I ran again. It was hot. The End.
After spending 4 hours getting quite toasty in the Arizona sunshine, I think I’m kind of glad to be wrapping up the racing for the summer. I feel a bit like an endurance horse who is probably ready for a break at the end of a season — I’ve crammed quite a bit into the last quarter, and could use a breather and some recovery time.
I did really well to get through this whole running season without any significant injuries or needing to take time off…so now it’s time to take that time off voluntarily and let whatever cumulative micro-abuses that are dwelling (I’m sure there are some) take care of themselves.
Aside from the unexpected heat at Crown King two years ago, I’ve not done much deliberate running in the heat. (Nice to know there’s some level of crazy I haven’t hit yet.) Since I run a lot with the dogs, I try to get them out as early as possible to avoid the heat, and generally my idea of heat training involves just existing in Phoenix in the summer.
So when temperatures decided to jump from “pleasant” to “oh, look, it’s summer” right before the race, I wasn’t overly enamored of the idea. I admit, the “No refunds” policy kept me from dropping, either down in distance or altogether, since otherwise it would have been very, very tempting.
However, I really wanted to do the Dam Good Run, because how often do you get to run right next to a lake in Arizona?
And so it was that I found myself once again back at the shores of Lake Pleasant, only this time starting 2 hours later, 20 degrees warmer…and only having to go half the distance.
I was running again with my friend Cristina — we did the Javelina Jangover 7k back in the fall together, as well as one of the Black Canyon training runs in the winter, so we knew we paced well together. And once it warmed up out there, it was a really good run to have company. Our strategy basically consisted of:
- run for a bit
- decide “that’s enough of that nonsense” once we hit a climb or enough cumulative heat built up
- attempt to dissipate heat by bitching about it
- decide walking didn’t generate enough airflow and the faster we moved, the faster we would be done
- run again
- lather, rinse, repeat
The trails around Lake Pleasant are a lot of fun — mostly singletrack trail (with the exception of the 3 miles of pavement from the start, across the dam, and to the trail), lots of ups and downs, twists and turns, and not too much overly-technical or rocky stuff (for Arizona, at least…it always involves rocks around here, just varying degrees of them).
Pitchers of water and scoops of ice handed out at the aid station were lifesavers — at the turnaround point and final aid station, I had them dose my whole head with water, and I stuffed ice anywhere I could manage (hat, neck wrap, bra). I may have sounded like a dysfunctional ice machine rattling my way down the trail, but it kept me cool(ish).
The trickiest thing for me to manage was my stomach/eating. I knew the heat would make it harder to find foods that appealed. While I didn’t do as well in the eating department as I do when it’s cooler out, I did okay on a mix of Huma chia seed gels, Clif Bloks, and Skratch Labs exercise mix on-the-go, and watermelon and oranges at the aid stations. I stayed hydrated, didn’t crash, and didn’t have any kind of heat stroke…which is about as good as you can ask for in temperatures that hit 97* along parts of the course.
And the best part was the finish line at the edge of the lake. Through the finish, and straight down to the water, with just enough pause to drop the pack and shoes.
Time was 4:03. As soon as I saw the weather forecast, any time goals went right out the window and the goal was simply to just finish and not keel over. Since I managed that, I’m happy with it.
- InkNBurn “Chameleon” racerback. This is the lightest-weight, coolest shirt I own. The material is really silky and light, and it has pinhole-sized holes in it, so it’s really breathable.
- InkNBurn “Wings” shorts. Ended up needing to bust out the Bodyglide to keep the chafing in check, but I can’t say I expected anything less with the amount of water and sweat.
- Balega merino socks, Dirty Girl gaiters, and Hoka Speed Instinct shoes (not pictured). All good except for that same perky blister on the side of my right big toe. But I also didn’t do any preventative taping on my toes at all. Speed Instincts were really comfortable and a good choice for the trail. They have a lower profile and are a little more streamlined than my Challengers, so I have really good ground feel in them for rougher/rockier terrain.
- Nathan VaporHowe vest (pictured up at top race photo). Yep, still love it. With the amount of sweat and dirt on it, I will be forced to test its washability coming up here in very short order (like, before the next time I wear it).
I think that’s it for now…hoping to return this blog to its original intended purpose as a horse blog as I taper off from the running season. Running might be my sidebar distraction, and a way to get in some trail time, but the ponies are still my passion.