Ron Marinucci: Dealing with Michigan's summer heat and humidity

Ron Marinucci: Dealing with Michigan's summer heat and humidity

Brutal. I think that’s the best way to describe running here in Michigan the past couple of weeks, well, since we’ve returned from Las Vegas.

A recent Runner’s World article stated that 88 degrees at 40% humidity feels like 88 degrees. If the humidity reaches 70%, though, the relative discomfort is 100 degrees. OK, then, what happens when the humidity is even higher, say, 94% as it was one morning last week when I ran with my blind friend Michael Holmes? Oh, we struggled, both of us, that morning!

Now, when Karen and I were in Las Vegas, two days reached 117 degrees, which tied the all-time high temperature for that desert city. It was hot! Across the Strip from the Monte Carlo, where we stayed, was a digital thermometer. When we checked in on the first night, close to 11:00, it read 109 degrees!

Of course, I ran each morning, arising early to get out by 6:00. Most mornings that digital thermometer read 98 degrees at the beginning of my runs. One day it dipped to 93, while the hottest start was at 100. I slowed my pace a bit and cut my distance some, to about six miles daily, up and down the Strip. I wasn’t alone—and I don’t mean the all-night drunks. On several days, I counted a few dozen other runners. The runs were fine, although I was grateful that the Monte Carlo pools opened at 7 AM.

Returning to Michigan, the kids, Karen and I noticed the humidity as soon as we left the airport. “Whoa!” Michael said. I’ve had quite a few conversations comparing conditions in Las Vegas with those here.

Since our return, most days have been akin to running in a steam bath. In fact, running on the trails I frequent, I’d swear I saw small clouds forming under the canopy of trees in a few places.

When I run, I sweat—a lot! In Las Vegas, with the very low humidity often in the single digits, I often didn’t really sweat until I reached the hotel. Here, within a mile or so, I am pretty much drenched. It’s hard to find a square centimeter of “dry” on my shirt. And a few days the same could be said of my shorts. At the end of my runs, my shoes were talking, “Squish. Squish. Squish.” with each step. Twice two days weren’t enough for them to dry out completely.

Another frequent neighborhood runner passed me the other morning. He said, “It was late getting here, but I think summer has arrived.” I didn’t take time to think about what he said. Instead I wondered what he thought about how I look—a drowned rat?

Of course, my “Bug Day” came a few weeks ago, before we visited Matt in Las Vegas. But the past few days, the deerflies have attacked with a great vengeance, very vociferously. I didn’t count, but my Tred Not Deer Fly Strip had to have trapped more than one hundred deerflies. Still, the biggest challenge was the humidity. And it seems all I do all day is drink, drink, drink.

I was reminded one of those days, about a mile and a half from home, by a woman who said, “You know, you don’t have to run.” I nodded at her, but thought, “You’re wrong, lady. Yes, I do.”