Summer is here and with a vengeance. Running in southwest Florida during the same presents a whole set of challenges that other parts of the U.S. simply don't face. It's a combination of heat, humidity and the threat of lightning. The heat and humidity I can take, but the lightning a whole different matter.
Most of the sane runners I know here try to get their runs in before 7 a.m. You beat the heat and generally only have a moderate amount of humidity to deal with during the time just before dawn. I have never been much of a morning runner. I prefer hitting the roads late in the afternoon.
The only time I did morning runs on a regular basis is when I lived in Phoenix. You had to run before 10 a.m. during the summer in Phoenix or face death. I would generally run sometime between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. and take a quick nap before going to work at 2 p.m. I would usually supplement the morning run with a light workout when I got home. It could get unbearably hot and this was long before it became fashionable to carry water.
I decided to run 6 miles this afternoon at 5 p.m. A thunderstorm had just blown through so I was hoping to catch the cool side of the storm. Unfortunately another set of storms blew up 20 miles to my east leaving me in unrelenting sun with the maddening humidity fluffing off the storms to the east.
It was 95 degrees with a dewpoint of 75. The feels like is well over triple digits. I got through the first couple of miles and enjoyed something that resembled a breeze as I headed north along the trails from the storms brewing along the interstate. I realized that 5 miles would be a better option because I knew the breeze would disappear when I turned around to head home.
That's when the slow roast started. I ran some of the slowest miles that I've run since I had stomach surgery almost a decade ago. It made me reflect back that it was exactly 10 years ago when I could still actually run something resembling fast.
10 years ago this month I ran a 4 mile race in Eugene, Oregon averaging 6:50 per mile. I wasn't in what I considered good shape at the time. Then we had a summer filled with hurricanes in southwest Florida and it ruined my health and didn't do much for my running.
As I muddle through the heat and humidity I reflected back to running in this kind of heat 10 years ago, going along at 7:45 pace for 5 miles and feeling a pain deep in my guts. It made running almost impossible, almost. A few months later and 4 hurricanes later my guts would let go and my running was never really the same.
The fact that I can still pound out miles and actually managed a marathon again, after four surgeries, is really pretty amazing. I never thought I would be able to run more than 10 miles because of the danger that dehydration posed to my stomach. Somehow I've managed to keep training, enduring the heat and humidity, without blowing out my guts, again.