Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Oh The Weather Outside is Frightful

As is typical in the Washington DC metro area, we have transitioned from winter to summer with about 2 weeks of spring in between. I try not to gripe about the weather too much because I can't control it, but it was just a few weeks ago when I was setting PRs for tempo runs and such in the cool mornings, and now my training pace has slowed by at least 30 seconds per mile.

I am registered for the Alexandria Running Festival  half marathon on Sunday. When I signed up, I knew that it would likely be a hot race, but I wanted to run it anyway because I wasn't able to race anything longer than an 8K this spring due to injury. Humidity typically doesn't become an issue until mid-June, so I thought I might get a pass on that. But the forecast is calling for hot, sunny, humid weather. 

This morning, Greg and I attempted a 7-mile progression run. It was about 69 degrees and extremely humid. We choose a relatively hilly route and I bonked during the 6th mile, while running up a hill at an 8:30 pace. I was running at paces that felt "easy" in San Francisco but now with the humidity I was in my tempo zone. My heart rate was skyrocketing and I knew I was overdoing it, so I decided to really back off the pace and just take it very easy for the last mile and a half. I completed the 7 miles, but felt weak and spacey afterwards. I don't think I could have run much further. So, if this is how I felt after 7 miles at an average 8:51 pace, how am I going to manage a half marathon in weather that's predicted to be even hotter? Granted, I will take more care to pre-hydrate and there shouldn't be as many hills, but it will still be hot and humid.

So now I'm wondering if I should take this half marathon really easy (as if it were just another long run) or if I should try and push for something maybe in the 8:20 range. (Note: my PR pace is about 7:43). Should I wear a heart rate monitor to make sure I'm not overdoing it? And let that guide my pace? What if I ran it as a really long progression run? I am completely torn on what approach I should take. I think I am much more sensitive to these types of conditions than most runners. While others can still be competitive in hot weather, I usually cannot be, and my placement falls well below what it usually is. 

Really my only goal here is not to bonk. I've bonked in hot half marathons before and it's not pretty. I got a taste of bonking this morning and even for a mile and a half it was miserable. We'll see what happens. . .

As for my training leading up to the race, I ran 34 miles last week, but I backed off the cross training. This week will be a slight taper week with 7 miles today, 6 tomorrow and then 6 on Friday. I also swam 1100 yards yesterday. I'll focus on pre-hydrating and getting enough sleep so that none of those things are a contributing factor to a potential bonk.


  1. I'm with you on the weather. It's so, so hard for me to run well when it's like this outside. I'd make a game time decision on the race. Spend the days leading up to it hydrating and fueling like you would for any hot-weather goal race, adding in extra ounces and electrolytes. Then start out controlled that morning and see how you feel. Good luck!

  2. I'm really sensitive to heat too! I throw up after races if I get too hot. I think you should take it easy honestly. There are so many fall races where you can PR. But, if you feel like you can handle it go for it. Just aim for negative splits no matter what and focus. You're going to do great!

  3. The forecast just keeps getting worse. A "real feel" of 75 at the start and up to 82 by the time I finish. I think I'm just going to wear the HR monitor and keep it in my easy zone. If I push at the end, I might be able to swing a 1:55 at best.