The Heat & Christmas in July

The midwest has undergone a disgusting revolution. From the coldest winter since I’ve been here, to the warmest summer since I’ve been here. Clearly the Dark-Humored Gods of the Flyover States have decided to test my resolve. I had a 12 mile run planned for Sunday, July 17, and ended up calling a halt for it at 5 miles, and finishing off another 5 on the treadmill indoors.

That, right there, is a strange thing. My idea of ‘giving up’ is now “I only I’m going to run 10 miles, and half of it on a treadmill.” I’m grateful for the gift of insanity that running has given me, the distortion of perspective so great that I think of a 10 mile run (like the one I had this Sunday in Pittsburgh) as a ‘great way to start the day’.

So it comes to pass, that instead of thinking of snow, or rain, or crippling heat as a reason not to run, I put it in my sights as a new challenge, a new problem I must solve, something to take my mind off all the inconvenience of actually running while I trick myself into being okay at it. I read up on advice from runners as humble as bloggers in the midwest to as vaunted as professionals running in the heat of Miami or Arizona. And basically they all said the same thing. Slow down. Drink water. Know your limits.

While my Camelbak Rogue has been a great accessory for long runs, carrying 70oz of water (or indeed, even a backpack at all) feels like extreme overkill for my 4-5 mile runs during the week. So between that, and the serendipitous timing of the Brooks Running Sponsor Family & Friends sales event, I found myself buying a whole bunch of new goodies.

A Nathan Quickdraw Elite handheld bottle was the first to arrive, destined to be my buddy for these runs. I had been wooed to select this style by favorable specific reviews by ultra-runners (“after a mile or two, it just melts away and you forget it’s there!”), and by a particularly glowing general endorsement of hand-helds by NPR personality Peter Segel (“It’s as if I had suddenly evolved a physical advantage, an eruption of Velcro and plastic from the palm, to become Homo sapiens bottlensis”). So when I got it out of the box and strapped it on my hand, I was more than a little disappointed when it felt pretty much like a bottle with a velcro strap for your hand.

No easy integration with my palm, no effortless connection to my body. I had to adjust my hand around it and if I tilted my hand down or waved my arm frantically enough it could, horror of horrors, shake loose. I called my mother-in-law for advice, which seemed to, pretty much instantly, baffle her. She informed me (second hand, my wife was actually talking with her, while I whipped my arms around in circles and cranked down hard on the velcro strap to tighten the thing to the point of lost circulation on my hand) that if it was leaking, I could just squeeze it to test whenever I closed the cap. I hadn’t even considered leaking! It was still dry, and it felt like it could fly off at any moment. So I was going to have to worry, not only about hurling it accidentally in a random direction, but about being tortured by a slow water-torture drip onto my leg from the lid?

All that aside, I resolved just to take it on one run, and it was an absolute pleasure on every one of the miles I brought it on. It turns out that when you flail around in your living room you actually make a bunch of movements that you would never make while running normally. I also learned that you can’t compare “Handheld Running Water Bottle” to “Nothing In My Hands.” You have to either compare it to “Awkwardly Carrying A Bottle Not Designed For It” or “Fainting Of Dehydration Instead Of Running.”

In that spirit of experimentation and success, and inspired by a serious discount (thanks, Sherry!) I had also ordered some new, more summer appropriate tops, another 3 boxes of Gu, and two pairs of shoes. The shoes I’ll try to write about in a more self-contained post, but I’m very excited to have added a couple of ‘designed for coolness’ tops to my closet of random shirts. I bought one of each of the versatile singlet and the HVAC sleeveless top.

Brooks HVAC Top

The singlet is just an orange tank top. Use your imaginations. All the pictures of it were awful; we tried to do them post workout, and the internet recently emphasized to me how spent and primal (where spent means exhausted and primal mostly means… sweaty) we look in post exercise photos.

The HVAC is a great top; those large cutouts behind the shoulder make it feel cooler than a normal sleeveless, and even more importantly, the back and stomach are all a lighter mesh than the chest. Net effect is that it still mops up prodigious chest-sweating, covers my shoulders a bit more than a singlet, but feels nice and cool on the run. A+, would probably buy again… at the discount.

So equipped, I’ve gone out into the hot world much more comfortably these past weeks.


9 responses to “The Heat & Christmas in July

  1. In case anyone is wondering, he actually was flailing about like that in the living room. I think the cat was even laughing at him.

  2. I love my Nathan hand held bottle, but I had the same reaction when I first strapped it onto my hand. It was awkward, but far better than running without water.

    If you haven’t tried this already, I highly recommend filling it with as much ice as possible, then filling the rest with water before heading out. It usually keeps my water cold for at least 2/3 of my run that way.

    • Definitely have used the full ice + water to cover strategy. On these sweltering days that ice is just finishing melting (and I’m just finishing drinking) as I hear the blessed 5 mile (youcanstopnow) beep on my watch.

      Thanks for the recommendation! Have you tried handling the heat in India on the run yet?

  3. It definitely has been a year of weather extremes for the Midwest! Hope your new gear helps out. You’re right that slowing pace, guzzling fluids and “listening to your body” is the best way to survive the heat. 🙂

    • I am hoping the long, wonderful part of summer is starting. with the long, mild, bright evenings. I’m resolved to enjoy August and September as MUCH as possible.

  4. pawsitivelife

    I have been wearing a running belt and stopping by every water fountain, Of course when its winter I will complain about how cold it is. bla bla bla im a never happy runner

  5. You are hilarious! I love your stories!!! Thank you for sharing – who woulda thunk that we’d both end up runners after practicing flipping each other in Christine Pokna’s yard.

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