The Osmotherley Phoenix race last year was very hot. I know it is hot for everyone, but some people seem to handle the heat better than others. The heat is not for me. Having said that, I had a very interesting run along the Cotswold Way in 28 degree heat last Saturday. I was running as part of the Cotswold Way relay race. After 24 miles of running (several hours before), I lined up for leg 10: the final leg. I had to rest in the shade prior to the starting gun as the heat was just stifling. On the race itself, I seemed to suffer for the first couple of miles and quite a few people overtook me (who hadn't already run the 24 miles: at least that made me feel better). By the fourth mile, I was feeling hot and a bit irritated that I was losing position. I'd been drinking isotonic drink and looking after myself reasonably well. When I decided that enough was enough and it was time to start overtaking people, I just seemed to move into another gear. When I got into that faster gear, things actually seemed easier. I was running more in my stride: it didn't seem like such a desperate effort and I started moving through the field.
I think that two things I learned were firstly the importance of drinking and looking after myself and secondly getting my attitude right. When it's hot, there are times when the running is less stressful and times when it is more stressful. When in the shade, the wind or going downhill, it seems like there is no excuse: you really have to run. These are the free miles where you can get some speed without suffering too much. I just need to be able to link these free miles with the painful hot uphill ones in between. The faster I can go uphill in the heat though, the sooner the painful miles are over. I'm hoping that I can learn something about running in the heat this weekend!
A week in a telecoms standards meeting is not the ideal preparation for an ultra-race. At least the meeting is in a decent place. Dresden is a beautiful city on the banks of the river Elbe. There are good long walks to be had along the river bank and further away is the Dresdener Heide: a large deciduous wood with trails all over it. This is an excellent place to relax and stretch ze legs. The main problem is the temptation of the biergartens by the sides of the Elbe, overlooking the Italianate skyline of Dresden, on my return from the woods. If only we had the Dresdener Heide on my doorstep in Bristol!