Sunday, July 15, 2012

Building a Base: the Melting in DC version

With the 30-Day Yoga Challenge behind me, it was time to get (somewhat) serious about building a base for half marathon training. I dug up a Hal Higdon maintenance plan, modified it for my current meager mileage, and two Mondays ago, I was off for my first short run on an old familiar route through Georgetown. I wasn't in the mood to hurdle over fallen tree limbs from the crazy storm we got at the end of June, and I figured the residents of Georgetown were likely to have done a better job of removing fallen tree limbs from the sidewalk than Park Service did of removing fallen tree limbs from trails in Rock Creek Park. A few days later on July 4th, I ran the same route without a watch, and felt pretty good in roughly 79˚F and 65% humidity.

Friday, I did my first "hill" workout of the season. My idea of a hill is different from Hal Higdon's and probably everyone else's on the planet. Here's my idea of a hill:

It's about a tenth of a mile in length, and only .75 miles away from my doorstep. I think Hal (can I call him Hal?) recommends running a mile/mile and a half to a hill twice as long, but the only way I can find a hill that long is if I run 7 miles away (I think), which I'm not ready to do. Really, knowing that Michelle (aka, The Transporter, so named because she accompanied me on a drive from DC to Seattle 2 summers ago) was somewhere in Mississippi running in probably steamier conditions was the only reason I got out of bed to run those hills.

I deferred the "long" (read: 6 miles) run from Saturday to Sunday, thinking I'd spend Saturday hydrating and otherwise prepping to a Sunday run. By "prepping," I really meant two 40-minute round trip walks in 106˚F temps to a yoga studio to teach a couple classes. At not quite the crack of dawn Sunday, I checked the weather on my phone: 80˚F. I thought, I can handle this. Except two and a half miles in, I knew there was no way I was going to finish the planned distance. I slogged for another two miles, stopping at every water fountain on the route. Finally, 4.5 miles into what should have been a longer run, I walked the rest of the way home, knowing I'd done the right thing, but I was frustrated.

I rounded the corner and saw the time and temperature on the bank display: 89 degrees. Holy crap. I stopped feeling bad for myself. Then I came home and checked the weather history.
Um. Had I known it was 86˚F with a heat index in the mid-90˚s when I started out, I would not have gone out. Really. My body does not handle heat well at all. I'm convinced that it gets trapped under my hair in a ponytail. I've nearly passed out twice in steamy conditions while being a tourist in Taiwan. I know there are people out there who'll say that I just need to acclimate, but I've been walking around in 100˚F temps for the last 2 weeks. The silver lining, of course, is that I managed to go out during the coolest part of the day last Sunday, right?

Base building sputtered last week, too. I got out for another short run, a short hill workout, and then today, a not-as-long run as I would have liked. A very long story short, it was a stressful week at work, capped by having to move every piece of furniture in my apartment on Friday three feet away from the windows, teaching a couple restorative yoga classes, and a flight to Wisconsin on Saturday (complete with aborted landing....which, by the way, is unsettling to experience when you think you're 5 seconds away from touchdown). The highlight of the week was easily Tuesday, when while doing hills, another woman was also doing hill work. Take that. It's not as wimpy a hill as I thought...

The forecast calls for HOT in the next two days, but I'm remaining optimistic for a nice long run one of these days. Fingers crossed!