Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Cool down (please, cool down, already!)

It’s October. Shouldn’t I be hearing crispy leaves crunching below my feet as I run, instead of the sudden demise of a poor snail that was caught in the wrong place at the wrong time; shouldn't a sweet, maple-scented breeze be tickling my nose rather than an unpleasant reminder that Secret deodorant isn't keeping my B.O. a secret? In the season of jack-o-lanterns and knee-high boot fashion spreads and Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Lattes, shouldn't a few pores of my skin and hairs on my head not be exuding copious fluids after just a quarter-mile warm-up jog?

Well, this all would be the case, if I didn’t live in sunny South Florida. The weather report at 6 am this morning for my Broward County zip code was 79 degrees with 72% humidity (“feels like 86 degrees,” explained the Weather.com graph, and that would probably be 86 degrees, presumably, to a person who was not engaged in intense physical activity.)

I became a real runner over the summer, when it was even hotter than 79 degrees at 6 am--and my Team in Training mentor has told me that if you can run 8 miles in the heat during the peak of a Florida summer, you can run anywhere.

That is somewhat of a consolation as I find myself daydreaming about running through a sprinkling of gold and amber leaves while following the path on Boat House Row in Philadelphia, where I was born and raised; as I imagine the thrilling chill of wind against my face (wind! what an exotic delicacy) as I comb through the cobblestone streets of Baltimore, where I spent the second half of my 20s; or hugging my jacket (remember those cuddly fleece things?) closer to my body while crossing the Key Bridge from Georgetown to Arlington, Virginia, where I spent the first half.

But, in November, if I still lived in any of these places—or in St. Louis, where we spent the two years before we finally settled here (how cool would it be to run circles around the Arch?)—I probably wouldn’t be able to burn off my Thanksgiving dinner outdoors without worrying about slipping on an ice patch.

And from what I recall of the first 32 years of my life, before I became a perennially sun-kissed (and sweaty) tropical being, there’s a time when cool weather transforms from being “nice and refreshing” to “a big hassle;” and eventually you stop smelling the leaves and instead start smelling wet wool (all those cozy pea-coats drenched in freezing rain and snow.) Wet wool smells a lot like a wet dog--I can guarantee you that Glade doesn't have a scented candle created to emulate this distinctly northern odor.

So I will try to count my blessings. But I do look forward to the day (which I thought would have arrived already) when I can run without carrying a towel with me, which I need to constantly mop the sweat out of my eyes, so I can see where I am going.

Being blinded by sweat is a bit of an occupational hazard when you run this close to the equator. And so is stinking. Thank goodness for soap, baby powder and showers.


  1. The grass is always greener on the other side of the country?? I am in Seattle and our weather is pretty moderate (although we had a heat wave this summer and nobody has AC). We are currently in that wonderful fall time you mention; crispy leaves and air. But, I do know around the corner lurks the drizzle that will see us through spring or maybe even 4th of July. Last year, we had a freak snow storm that kept us all housebound for about a week! However, that is nothing compared to a fellow runner from WY who says it can go from 75 degrees to 35 degrees (with snowflakes) all in the span of a weekend. Growing up, I always dreamt of having a swimming pool in my backyard and being perennially "sunkissed." A pool is not practical in Seattle and you start to mildew half-way through the year. Now that I have started to run, I don't envy a run in 86 degree weather! I think your friend is right, (key music) "if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere."

    On a different note, how do you fuel pre-run? I am interested in morning runs, but feel like I will be sluggish from not eating. I also am supposed to wait 30 mins after taking Rx to eat, bummer.

  2. Rain would make running very hard, but I bet you guys have beautiful summers and springs!

    I don't eat before runs less than an hour, but for 6-7+ mile runs I usually have a wheat English muffin with an egg white or a little peanut butter on wheat toast. I kind of like running groggy--I have energy all day afterwards!

  3. I hear you. I'm sure you're hotter there than I am, a few hours north of you...but it's probably pretty close. Right?

    And...I started cardio yesterday. Was only able to do 20 minutes...but hey, it's better than 0 minutes, right?

  4. That is awesome, Sarah! 20 minutes is actually a really long time for a first attempt at cardio!