Yesterday, I ran a race called the Hottest Half.
They were not kidding.
I refrained from checking the weather in Dallas for this weekend until Thursday, when I discovered the high was going to be 97 degrees. AWESOME.
Laura tried to make me feel better by telling me it was less humid in Dallas, that we’d be running early so it wouldn’t be as hot. Well, I am glad we started at 7:30, because I can’t imagine how it would have been if we’d started any later. In fact, I think it even could have started at 7. (I know from extensive blog reading that you Florida people start your races even earlier than that to beat the heat!)
The race was $85 which is pretty damn steep for a somewhat small race that was mostly in a park, so I put off registration until I got to the race. It was the first time I’d signed up in-person for a race in a while, but it went relatively smoothly.
Ordinarily I probably wouldn’t spend that much on a half that wasn’t special or a goal race, but Laura was able to fly me down to Dallas through her job since she wasn’t coming home this weekend, so the trip was relatively inexpensive to me since I wasn’t paying hotel or airfare and food in Dallas is way cheaper than New York.
We lined up (no corrals was nice because it meant that Laura, Blake and I were able to start together even though we were all running at different paces) and we were off! Laura and I talked about maybe running together but she immediately dashed off to try to get out of the congestion of the crowds at the beginning and I knew immediately I wanted to conserve energy and I hung back. I knew it would be a scorcher, and I didn’t want to expend any extra energy at the beginning that I would need more at the end.
Halfs that I’ve run “for fun”/in tough conditions, I’ve usually had a time around 2:05, so I was hoping for anywhere from 2:00-2:10. I ran the first few miles around a 9-9:15 pace and thought I’d be able to hang on to that for the next 10-11 miles. You know, as it got hotter.
I haven’t run a longer race alone in a while, so I spent those first few miles being happy I could go at whatever pace I wanted without worrying about if I was too fast or too slow for a partner or group. The race was an out-and-back around a lake, and it was beautiful. I felt awesome until the turnaround at mile 6.5. Right after that, they had towels that were soaking in ice water for us to take to cool ourselves down. I took one of these, loved it, and promptly fell apart after this. As we were coming back around the lake, the sun was beating down strongly and I knew things would only get hotter.
We ran around the gorgeous White Rock Lake. I’m usually too clumsy/running too hard to get a picture, but at yesterday’s leisurely pace, it was totally possible. I’m also trying out a new Camelbak handheld water bottle, and i had my phone in its outermost pocket, so it was really easy to access. Which also meant that when my mom texted me pictures of cold water and ice, I was able to slide it out a little, see the texts and think cool thoughts.
I recently got a new Garmin, and it only shows distance and time on the first screen. While this is sometimes annoying, it was certainly a blessing during this race. I had no desire to know how slowly I was going. As it got hotter, my only priority was finishing with just enough steam left to run another 2.5-3 miles to get up to 16 miles for the day.
Other than the blistering sun, the other hard part of the race was the few bridges we had to run over. Some of them were incredibly springy, and it completely threw off my sense of balance, as my footfalls felt completely different than what I was used to.
As I came to a bridge just before mile 8, my stomach started to hurt and I knew the weird feeling of the bridge would only make it worse, so I stopped to walk. A spectator said “You can do this! You’ve got this!” On the outside, I smiled back, but inside I was snarling and wanted to say “Yeah, I know I can do this, but my stomach hurts and I just don’t want to.”
I walked the bridge and peeled off for the bathroom after this. During my past few races, I’ve had to make bathroom stops and I know this is where a race can really fall off for me. I walked out of the port-a-potty and immediately thought “ugh, 5 more miles of this?” I made a deal with myself: I could walk, but only through the water stations. I knew if I didn’t have a plan for walking, I’d be tempted to stop and walk whenever. This actually worked really well and gave me something to focus on other than the heat.
I finally shuffled in around 2:17 and with my watch at 13.4. I must have been awesome at the tangents. I don’t usually say stuff like “the course was long” or whatever, BUT for mileage, I was sure as hell counting every step I took during the race to get me closer to my goal of 16 for the day. I met Laura near the finish, wolfed down a Zico and shuffled back out for 2.6 more. Laura had told me that I could run a different direction around the lake instead of against the race for a change of scenery, but I was run-dumb by this pint, and knew that I might get lost if I did anything except follow the course. Plus, there was no way I’d stop to walk when I saw everyone else still racing. I ran my 2.6 and was very happy to call it a day.
Thanks to Laura for the finishing pic! I was focusing so hard on just finishing the damn thing.
And then scarfing down breakfast tacos after the race. Hey, New York? Get on that.
This race was REALLY FREAKING HARD, and while, yes, I’m a little disappointed in my time (27 minutes slower than my PR, and my 3rd slowest half out of 20), it is these humbling runs in tough conditions that make us stronger, no? (I just looked back at the weather and it was 80 at the start and got up to 85-feels-like-87 in the sun by the end.)
This has basically become my new hot as hell running outfit.
Next week’s long run will be in Maine. I’m very excited for those running conditions. Cool with a chance of lobster.