Outdoor Running in Record Heat

This morning at about 5 AM Pacific, I posted the following worry on Facebook :

OK, so water, a bit of black coffee, water. A bit of salt…I should be fine out there, right? I mean, I used to run in this kind of weather in Texas, in Basic, when I was in my 20s…and I only had heat stroke twice…at least we don’t have huge cockroaches like they do in Texas. Yeah, that’s how my mind is thinking this morning. You’re welcome.

It generated lots of comments from other runners, but the kick-self-out-the-door comment was this one:

Oh…and lightning was striking within a mile of us as well. Go.

Some observations from my not-so-fast jaunt for about 30 minutes of sweat were:

I didn’t see any lightning, but I did get out there. The air was thick and still. And already hot. We don’t usually get high humidity in my part of town, but now we evidently do. I didn’t get any rain, but I wanted some. I actually like running in the rain. Perhaps I’m odd that way.

Not a lot of people on the road, outside or in vehicles. I attribute some of that to the early hour. The sun dawned right before I got out there.

There were a very few joggers outside. Most moving slowly, like me, as if running through a sauna.

I ran by a house with a large pile of what I thought was discarded furniture in front of it. Turns out it was the entire HVAC, pipes and all, extracted from the house and on the street. I pity whoever did that work over the weekend. But hopefully the homeowners got a working system in.

No children, except one man pushing a running baby carriage. 

Anyone who was out there got a bit of respect from me. These are the serious, the fanatics, the “I can’t go a day without running” people. Surprisingly, I’ve become one of them. You figure it out. You hydrate. You salt up. And you #KeepOnRunnin

Stay cool out there, friends.

The Heat is On!

So this morning, I opened the door to check the local temperature and possibly open windows to air out the house. It’s already 82 degrees. At just barely 6 AM. It’s dark outside, and it feels like the dark hell you experience on Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. I didn’t find that part entertaining, and I don’t find it entertaining today. The air conditioner (thank goodness we have a decent one) is already on.

My concerns this morning are: rolling blackouts when they turn off power in some areas to protect the grid in others, and… my scheduled runs this week. Today, thankfully is a rest day. But my biggest worry is actually going and running in heat like this. It’s supposed to be this hot through Wednesday–even hotter actually. Some weather sites are predicting 110 degrees Fahrenheit! And I’m worried about getting my morning run in. I don’t even recognize myself. 😶☀️👟

It’s just a few words

I live in a great neighborhood. I laced up for my 5th run of the week and headed out. I was running on the street, crossing intersections. Usually there’s not much traffic but today there were a few folks turning left in front of me. An old battered truck not using a turn signal. And then a little red car.  The truck zoomed in front of me and I must have made a face as I continued across the road. I heard a woman’s voice come out of the red car, as it waited for me to cross.

“You’re doing great!” the woman shouted.

At first I was puzzled. Do I look like I need encouragement? And then I realized that the cheer did feel good, and maybe I should stop thinking about the person’s motivation in cheering me on. Thank you for the cheer. It was a nice thing to do.

And by the way, if you’re out there running or walking or biking or just moving more than you did before…you’re doing great!  Keep it up!

Living by the Numbers / Fighting Time

I’m someone who likes to track numbers. Calendar dates, meeting duration, time running, distance. Weight. Number of hours fasting. Or feasting. I’m always looking at goals and percentages too. 60% there. 70%. 80%…

If the scale says I’m up by 7 pounds overnight (and it has, I assure you), it can ruin my day and my mood. It might even result in a dramatic, weepy discussion with the spouse at how “bad” I’ve been. Days where the numbers are “good” are much less dramatic. A mention in passing that I’ve reached a new milestone. A virtual fistbump and a cheer, and on we go!

When I was in college, I took an introduction to Native American spirituality class. The class was taught by an elder from the Anishinabe nation (aka Ojibwe or Sioux). His observation about Europeans stays with me all these years: “You guys like to run things by clocks, by calendars. Indians don’t do that. We like to live in time with the seasons… I like to say, ‘I’m on Indian Time.’” 

