Today was the hottest run of the year. Or so it felt. The dial was at 85F when I showed up at Travis Country Circle off Southwest Pkwy, one of the nice, lesser known entrances to the Barton greenbelt. And connected to the usual greenbelt trail but you have to know the trails to get there.The trails here are very rocky and single track. But the good thing is there’s lots of shade on the trails and you’re never in the sun. I’m sure in the heart of summer it gets like a sauna especially as you run.
From the road we ran about a mile inside the trails to where Joe’s marked his Rock Tree. Which is a tree with rocks on it, also put there by Joe and his peeps. Interestingly, lot of these trails are named by him. Shan’s loop, Scupture Falls (there is no water), Baloney, and the best ever, Panty (Gaurav, the trail veteran who is on a hiatus said it’s cos there was a tree there with a panty hanging on it, hence the name panty. Well I hope to God though that the panty owner is safe and sound).
So we go in and at Rock Tree, in usual Joe-fashion he draws the trail on the ground with a stick. This is why it’s impossible to describe the trails on the online forum. Because there’s no way he can explain that if you’re not standing over him and even if you are, you’re still quite likely to get lost. The loop was 2 miles and just a sort of toast-shaped one (probably quite different but that’s the way he drew it on the mud). So off we went, Joe with us marking the trails with his pink ribbon clothesline clips on the trees as he ran ahead. I began running too hard and didn’t anticipate how I’d react to the heat. At Hell’s Hills where I definitely ran hard, the temps were still in the 70s when we started running and never reached 80 until way after I’d finished. But today at the outset it was 85. I began sweating but more than ever, my head felt super hot. I poured water on the back of my neck as I could and at some point I had to stop to walk. My heart rate was high, head was hot and dizzy and I didn’t want to run. So I slowed down, walked up the little inclines which felt oh-so-hard in the heat.
This was not even a hot day. Most Austinites would call it pleasant. Summer isn’t here yet with it’s blazing sun at 9pm and a 100F with no signs of cooling until late night. But I’m a cold weather runner. Not snow and ice and sleet but for me, 50F-55F is perfect. I hardly need to warm up, going in I feel great and strong with steady breath. So it looks like heat conditioning is needed. People tell me I’ll get used to it. I need to use icepacks and hydrate all the time perhaps. Not sure how it’s going to work out. On the second loop I took it really easy. I ran really slowly, I just wanted to spend time on my feet running and letting my body decide how it wanted to run in these temps. When I slowed down I felt a lot better. On the inclines I’d walk and just make sure my heart rate wasn’t flapping around so I’d feel dizzy. It worked. It took me 1.5 X the time to finish the second loop but I felt all the better. Drank every drop of water I had. Sue, my trail sister, who I call that because like sisters we have a lot in common but we’re different. Here of course I’m talking about running because Sue is blonde and white. We run at the same pace but she’s a much stronger starter. It takes me a good 2-3 miles to warm up before I can go bounding about on the rocks and stones. Eventually I can catch up with her and sometimes by pass her, if I feel good but mostly I like to pace with her because she runs at a good even pace. I mean she finished less than a minute after me at Hells Hills and ranked 8th among women! But what’s really great about her is that she can beat the heat!! So when it’s hot she’s suddenly a sister who grew up to be very different. The heat makes us very different runners! I wither in the heat but she does ok.
So I’ll try to keep running through the summer and get heat conditioned, however at some point it might get too much, in which case I’ll do what I did today, I’ll slow down and listen to my body.