As recently as four days ago, the weather forecast for Boston was all over the place. Then it became more consistent and my only concern was a possible strong headwind. That was then.
Now we're looking at temperatures in the mid to high EIGHTIES. This is no longer a race. You can deal with nearly any other weather, making adjustments with clothing and still make it a race, going for your goal time. But heat is a different matter. Sure, there are plenty of adjustments to make. But unfortunately, the biggest adjustment is effort. Overheating can be very dangerous, and once that point is reached, it's tough to recover.
I read a bunch of articles that discuss running in high temps to get suggestions. Problem is, they weren't very helpful. Run early in the day before it warms up? No. Find a shady course or trail? No. Acclimatize for 10-14 days? Not so much. I read one article that reviewed the famous 1982 Boston when Salazar beat Beardsley by two seconds. By the way, there's a great youtube clip that shows the last few miles. Anyway, is was noted that Bill Rogers, who was expected to be the one to challenge Salazar, suffered due to the heat that day. IT WAS ONLY 68 DEGREES!
When it became clear yesterday that it would be scorching hot, the emails and web postings started to fly. The organizers and charities will allow everyone to defer entry to next year. Even the fundraising can count towards next year. I gave it some serious, serious consideration, but in the end decided to run. Here's my plan:
- Most importantly, adjust my goal. I'm not quite sure what's realistic, but probably something like 3:45, 30 minutes slower than I wanted. And that goal is adjustable. It's far more important to have a healthy finish.
- Run / walk protocol, or walking at regular intervals. While I've never even practiced it, I've heard plenty about it. And it really isn't that different from interval training. This should help my heart rate to recover a bit and allow me to be more diligent at aid stations. I'm not sure what the intervals will be. It could be as simple as walking every aid station, or it could be determined by heart rate. Which leads me to...
- Wear a heart rate monitor. I haven't trained with it, but I think I have enough experience to make it useful. I will also be able to watch the change/increase as the race wears on.
- Wear arm coolers. These will keep the sun off, have some sort of fancy fabric that promotes cooling, and can absorb cold water every mile.
- Bring extra salt and gels.
I think I can monitor my own condition and make adjustments. But I'm concerned about other runners. A few years ago, Chicago had a disaster in this kind of heat. Because of that, I would imagine that Boston will be better prepared. However, there are two key differences with Boston. First, no one has been able to run in warmer weather. It will be a shock to the system. Second, Boston is the only marathon where you need to run a qualifying time to get in (other than us charity runners). There will be thousands of people that worked really hard just to get there. Knowing something about the Type-A, bulldog competitor mentality, these folks may not let anything get in their way. I fear for Tuesday's headlines.
Here we go....