Thursday, 9 April 2009

Prepared for the sun, caught by the wind!

I must admit that I was quite nervous before today's 6 mile run into the desert. I'm always wary of venturing into the unknown, especially where the temperature is in the high 20's and there is absolutely no cloud cover to speak of. I set off at exactly midday armed only with 0.5 litres of water, my GPS watch and my iPod.

The sun was beating furiously down and I was thankful to be caked in factor 50. I wore my usual long sleeve Brooks base layer below my Run Geordie Run T-Shirt. That kit might sound too warm to wear in these conditions but for some reason it is really comfortable. The sweat is immediately transferred to the outer layer and friction is minimised as a result. When Brooks Sports gave me the first batch of kit I didn't think I'd wear the base layer clothing that often. It has served me very well so far in extreme heat as well as extreme cold. I'll be looking into the reasons why it gives such comfort when I return to the UK. I've got a growing list of things that have occured while running over here in Egypt. I've got a lot of questions that need answering from a technical or scientific point of view. The better educated and informed I become over the next couple of years, the better placed I will be to make the correct decisions in the USA in 2011.

The first 3 miles away from the hotel weren't half as bad as I'd feared. It was hot, yes, but my body seemed to cope with that aspect admirably. Still, I wasn't prepared to veer too far away from a 00:09:30 per mile pace. Today was about finding my feet in the hot midday sun, not about taking risks or going too fast.

The return leg back to the hotel wasn't half as comfortable as the outward journey. The winds were gusting from the desert plains and I was caught right in the middle of it. Miles 4 and 5 were very slow indeed. I even struggled to raise my arms to wave back to the guys in the Police Checkpoint such was the wind speed. It was only during the last mile that I managed a bit of pace to bring the average time back down to the planned 00:09:30 per mile. The whole 6 mile run took 00:57:07 to complete. Given my cautious approach, I've got to be reasonably pleased with that.

Tomorrow's midday run is going to be 7 miles long. Despite the forecast saying it's going to get warmer, I'm going to be looking for an average of at least 00:09:00 per mile. This will be my final chance to get some speed in this week. The following day is going to be even warmer at 30 degrees. That's hardly the kind of temperature I want to run 11.5 unassisted miles in. I'll be taking 1.5 litres of water with me on that one!