Let’s Call That Run a Draw

I had some thoughts about me and the heat today. I had plenty of time to think as I walked in the last mile of what was to have been a 10-mile MGP run. Unfortunately, I found myself sick to my stomach, dizzy, and out of water at 6 miles.

Lizard with Sun
Lizard runners complain when the temperature drops. They love the sun and getting out at midday. I am NOT a lizard runner.

The Good…

I had a solidly good run on Saturday. Saturday’s run needed to be in the 20–22 mile range, and I was feeling some pressure as my last 20-miler had really gone south. I’d gotten nauseous and over-heated, cutting the run to only 17 miles and then having to walk from Lake Austin Blvd. back to RunTex. It took me days to recover.

So I was worried that I’d have a repeat. My friend Lindsey and I set off at 5:30 a.m., taking advantage of every dark, cooler moment we could (there are limits to how early I’ll get up…I am simply not a morning person). We had a great time and told ourselves that we were going easy, with half a mind to the 10-mile pace run that we knew was in our future for today.

We got a great break in that the day stayed overcast even after the sun came up; it wasn’t until we turned off of Exposition onto Lake Austin Blvd. that we could even see our shadows. Once the sun came out, my effort level picked up a bit but we still came into RunTex feeling great and running strong. I was very happy with the run, both from a time standpoint and how I felt while running.

The Bad…

My son had a soccer tournament over the holiday weekend, and we needed to get to his game later in the day. I found that, as the day went on, I developed a low-grade headache and felt sick to my stomach with very little appetite. This continued all through Sunday, though I tried to drink appropriately as we were out watching the matches and to eat even when I didn’t feel like it.

I woke up after a restless sleep — I had terrible night sweats; it’s hard to know if I’m having night sweats because I’m perimenopausal or because I’m having trouble with the heat. My plan was to do three times around the Great Northern/Shoal Creek/Foster loop from the ballpark.

Loop 1 started out in the rain (whee!) and ended in the sun, but I was on pace and feeling good. I even got lucky; because the ballpark was in use,  I got a port-a-potty break when I needed one.

Loop 2 was on pace and feeling good…and then I ran out of water. WTF? I figured I’d run out of water toward the end of my third loop; I was carrying my big bottle, which normally lasts me through a 2-hour trail run. Nope; I’d sucked that puppy down in six miles. I pressed on, figuring I’d finish the loop and look for water at the ballpark (I had not thought to put an extra jug of water in the car, which was, in hindsight, supremely stupid) but my stomach suddenly went south and I was woozy…and my legs just stopped. I walked it in for the final section and called it a day at seven miles, only six at marathon goal pace.

I sat in the shade, cooling off and waiting for my hubby, who was off riding his bike.

And the Logical

I wrestled with that harsh inner voice, the one that often tells me I’m a quitter and complete and total loser and a horribly slow runner. One of the big comments from this voice is, “You ran all last summer, which was MUCH hotter — what is your problem?” and I actually came up with a surprisingly logical answer:

I ran better last summer BECAUSE it was so freaking hot.

It was so freaking hot that I was uber cautious. I ran mostly in the evenings, as the temperature was dropping and the sun was going down. I quit any run at the first sign of heat issues. I was also doing all of my runs on the trail.

This summer, I’m pushing myself to run faster, whereas last summer I made myself take it slow; I’m running in the morning, as the sun comes out and the temperature goes up; and I’m on the wide open road, with no shade, reflective sun, and ambient heat. No WONDER it’s harder on me. I’ve had heat issues since I passed out during Hell Week in Longhorn Band back in the ’80s, so it’s not like I just decided to wuss out. So I’m going to call it a draw — me and the heat are even.

And I am honestly just ITCHING to get back on the trail. I’m hungry for St. Ed’s runs and the Barton Creek greenbelt and early mornings at Walnut Creek and evenings in the dark. And that’s the way things should be. In the meantime, I’ll just try to be sensible and quit beating myself up quite so much.


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Published by Leah Nyfeler

I'm a writer, editor, runner, and adventurer who is always looking for the next new story, exciting adventure, and good meal/book/movie. My focus is on helping people find their best, healthiest self through sharing what I know and how I've come to learn it. In addition to my blog "Enjoying the Journey: Observations on the Fit Life" at www.leahruns100.com, my articles have appeared in a variety of print and online magazines. You can hear me as part of the 2015 Austin cast of Listen To Your Mother.

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