Never Again

Ironically, I started writing this post immediately after finishing the last of our 22 miles last Saturday, but was not able to finish it as a result of heat exhaustion and the vomiting and chills that go with it. I had to call it a day and finish writing the post later.

Some things are learned the hard way.

I’m not sure which is less appealing: a 20 mile run, run at one time with little shade as the sun rises and the temperature rapidly approaches and eventually reaches 100 degrees; or a 22 mile run, split into two horribly hot runs with about nine hours of lounging in the air conditioning in between. Either way, we opted for the latter this morning because our plans for the former were foiled.

It has become our Saturday morning routine over the last several weeks to set the alarm for 5:00 am, spend about 30 minutes talking each other into getting out of bed, knowing that at 5:00 am it is already at least 80 degrees with 95% humidity, eventually getting out of bed, getting ready, driving across the border into Texas, parking at the art museum in Brownsville, and starting our struggle with Mother Nature by 6:15. It usually stays dark until just before 7:00. By then we are already soaked to the bone with sweat. Once the sun peeks out from behind the tree line we know that we will only get hotter over the next two to three hours.

This morning we went through our usual routine, except that when we reached the Gateway International Bridge – one of four linking Matamoros and Brownsville, the line to cross was unusually long, especially for dawn on a Saturday morning. We sat on the bridge for nearly 40 minutes and arrived at our usual parking spot near the art museum just before 7:00. We had planned to run 20 miles this morning- our last long run of this training cycle as we prepare for the Mexico City Marathon on August 25th. The only caveat was that I needed to be home by 10:30 because I had a dental appointment.

It was while we were on the bridge and realizing that we weren’t going to have enough time to run 20 miles and make it back in time for me to shower and get to my appointment that I came up with the idea to run fourteen miles in the morning and ten more in the evening. Two long-ish runs, totaling 24 miles, would be a training exercise somewhat equivalent to running 20 miles at once, right? It made sense in my mind. Once M. and I agreed that the idea was completely stupid, we decided to make the second run eight miles instead of ten.

We struggled through the morning’s 14, pausing to cool ourselves down as much as we could, and refilling our bottles with fountain water that seemed more suitable for making hot cocoa. Eventually, we made it back to the car and I looked at M. and pondered the likelihood that we would actually cajole one another to run again later in the day.

I spent the next several hours doing laundry, cleaning the house, and packing for our trip to Guadalajara, where M. has to be to work for a month. And, of course, that hour and a half under the hands of la dentista having two crowns replaced on my back molars. We ate a decent meal to try to replenish the fuel we had used during the morning run, and after forcing ourselves into our running shoes, headed back outside – this time along the river in Matamoros – for our final eight miles at 7:00 pm. We ran the first six on the dusty trail and I wasn’t so sure we’d make the full eight. It was just so miserably hot. We circled back to the house, picked up Frieda, splashed some cold water on our heads, and ran the final two miles as a family. Twenty-two miles in total for the day and so happy to have it behind us.

With 20 days to go before the marathon, we feel ready but nervous. Our bodies can handle the distance, and I am confident our minds will be able to as well. It will be much cooler and much less humid in Mexico City, but those conditions come at the price of having to run 26.2 miles at 7,900 feet when we have been training at sea level. Between you and me, I am terrified of how the altitude will affect us. Our plan is just to start slowly and hope that we will be able to get through to the finish while taking in the sights and sounds of the biggest city in the world.

Thank you for reading!

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