My grandmother loved summer weather. She loved it when it was hot. She loved it when it was humid. Anything below 80 degrees and she probably had a sweater on. Even as a life long Western New Yorker where hot and humid is usually only three months (at best) out of the year, she seemed to thrive best in this kind of weather.
I thought of her this morning when I checked the weather forecast. It was 67 degrees and 86 percent humidity at 5 a.m.
Good for Gram. Not so good for me. Then again, Gram spent her summer days sitting on the porch, listening to the radio. I was off to do 600 meter repeats.
My coach, Peter Pimm, had told me last week that track workout times are given based on optimal conditions — 60 degrees, humidity less than 60 percent and light wind. If any of those conditions are unfavorable, the prescribed times would be difficult (if not impossible) to hit. So going into this morning’s workout I already knew that (a) it was warm and (b) it was super humid.
I met Sue at 5:30 a.m. for the workout. She was going to jog through her easy run while I gutted out eight 600 meter repeats with a two minute rest in between.
The first one: 10 seconds off the time I was supposed to hit. I wasn’t too upset. It was hot and humid and my first one.
No. 2 was six seconds faster. More like it, I thought. I can handle being in this range.
Then came the next few which all were about seven seconds off my pace. At least I was consistent.
But by No. 5 getting them all in was in a bit of doubt. I was breathing hard. I felt like I was getting hit in the stomach. My legs were aching and failing to turn over at any kind of rate. The breeze started to pickup, making one turn rather unpleasant.
The seventh one was the worst of all. It was my slowest one on the day. It felt terrible. By about 350 meters I wanted to stop and take a nap.
But I finished it.
The final 600 meters of the day, Sue timed me on her watch, yelled out my splits and gave me encouragement. When I fell a few seconds off pace, she told me and reminded me to drive my legs, to use my arms, to finish strong.
It was my fastest interval of the day.
Granted all eight of them were outside the zone that coach had prescribed.
There were two ways I could go with it — I could let it beat me up. I could say the weather is just an excuse. I could bemoan the fact that my run is slow and hasn’t returned since that Texas 70.3 in April. I could wallow in thinking I was slow.
Or I could take a different approach and the let the workout build me up. Despite bad weather conditions I ran hard. I did them all. I did them as best as I could. I didn’t seriously think of quitting, which means that mentally I’m getting stronger.
It was about 15 years ago or so when trying to run the straightaways on the track and walk the turns was a chore that left me winded and finished after one or two attempts. Run a complete loop of the track? Maybe someday.
That memory came to mind a few times during the struggle of this particular workout. It may have been slower than desired, but each interval was a lap and a half around the track.
Tell me that I’d be running like this 15 years ago and the idea would have sounded so far-fetched that I wouldn’t even be able to laugh.
I’m getting better at keeping my perspective these days.
It doesn’t keep me from chasing times and distances and goals and dreams. But it makes the work more fun and ultimately more productive.