Everyone who's stepped outside or consumed some form of media is probably not only tired of the heat wave, but also of hearing about it.
I think I'm even tired of complaining about it and railing about it, so in the vein of a Phoenix resident's tips for coping, I'll focus on what I've learned this week. Warning: If you're, like me, a cold weather runner desperately combing the Internet for a magic bullet ... I don't have it.
* Des Moines' trail system isn't awesome merely for the bathrooms it features (hey, when nature calls ... ) — it's awesome for the frequency of water fountains. On a related note, it might be time for me to give my Simple Hydration water bottle another try.
* Listening to my body has gone from being veteran runners' wisdom to something completely automatic. It's not a choice. I wish I could say that's because the switch has clicked and I've become a zen runner, but it's actually more like the human body flipping a lever and going into survival mode.
Example: Runs on July 3 and 4 averaged paces around 10-minute miles for the first two (downhill/flat terrain). They flew up past 11-minute miles for the second two (series of uphills) and reached 13:20 during what was apparently my toughest run. The stop-and-walk breaks aren't a matter of me being mentally weak, at this point; they're my body preventing me from overheating.
* There is no "good time of day" to run. Even though the figure on the thermometer almost doesn't matter — it's oppressively hot and muggy, period — I've been checking. We had 88 degrees at 10 a.m. on July 4; on July 6, 99 degrees at 8:15 p.m., 97 at 8:45 p.m. and 96 at 9:30 p.m.
But look at these numbers from my runs on those days: an average of 10:27 per mile over 4 miles on July 4, with the slowest being 13:20, versus an average of 9:56 per mile over 6.5 miles on July 6, with the slowest being 10:50. Plus, after returning from the shorter run, I had to spend probably twice as long in the A/C before I stopped sweating and could take a shower.
The difference was heading out midmorning versus later in the evening. Maybe the heat melted my brain so I don't remember how intensely I suffered during the July 4 run, but I can say with certainty that while I might not have hated running during the midmorning adventure, I know I liked running during the late evening adventure. (Sundown, by the way, comes closer to 9:15 or 9:30 p.m. in Des Moines right now, so the majority of this run was not done in the dark.)
* The last and most uplifting nugget: I'm adjusting. Or getting used to it. Or being worn down by it.
This isn't like "Green Eggs and Ham," where I hated summer runs before I tried them. This is more like being scared of driving on interstate highways until I graduated from college and had to choose between never visiting people outside the Rockford, Ill., metro area and dealing with merging/others merging at 65-plus mph.
To be serious for a second — and honest — I'm pretty proud of myself for choosing the "learn" option (in both situations) instead of the "hide" one. I haven't reached the full-on addiction like the folks I see running around asphalt-heavy, shade-free downtown at 1 p.m., and I don't plan to, but I'm able to suppress the urge to hunker down in the A/C for at least 40 minutes a day, a few days a week.
Take that, climate change. Actually, don't take that, and certainly don't read that as a challenge to throw even more devastating and drastic changes at us.