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Running In The Heat

With race day just around the corner, I can’t seem to get past the hurdle of high temperatures.

I am learning the hard way how to run in this heat. It’s stifling, and the humidity makes my hair stick to my face. I feel drenched in sweat just by walking outside my door; by the time I come home from a run, I look as though I’ve gone for a dip in Buffalo Creek.

With the Chicago Marathon just around the corner (76 days as of today), time is ticking and my training log says I should be running, well, a lot more miles than I’m running right now.

It’s the heat this time that is bogging me down. I’ve changed my routine, always trying to find some sort of break from the 95-degree weather we’ve had lately, and the asphalt still feels like I’m running on the surface of the sun.

I pass other runners (and there are few of those, no matter when I run), and everyone has a look in their eyes that clearly says “What a horrible idea it is, to run outside on a day like today.”

As I run or stay home because of the heat, I entertain an uncomfortable thought: The marathon is just two months away. Am I honestly ready to run this race? Training has turned out to be a bigger time commitment than I first thought. The long runs take up quite a bit of time because it works like this: I get up early, eat a light breakfast, wait for my food to settle, then stretch, then run. This takes well over four hours at a time.

Then there are the shorter runs during the week. It means scheduling my days and juggling activities so I can carve out time for a run.
And then there’s the heat. I know that people in much hotter locales run — and run often — so I should just put on my big-girl running shorts and join the pack. I can do this, and that’s fine. After all, I signed up for this willingly.

What holds me back is thinking about the weather on race day. October in Chicago can be blistering hot, bitterly cold with a threat of ice, and everything in between. What if race day is a repeat of the 2007 race, with scorching hot temperatures fairly early on in the competition? I’ve already promised that I wouldn’t run; at the same time, I’ll feel like I’ve wasted months of training by not running at all.

The feeling of wasting my time is what keeps me going, and why I haven't (metaphorically) untied my shoe laces. I have come so far, and I'm in the last two months of training; I can do this.

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