Tuesday, July 9, 2013

What a difference a few degrees makes

It's been hot, I mean really, really, ridiculously hot for the last week or so.  Heat index has been over 100 degrees several days.  I am counting down the days until summer is over because running in this weather sucks a lot.  (55 days until Labor day in case you were wondering)  I thought maybe something was wrong with me or that I had lost some level of fitness recently and slacked off too much or got lazy, but no it's just friggin hot and humid and gross weather to run in.  Many days I don't feel like running at all because it's in the 90s with humidity between 60 and 70% which makes it feel like 105-115.  One day it was actually 100 degrees out and I made the wise decision to not even attempt to run in that.

I looked up a formula for the impact of temperature and humidity on running pace and found a pretty good one: Add 2% to your time for every 5 degrees warmer between 60 and 75F, and then double that impact for each additional 5 degrees up to 85.

• 55-60 degrees - 1% - 10:00 becomes 10:06
• 60-65 degrees - 3% - 10:00 becomes 10:18
• 65-70 degrees - 5% - 10:00 becomes 10:30
• 70-75 degrees - 7% - 10:00 becomes 10:42
• 75-80 degrees - 12% - 10:00 becomes 11:12
• 80-85 degrees - 20% - 10:00 becomes 12:00
• Above 85 degrees - Forget it ... run for fun and not time
• Add 1 second per mile for every percentage point the relative humidity exceeds 65%

Yeah, it has been above 85 degrees for probably two weeks straight, with several days above 90.  I was getting sort of depressed and disappointed with my running paces being around 11:00min/mile, but now I don't feel so bad about it.  Plus, I'm pretty happy I haven't died yet.  Although I do get heat exhaustion almost every time I run the summer because my core temperature goes up so high and I sweat more than I can possibly replace with fluids and salt tablets.  I'm averaging about 3-4lbs/hr for my sweat rate.  Whether I run for an hour or two I am dripping and completely soaked by the time I finish and then as soon as I stop it turns to crusty salty skin.
This past weekend I did a 13 mile run Saturday and tried to wake up early to beat the heat, but when I checked the forecast the night before it looked like it wasn't going to make much of a difference because Accuweather was predicting at 5am it would be 75 degrees with 90% humidity, but then at 7am it would be 80 degrees with 75% humidity so either way it was going to feel disgusting.  So, based on that information I opted for a little extra sleep.  When I finally got motivated and headed out the door it was already pretty nasty out.
I felt great while I was running, just slower than normal, but overall even paced and no issues.  I didn't feel sluggish or sick.  My legs felt great and my heart rate was fine.  I went out with the intent to feel it out for the first few miles and turn around if I thought it was too hot.  My pace was a lot slower than I'm used to but I was feeling really good so I added onto the 10 mile loop I was on and made it 13.  I was able to refill my water bottles with about 3 miles left to go, good thing too because the week before I didn't top them off and I ran out of water and started puking before I got home.  This week I topped off my bottles and kept on going.  I finished strong and felt really good about it.  I averaged 11:30s with the slowest miles being uphill or when I stopped to choke down a gel.  But overall I was very consistent.  Considering the conditions I am very happy with the result.  Here's what the weather was like when I finished:
The red exclaimation point on both screenshots is for a heat advisory and note the info about outdoor fitness "Today is a poor day for outdoor fitness", yes I know, thanks Accuweather, but I have a marathon to train for.  I took my ritual ice bath after the run and melted 50lbs of ice in less than 5 minutes with my intense body temp.  In the winter I usually bundle up and brew some tea to stay warm while I soak, but that was not necessary Saturday.  I actually sipped a glass of ice water to cool myself off from the inside while I sat there in a tub full of ice water. 

I was going to go for another run Sunday, but I got sucked into the Tour de France coverage and by the time it was over it was almost noon and would be deadly to try and run even a few miles at that time of day.  So, I took a nap on the couch in the AC instead.  I finished up the weekend with a burst of productivity and did a few loads of laundry, grocery shopping, and made a giant bowl of pasta salad for the week. 

I am really glad 4th of July has come and gone, because the sound of fireworks or other explosive like noises in my neighborhood was really disturbing to me and I was losing A LOT of sleep.  I actually talked to the Lowell Police about it and whether or not I should bother to call them.  They said I should because Fireworks are illegal in Mass. and every year they respond to people accidently injuring themsleves or others with them.  I ended up sleeping with earplugs in all last week, but if anything blows up from now on through the rest of the summer I will not hesitate to contact LPD.  Sunday night I got probably the best night sleep I have had in two months.  I woke up Monday morning ready to go to work with a resting heart rate of 50bpm.

Yesterday I went for a run after work.  I was fully prepared to bail if it felt too hot and prepared with water, salt and gel in case I wanted to gut it out and just run despite oppressive heat and humidity.  To my surprise and extreme excitement, it was only about 80 degrees out and there was a light breeze along the Charles.  It was AWESOME!  I had my fuel belt and a few gels and was able to refill at one of the water bubblers along the way.  I was going to just do 5-6 miles but I felt so great I did 8.5 miles.  I was even tempted to keep going, but I was getting hungry for more than just carb replacement gels.  I averaged 10:40s and couldn't be happier because I was getting kind of sick of seeing 11:00s on my Garmin.  I hope that this means it is the end of 90+ weather, but I know it will return at some point before the summer is over.  I will just have to put up with it for 55 more days.  I just can't wait for cool crisp fall air and running in 50 degree days.  Some people love summer and the hazy hot and humid 'dog days', I am just not one of those people.

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