Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Another Post Complaining About the Weather...YAYZIES!

When I was down in Houston visiting my running bestie, Jenn, we had multiple hundreds thousands of conversations about running and marathoning.  At this point, both of us had ran at least one less than stellar marathon, so naturally you break it down inch by inch to discover the why.

One of the topics we landed upon was **big shock** weather.  I know that a lot of you have equally shit-show level of weather to train/run/race in, but I'd love to get your two cents and suggestions.

In my eyes, there are 6 weeks of ideal weather to run in my area of eastern South Dakota.  That's about three weeks of spring when the snow and ice melts, the temp comes above freezing, and before the onslaught of heat and humidty arrive.  The other three weeks are in the fall, when we get the repreive from the latter and full on freeze of the former.

Yes, that's 42 days. 

Out of 365.

Popular times of year for marathons in this area are spring and fall, naturally.  If you choose to run a spring marathon (which is my first choice for reasons I'll get in to), you deal with 18 mile long runs on solid sheets of ice (just ask my hip when I ate $#!t hard at the end of a run).  You run in 15-30 degree temps for the duration of your training.  When spring actually comes, you're enjoying your taper so your body never really gets a chance to acclimate to the warmer more humid temperatures.

Then race day comes, and even a day in the 60s (which is fairly cool as far as spring race temps are concerned) sounds ideal, but it's anywhere from 2x-4x warmer than what you're used to.  Throw in any humidity at all, and you're rather screwed.

That gives us our next option of a fall marathon.  For me, this really isn't even an option, given how much I sweat when hot and humid, making it seriously unsafe for me to pursue.  But let's say for arguments sake that it is.  For an early October race, you start training mid-June.  The first few weeks aren't bad, but then we reach July and August and some of September (ie:  the bulk of your training weeks) where getting up at 3am to "beat the heat" isn't even an option because the humidity overnight wavers in the 99-100% range.  Granted, some of this is great training for the fall slaughter heat fest that has been recent popular fall marathons:  Chicago, even Twin Cities would've been too warm for my liking last year.

For this reason alone, I won't even think of running a fall marathon at the beginning of October.  I refuse to train through the shittiest weather SoDak has to offer to be slapped in the face with just as hot and muggy of a day as I've slogged through all summer.  Sorry. 

My point:  It's impossible to train for race day conditions.  That's such a HUGE variable of the marathon day picture, that I feel like sometimes you have 2 strikes against you just heading in to that day that you've prepared for months for.  (Wah, wah, I know!)

I do have a third option, and definitely one I will utilize once marathons get back in the racing schedule more regularly, which is the destination marathon in early December.  It's almost perfect.... you can (hopefully) get the bulk of your training in before the blizzards hit, and can enjoy your taper when they do.  But then there's always the issue of **SOB I'M GOING TO KICK A KITTEN** if a blizzard strikes leaving you not able to depart for your destination marathon.  Also the cost of traveling somewhere for a race can get a little out of hand.  And here again we have the issue (although less severe) of training in much MUCH cooler temps than you'll end up racing in.

So there you have it.  I'm a little bit screwed, and not in a good way.  Any good suggestions you'd like to throw my way?  I'm all ears.  Especially if you're in the midwest and suffering right along with me.


Heather said...

I don't have any answers for you, because we have the same crap here! Last summer while training for twin cities I relied more on my triathlon training - long bike rides (which are more tolerable than long runs in the heat & humidity) followed by a 1-2 mile run. My legs still felt trained to run when tired, but much, much less long running.

Nicole @ "Haute Runner" said...

Move to my city!! We rarely get humidity, it is cool in the mornings/evenings even in the summer and in the winter we occasionally get reprieve from the nasty snowstorms and it warms up!!

Sure we don't have a lot of bikini weather, but it is a billion times better for running!!

Ok- not really an option...

Generation X (Slomohusky) said...


or, take a look at the Tucson, AZ Marathon in December. However, when I ran it last year - it was in the 80's by the finish. 15 degrees above normal, and 15 degrees more than what I had been training in up to the race. The course is pretty much downhill except for the first 4 miles (which is uphill for the most part). Not the greatest organization. Especially compared to the RR Competitor Group Machine, or major city Marathons. It also has a very small town feel to the whole event. Yet, if you want to get out of Dodge and try something different - you might like it. Scenic course.

Nobel4Lit said...

Don't they have indoor tracks there? ;)

On a more serious note, if you must run a fall marathon, set your expectations lower, which should ease some of the burdens of training.

JRose said...

Moving to Helena is your only sane option. NOW. DO IT! =D

Jessie said...

I'm in Georgia, which is pretty much hot ALL the time save a couple of winter months. (Don't even get me started on the humidity). Unfortunately, I can't give many suggestions. Sometimes I chill socks and baseball caps in the freezer overnight or put an icepack in my sportsbra for the superhot months. Other than that, I just PRAY that the running Gods are on good terms with the weather on race day. =p

Wealth is Health said...

I'm in the same boat as you, living in WI. I truly think we live in one of the hardest states to train in, since our bodies have to constantly adapt to the training environment. I'd love to hear if there are any good suggestions out there!

Kristin Miller said...

NYC is calling your name...but I live in the land of extremes. My first half marathon, the first week in April, was a disaster. 95 degrees by 8am. They didn't time it because they didn't want people dying. People were carried off on stretchers every mile (Really great for me mentally...)...but yea, NYC has it all: bone chilling temps, hot and humid aSSphalt runs, rain for days, unshoveled sidewalks, you name it, we've got it! Why not be prepared for EVERY element?! :-D

Anonymous said...

I've got nothing for you. I never want to do a spring marathon because I don't want to do 20 miles on sheets of ice in sub-zero temperatures and the fear of horrible heat in October is one I share. Maybe you just need a destination race in Dec-Jan so you can train in fall.

Val said...

It took me a few years to realize that Fall marathons are painful as hell due to the heat. Finally this year I did Spring marathons instead! Couple commnets- I live in Chicago where the weather is brutal but probably 10 deg less extreme than SoDak in both directions (hot and cold). However, winter running here is totally doable because we have a lakefront path about 20 miles long that is always cleared thus ice is not a factor. Maybe a larger down like the Twin Cities would be similar? Otherwise I do think destination races are the way to go. I did a marathon in Hawaii in January- it was perfect for training through the fall months and early winter. While the weather in HI did get a bit warm, it wasn't too bad and I did a couple long runs on the treadmill in a warm gym to get myself ready. That's my 2 cents! I definitely empathize with your situation:(

Richelle said...

I wish I had some advice for you. For me, I just deal with the heat. I got used to running in the heat last year with Ragnar training, and I'm going to be doing it again this year. Destination races are fun, so I'd sign up for those for sure!