I hate Washington, DC. Or at least that’s what I find myself every year at about this time. The heat wave has finally hit full force. After a beautiful spring, it has been over 95 degrees and very humid for the last four days.
Unfortunately, this heat wave has coincided with some pretty intense training for Vermont 100. The worst day by far was last Saturday.
In my schedule I had planned for 40-42 miles. Unfortunately, the forecast planned for 99 degrees and 90% humidity. Not a good combination. My plan to deal with this was to wake up crazy early to run in the dark as much as possible and do two loops on nearby trails so I wouldn’t get too far from home.
I woke up at 3:30 in the morning and hit the road at about 3:45. It was so humid that the air was covered in a dense haze, and there was extremely limited visibility. I took off on some hilly roads, and all my clothes were totally soaked through within 5 miles. Awesome.
After about 7 miles, I hit the Potomac Heritage trail. It was about 4:45 at this point and still totally dark, so I switched on my head lamp. The Heritage trail is fairly rocky, hilly, and technical, so running in the dark on would certainly be a good training run.
Another challenge would be that the stream crossings were running high, and my feet got wet early on the trail. Unfortunately, it was so humid that my feet never dried out at all. They were soggy and wet for the whole run. Just one more thing to deal with, I guess.
I ran 6.5 miles north to the end of the trail and then turned back around. Daylight came roughly at the turnaround, which was kind of nice. The sun wasn’t high enough yet for it to get hotter, so the increased visibility was much welcome.
Halfway back on the trail I ran into an eagle. It just sat in the middle of the trail staring at me. I slowly moved closer, and it started to hiss at me! I kept moving closer to see if it would fly away, but it wasn’t budging. I was playing chicken with an eagle and losing. Eventually I bushwhacked my way around the eagle and kept on moving. It was a pretty cool sight to see and a nice distraction from the hot weather.
I came off the trail at 20 miles and ran another couple of miles to where I would pick up the next major loop. It was decision time now. If I started the other loop, I’d be committing to about a 42 mile run. I was extremely hot by now, but I still felt ok otherwise and had been drinking well. I decided to go for it. I gave my fiancée a quick call to let her know I was all right and set out on my way.
Now it truly became a mental test. It was getting hotter and was still incredibly humid. I’d been running for almost 4 hours in this weather, and it was starting to take a toll on me. I kept pressing on and tried to just will my way through it.
Around mile 25 my stomach started to not feel so great. I wasn’t able to eat much more, and it was even getting harder to take in fluids. I think it was the heat that was making it so hard, but this definitely wasn’t a good sign.
I kept plodding on, and by mile 30 it was clear that I wouldn’t make it the whole way. Luckily, I had my cell phone with me. I called my fiancée at mile 32 and asked her to pick me up at the closest road, which would be at mile 35.
Those last 3 miles were pretty rough. My stomach was in really tough shape, it was hot, my legs were hurting, etc. I finally made it there around 9:45, just about 6 hours after I started.
Well it certainly was not a fun run, and I didn’t make it the full distance I was hoping for, but I was still really happy overall. I got in a lot of mileage in really terrible weather and proved I could make it through some tough conditions. Also, I didn’t get any blisters despite running with wet feet for the better part of 6 hours. That was definitely a good sign.
I’ve continued my regular training since Saturday. 15 on Sunday, 10 on Monday, 8 on Tuesday. It’s been the same type of heat and humidity, but it hasn’t seemed as bad after surviving Saturday. Let’s just hope the weather is better in Vermont!