is thinking "Hey dumba$$, the building with the A/C is back there, why in the hell are you going this way?" She will do this some 10 or 15 times on a walk. When we go around the block, she will stick to the shadows the entire way. If there is no shadows, she will run from bush, to overhang, to doorway, to parked car, to shadow.

Well, today I figured out what the heck that is all about. Since I just started running after four weeks off because of my frikken toe, I have not spent much time out in this heat. I guess I have become a real Arizonian. You don't go outside if you can help it this time of year. Unless you are training for a marathon...

Today was a fantastic run, for about the first mile and a half. I looked down at my GPS Watch, and realized I was running about a 9 1/2 minute pace. Then out of no where, the heat reached up and kicked me right in the face. I hadn't even reached the turn yet, so I wasn't half way done. The next time I looked at my watch I was up to almost a 12 minute pace. That was when I decided to quit looking at my watch. My sleeves were caked in white from the salt stain of me wiping my face of sweat as I ran. I was starting to understand how Diamond feels. I realized (as I was scraping my elbow along the wall because I was trying to stay in the 14 inches of shade next to the building I was running next to) I was wearing black shirt and shorts and looking over my shoulder back in the direction of my building and A/C.

As I turned the corner and headed the two miles home, I started to think about whether I was going to make it back without stopping for a rest in the shade or some water. I don't know if I'm gonna make another 20 minutes in this stuff. But then I started thinking about my pal back home who just ran the Rock n Roll Marathon in Seattle and set a PR of 3:30:06. How the Eff am I going to finish a marathon if I can't keep going these last 20 minutes of a 40 minute run because it's a little warm outside. I have already set an internal rule that I never get to rest while I'm training. Take a shorter run if I have to, but I never stop running till I am back at Chase Field.

I needed to get my mind on something else. I started thinking about what I had read in a running blog from the D. C. area. She keeps track of how many people she says hello to until someone says hi back. I do it a little differently, but it's fun just the same. I keep a running tally of how many people say Hi back. Today I was 12 for 12, although one of them just gave me a wave. I think people must be friendlier here in Phoenix than out in D.C. I actually had a security guard waving to get my attention from his booth as I ran by, so he could say hello :). I am up to 68 out of 77 people saying hi back.

This is why you can't find a 5k fun run after April. It's cleanses the sole to run out here. This must be why people in Phoenix join gyms. So they're not out here counting hello's... But on the other hand, this is what it takes to get where I want to go. 26.2 is sill a very long way's away. I did not look at my watch as I was coming back down the stretch towards the ballpark. There was nothing left in the tank today. There would be no sprint towards the finish line. If I run past you, or you pass me, give me a shout, say hello, and try and get your a$$ into some shade.

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