Ron Marinucci: July 2013 Column

Ron Marinucci: July 2013 Column

“It’s going to be 115 degrees in Las Vegas this weekend!” That’s what Karen told me at dinner the other night. That’s pretty darn warm, but we’re headed out there for a week, taking Michael and Ashley with us to visit Uncle Matt. They’ll be a good excuse to spend a lot of time at the Monte Carlo pools (the Lazy River is great!) and a new water park that recently opened in Henderson.

This last week of June actually had me thinking about Las Vegas before Karen’s comment. When the high temperatures there are mentioned, people around here reply with much sarcasm, “Yeah, but it’s a dry heat….” It is a “dry heat” and it is different. The overnight low temperatures are forecast to be around 90 while we are there, so I’m already planning my runs. I’ll get up around 5 AM (which is really 8 AM here, sort of sleeping in!) to run on the Strip. That’s been my routine out there. I’m still surprised at the number of runners at that hour, a lot of them. It’s a tough run, in 90 degrees, and I’ll no doubt run a bit shorter than I usually do, although I enjoy running down Las Vegas Boulevard to Fremont Street downtown.

But the last few days of running in Michigan, to me at least, have been just as hard, if not harder. Although I was out the door before 6 AM each day, the temperatures were in the low- to mid-70s. Worse, the humidity was very high, too, more than 90% a couple of mornings. Without any rain, I returned home soaked, sopping wet, drenched in my own “schweat.” For three mornings, I searched for even a square centimeter of dryness on my shirt, but couldn’t find one. My shorts were equally wet. My shoes took about 48 hours to completely dry. And the steambath-like conditions drained me. I was tired, very tired, all day each day.

I thought, “This is worse than running in Vegas,” although I may re-evaluate early next week. But I won’t give up my runs in either place.

Also, this past week brought “Bug Day.” It’s the first day—always noted as such in my running log—that the deer flies out on the trails bother me. Although I swatted quite a few, they weren’t too bad the first couple of days. Maybe it’s because I was out there in the woods so early; in fact, they only swarmed toward the end of my run, when I left the trails to head home. And, although I wore my yellow “anti-deer fly shirt,” which seems to help keep them a little more at bay, I was without my Tred Not Deer Fly Strips and laundry softener sheets. I’ll have to stock up on them when we return. As if to confirm “Bug Day,” after an hour or so of traipsing through the woods, Michael came home with more than a dozen deer fly bites.

“Fleeting,” that seems to be an appropriate word for running on the longest day. I look forward through the late autumn, winter, and early spring to running in daylight. Due to my schedule, I usually must get out there well before 6 AM and most of the year it’s dark. As summer nears, I get excited about finishing runs as dawn is breaking and look forward to those longest days of the year. But with summer officially only a week or so old, it already seems like I’m heading out into darker and darker mornings. Fleeting……

I just finished reviewing Anne Audain’s autobiography, Uncommon Heart. She tells an interesting story. Audain is a pioneer woman runner from New Zealand. She’s run the Crim quite a few times and was even the featured speaker the expo there. She was known not only for her speed, including world records and many victories on the roads, but also because she insisted on racing with her hair and facial make-up done up nicely. Her tale includes growing up with a youthful physical handicap which she overcame with surgery, allowing her to become the runner she was. She tells of her role in the early years of women’s racing, including the petty jealousies and politics that found runners of both genders, but especially females. She also has some nice and not-so-nice things to say about some of the best-known names in running of the past few decades. It’s a good book.

Earlier, I also reviewed Luke Humphrey’s training book, Hanson’s Marathon Method. The Hansons, of course, are known for the Hansons-Brooks Distance Project, which has a stable of national and international elite runners. Humphrey is one of those runners, boasting a 2:14 marathon PR and two degrees in physiology. He also helps to train other runners. Humphrey explains how the rather unorthodox Hansons Method of marathon training works, mainly on the principle of “cumulative fatigue.” That principle allows for a long run of about 16 miles, much shorter than other training plans demand. But, it’s not a short-cut, an easy path to marathon success. The method is intriguing and has proven results, from Desiree Davila’s second place finish in the 2012 Boston Marathon to hundreds of finishes and PRs from mid- and backpack runners. Runners already with a good base might still have time to use the Hanson method for fall marathons.

I had a unique experience a few weeks ago, unique at least for me. I was interviewed for a radio program, albeit one in Hartford, CT. One of my very good Amherst College buddies, Mike Marino—a roommate and teammate—is on the board of directors for CRIS. CRIS provides audio access for the blind and other print-challenged people with online radio programming. My friend asked if I’d be interested in doing an interview about my guide-running with Michael Holmes, a blind runner and another friend of mine. I was game and expected to talk about guide running, Michael’s running, and related matters. It expanded to running in general, why people should run, what benefits running provides, what it requires, etc. Oh, we talked about guide running, a marvelously rewarding experience for me. But we went on for about 45 or more minutes. The show’s host hinted at a follow-up interview. I enjoyed it.

My running buddy Bob Drapal recently ran the Julie Run 5K, finishing second in his age-group. More than his own impressive performance, he gushed about other runners, especially, “that old guy” who “ran about seven-minute miles.” I think “that old guy” was Jim Carlton, who at age 70 posted a 22:44, about 7:20 per mile! Carlton’s time not only won him his age-group, but was the top senior time, including runners twenty years his junior, by almost two minutes. Bob and I had the same thought. How many other 70-year olds are out running 5K, let alone 7:20 miles?

Off to Las Vegas……