Unsurprisingly, I'm no fan of the past few days' heat wave.
I am glad to say, however, that I took advantage of the ample warning to work in a few runs before the wave hit. And I'm even happier to say that the three most recent runs were straight-up wonderful.
Saturday, I finished work and dinner while there was still plenty of light to hit the streets without fear. I picked a 4.5-mile route, to take advantage of the lovely late evening weather, and did something I might never have done before: extend a run simply because I felt so strong. Even after the extra mile, I could've kept going — I stopped for reasons other than fatigue (increasing darkness, interest in preserving motivation for the next day, etc.).
My splits: 10:16, 9:40, 9:20, 9:30 and 9:50. Nice, slow start; several sub-10:00 miles; average pace of 9:28. That run was the farthest, and possibly the fastest, one I've done since the May 20 half marathon. The only complaint I have about it? I couldn't just jaywalk (jayrun?) across the final street before my complex, because a police car was waiting across the same intersection.
I missed running Sunday, but that might've been a blessing in disguise — I was that much more determined to head out Monday and Tuesday. Both days, I faced the serious hill on Westown Parkway that crosses Interstate 35.
To help you imagine the duration and incline of this hill, I played a little game with my speedometer one night as I drove home from work. Going west on Westown, if I'm doing the speed limit of 35 mph and take my foot off the gas when I reach the flat top of the hill, I can approach 45 mph, just coasting, past where it levels off on the western side of the interstate.
And remember: I run this stretch in the opposite direction. Now that I know it's there, I could avoid it, but I'm just dedicated enough to running to take pride in not dodging every single hill. Hence my Monday route — head to the hill, run over it, double back to a certain point, and repeat.
I'm not saying it was easy, but I will say that I did my two hills without stopping midclimb, without swearing and without breaking down. I'll do it again, and I'll add more repeats. Speed intervals are a struggle for me, since I'm terrible at pacing myself, but maybe I can stick with some hill work.
For sure Monday's effort made Tuesday's more mentally bearable; I picked a four-miler that led me across the same beastly hill (but of course, only once!). It felt better than it looks on paper or on the screen: 10:00, 10:05, 10:15 and 9:40.
During that 10:15 stretch, I do remember taking a walk break, which was a little bit of a disappointment as I hadn't had to take a deliberate walk break up to that point — only a pause to take a photo or wait for the traffic light to change. It must've been a well-deserved one, though, if I cranked out a 9:40 pace after it.
I hope to sneak in a run or two in the next few days, even though my weather widget has nothing but the low 90s through Tuesday — I do, however, have my two early-start-early-finish days over that stretch, which should allow for evening (not night) runs. Or, even crazier, maybe the 100-degree-plus heat indexes will make the 90s feel tolerable?