Running 13.1 miles in 84 degree heat

IMG_0953June is often quite mild in my part of Pennsylvania. For instance, it is 64 degrees right now, Monday morning. This is a full 20 degrees (Fahrenheit) cooler than it was yesterday at this time. I wish the days had been reversed, in which case I might be congratulating myself on a personal record in the ODDyssey half marathon. As it is, I am congratulating myself on finishing.

Yes, it was north of 80 degrees by 7:30 A.M. on Sunday. I did fine for the first bit, finishing the first 6.55 miles at about a 10:20 pace, which is what I wanted to maintain the whole race. Then the heat caught up with me. I finished in 2:25, or a bit above an 11 min/mile pace. I had to walk through a few stretches. I spent much of miles 10.5 through 13.1 counting steps. I would count to 100 and then start over again, knowing that if I did this enough times, eventually the next mile marker would pass.

(Incidentally, I have done this while dealing with an ornery toddler on cross-country plane flights too. It is my way of dealing with uncomfortable stretches of time that I know are finite.)

Not all was terrible. There were big shady trees and, this being June, at times a great cloud of honeysuckle scent would waft over me. While I did not feel wonderful upon finishing, within 10 minutes I felt perfectly fine, and I am no worse for wear today. Just a bit sore in spots. I hosted my niece’s graduation party at my house yesterday and was able to do the various going up and down stairs that required.

But I will confess to wondering, in the middle of the race, why I was doing this. I guess the answer is that I do love running and having a race to train for does inspire me to go a bit farther and push a bit harder than I would otherwise. I just do wish it would have been 64 degrees, not 84 degrees, at least until 10 A.M.

Photo: At the finish line.

10 thoughts on “Running 13.1 miles in 84 degree heat

  1. Congratulations on finishing! Those are some seriously hot temperatures for running.

    Glad to know I am not the only “counter” out there. I used to count in much the same way when I rocked my colicky baby who would scream all day and night. Funny the things we do to get through difficult situations.

  2. ohhh, boy do I know what running at that temp feels like (with a lot of humidity added on for a bonus)! I would also very much struggle with 13 miles of it – WOAH! This is why I only train for long races in the late fall to race in winter or early spring down here 🙂

    1. @SHU – so much of racing just seems to be the luck of the draw around here. The Broad Street 10-miler was pouring down rain, this one was burning hot. Last fall I did a half marathon on Halloween that was freezing, but then the half marathon 3 weeks later was perfect (50 degrees). Go figure. Some day all the stars will align and I will be well trained and it will be 60 degrees and not raining.

      1. I think I remember the PHL marathon (i ran it in 2005) was FREEZING. like 20 degrees! although i find that better racing weather than 80 with the right gear.

  3. Hi Laura,
    I found you through your mom, and have been enjoying reading your articles for several months. I love this one about enduring time and running. I am also a writer (my first book is forthcoming through TS Poetry Press), and I am constantly fighting that voice that says, “Why are you doing this?” I set a timer for 45 minute increments and tell myself that I don’t have to write anything, but I can’t get up. I say, “It’s OK to try and see what happens.” Similarly, with running, I say, “Well, you’ve gone this far before, so you can do it again.”
    Not that you are looking for advice or anything. I just wanted to stop by and say, “Hi,” and, “Me, too!” I’m glad to know about your work.

    1. @Callie- thanks for stopping by! I’m working on a fiction project right now and I’m telling myself to write 1000 words a day. It’s hard to start but when I get started I can usually get a lot farther than 1000 if I want. And yes, with running, one of the things I tell myself is that I have run whatever distance is remaining many times before. Certainly for the last 5 miles of the recent half marathon that was a key thought…

  4. Congratulations! and thank you for sharing- as a relatively beginner runner, it is nice to hear that you face similar challenges, and I love the counting to 100 tip. Sometimes I chant ‘I can do it’ over and over again, or Ill count to 8- I don’t know why I picked 8 ; ).

    1. @Angela – 8 works! When I was going up the last hill (which is from mile 12.4-12.8 basically – ugh!) I was counting to 10. I couldn’t even seem to get to 100.

  5. I use the counting steps tactic on backpacking trips when I encounter a tough uphill section. I tell myself that I can take a break at 100 steps if I need to. Somehow giving myself that tiny finite goal keeps me chugging along.

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