You don't have to be a runner to know what 95% humidity means. It's nasty! But if you are a runner, you know it's something like running through soup. There's so much water in the air, it's tough to breathe well. Also, your body's natural system for cooling itself doesn't work because your sweat won't evaporate when the air is so heavily laden with moisture. That means you just keep sweating more and more and more as your body tries to do what it's designed to do, produce sweat to cool itself. It just doesn't work in these conditions. So you end up sweating more than usual (which in my case is already a lot) and it's really easy to get too hot.
To sum it up, running in 95% humidity is pretty miserable. But I had 10 miles planned for today, and wasn't going to let a little water in the air stop me from trying. So out into the sultry streets I went.
"Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken." ~ --Ecclesiastes 4:12
The Cabot Country Cruisers had a group running at 6 AM, so I met with them. There was a time I ran alone...always. I was self-conscious that I'd be too slow, or wouldn't fit in with the group, so I'd just strike out on my own. But I absolutely love running with these folks! What I've found is that not every runner is a Cheetah. The folks here range from really fast to pretty slow and I fit somewhere in between. As for not fitting in? If you're crazy enough to get up early on a Saturday morning to pound the pavement for 10 or more miles, you're most likely going to find some common ground with the others doing the same. :)
My planned 10 miles would give me 41 miles for the week, one more than my weekly target of 40. Last week I let the humidity stop me after only 6 miles and fell short of my weekly goal, so I had a little extra motivation to get it done today.
As we took off, the group of 12-15 runners began to fracture into smaller groups with different paces. None of the groups were setting the pavement on fire so I caught up with the leaders pushing about a 10 minute mile. We took a few walk breaks in the first 3 and a half miles to allow some of the others to catch up, but then our little group of about 8 split too. Only myself and a lady I'd never run with were shooting for 10 miles. The rest were only looking for 6 or so. So we headed our way and they theirs.
Over the next mile and change, I noticed we had picked up the pace and I could tell it was working on me. We had some great conversation, getting to know each other, talking about our kids and spouses and jobs and such, but the humidity and the pace were taking a toll on me. Before we made it to the 5 mile mark, I had to take another walk break. Around 6.3 miles, we stopped at a convenience store to refill our water bottles, a blessed break!
As we stepped out again, I let my new running friend know that I had to back the pace down to make 10 miles. I didn't realize just how much I'd have to back it down though. Over the next three miles, I had to take an extraordinary number of walk breaks and I knew I was holding her back. Several times I told her to feel free to go on, but she stuck with me. We kept going, with the walk breaks getting longer. When I stopped again for an extended walk break just before we'd gone 9 miles, my new friend finally agreed to go ahead.
With no detours, heading straight for the car would cut my run short, but I was out of water by now and there was water and Gatorade in an ice chest in the vehicle. So I decided to head straight for the cold refreshment and just add on after I got back. I ran a little downhill stretch after that, but the rest I walked. When I got to the car, my watch read 9.64 miles. I grabbed a quart bottle of Gatorade and took off walking again. I had no intention of stopping until my watch read 10.00 miles.
By the time I'd lapped the parking lot enough times to make the mileage, I'd drained the bottle of Gatorade. Several friends were still hanging around the parking lot, and others were coming in from their own runs of varying distances. So I took the opportunity to visit with them, hanging around until I'd cooled down some and enjoying the conversation and the company.
A lot of people ask, "Why do you do it?" To them it's too hot to make sense of someone putting themselves through the tough runs in the heat and humidity. To some we seem obsessed, to others just plain crazy, but we all have something that drives us to keep going, even when that going nears something bordering masochistic. For me, it's our mission here at Running with Amanda. If I'm going to run and race, I've got to stay in shape. With 6 marathons planned over the next year, and more likely to pop up during that time, and several other races of shorter distances on the schedule, I don't want to have to start training all over again.
"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." ~ Philippians 4:13
So regardless what the weather throws at us, I'll keep running, all I can, as long as the Good Lord lets me. Times like this remind me that it's not my strength or my ability or my anything that keeps me going. Nothing less than the grace of God permits me to push through these tough times and log the miles.
Still, I am really looking forward to the cooler days of fall that are getting closer and closer and closer with every setting sun!
"And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased." ~ Hebrews 13:16
PS: Don't forget about our contest this month! Donate to St. Jude, Arkansas Children's Hospital, or Soaring Wings Ranch and be entered in a drawing to win a $200 Walmart gift card we'll give away the first weekend of September! Click here for more details!
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