Sunday, August 7, 2011

Training for the Chicago Marathon in the Texas Heat

After doing Ironman Florida last year, I decided to do "fun" stuff this year. And I have. I've done adventure races and shorter races, but I did decide to do the Chicago Marathon and add another state to my list of states in which I've run a marathon. And after seeing what my body could handle while IM training, I decided to go with a high mileage plan for the marathon. It all seemed great until the great heat wave of the summer hit.

I think this year we hit 100 degrees earlier in the year than we normally do and it hasn't let up since then. We are well over 50 days of 100 degree temps or more. In July, there were only 2 days of not reaching 100 and both of those days we hit 99 degrees. This lead us to have the hottest July ever on record. I think the lowest high temp last week was 104. The heat is not welcome and it's making my higher mileage marathon training program seem brutal.

My legs are handling the miles just fine and my cardio is doing well, but the heat is just killing me. A lot of my runs during the week are 8-12 miles. This usually takes me about an hour and twenty minutes to two hours to do these distances. But, when it's still 100 degrees at 8:00pm, it makes things hard.

During the week I get up early anyway to go into work early. I would have to start running at 3:30 or 4:00am to get the runs done before getting ready for work. Sorry, but that is not happening for several reasons, one of which is safety for me. As a female, I don't feel comfortable running alone before about 5am. Therefore, all my weekday runs have to be done after work. When I get home from work it's 100+, so I wait until about 8pm to head out. That brings up the "should I eat dinner or not" question. If I eat dinner at 5:00 or 6:00, then I'm still full when I run, but if I don't eat early, then I'm eating dinner at 10pm and going directly to bed. The treadmill is always an option, but we all know how much fun it is to do longer runs on the treadmill. And so I usually head out about 7 and end up walking more than I like to admit.

The weekends are a little different, but they bring their own issues. For instance, this morning when I started my run at 5:30am, the "feels like" temperature was already 85 degrees. Compared to 105, that's a cool front, but the humidity is a lot higher in the mornings. By the end of my first mile, I was already dripping with sweat. I can run for longer periods of time without walking when I start early, but I am totally soaked in sweat after 30-45 minutes and then my socks get wet and I get lovely blisters. And that's without going through any sprinklers.

So, I've continued my runs and getting my miles in, but they haven't all been pretty. There is a lot more walking going on than I like, but I can only hope that come Chicago all this training in the heat will pay off. I'm hoping Chicago will be cooler in October (and not have a really hot year like a couple of year's ago when they stopped the marathon) and that my body will be ready to go come race day.