Turning up the heat

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As you’ve no doubt surmised by my numerous complaints about the crappy weather, Seattle has not had a very good late spring/early summer. Let me rephrase that. Seattle has had a craptacular spring/early summer. As in, I had to wear arm warmers on my bike on July 3rd and it rained on the 4th. But this week, Seattle decided to make up for all of that by giving us sun/heat and lot’s of them. Today was forecast to be 90°. Just in time for my long run. Yay.

Well, I’d been complaining about not having any heat acclimation opportunities for Pacific Crest, so I guess you should be careful what you wish for! I’d already planned to do a shorter long run this week of an hour, so I just added easy pace and fuel belt with two frozen water bottles to the plan. Since Pacific Crest, I’ve been working on the mental aspect of my long runs, since it’s my head that’s bringing me down way before my legs have a chance.

I’ve been reading this awesome book (Born to Run by Christopher McDougall) that talks about ultra-runners and has a lot about the mind-set of these events. Because fatigue/pain is implicit in these types of events, various runners have ways of dealing with these mental hurdles. My favorite was one woman who characterized all of that pain/fatigue into “The Beast” and would look forward to her time with “The Beast” etc. I thought this was a hilarious way to take something that’s scary and hurts alot and reframe it. (Plus it reminds me of Edward Norten’s “power animal” in Fight Club.) So, I decided to spend part of my hot run trying this out. I started by visualizing what my “Beast” would look like and came up with the bunny in Monty Python’s The Holy Grail. Then I added another animal to cover all of the little painful twinges that come up when you run for a long time. His name was “Twingy” and he was a little fluffy kitten. Okay, maybe the heat was getting to me a little, but it really did help to reframe the discomfort of the heat/tired legs/little aches & pains into something manageable. Plus it never hurts to have a little giggling during a long, hot run.

Before I knew it, I was less than a mile from the end of my run. I’d arranged to have T pick me up and we stopped for some reward Slurpees at the 7-11 on the way home.

(I ordinarily think these things are disgusting, except after a really hot run.) I was a little bummed at my pace, but I wrote it off to having to go slower in the heat (and having to stop/walk twice to fight with my fuel belt.) but it turned out I’d misremembered the length of the run by about half a mile and was actually a full minute per mile faster than I’d thought. Woo-hoo! Maybe there’s something to this visualization stuff after all!

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