(The following is a guest post from my mother regarding our determination to run the Warrior Dash in Arizona next spring. This is the 5th in the series wherein our Valkyrie in Training preps for the changing weather – check out part #4 here and keep tuned in for updates!)
Warrior Dash Valkyrie in Training #5 – Challenges Unforeseen and Otherwise
Living in Tucson in the SE area of Arizona presents a number of challenges; almost all of them are related to weather. Here in the beautiful Sonoran Desert, the weather is all about heat and heat is the major killer. I know about heat. I live with it and I plan for it. Extreme hot temperatures are a reality of my life in the desert. Here, we have over 100 days over 100 degrees every year. I wear sunscreen and hats. I carry an umbrella. I do not go out in the very hot middle of the day. In summer, I walk at 5:00 a.m. or earlier in order to avoid the extreme heat. Heat may be the enemy but it is a known enemy. On the other hand, cold is an insidious interloper.
This week, it has been cold for SE Arizona. Nights and mornings have been in the high 30s & low 40s; daytime temps have been in the 50s and, occasional 60s. You folks in Colorado and other cold climes are laughing about now. I get that. YOU have 9 inches of snow on the ground. It is the price you pay for mild summers. I enjoy wonderfully mild winters for which I have to endure temperatures up to 117 degrees in summer. It’s a tradeoff.
So…this week…not so mild and I have learned a few things. I knew the weather would get cold (for the desert). After all, it is November, so I make sure I dress appropriately for my walks. Something as simple as long pants may seem obvious to you. For me, it takes planning. OK, dig out the long exercise pants – check. Layers. I bought a light weight down jacket for winter walking. (I am trying to eliminate as many excuses as I can.) Underneath, I layer some version of a lava wool underwear top. Add light weight gloves and a light weight knit hat and, voila, I am ready to walk. When it dips below 50, my toes get cold; I trade my barefoot shoes for socks and regular sneakers. When it dips below 40, I add a scarf.
The learning curve gets steeper with rain. Rain?
This is the desert. Our annual average rain fall here is 15 inches. In the last decade, we have received about half that yearly. Used to the drought and to the usually dry, warm weather, we desert rats do not expect rain and we have a rather unusual relationship with rain. When it rains, we are surprised, amazed, intrigued, titillated…well, you get the idea. Rain is an unusual event. When it rains, we have a tendency to run outside and look up…just to make sure it is actually raining, I suppose. Silly us; It is amazing that we don’t drown. So…no. Rain is not usually a consideration when I plan my day. Yeah…but…this morning it rained.
I left the house a little before true daylight planning for 6 miles. It seemed chilly but O.K. this morning, 48 degrees and light wind with moderate gusts from the north. I was comfortable in my spiffy down jacket and a knit hat. It was cloudy and the forecast was for a slight chance of rain later in the day. I routinely ignore such a vague forecast so, this morning, no worries.
Oooops! About 45 minutes and 2 ½ miles out, it began to sprinkle; just a light mist and still no worries. Decision time. Do I continue on my planned route or turn around now and head for home? It was tempting to carry out my plan. I find that once I am on the street, I become a little compulsive about fulfilling my training goal for the day. It was
sprinkling/misting fairly steadily and beginning to bead up on my jacket so I reluctantly decided to abort my plan and head for home. I knew I would log a total of 1 ½ hours, by
default. For me, that is almost 5 miles, and I decided to accept that as sufficient for the morning. As I made my way home, it began to rain harder. The speckles of rain on my
jacket grew to drops. My glasses fogged over and became so wet every image seemed to run into the next. I could feel the temperature dropping; however, my core was still warm. I picked up my pace. By the time I got home, I was feeling a little soggy and chilled. I traded my wet clothes for dry ones and lit a fire.
About that time, the sky opened and dropped ¼” of rain in about 30 minutes. Happy that I had dodged a drenching and happy that my thirsty garden was getting a good drink, I put on a kettle for tea. Tomorrow, it is supposed to be 35 degrees at daylight and no rain in the forecast. I will add the scarf.
(And thank you for the inspiration! Yesterday I really wanted to blow off a run because it was chilly and windy but I read your post and launched myself out the door. If you can walk in the rain; I can run in the cold. And I didn’t melt, congeal, fall down or whatever else I thought might happen to me. Astonishing. I recently read a quote from someone whose name escapes me: “You will never regret getting out and running but you will always regret not doing so.” And the rest of my thoughts on that are probably their own post.
But thank you.)