Friday, August 19, 2011

potential ...

In case you didn't realize, I live in a sauna. A sauna named Virginia. It is at least somewhat warm, year-round. In fact, as long as you are running during daylight hours, it's very likely that you don't need to own a pair of running tights.

In some ways, this is awesome. I can almost always get outside for a run. I'm never afraid that I am going to get frostbite and if I time my runs correctly, there is almost no chance of heat stroke. (Unfortunately, it can be really challenging to run at 3 a.m.)

The major problem with the warmth of the area is that I never get an accurate gauge of my running "potential."

Think about it. Numerous studies have shown that runners perform best when the temperatures are between 41 and 55 degrees. Do you know how many days fall in that range in Virginia? About 6.

Thus, I have run very few times in "ideal" conditions. In fact, it's rare that I race when it is cooler than 60 degrees. The two times I did in recent history, I ran wicked fast. Like a 33:50 marathon PR fast.

Recently, though, I have felt like I just can't find my speed. I am currently training for a sub-4 marathon, but most days I struggle to hold a pace that would just give me a PR. I know that this is mostly due to the fact that the average temperature when I run is around 78 degrees with 70% humidity. That take a toll on your pace. And your confidence.

Honestly, I was feeling unsure about my ability to run strong during Hood to Coast. My final leg is the longest of any on the course (8.09 miles) and I will be running it alone. Without an iPod. On close to no sleep. And above all, I don't want to let my teammates down.

So, yesterday, I set out on a run in Rhode Island. 6 miles in much cooler temperatures with little humidity. I left the iPod at home and hoped to mimic what my Hood to Coast legs will be like.

Mile 1 felt easy. 9:24.
Mile 2, I knew I was going to run 8 instead of 6. 9:05.
Miles 3 and 4, piece of cake. 9:01. 8:49.
Turnaround, then mile 5. 8:50.
Mile 6, couldn't believe there were only 2 miles left. 9:00.
Mile 7, Spotted a deer, a fox and DEM. 8:51
Mile 8, I so have this. 8:50.

Do you know what my goal marathon pace is?


Do you know what 8:50 felt like?

Conversational pace.

Confidence restored.


Meredith said...

NICE! :)
It has been said before, but you are a beast.
With sparkly headbands. And cool socks.

Silly Girl Running said...

NYCM here she comes! Guessing 3:45...if not faster! :)

ajh said...

Very nice. Were you on that bike path?

Rene' said...

just think of your potential if you lived up here!??

Rachel said...

I love those runs where your confidence is restored. :)

Anonymous said...

Its amazing how much the weather can affect us. Great run, T! You're gonna rock Hood to Coast

MCM Mama said...

Nice job!

You need to come up here in the winter - it gets plenty cold. And I find that I'm much "faster" when it's cool with no humidity. I love fall running after a summer of heat.

Running Ricig said...

That's awesome! I LOVE having an encouraging run like that where you just think, "yes, I CAN do this ridiculously tough thing I just signed up for."

Karen said...

NICE JOB! I know exactly what you mean with the heat. When I find myself feeling like a slug I always think how fast I will be in January. HA HA.

fancy nancy said...

Way to rock it!!! What can I say...RI brings out the best in runners! LOL!

Kurt @ Becoming An Ironman said...

I agree with you on the temperature issue, though I think I much prefer something closer to 50 than 41. I do understand the physiology behind it though.

Either way, that's awesome that you found confidence on a Rhode Island run. Having done the New England Relay with ZERO idea of what to expect or how to pace it, I will admit that even that last leg when you're running half asleep and you think you're going a 12:00 pace, you'll hit the finish line and find out you're quite speedy!

My biggest suggestion is stretch whenever possible. Sitting in the car for long periods was the worst aspect of my race.

I can't wait to read the multiple race reports I'm sure that will come of this race!!!

Carrie said...

NICE! I'm glad you're feeling better about your upcoming run! It's been heaven up here in Maine in the morning this past week - mid-50's, perfect for running!

Sarah K said...

Congrats on that great run! Weather in NY in November is glorious. You'll have a great race.
August, on the other hand...not so great. It's a blow to the ego to struggle to keep up 11:00 pace in 100% humidity.

April said...

Woohoo! Glad you had that confidence boost. Im with you in the warm weather. I ran a 5k last Saturday and it was 80 degrees ....needless to say I bonked at mile 2.:(
Looking to get a strong run in today to boost myself.
You are going to rock the HTC!

Eisparklz said...

I'm so glad that you wrote about this. I live in Phoenix, and am training for my first full marathon in January (late bloomer, I've been running for about 7 years, but wanted to enjoy the process). I had the. most. awful. nine mile run last weekend - by the time I hit 6 miles it was 95 degrees and 40% humidity - and have been feeling bad about it all week. I *know* that things will be better when it cools down, but it can get to you mentally. Your post helped!

Katie said...

Sweet!! Running in the heat IS hard in this area. I think it is mainly the humidity, it can be so hard.

So glad you had a good run!

Kerrie said...

Oh yeah. The heat can zap you. And, I know you won't be letting us down. We're just gonna have so much fun!

Michelle said...

The last leg of my relay last weekend was 10 miles and it was DELIGHTFUL despite the lack of sleep and 12 miles already on my legs. Something about running at night, the sounds, the forget you are running and just go into autopilot! You are going to do great. The relay is just such a bonding time. Enjoy each'll forget about the pace and surprise yourself. I see 8:40's in your future!

Unknown said...

I run relatively well in heat but that's Canadian heat. Either way, though, those hot runs in the summer make fall and winter so much more enjoyable and we tend to see our times drop then for that reason.
Once committed to others, I find that I'm constantly evaluating, doubting and challenging myself. Your feelings are only natural. You'll rock in the HtoC; I have every confidence in you.

XLMIC said...

Awesome run!

I love the climate where I live now…it's a huge part of why I will probably not ever move!

Let's hope temps in OR are conducive to realizing our potentials :)

Shellyrm ~ just a country runner said...

You make the thought of leaving PA for VA so inviting. ;-)(Yeah cuz' it's all about me.)

Seriously, sweet run. Great to feel confident about your goals.

Anonymous said...

Nothing like a great run to remind you what you are capable of. I'm waiting for that temp drop too!

Beth said...

Summer weather in VA is ridiculous. I'm glad you had a great run, but don't ever worry about your pace in this nastiness. You'll be flying on marathon day for sure. :)

Becka said...

Great job! NYC is gonna be your PR!

SupermomE13 said...

All that running in the heat is just making you a tougher runner! (That's what I tell myself about running at high elevation when runs seem hard).

Never doubt yourself or your potential. You are awesome!!

Hopefully NY will be a crisp 45 degrees for us. :)

Allie @ The Constant Pursuit said...

I literally JUST wrote about this today as well! Sometimes, we just need one of those confidence boosting runs to get our groove back.

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Marlene said...

Your marathon - which will be in cool temps - better look out!!!

Unknown said...

You'll soar in NYC... with those cool conditions, the miles will just tick by! :)

Unknown said...

First of all - way to kill that workout...honestly, my night leg in relays is always my more comfortable and relaxing, while my third leg is my quickest (you have so much drive to just finish, and your legs are sore, but loose, and you know that as soon as you hit that transition spot (or finish line) you are DONE!) you will rock that leg in HTC.

Second of all, I love that my spotting was on par with a deer and fox, and a little jealous (or relieved?) that I didn't see either! That bike path is gorgeous and it was a great morning!

I left for Newport that afternoon and had a bunch of wedding stuff to do, so I couldn't meet up again, but I am so happy I got to run into you even briefly!