It was raining with tons of lightning Thursday morning and I really wanted to get in a run, so I decided I'd run six miles Thursday night.
Problem: It was 89 degrees when I hit the Trinity Trails in Fort Worth at 7:30 p.m., instead of the 'cool' 75 degrees it would have been some 12 hours earlier.
And something else. I had a belly full of food. We had potluck at the office for lunch. What I ate: Two helpings of sweet potatoes; two servings of tomato and cheese grits; three pieces of fried chicken; salad; sweet tea; black-eyed peas; blue cheese potato salad; two pieces of peach cobbler; two cups of coffee. Tons and tons of water.
I usually run on an empty stomach. Needless to say, I didn't know how this run in this Tek-ses heat would turn out.
I promised that I would take it easy, not let my heart rate get above 85 percent maximum. I didn't want stomach discomfort to ruin my run, though I knew that it was a good possibility. Not only because I ate soooo much food some five hours earlier, and not only because it was so damn hot, but because I usually don't do fried food, and I'm staying away from dairy products.
So off I went.
Right away, my legs felt limber and loose, not stiff like they normally do on mile 1 of my morning runs. Even though this night run started off with some major hills, I got through Mile 1 in 8:47 with an average heart rate of 78 percent of max, though it was at 80 percent by the end of the first mile.
I could also feel a slight burning in my esophagus, like I was trying to get sick. "Uh-oh, I thought. Bad idea." But that went away near the end of mile 2. And by mile 4, I had no stomach discomfort at all and was feeling stronger and stronger. I clocked an 8:05 minute mile at Mile 4 and was like, "wow." Heart rate for the mile averaged 82 percent. The mile ended with a very steep incline and my heart rate inched up to 85 percent.
Ok, I thought, here comes the pain. But when I got over the hill and back on flat land, my heart rate dropped back down in the low 80s. I cruised the last two miles, feeling very strong, not thirsty at all, like I feel sometimes during my morning runs at a pace this fast. A few times I felt like I'd need to go to the bathroom, but the feeling was brief.
I finished 6 miles in 50:11, a pace of 8:22 per mile. And I never really had to hit the gas to maintain that pace. My average heart rate for the entire run was 80 percent on the button, according to my Garmin 305. It only hit 85 percent that one time, at the top of the hill near the end of mile 4.
Lesson learned for me? Some kind of food (ok, not a feast for a king) might not hurt me if taken well enough before I run, especially a long run. A piece of bread. Some raisins. An apple.
Also? There is no question that I am acclimated to the heat.