Monday, July 21, 2008

The deathly heat

I originally wanted to title this post "Heat & Death in Rockville" as a play on words from "Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas", but that title isn't quite appropriate for two reasons:
  1. My long run on Saturday wasn't in Rockville - it was through the Beltsville Ag Farms. And although I felt as if I was going to die with my heart rate at 181 bpm while moving like a snail at 13 minute-miles, alas I made some smart choices and cut my run short knowing that I was well on my way to getting heat exhaustion. It is definitely a bruise to the ego when, as a potential ultra runner, you can't even finish an easy 14-mile long run, but I foolishly went out for a run during the hottest time of the day (out on the roads from 10-noon) on a route with no shade on a day where it was deathly hot.

    Now why do I say "deathly" hot? Here comes reason #2 why the failed humor in my post title would have been inappropriate:

  2. There was a twilight 8k (5mi) race in Rockville Saturday evening. One of the runners, an older guy probably 60-years-old, collapsed and died with 1 mile to go. The Washington Post article doesn't indicate a cause of death, but with the temps where they were that day, I'm sure the heat had a big factor in this equation.
Perhaps the deceased had other underlying medical issues that led to this unfortunate incident, but it definitely makes the dangers of running in the extreme heat that much more real. I am glad I had the wherewithal to make the decision to cut my run short. I had 2 water bottles, one with Nuun electrolytes in it and I was taking it slow, but I was running on the hot pavement with no shade. Had I gone on (I stopped at 9.5 miles), I probably would have finished my run with a PR for slowest run ever, but I'm sure I would have done more damage than good. My body (well, my heart-rate monitor mostly) was giving me a warning sign to stop and I listened.

Be smart out there.

1 comment:

Becky said...

Hey, better to be safe than sorry. I feel your pain. On Sat. I did a 45 min bike followed by what was supposed to be a super-easy 3 miles. I ended up having to walk some! 2+ hour ride yesterday (10:45 to ~1pm) and couldn't muster a run was just too hot!

The highest my HR monitor has gone was 198 last summer. I don't recommend it!