Monday, May 21, 2012

Sweaty Summer(-like) Running and Race Course Closures Due to Heat

I had a great long run yesterday despite high temperatures, and I am thankful for that.  I have to say, when I started out, I was a little nervous about what my body would do.  Although I had gotten through the Kalamazoo Half Marathon two weeks ago with no major aches or pains, I did manage to tack on some during my two-week post-race recovery phase.  Jumping right back into my regular routine - with elliptical, power yoga, rowing, and running - as well as adding some harder runs in the second week - two-hour Devil's Lake Run and my twofer last Wednesday - all seemed to take their toll.  As a result, I was left this past week nursing a tender achilles and knee (both on the left leg).  To add insult to injury, weekend-warrior-type gardening left my back and right hip sore (I guess from the way I was shoveling).
Anyway, I took it easy leading up to Sunday's run, and it seems to have payed off.  I got in the ten miles I had planned with no real body grumpiness.  My achilles did seem to act up a bit around Mile 8, but nothing too major.  (Walking the hills helped with that.)  So, it was all good.

Actually, the hardest part of the day was the heat.  It was in the 70s when I started out and in the mid-80s by the time I wrapped it up.  I haven't run much in heat yet this year, so I didn't quite know what to expect.  As it turned out, though, it wasn't so bad.  

I ended up going out to High Cliff State Park and running a mix of road and trails, knowing this would maximize the shade potential.  The first five miles were on roads...  Some looked like this:
Nicely shaded....
But some looked like this...

Full sun! Ugh!
Running the roads at High Cliff is fun, because it takes you right past all the campers.  It's always amusing to me to be running past them in the morning hours, because for the most part they look like they are just waking up... A lot of groggy faces peering at you as you dash by, looking like they think you are from another planet.  The downside is that the cook fires are going, and by then breakfast is smelling kind of good.  I wonder what they would think if I just plopped myself down and asked for a handout...

Once I hit the trails, I was pretty much guaranteed full shade. As an added bonus, too, the woods also offered me extra motivation to keep running, as slowing down to a walk magically seemed to turn me into a mosquito magnet.

Sweaty Self Portrait Post-Run 
During the run, I managed to eat 6 Clif Bloks - so did better than at my Half Marathon two weeks previously.  I also drank a crazy amount of liquid, as shown by my myriad water bottles.

While running, I kept thinking of another run going on - the Cellcom Green Bay Marathon.  Most of my running peeps from the Wednesday group run were doing that event, as well as other friends from the running club.  I knew how hot I was in the shaded woods, and I was having a hard time imagining life on the race course at that point.  (I don't think it is that well shaded.)  Given other circumstances, I would have been out there on the course with them.  I was all geared up to run Green Bay this year, but then they announced due to construction on Lambeau Field, the key element of running through the stadium would not be happening this year.  Snob that I am, I decided I wouldn't do the race until I could run through the stadium.  I guess as it turns out, no one would have been running through the stadium anyway.  

The expo inside the Lambeau Field Atrium - sweet!
I had text alerts for several friends being sent to my phone, because my plan was to wrap up my run and head to the finish line to cheer them on.  As I got back to my car, though, I got one final text message saying the course was closed due to heat and runners who had not yet finished were being shuttled back to the start/finish.  What a blow! I can't even imagine that happening during a race.  I can understand the medical need that drove them to close the course, but as a runner it's hard to imagine what I would do.... I have several friends who followed the officials' directions and took the shuttle back to the start, and I also have several who said Screw it and kept running.  They received medals and know their finish time from their watches.  But, from the race's standpoint, they are "unofficial" finishers and will not have an "official" time.  

So, what would I do?  I really don't know.  Although I have never been in a race where the course was closed, I am not completely unfamiliar with such things.  Distance Dude actually had the bad luck to have the course closed not once, not twice, but THREE times during marathons - and they happened to be his first three marathons.  We all joked that the third time was the charm and it seems to have been.  He's now done 21 marathons with no further course closures beyond those first three.  (In his case, he was able to finish all the races.)  So, for myself, I guess, like most runs, it would depend on how I felt on that given day and where I assessed my abilities at.  I don't think there is a right or wrong answer.    

Although, it's a hard decision to make, I believe all my friends made the right decision FOR THEM THAT DAY.  They did great!  No regrets necessary.  Now, it's just a question of where to go from here.... 

Happy Running!

Have you ever experienced a course closure?

What would you do in this situation?

Picture of the day:

Lilacs in bloom!


  1. I would be really sad if my course closed, but I'm guessing it had to be pretty bad for them to close it so I would probably just follow their directions. There's a small chance I would keep running, but I wouldn't have brought my own fluids so that would be a major deterrent.

    What did your husband do in his three race closures?

  2. No fluids?! You are hardcore! :) I can't run longer distances without my own hydration.... I just like to sip too much in between stations - and with high heat, I know I need a lot. It's a tough question, though. Everyone has to know their own body, I guess.

    Hubby actually managed to finish all three... One was closed due to lightening and two to heat. Somehow I think he just got lucky in them. With the heat races, I know he ended up walking a LOT. With the lightening? I don't know, maybe he ran faster? LOL Just kidding,... that one I think he just squeezed ahead of where they started telling people to get off. I know he had reports that the race was closed, but by that point he wasn't going to give up. He's stubborn that way. :)

  3. I will never again run without my own hydration of some sort...I ended up running for 9 miles carrying a regular water bottle.
    If I hadn't felt well, I would have stopped...i made the right choice for myself.

    1. Yikes! At least you had your own water..... I am one who likes to sip along the way, so I am not too happy on the best of days with only a drink every mile and a half or so. Of course, that is just for long runs. For shorter runs, I am fine. :) Strange, huh?

  4. The shady parts of your run look really gorgeous but the full sun looks brutal. I've never had a race called for any reason.

    1. There was quite a temperature difference between the two, that is for sure! The unfortunate part about shade, though, is that is where the mosquitos lurk.... there is always something. :)