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Too Hot to Trot

I “ran” in my third road race last weekend. I say “ran” because I spent more time walking than running in this one, thanks to unseasonably high temperatures and my apparent inability to tolerate them.


The race was the Ice Breaker Road Race held in Great Falls, Montana, which offers 1-mile, 3-mile and 5-mile options. Having done the 3-mile race one other time about 10 years ago, I was looking forward to participating again, and when registration opened up in early March, I took the leap and decided to give the 5-mile race a try. A nice challenge, I thought… only it turned out to be a bit more of a challenge than I had anticipated.

There’s a reason this is called the “Ice Breaker.” It’s more common for our Montana weather to be miserably cold and/or wet this time of year than blazing hot. I believe the average temperature for the race is somewhere in the 40s. Personally, I prefer the cold and wet because I just don’t seem to handle heat very well. For one, I have very fair skin and burn quite easily. Probably related, it doesn’t take long in the direct sun for me to start feeling the effects, which can range from general discomfort to headaches, lightheadedness, queasiness… you name it. This distaste for heat is one of the reasons my normal routine is to rise and run very early in the morning, which lately has meant a very comfortable 35- to 45-degree experience. It’s also the reason I managed to put my foot in my mouth on one memorable morning at the gym. (Let’s just say I think twice now before commenting on one particular dude’s preference to run with a sweatshirt on. ;) )

Gorgeous as the day was, the mid-70s temperatures for Sunday’s race made it really tough for me. With less than a mile under my feet, my legs were already starting to feel weak. That gal dodging into every little shady corner she could find? Yep… that was me. The event became a mental endurance contest, with the water station at each mile marker serving as my lure to keep going. Many times, I seriously contemplated just slipping off to the side and calling it good. The thought of a “DNF” next to my name kept that from happening though… and I somehow I managed to finish in just under an hour, several minutes slower than my typical running pace but not quite slow enough to qualify as one of my weekly “walks.”

Though immensely relieved to have crossed the finish line, the rest of day didn’t fare much better. I ended up battling nausea for a good part of the afternoon and evening, despite a nice lunch with the friend I attended with and a quick trip through a favorite thrift store. Even now, four days later, I’m not feeling all that great. Most likely just a coincidence, I managed to contract a nasty head cold early in the week, which has led me to skip any running workouts I might have done this week, instead just walking and resting more than usual.

The whole experience has been a little disappointing… instead of the usual “high” from accomplishing a goal, at the moment I’m feeling a little defeated and not particularly motivated to get out for a run. I’m guessing this is largely a result of this dang head cold and I’m hoping I feel more enthused after it (finally) clears. In the meantime, though, I’d like to figure out a better way to deal with the heat+running combination. If I continue participating in road races, which I would like to do, I would like to have a little more control of the situation and a better chance of a positive outcome.

If you can relate or have suggestions for me, I’d love to hear them!

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