Everyday you learn something new. Today I learned that when race directors send you several emails the week of the big race warning that conditions are going to be rather hot, it's a good idea to take them somewhat serious.
Seems that my flawless plan to run today's race as naked as possible to ward off overheating backfired on me this morning. Man it was a hot one, like 7 inches from the mid day sun hot. I think even if I were to have ran COMPLETELY naked I would have still been overdressed, and most likely needed a little extra sunblock for the usual places that don't normal see the sun.
I have no idea what the actual temps were today, but they were spicy. Not even those hot yoga classes that I've been taking for several months could have saved me out there. Before the race started I was still hopeful that my body possessed this awesome super-human resistance to racing in extreme temps, even when history has shown me otherwise. As I was sweating like a beast on my warmup, I was still holding on to that glimmer of hope for 13.1 miles on cruise control at 6:30 pace.
That didn't happen.
Mile 1 should have felt comfortable as I clocked a 6:35, but it wasn't. I knew within that first mile that I was going to have to modify my pace a bit for the day, just wasn't sure as to how much at that point. Pulled back to 6:50's for miles 2-6, a pace that normally feels very comfortable for me, and begun to feel fairly warm with my heart rate probably nearing my HR max.
At this point I knew that there was going to be no chance in hell that a sub 1:25 finish was going to come from my legs in these conditions. My stomach felt uneasy, the sun seemed to be baking my skin, and I'd already sweat out every ounce of energy I had in me. I needed a minute to regroup and move to plan B for the day, which I unfortunately hadn't really established at this point.
I gave myself two options:
Pull back and take the rest of the miles easy and just make this a training run. Have fun and make it through the distance safely.
Tough it out and keep trying to pump out sub 7 miles as long as I can an earn myself another half finish in the 1:30's for my bank.
Stupid? Maybe. But I'd rather have two quality races in the next few weeks than one kinda-sorta-okay race. I took the last 7+ miles easy where I walked through the aid stations, stopped on several occasions when my breakfast was threatening to reappear, encouraged other runners as they zoomed past me asking if I was okay, waved to the hubby and shot him some smiles, made some great small talk with the other racers, and even once made a pit stop along side some very friendly ladies with a cooler that let me stuff my mouth and sports bra with some of their ice.
On a hot day nothing feels better then a sports bra full of ice.
I finished in 1:40:53, which is a personal worst for me. That would be a full 72 seconds per mile off of goal pace.
But the good new was that my knee felt 100% okay, which makes me a very happy gal.
Talking to several racers at the finish, seems like I wasn't the only one who felt as if they were melting out on the course. Several full marathoners opted for the half as temps begun to climb, and overall the finishing times seem a bit slower then they should be for a race of this size. Yes it sucks that my last two race have been major strike-outs, with my late April 5k being a DNF, but hey that happens. Weather can't be controlled and racing isn't really a life and death matter. PR's aren't a guarantee and the quest to hunt them down is what makes them worth it all in the end.
There will always be another chance to shine, another goal to tackle, and another course to conquer.
But I'm still going to get that PR, no doubt about it.