Monday signaled the beginning of September, the unofficial start of fall. Time for sweaters, pumpkin lattes and apple cider doughnuts. Yet Mother Nature did not get the memo. Or she was ignoring it.
Monday of last week was Labor Day. With the day off, I figured I could wake up alarm-free and set out for my training’s scheduled seven miles. That didn’t happen; I blame the weather. By the time I woke up by 8:00 AM, it was already over 75 degrees outside. Add in the humidity, and it made it easy for me to decide to stay in bed.
Unfortunately, by skipping Monday that meant I had to make up for it the other days of the week. Tuesday had the group scheduled to run hills, but as I stepped outside to catch the bus, the wind picked up and all I could think of was Winnie Pooh saying, “Tut-tut, it looks like rain.” Sure enough, a half hour after I turned around to go home it poured. Decision justified.
But while I managed to avoid the rain, I couldn’t avoid a run that kept me from looking like I ran my miles in the shower. This week’s humidity was unbearable, even at the early hours of the morning when I needed to run before work. When it’s still dark outside and the humidity has the feel-like temps hovering near 80 degrees, the miles feel endless. This was especially the case on Saturday.
Saturday had 16 miles on the schedule, and I will admit that I had plenty of anxiety going into the run. The finish of the 16-mile SLR would mean achieving a new PDR, but it was not without its challenges. When my alarm went off in the morning, already the temperature hovered at 75 degrees, and the sun had not even risen yet. Fortunately, our route along Beach Drive in D.C. and Maryland provided plenty of shade cover. However, that didn’t keep the sweat from dripping.
Saturday’s run was by far the most physically and mentally challenging run I have ever done. While refilling our water bottles a shortly after our 10-mile mark, my running mates and I noticed that our clothes were literally soaked to our skin. Drenched, and we still had six miles to go. Our bodies’ way of keeping us cool, the sweat would have felt like it was weighing us down, but it was actually what allowed us to keep going. As the salt escaped through our pores, staying hydrated and focused became the run’s mission. It was grueling and just as mentally fatiguing as it was physical.
Nevertheless, we made it back, just shy of two and half hours after we started. The 16 miles were the farthest I ever ran straight, a new personal distance record; adding on my warmup, and I finished Saturday with 17.52 miles under my belt. All I wanted afterwards was a huge bagel slathered in cream cheese. And a nap.
While I hunger pangs existed, thirst dominated. Throughout the day, my body kept reminding me how drained it had gotten from the morning and how it needed hydration, and lots of it.
Despite Mother Nature’s extension of summer for a little longer, I didn’t allow it to let it interfere with my training. In the end, it’s these types of runs that make you stronger, and all the more ready for that all important race in just seven weeks. My countdown has started.