My professor was right. I time things, I wear a Fitbit. I post calendars and meetings and spend a whole lot of time on, well, time. I suppose it’s an attempt to stay in control. Of time that is. The older I get, the faster the years go. This leads me to try to squeeze out every minute I can, on running, on fasting, on spending time on pet projects. I’m battling for more time.

The sad part is, though, that time will always win in the end. Eventually, my time will run out.

Photo by Andrey Grushnikov on Pexels.com

Meanwhile, I’m gonna go fill in all those blank spots in my day planner. I’m at about 60% scheduled.

May your day be filled with many things as well–hopefully 80% joy–or better. 

Running and Me

Last year I decided to follow up on a long term goal. I wanted to fully run or jog a 5K. This may not seem like much, but I set the goal when I was 130 pounds OVER a healthy weight. And I had stopped running. 

When I left the military in 1992, running became something “they” did — those fit people. I no longer ran, and, after having a first child in 1996 overseas, I wasn’t very good at walking much either.

Flash forward to 2015. I finally, after many stops and starts, took off over 90 pounds. I had energy, I had confidence. Time to work on that 5K goal. A few stops and starts later, in early 2019, I signed up for a 5K in Sactown — Run with the Cops. It looked like a fundraiser for causes that I respected. K-9 officers and Law Enforcement Chaplaincy. After living through a few traumatic events where law enforcement was a saving grace, I have an extraordinary respect for first responders and those who provide comfort during critical incidents and afterwards.

I had good intentions in the summer of 2019. I started running in the early mornings at the local elementary. I would run in circles on the blacktop. Then the school janitor would show up and stand at the edge of the playground. I felt like he was watching me. Creepy.

I tried running elsewhere, but my motivation fizzled. 

Then, it was Race Day. Loads of folks showed up in Old Sacramento. Law enforcement, K-9s, military, and veterans. The event was next to the OES’s emergency preparedness day–another topic close to my heart. 

I was excited to participate, but I had some concerns. I hadn’t really trained. I wasn’t well-hydrated. I just put on my shoes and the race shirt, and showed up. A loud flash of the starting gun and we were off!

The first, say, hundred yards were fine. Then I felt a little tightness in my chest. Time to slow down. The next two miles were me talking myself through this race I hadn’t trained for. Part of the race included a police helicopter overhead. At one point I told myself, “Good thing they’re up there–” If I dropped suddenly, they’d see me.

I did finish the race, but I hadn’t run the whole way. I walked, I jogged, I tried to sprint occasionally. I felt like I was going to die. More than once.

But I didn’t. (Laura: “But did you die?” Me: “No Laura, I didn’t. I made it–”)

My friend C and I after finishing the 5K

Shortly after that run, I realized that if I ever wanted to achieve my 5K goal, I’d need to train. So I joined a training group at Elk Grove Fleet Feet. “No Boundaries” it was called.  I definitely knew where my boundaries were. They stopped me, usually, about a mile in.

Our shoes are ready for the Holiday Classic, December 2019

Running got easier.

The START line at the Holiday Classic in Sacramento
December 2019

I participated in the Holiday Classic in Sacramento. I hadn’t yet achieved a straight through run, but I did achieve a PR, and I never felt like I couldn’t finish or that I’d need a med evac.

I signed up for another round of Fleet Feet training. We were prepping for the March 14 Shamrockin’ event here in Sac. I was excited. I felt good and 3.1 miles didn’t seem so long anymore. Granted, I ran a slow mile compared to my younger days, but remember, for nearly 20 years I couldn’t run at all. There was progress.

Then, just before Shamrockin’ we got shut down. ‘Rona was in town. She took two parishioners in my neighborhood. Some of the folks in my training crew decided to run anyway. We made our own party.

