This may be it, the last heat wave of the year. The red flag warning signals extreme heat and fire danger. A normal person would turn on the air conditioning and call it a rest day. A sane fitness fanatic would head to the gym for a hamster wheel workout. But, not me. I’m going outside to run.
Running outdoors in this weather is a matter of preparation and expectation. Two words describe the strategy — hydrate and slow. This summer, I’ve learned to carry water and run slowly.
In July, the excessive heat warning and the concerned hotel doorman did not stop me from exploring the Omaha’s waterfront. I ran from my hotel down Dodge Street to the Missouri River where the views opened up. Following the river north, I passed the Lewis and Clark Landing and crossed the Bob Kerry Pedestrian Bridge into Iowa.
After a few minutes in the Hawkeye state, I ran back to Nebraska and continued north to Miller’s Landing Rivers Edge State Park where I ran out water signalling the time to return to my hotel. That’s over 4 miles in excessive heat.
In early August, I ran circles around a lake (or pond?) in Evansville, Indiana in humidity so thick that my glasses fogged every time I stepped outside. Why run in circles around this lake? The locals rave about it. It’s only 0.7 miles around, but it hosts local fishermen (I wonder what they catch), late afternoon BBQs (they roll out gas-fired grills and set up tables), and evening walkers.
In addition to the heat, the only other dangers are afternoon thundershowers which make you wetter than your own sweat and aggressive, giant geese who block the running path. Still, I ran — six laps, two in a thundershower. And, I learned how to frighten geese by going slow and make myself big (that’s a puffed up chest and outstretched arms).
In late August, I braved 90+ degree temperatures in Roseville, California. Just outside my hotel was the Antelope Creek trail, home to cyclists, runners, and wild turkeys. Unlike Omaha and Evansville, Roseville boasts a “dry heat” much like an oven. My six mile run taught me the importance of frozen water bottles and how to slowly baste myself until I was done. But, I still ran.
So today, I’m running in spite of the red flags. I have my water. I plan a slow, easy route. And while I don’t expect it, I am ready for geese, thundershowers, and turkeys.
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”