Acclimation is real: a runner's story
I love running in Nashville. (Creep incidents aside.) Before I moved I was afraid of the hills (both for biking and running) and they are truly no joke, but I like them! I’m getting used to them. Yes, my times are slower when running on hilly terrain, but I feel like I’m getting stronger. And going downhill is fun! And the views are great.
I’m so much better at hill biking by now! I bike into work almost every day (weather permitting) and I’m less timid going downhill, stronger going uphill. I wish Nashville had a few more bike lanes, but overall the drivers have been kind. And I wear a reflective vest at all times. (And my helmet, goes without saying, as well as lights after dark or before dawn.)
I enjoy being outside. I enjoy warm weather. It’s one of the major reasons I couldn’t tolerate Chicago any longer. I don’t mind sweating. I don’t mind being hot. I grew up in New Orleans after all!
I’ve trained for two races since moving here. One was an 8k in May in Montgomery. I got an award, it was the first race my parents were able to come to, Dean ran it, it was my first adult race down south, in short; I loved it. My next race was a 15k and my first Nashville race! Dean and some friends came to cheer, my neighbor also ran the 5k on the same course and we all went to celebration brunch afterward! The course was beautiful and my time was decent.
I strategically chose these races based on their distances and timing. I was looking at location, yes, but I was also concerned about increasing mileage carefully on my left leg. I had a serious injury last year that put me out of running for the season. I still feel tightness in that leg frequently and have had to be very diligent with rolling and stretching to avoid a relapse or developing the dreaded plantar fasciitis. My goal is to be fit enough to start doing half marathons again by the end of the year.
One thing I never considered was the effects of training outside for a 15k in August in Nashville. “I mean, yeah, sure, it’s hot and humid and hilly, but I’ll drink water. It’ll be fine. I’ll go early on the long run days.” These were my thoughts. And I did my best to go early. There are a few days out of the week though, when my schedule has me getting up at 4:45am to teach. I just don’t feel comfortable in my area going to run at 4am. So I did what I’ve always done and ran in between classes. I just brought clothes to change into after I showered. So some days I was running at 9am. Still early, right?
I mean, I did it. I got every training run in. Some of them were slow, but once again, I thought, heat training is great for so many things, right? I have to say, the last speed work run was eight 800s. I should have done them on a treadmill, as much as I hate treadmill running. At 9:15, the heat index was already 100 degrees and the park I was running to (which is beautiful) has tons of hills getting there and within. I did the run. I drank water. Before, after and all night.
I didn’t feel well for about two days. But I probably lost weight, right? NO! I GAINED two pounds that week. I couldn’t believe it. And then days after that, I read an article about how water alone is actually not the best way to hydrate yourself, especially if you’re drinking lots of water on an empty stomach. In fact, you may even be eliminating some sodium. Oddly enough, I didn’t even connect how tired I felt during those days to that run. I tried to take a boxing class the following evening and felt like I was going to vomit until I drank my entire bottle of water.
I have electrolyte tablets now that I’ve been using regularly. It’s been an interesting challenge to listen to my body when I’m craving salt and ALSO thirsty. The tablets help.
The day of the race was wonderful and overcast. I felt great the entire time and afterward. My leg didn’t give me any problems. If I do decide to run it again, I think I’ll be a little more respectful of the heat index, however. My next race will be in November and I’m looking forward to training for it. It will be a half marathon. My first since the injury. My first in two years. My first in Nashville. I’m curious about the possibility of training through the winter here. In Chicago I always just took the season off and ran what I could on the treadmill.
Everything is new. Even running. Even my training. It’s exciting to learn again!