Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The heat is on.

Kristine and I spent the past weekend visiting with my parents in Ohio. It was nice to be home for a few days; we were able to enjoy levels of peace and quiet that simply aren't attainable here in San Francisco. And after three or four very strenuous weeks of training, it was nice to put a couple thousand miles between myself and my bike.

Ohio is calmer and quieter than San Francisco, hands down. It's also warmer. And on Monday, Ohio was much warmer.

I woke up early that morning and laced up for my final long run of the three-week block. It was already in the mid-70's and humid when I set out at 7:15, and my shirt was soaked through with sweat by the start of the third mile. I chose to run along Greene county's extensive network of recreational trails, which meant my run would be very flat, very straight, and moderately shaded.

With the humidity in the 90's and the temperature rising quickly toward the same, whether or not I was in the  shade didn't seem to make much different. It wasn't just hot - it was stinkin' hot. But you know what else is going to be stinkin' hot? Vineman! You can't easily find hot, humid conditions in the bay area, so I decided to take advantage of the opportunity to test my mettle under the blazing sun.

As you might have guessed, it didn't go so well. By the fifth mile, my quads were cramping - and my quads never cramp. I spent a few minutes stretching and walking lightly to work the kinks out, and the next few miles passed by easily. I stopped 8.5 miles out to down a sports drink and restock my waterbottle.

I continued to feel relatively light on my feet for another three and a half miles, and then the heat started to get to me. I refilled my bottle at one of the water fountains I passed and kept on chugging. It was probably just past nine, closing in on 90 degrees, and I was five miles from home.

I spent most of those miles trying to think about anything other than what I was doing, and that worked. Mile after mile melted (literally) away, and before I knew it, I was on the final mile-long stretch - slightly uphill at leg-sapping 2-3%.

I don't know if my subconscious knew I was almost home, or if I'd just pushed too hard and drank to little, but my left quad cramped up again. It was so painful that I had to stop several times in the final 1000 meters - and when I wasn't stopped, I was limping along. Ouch.

Finally, I pulled into the driveway at home, sore, sunburnt and drenched in sweat. Seventeen miles, despite the heat - the longest training run I've ever done.

My legs were sore and cramping for a while, but Kristine helped work out a few of the knots. She is awesome. By lunchtime, I was actually feeling pretty good - much less sore than I'd thought I'd feel! (I was thinking I'd be so stiff I wouldn't be able to run for a week!)

I did run this morning - my first run since - and wow, it was not fun. I don't feel super stiff walking around, but running this morning was painful!

So what did I learn? Well, running in heat like that is not fun. I need to drink more, and probably eat more. I think that's where aid stations come in - having volunteers on-hand to hand me flat cola, cold water and gels will help immensely. I also need to pre-hydrate better. Salt tablets of some kind are also on my list of things to pack for Vineman in July.