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Hot & hilly

There are only so many things you can do as a runner when the finish line temperature is 91. Yesterday was not a day for PRs or learning much about my new nutrition strategy. It was mostly a day for desperately trying to stay hydrated, cool, and finding a way to tolerate a few calories when absolutely nothing sounds good.

Points to the North Shore Half Marathon--RAM Racing organized a pretty decent event. It had a lot of bells and whistles that other races don't have. They did a great job of encouraging runners to slow down in the heat, drop back to the 5k distance if they had doubts, check in with First Aid, etc.. They had a couple of sponge stations with enough for everyone and wet towels at the finish which were very, very welcome.

But there were a few important things that could have been done better that really made for a miserable day. The water stations were fairly far apart. I also really would have liked to have seen more sponges and cooling off closer to the start. It was pretty rotten by Mile 3 even.

Race organizers can never control the weather, true. But when you've organized a distance race in the middle of June featuring fairly significant hills and a lack of shade on the back half, the ability to skip water stops is better than having to limp into one. First Aid could have been more plentiful...or at least better marked.

It certainly was an easy race to find parking. Kelly took the kids and they were great for the most part. They were able to walk into a residential neighborhood due to the loop nature of the course and see me at the halfway point. We've still be laughing at Cole's reaction to dad coming out of nowhere--"oh, hey dad...I lost my shoe."

Will I run it again? Probably not. Was it fun despite the pain? Endurance racing always is. In the car on the way home we had a nice discussion about how athletes tend to focus on improvement areas. It's the nature of sport. But things I should be happy about--finishing a tough race, no pain in my leg, no stomach problems despite the heat. (A plus for my new nutrition? Not sure.) I managed to complete the whole 13.1 when they eventually closed the back loop of the course in Ft. Sheridan due to the heat.

It's time for me to face facts, however, and admit that I'm a cold-weather racer. I mean, the winning time for the leaders yesterday was about 5 min slower than the previous year, but still. I may need to find a nice half marathon in the middle of January and hope for some warmth rather than doing a half marathon in June hoping for cool. Races in the heat just aren't about fast times for most of us. Which, frankly, competition against the clock is what I enjoy more. Though the race announcer yesterday did a nice job of taking a little of the sting away from the warm weather in talking about how much of a mental rather than physical task it is in the heat. More of a chess match against the weather. Less seeing what your body can do. Though, again, positive spin--I suppose running 13.1 miles in scorching heat tests a different kind of limit.

Most importantly though, the race yesterday gave me some big areas I need to work on during marathon training this season. It starts next week and having the post-race agony fresh in my mind will help get me where I need to be to run a great full marathon in October.

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