Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Sisters & Extreme Running

It has been 9 months since I last trained for any sort of distance running event. I've been running frequently, but more in the 4 to 6 mile distance category.  Prior to last Saturday I hadn't managed a run of more than seven miles since Christmas-time. :(

Saturday morning I forced myself out of bed at 5:45 and miraculously pulled off a little more than 9 miles.  You might ask, "What are you training for now? A race?" (you also might NOT ask - but I'm answering regardless)

No.  No.  Not.
Not a race.

I am currently training to see my sister.
I am training for a long weekend in Florida with her.

While I can boast that I introduced her to running 7 years ago; that is both the beginning and end of my singular claim to fame.  She has run more than a dozen marathons, logged thousands of miles more than I have, improved her times dramatically, and has become pretty darn swift in the process. 

hilarious things happen on long runs
I am far too impressed with her speed and endurance and WAY too proud of her major-league-moxie to be jealous of her running successes.  But - I still have some pride - therefore I do have to train and increase my miles in order to even meet up with her this weekend. If I cannot keep up with her speed I have to at least try to cover the distance.

I am slower than a three ton tortoise in the most ideal running conditions.  That is simply to say, I don't have a strong enough idiom or superlative to describe my speed in Haiti running conditions. I admit that since we returned to Port au Prince I have struggled with re-learning to 'run long' here.  I was spoiled by the beautiful river-side paths, trash-free streets, friendly motor-vehicles, and scenery in Tejas last summer.

As underwhelming as my skill and natural ability may be, I love running.  I just don't love Haiti running quite as much.

It seems that a scale of 1 to 5 is the best system with which to rank the key components of running conditions.  (5 being the utopia of running and 1 being worst.possible.butt-awful.conditions.) Out of five categories one would expect at least one or two low marks.

Port au Prince Distance Running Conditions:

Air Quality- 1
(some days no trash is being burned - 2!)

Road/Path Conditions- 1
(the only more congested place would be the midway area of the state fair grounds)

Runner Friendly Community- 2
(some people don't point and mock)

Weather- 1-2
(except for three months of the year)

Traffic/Safety- 0
(the concept of safety or yielding to runners does.not.exist - sometimes it feels like the automobiles are trying to hit you - but only when they drive on the sidewalk or when they actually hit you)

Out of a possible 25 points Port au Prince scores 5-6 .  I'm no statistician or mathematician but I think those numbers indicate that there are better places in the world to be a distance runner.

Runners World Magazine said this about hot weather running:
"We all know that hot weather slows us down and makes us feel like overcooked potatoes. And it's potentially risky: An unacclimated runner exercising too hard in high heat, humidity, and sunshine could push himself from heat cramps to heat exhaustion to heatstroke.
Even if you don't push the pace, running in hot weather forces the body into overdrive. That's why hot-weather runners need to make adjustments for the conditions they encounter.

The adjustment is this:  Run slower.  That works out nicely for me since slow seems to be my natural speed. Even though Florida will also be humid and hot, I know the options for beautiful scenic and safe runs will be many.

There is no way to describe how excited I am to spend time with my speedy little sister for a few days.  Even if I am running 100 yards behind her and begging for mercy I know she and I are going to have a fantastic weekend - running, eating, lounging pool-side, catching up, and just being together.  Come quickly weekend!!

the part where she almost had to carry me