When people think Portland weather, images of rain and gray skies come to mind. People are very impressed that we’re able to withstand day after day of rain, and wish that they could be as indifferent to the rain as we are, so they could come live in this really great city. The truth is that while it does rain quite a bit, I’m pretty sure it’s way less than in other places like Seattle or the rainforest, and we actually have very mild weather relative to most of the country. The temperature doesn’t ever really dip below freezing and we only wish we had air conditioning about two nights out of the year. Despite all this, a very important part of being a Portlander is complaining profusely every time the temperature strays outside of the 68 to 81 degree Fahrenheit range (give or take a couple degrees). This happens about 320 days out of the year, so we spend a lot of time complaining about the weather. I went on a run yesterday in 85 degree weather, so some complaining is in order.
A little over a year ago, 7 mile runs were my short runs. This has changed, and 7 miles has turned into a very long run, and yesterday was a terrible, hot day to do that run on. I believe I went during the hottest part of the day too, because I felt much hotter when I was running than I did during any other part of yesterday. This is the part of my complaining where I understand that everyone from anywhere else wishes they could tell me I’m an idiot and should know that it’s one million degrees where they live and they run in the heat every day and it’s much worse for them. My response to this is: I don’t care. Unfortunately, merely knowing that other people have at some point in their lives been hotter than I was at that moment, or are perhaps even hotter right at that second, does not make me any cooler. Anyway, if you’re used to heat like that you probably know to do things like bring water or something, and being unfamiliar with such heat, there’s no way I could possibly prepare myself in that manner.
My long hot run was done in large part on the Springwater Corridor, where much of Hood to Coast is run. This felt appropriate, because I actually only made myself do this insanely long run because one of my legs of HTC is 7 miles, and I haven’t run that far since the Eugene Half. This also felt boring, because that’s always how the Springwater Corridor feels to me. It doesn’t always feel hot though, as it did yesterday. That was a new thing.
The reason I haven’t been running long distances lately (aside from laziness) is that I’ve been turning my attention toward shorter distances. A couple of weeks ago I ran my first 5k in almost seven years. 5ks are about 1/10 the distance of a marathon, so I have appropriately been training about 1/10 as much. At least this felt appropriate until I ran the 5k and remembered how hard they are. Half-marathons and marathons are hard because they last so long, but at no point are you going all-out and pushing yourself in the same way you do for shorter distances. A 5k pretty much felt like a sprint to me, which it wasn’t, because I finished in a time of 22:36, which is not the time I would have had if I had actually been sprinting the entire way.
22:36 felt like a decent time for not having run a 5k in such a long time, but later I realized that this pace (7:16) was the same pace I ran for an 8k earlier this year. Which kind of means that I should be able to run faster than that, but I also hadn’t been training much before that run. I also added in a new variable to this 5k, which may or may not be to blame for how things played out: the caffeine variable. In the form of a Rockstar energy drink. Not a whole one of course, but obviously this was inadvisable. I’ve always heard that caffeine is really helpful in races, and since I can’t drink coffee/tea because they’re so disgusting to me, energy drinks are my only option. And they are a bad option. I felt fantastic for the first mile, running it in 6:43, and then I was hit hard by sugar/caffeine water sloshing around in my insides. Or maybe I was just hit hard by the fact that I was running a 5k and am not at all used to it.
The last 5k was on July 30 (the Bowerman 5k), and as difficult as it was, it got me all jazzed on the idea of running a bunch of 5ks, so now I’m signed up to do the Catnip Friday 5k tomorrow. Now that I have one 5k under my belt for the year, I’m hoping to run at least two minutes faster and PR. This would be surprising, but you know what they say about shooting for the stars. They say you should do it.