Right before Memorial Day, my college-age kid and I went to Florida to see my Mom. I hadn’t been down to Clermont, which is 45 minutes northwest of Orlando, since the end of 2019. I didn't intend to stay away quite so long but we all know how 2020 played out.
Yes, it was weird to fly again, after so many months of not going any farther from my house than the next state south. Air travel is just like riding a bike, if that bike was on an aircraft.
I always bring running gear with me for these visits because this part of the sunshine state is full of delightful trails and lakes and bike paths -- all of which pleasure to run and much different from my usual. When we aren't coming out of a global pandemic, I plan my trips so that I’m down there when the weather up here is at its most extreme. The balmy temps of Florida in February make braving the Orlando airport worthwhile.
The end of May, tho? Oooof. I knew going it that it would be hot, humid, and gross. I was not disappointed.
Forewarned is forearmed and “they” have a point. The runs on my schedule were intentionally shorter with just a taste of speed. While I still returned back to my car drenched in sweat, I wasn’t completely zonked by the early morning warm damp. I also finished my runs with an appreciation for the runners who were wearing long sleeves and long pants. I tip my sweaty hat to these acclimated loons.
What I did NOT expect was that the exact same weather would follow me home. When I set out for my 12 miler this weekend — yes, I’m still training for the Bristol, R.I., half — it was already 60 degrees with a million percent humidity and a real-feel of "surface of Venus."
I hydrated like a champ the day before and carried water with me. I stuffed my pockets with the new, more liquid-y Gu, because my tummy is a fickle beast when it’s warm. My only goal was to move forward for 12 miles; then go home and lie in front of a fan.
This training cycle, my coach and I have worked out that a 9/1 interval works about the best for long runs. For the first nine miles, it was no big deal to run for nine minutes and walk for one. Those measly 60 seconds were enough to water myself and regroup for the next bit of running. It wasn’t fast, mind, but it was sustainable.
Until it wasn’t.
Right at the start of mile nine, just as I faced the big hill by the Subaru dealer where there is absolutely zero shade, the wheels came clean off. I thought about running back to the McDonald’s to see if they would stuff my hat, water bottle, and bra full of ice. Or, if that wasn’t possible, if they would put me in the cooler next to the frozen fries.
Instead, I persisted.
I walked more than I ran. My pace dragged slower and slower; I was out in the sun for longer and longer. I got into that mental place of beating myself up for being so dang slow and how this all meant that my upcoming half would take hours and hours and hours and that I was letting everyone down and shouldn’t call myself a runner because this was most definitely not running. You know how it goes, you know?
I also spent those last two miles dreaming of an ice cold Coca-Cola, which is something that never, ever happens to me because I don’t really even like soda. An overheated brain makes interesting choices.
Eventually, I moved forward for my 12 miles and went home, where I drank the best Coke of my life. All of me felt like I’d been parboiled. A cool shower took the edge off, despite discovering that the skirt that never chafes did. I’m trying to not be mad at it.
Here’s the thing that gives me hope: I ran 12 miles a few weeks ago in much more forgiving conditions. After that long run, I spent the next 48 hours feeling like I’d been hit by a truck because it had been at least a year since I’d run that far. And now, 48 hours after my second 12-mile run of the year? I feel great, with the exception of the chafing.
Maybe this whole training thing is all it's said to be? Or maybe my choice of recovery drink was full of magic? Either way, I'll take it.
What's the oddest thing you've ever craved during a run?
Adrienne Martini writes about more than running. Her most recent book is Somebody's Gotta Do It: Why Cursing at the News Won't Save the Nation but Your Name on a Local Ballot Can.