The month of September ended on a high note when my sister and a few of our friends met up together in Nashville, Tennessee for a girls’ weekend and a half marathon race.
We ran the Women’s Running Series Half Marathon and it was the first race I’ve ever run where serious thought was put into what runners really want during and after running 13.1 miles.
Free running skirt stations in addition to water stops? Check.
Champagne and chocolate chip cookies at the finish line? Check, check!
The race started and ended at the Country Music Hall of Fame, and the weather was perfect. It was so great to catch up and we agreed that weekends like this are so important and absolutely necessary, especially since everyone’s lives are becoming more and more full as we get married and start families. We’ve already started scheming for the next trip.
Oh, and here’s the obligatory, pre-best-pulled-pork-sandwich-of-my-life-and-I-don’t-even-eat-pork photo of us in the Nashville unofficial uniform: sundresses and cowgirl boots (I have no idea why it’s so small. Sorry!).
Outside Puck’s Grocery. Seriously delicious BBQ.
Participant ribbon from one of the local summer fun runs.
There was once a time when I really relished a long summer run. Not so much anymore. Thank you, Shreveport.
In New Jersey, there might be a “heat wave” where the heat index exceeds 100°, maybe once a year. I can’t even believe I used to complain about this when it only lasted a week or two, max.
Now, I live in a constant heat wave for six months every year. This means there are some new challenges when training during the summer months for the famed fall marathon (or half) season.
I’m currently training for the Women’s Running Half Marathon in Nashville, TN, and I hate running on a treadmill. After battling, (yes, battling), two previous summers in Louisiana, where I felt faint, dizzy, and nauseous, after almost every run outside, I think I finally have it right this third time around.
I’m sharing my tips for running in temps that make your life miserable, so it’s not as miserable.
- Hydrate fully an entire day before a long run (anything exceeding 5 miles) with lots of water, a lot of watery fruits and veggies, and skip anything carbonated or heavily caffeinated.
My two favorite choices for staying hydrated.
- Set the alarm for 5:00am (or earlier). This is the hardest part, but also the most important. You need to already be running while it’s still dark out. Once the sun has been up and blazing for only a mere hour (around here it rises a little after 6am), it will begin to feel like the fires of hell have been unleashed upon you. Think you can just wait until the evening when the sun goes down? Think again. That asphalt you’re running on has been baking all day and will continue to radiate heat like a fry pan.
- Expect that your pace will dramatically slow down. No, you’re not out of shape (okay, maybe just a little), but the heat is going to take a lot out of you, and your first mile is going to look a lot different than your last mile.
- Under absolutely no circumstances should you wear any article of clothing made out of cotton when going for a long run. This is a classic rookie mistake. Google it for horror stories.
- Bring water with you on the run. You can invest in some fancy gear, but I think that’s cumbersome. I usually just carry a baby 8oz water bottle with me and refill it at water stops as I go. The best (free) water stop in Shreveport is here:
A BIG thank you to the residents of this development for letting local runners stop here for water!
- Lastly, don’t overdo it. Hitting a mileage or time goal isn’t worth it if you’re feeling awful.
A few days after returning from Jersey, I set out to San Diego for a half-marathon with some friends from college. Two of us ran the half, one of us ran the full (total champ), and we had two of the best cheerleaders along the course encouraging us every step of the way (thanks, Jax and Laura!).
Gaslamp District in downtown San Diego
We stayed in the Gaslamp Quarter, and it was so perfect. I ate my weight in cupcakes, went to a local yoga class (twice!), and oh yeah, ran a half marathon.
It was wonderful to reconnect with everyone, and we agreed that we should plan trips like this more often. Races, optional.
Why can’t every city be this beautiful on the water?
On Sunday morning I completed the Rock ‘n’ Roll Dallas Half Marathon. The weather was hot and humid (check out the hair), but the course was gorgeous and the spectators were fantastic.
On more than one occasion I saw families outside their homes handing out cups of beer to runners. I was tempted a few times to take them up on their offer but I knew if I stopped running for even a second, that I would end up lying down on their front lawn and begging them to call a cab to take me back to Shreveport (note: my legs are still sore from Sunday).
I am not one of those vain runners who thinks that they look good while racing. I'm just posting pictures as evidence.
It was my 7th half marathon and I finished in 1:55:18. Not my best time, but not my worst time, either. I’m just glad I finished. The finisher’s medal is a metallic carving of cowboy boots. How Texas. It made the 13.1 mile trek worth it.
Still standing, a true measure of a successful race.