They Call it the Hottest Half for a Reason!

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.

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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.

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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.  

33 comments on “They Call it the Hottest Half for a Reason!

  1. Heathers Looking Glass

    That sucks. Unfortunately that’s a common temp for races down here. Maybe part of the reason why I am so slow? haha. This is also why you won’t find a half marathon between may and sept. here. We have learned our lessons yall! You still did AWESOME and look great!

    1. Theodora

      @Heathers Looking Glass: Oh yuck. As hot as NYC can get in the summer, I’m glad that we have cool weather too! Have you ever run races that *aren’t* in the South? I bet you’d be a lot faster in cooler temps! That is always what I think about people who live in hilly areas (i.e. SF) too – that all of that conditioning in difficult elements must really pay off in easier places.

  2. Cate

    Great job on finishing! The heat sucks! I ran the More Women’s 1/2 a few years ago and it was in the 90s… In April! Needless to say, it wasn’t a PR and I was totally miserable the entire time. Awesome job for finishing and for adding 2.6 miles to the end. You’re a rock star!

  3. Kiersten

    Ugg I can’t even imagine. I hate the heat with a passion. Running in Maine is glorious these days, let me know if you need any route recommendations, or even a running buddy.

  4. Mom

    I am proud of you, proud that you can even attempt a race a demanding as this, something that tested you to your limits You pushed yourself with everything you had and that is a true winner! I’m proud of your brutal honestly in saying exactly how you felt.
    You know the meaning of when the going get rough you come through with all you have and not giving up,
    Love you

  5. Alyssa

    Congrats on finishing!! The weather this weekend in Maine should be *much* better! I’m heading up myself and hope to ditch the (non-runner) boyfriend for a run while we’re there as well. The Back Cove trail in Portland is a great 3.5 mile loop to add in to a long run, and it’s near downtown. No traffic, a couple of porta-potties, and multiple water fountains! Good luck 🙂

  6. Hazel@The Comfort Zone and Beyond

    Congrats on finishing! i live in austin and just did a half in Napa a month ago, so I gave the past few months training in the gruelling heat. I have friends who regularly lose 4 lb of water during a long run! at least I got used to it tho.. your body got some shock running in that heat so dont be disappointed with your time. 730 is way too late to start… i found that if i wasn’t out running at 630 am that it was unbearable

    1. Theodora Post author

      Oh, wow, that’s insane. Yeah – I’m certainly a little bummed with my time but not too much. It was really way too freaking hot for me to run any differently. I put my all into it.

  7. Andrea

    Congrats! I am a newish runner- started running a year ago and am now training for my 3rd half.

    I noticed your purple Garmin on your wrist. Is that a 10? How do you like it? Is it easy to toggle between screens to see your pace? I like the price and the color, but the fact that you cant see your pace with time and distance on the display has kept me from pulling the trigger. I hate the current GPS I have (Soleus) and am in in the market for another. Thank you in advance for any thoughts!

    1. Theodora Post author

      It is a 10. It’s pretty easy to toggle between screens, but I honestly haven’t done it too much. I go back and forth between thinking that is the greatest thing in the world and thinking it’s the worst thing in the world. Sometimes it’s nice to not see my pace but sometimes, obviously, I would like to see it. I was bummed that my previous Garmin died after a few years, so figuring this one will die too, went for the cheaper one. I’ll do a review/comparison soon-ish of the two.

  8. Glen Snider

    “Run dumb”…I’ve not heard that phrase before, but I know exactly what you mean!

    Good that you had a plan for your run/walk toward the end. Like you said, if you didn’t have a plan, you might walk whenever you wanted to. I PR’d a marathon by doing a run/walk from the very beginning – 9 minutes running / 1 minute walking. When I ran, I ran. When I walked, I “recovered”. It was also one of those mind games – I didn’t really run 26.2 miles, I simply ran for 9 minutes and took a 1 minute break over and over again. It was probably one of the most steady races/paces I’ve done – didn’t hit any wall.

    Also – what do you think about well meaning spectators cheering you on at the end of the race. They are simply trying to help, but I’ve run enough races, I know I can do it. They annoy me. Maybe I’m just in a cranky mood toward the end of a long race.

    Well done. The “bad” races make you appreciate the good races.

  9. Tori

    I am Australian, and most races here start at 6 or 6.30am, the thought of a 7.30am distance race is quite funny!

  10. Liz

    Great job in the killer heat!! 🙂 I had a similar experience when I ran the Farfield (CT) half – blistering heat and crazy “we are no longer in NY” hills! It was a struggle but I got through it, slow and steady. For a second I was slightly bummed about my time, then I realized that this was probably the hardest half ever so I left with a smile on my face.

  11. Christina

    I’m registering for the breakfast tacos!

    Sounds like a tough race, but your approach to it was good. I don’t usually enter races for “fun”, though I’m thinking I might do 1-2 non-goal races next year, just because.

    How do you like the Camelbak? I’m thinking of getting a smaller handheld, though my last one was so annoying that I don’t know.

  12. Kathleen

    Congratulations on completing the Half! I agree that it’s so hard to run in the heat. Living in DC, I’ve gotten sort of used to the heat and humidity but it still feels like running through thick soup. Terrible. I also tend to have stomach issues in the heat – that’s great you finished even with stomach problems!

  13. Jenny

    Living in the south I can definitely relate to how tough it is to run thick humid air. Congratulations on overcoming those conditions and finishing the half!

  14. gdris

    I’ve been training for my 1st half marathon. I live in southern Ca. Its really hot here. Today it was about 85 degrees.
    Keep up the hard work. I still have a bout 10 lbs to lose. 🙂


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