Admittedly, I’m a wuss when it comes to summer.
One of the reasons why I left the south — I’ve lived in Texas and Tennessee — is that I just can’t hack the heat. Give me -10 in a snow squall and I’ll toss on another sweater, then go on with mushing my dogsled. Once the mercury rises above 75 I’m all, like, the fluids in my body are boiling and I’m about to fall down dead.
And that was even before I started running. Now, to quote my New York brethren and sistren: FUGETABOUTIT.
July, August, and the beginning of September are my personal betes noir. I just can’t even, to quote the Teen. Yet, I do anyway because you can’t change weather. Then, I complain.
Two weekends ago, I did my 12 mile long run in a furnace. I didn’t take any pictures because I was afraid my phone would burst into flames when I took it out of my pocket. At one point — and this is 100 percent true — I saw a house cat and a squirrel sitting right next to each other on someone’s back step and panting because it was too hot to chase each other. This could have been a hallucination, now that I think about it. Even with my handheld water and a Gu or two, I’m not sure I wasn’t getting silly from the heat.
Then, rather than do the sensible thing and head further north for a quick summer vacation, we drove five hours south to the Jersey Shore because we love to GTL.*
No. Not really. We have good friends from college who live near the Shore and we relish any opportunity to get our kids and dogs together for some romping. And, yes, we did go to Ocean City to take in the Boardwalk one evening. It is a wonder.
New York City marathon training, however, waits for no Boardwalk funnel cake. On the schedule was an easy 4 mile run on Friday and an easy *gulp* 14 mile run on Sunday. I’ve tried a few different routes in our college friends’ neighborhood during the years but none that I loved. I also didn’t want to do the 14 miles as an out-and-back, mostly because I would be in a place that I don’t know terribly well, which means I’d be hard pressed to describe my location if I had to call for help.
Besides, it dawned on me that I could simply plot a 3.5 mile loop from said friends’ place and run it four times, which would give me ample opportunity to refill my water bottle or shove ice in my bra.
I treated Friday’s run as a test of my loop; then tacked on an extra half mile to hit my goal. The good news: there were a couple of tricky turns because South Jersey doesn’t believe in street signs, but I puzzled it out. The bad news? It was so hot and humid that I wasn’t sure I could make it those four miles, much less 14. Short of growing gills during the next 48 hours, I wasn’t sure i could handle breathing hot air that was 95 percent water.
My innate pragmatism might be what got me through the run. I knew that as long as I was sensible about hydration and electrolytes, I wouldn’t die, even if the conditions made me think I could. I also knew that it would be a run stuffed full of suffering — but I can deal with suffering. It’s not my first choice, mind. Still, I have mad coping skillz, yo.
So that’s what I did. I coped. The run was slow — oh so slow — and miserable. I preferred the rain that fell intermittently to the unceasing humidity, if only because it washed away some of my gritty sweat. Around mile 7, when the peasants in my gut staged a revolt and I had to run into my friends’ abode to make an emergency pit stop, I realized that the 3.5 mile loop was one of my better ideas.
The only thought that got me through that last loop was the knowledge that I could go sit boob-deep with an ice cold NUUN in our friends’ pool once I was done. By the last two miles, I was walking a lot more than running and knew that that was the absolute best I could manage. And I just kept going, because I wasn’t in any real pain or on the verge of passing out. Queasy and exhausted, yes, but not in a way that seemed dangerous. A phrase, incidentally, that describes my 2016 so far.
So how do you deal with the heat, provided it is hot where you are? And if it’s not hot where you live, tell me if I can get a job there once I move….
*I’m told this stands for Gym, Tan, Laundry and was a repeating motif in MTV’s Jersey Shore.