The crew after our own private Shamrockin, March 2020

Training was cancelled. Showing up at the office was cancelled. Stay home, stay home, stay home was the new mantra of the city, the state, and the nation.

So I complied. A ran a little here and there. Then we had a rainy, stormy weekend. And I stayed in. For nearly two weeks I barely emerged from the house. I sat indoors, watching the news, and spending inordinately large amounts of time on social media.

Finally, with a nudge from some of my new training friends, I got back outside.

It hurt. My knees hurt. My stamina was reduced. My pride hurt. What was easy before ‘Rona became challenging again.

For a week or so it was hit or miss. Then my oldest kid started making her brother get up and run. I decided to go with them. I piggybacked on her drive and enthusiasm.

Get up, lace up, and go. No excuses. I’ve been on a running stream the last few days, and we even cross trained by bike last Sunday.

It feels good. Training is still cancelled. The local 5Ks are cancelled. I’m not sure the Run with the Cops 5K will go as planned in September. I hope so, because I want to be there. And I think I can run the whole thing.

But only if I keep at it, now. One day at a time, I can do this.

I can do it, with or without a class. With or without an organized event. The act of lacing up and showing up gives me strength and hope. And confidence, too. I’ve come a long way, baby.

A gift while running in Elk Grove, Winter 2020

Goslings and ducklings and..pitbulls, oh my.

This morning’s bike ride with two of my kids, the college grad and the middle-schooler was through what we call in our neighborhood the “Greenbelt.” It’s a maze of paths and parks through the Pocket-Greenhaven neighborhood of Sacramento. There are pedestrian overpasses when there are busy streets, so generally it’s all pedestrians, bicyclists, and dogs on leashes with their humans.

Today we crossed Florin Road and traveled down to the canals that criss cross the area. We’re right next to the Sacramento River. In years gone by, the river has pushed up against the ancient levees lining it that were built by the Army Corps of Engineers.

These canals catch water and funnel it to the river.  There are trails that line the canals, chain link fences keeping humans away from the water, the swimming turtles, and the increasing population of waterfowl. 

Our ride brought us by a city of Mama Geese and their fuzzy goslings. Many of the goslings reminded me of teenagers. Awkward, not yet adapted to their rapidly growing and changing bodies.

Further down another canal, not far from my favorite neighborhood library, we passed by a few ducks who were surrounded by squirmy (and again, fuzzy) little ducklings. The ducklings are cuter than the goslings, maybe because they’re about 1/5th the size.

A few times during our bike convoy, we came upon dogs. Many dog owners will pull their dogs onto the grass so there’s no game of chicken between dog and bike. 

Not so for the multiple pitbulls we saw. Pitbulls will walk like heavily muscled bouncers. Step step. Sway sway. They will walk in the middle of the paved trail. I am not sure how much of this is the dog’s character or the character of the man walking the leashed dog. 

And it was, down to the dog, a lone male walking a pitbull every time. Said male was usually tall and somewhat awkward looking. I’m not sure the awkward bit came before or occurred because Bruce the Pitbull decided to muscle his space on the trail. 

Also notable in this time of Pandemic: none of the Pitbull ‘drivers’ wore face masks. I suppose this might be a sign of ‘living dangerously’. I like to imagine that folks who have pitbulls are rebels.I haven’t seen anything yet to challenge this assumption. 

Meanwhile, with sore derrieres (when’s the last time you took a long bike ride?), we returned home.

My middle-schooler then informed me he had ridden through a pile of dog poo. It was still coating his tires. Even after the ensuing discussion and direction from me to wipe the stuff off, I felt good after the ride. I’m thankful to live in a great neighborhood. Goslings, ducklings, humans, and…even Pitbulls. It’s a nice way to start the day. 

But I’m still wondering if the doo was Pitbull doo. I have a suspicion about that. The jury’s still out…but who else might leave a message on the trail for the rest of us?

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