Mind, Motion & Matter

Running, Essentially . . .

Consistency is Made of Runs Like This


While sipping my coffee just after 4 a.m. yesterday morning, I wondered if the only smart choice for a 15 mile run was on the treadmill.  Nonetheless, I decided to stick to my plan and left home at 5:47 a.m. just 2 minutes behind schedule. The temperature was 27C with 79% humidity, said to to feel like 38C on a day being billed as one of the hottest of the decades. As the day evolved the same-day temperature record was broken with a 37.5C and notably for me, with my early start, the all-time highest, minimum temperature record of 27C  was broken at 6 a.m.

Sunrise on Lake Ontario

Lake Ontario 6:00 a.m. July 21, 2011 - A record minimum temperature at 6:00 a.m.

How did it feel to run in these conditions? Thanks to a 20K breeze off the cooling waters of Lake Ontario it was not too bad. I ran at a very slow pace but since most of my run was along the lake shore, with sun on the horizon and not overhead, I survived quite nicely. For the first time since my December marathon I wore my most pared down running gear, the type of outfit that my son once referred to as my bathing suit.  This added to my comfort level.

Humber river park

Cooling breezes off the lake on Humber River spit at mile 9 of 15.

I’ve never seen so many shirtless men of all ages, walking, cycling and running. This was not a day to be self-conscious and I said to myself, “Good for you!” when spotting a senior man going topless.  On my part, I admit to being grateful that I resumed my planking routine given that I was exposing my belly for the first time in a while. A notable sighting was group of 25-30 twenty-something rowers with their bare backs to the lake, listening attentively to a coach.  I think we would be happy to have this group holding the fort.

I received a couple of comments commiserating about hot weather running, a blogger from Florida and one from Chicago.  This led me to check out temperatures at 6 a.m. in these cities.

Toronto 27C 38C 20K 79%
Miami 27C 39C 0 84%
Chicago 28C 39C 17K 74%

I think Miami were the worst off with not a breeze to be found. The two hottest races of my life have taken place in Chicago. The windy city, in my experience is even muggier than Toronto. I ran the Chicago Distance Classic 20K more than a decade ago and then a 5K. That 5K was brutally hot. I recall feeling as that the last kilometer was one of the longest ever, more grueling than the last kilometer of a marathon.

In 2006 I ran Chicago on a nice cool day and placed first in my age category of 50-54 with a 3:13. My participation was strategic in that it was the only time in recent memory that the race was held in the third week of October, a couple of weeks later than usual. Early October in Chicago  involves the risk of running a marathon in what for me are less than ideal conditions.  The famous scorching conditions of the following year bore out my fears with headlines like 2007 Chicago Marathon: One Dead, Hundreds Treated, What Went Wrong?

At the end of the hottest July 21st ever, I felt great for sticking to my program of running 15 miles as I head towards a 50 mile week. Yes, consistency may seem like a mundane concept but for the marathoner, achieving it involves a few battles with the elements.

Battle Number One on the road to NYC – WIN!

2 thoughts on “Consistency is Made of Runs Like This

  1. Beautiful photo of the Toronto Skyline. I also love to run, but here in the summer it get up to around 45c and makes running very difficult. Even if I wake up at 5am to run it’s still to hot. So in the summer months I run infrequently, head to the beach and run in the ocean. Now that’s a work-out! Happy running and say HI to Toronto for me, I miss her.

  2. I love the temperature comparisons. I would give anything for just a little breeze. Ugh! Fall cannot come soon enough.

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