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May 19, 2008

An Extremely Superficial (and Almost Entirely True) California Story

As if the soreness, fatigue, and burnout of the past two weeks wasn’t enough, I’m suffering one final indignity from all this Western States training: it’s totally screwing up my tan lines.

I’ve mentioned before how I’ve been pretty consistent about swimming twice per week to complement all of the trail mileage I’m running. The Olympic-sized outdoor pool within 5 minutes of my office is an ideal situation: I get a great fitness boost from the workouts, which also blast away any work-related stress, and my skin gets nice and brown under the midday sunshine. It’s a win-win-win, where all of the winners are, you know … me.

So I’m usually reluctant to skip a swim workout, especially when the weather gets unseasonably warm. And when an intense heat wave rolled through our state last week, I was mentally calculating how many laps I should spend doing backstroke to ensure even browning. (Who says there are no practical applications for math?)

Then a training partner dropped me an e-mail that ended with this: Enjoy the weather this week. It should be great heat training.

Heat training. Darn it – I should have remembered that.

Although I live in California, the Monterey Peninsula is renowned for its mild coastal climate, so we rarely see the type of heat that is commonplace on the Western States trail at the end of June. 100 degree days are few and far between, especially before July rolls around. When I learned that record highs were being forecast, I knew that my friend was right – I needed to take advantage of the opportunity.

That’s why on Friday, as the temperature climbed into triple digits, instead of diving into a cool, shimmering pool, I made my way to the hilly, wide open fire roads of my training ground. Instead of stripping down to a swimsuit and goggles, I wore a full complement of running gear. Instead of a refreshing, invigorating workout, I incessantly took in fluids just to sustain myself against ravaging dehydration.

I eventually slogged through 12 miles in the sweltering sun – and sure, I was pleased to have done it, but I have to say I was a little dismayed by the aftereffects on my finely manicured veneer.

My feet and ankles had a clear line of demarcation from where they were covered by my socks. The t-shirt I wore made my forearms noticeably browner than my shoulders. My hand-held water bottle carrier left a stripe across my left knuckles one shade lighter than the rest of the hand. And my visor created a slight disparity between the colors of my forehead and cheeks.

There’s a reason I’m not including pictures with this post. I mean … you can’t even look at me now. I’m hideous.

This week, we’re back to our regularly moderate climate – temps in the 70s instead of the 90s – and I’ll head back to the pool to undo some of the damage that’s been done. But if you needed any further indication of how seriously I’m taking Western States, let this story serve as a reminder of the lengths to which I’m willing to suffer in pursuit of this goal.

I’m keeping my eyes on the prize – even at the expense of my vanity. Don’t let anyone tell you that training to run 100 miles doesn’t require great sacrifice.


jeff 5/20/08, 7:41 AM  

speedo or jammers?

Deene 5/20/08, 7:57 AM  

even color distribution is important.

momo 5/20/08, 8:32 AM  

so you got a little taste of what we experience most of the year around these parts, hm. nuts, isn'ti t?

its hot as hell in arizona this week! i think the temp is supposed to reach 109 one day - maybe today. i think i'll stay inside, cuz you know, i'm only training to run 26.2. :-)

21stCenturyMom 5/20/08, 8:51 AM  

Awwww...... poor thing.

I'm sure those lines will wash right off in a single mid afternoon swim, just like the crust and dirt that must surely surround your ankles - just about at the tan line.

Dave 5/20/08, 10:35 AM  

I will keep you in my prayers.

You might want to do what we do here in Chicago, a full mix of chemical tanning cream and "fake bake" lamps should do the trick.

Glad to hear you are at least keeping your humor while you are putting on the miles.

triguyjt 5/20/08, 2:39 PM  

Ohh, mans inhumanity to man..

.You wouldn't resort to one of those spray jobs would you???

probably not, especially in Cal.

That sweltering battle will only give you more preparation for the western states...

robtherunner 5/20/08, 4:25 PM  

Good call getting out in the heat, Donald! I don't think any of us would ever doubt you taking an event seriously. Even when you joke about it. I'm with Michelle though. What is this thing you call a tan?

Annette 5/20/08, 7:25 PM  

What a crack up! A couple suggestions. . . lose the shirt, wear shorter socks, and switch hands with the water bottle. C'mon, you can plan your even tanning in the pool, but not on the roads? :)

Heat training sucks, doesn't it? I had my first warm run over the weekend and it kicked my butt!

Rainmaker 5/20/08, 8:10 PM  

What you need is some SPF90 to even things out. Either that - or just skip the whole swim workout bit and simply lie by the pool. In ski racing there's a mental aspect where you visualize running through the course. I think it would be beneficial for swimming as well.

Anne 5/21/08, 5:58 AM  

I've got the same lame tan lines from this weekend. In your case, they are the marks of a warrior. Embrace them,Donald. And up the SPF next time.

craig 5/21/08, 9:45 AM  

I would have expected that ultra runners would wear their tan lines like badges of honor. But what do I know?

Speed Racer 5/21/08, 10:25 AM  

Boy, I sure miss outdoor pools. The giant X from the racer back of a speedo is SO much sexier than the farmer's tan New Englanders are sporting right now.

At least you didn't get raccoon eyes from the sunglasses. Those are a DEFINITE fashion emergency.

Mark Tanaka (Ultrailnakaman) 5/21/08, 10:53 AM  

Craig has it wrong-- it's not like running 100 miles precludes regular bikini waxings and mud baths at the spa. Don, you did right to choose the gnarly heat training run, but next time wear those arm sleeves and nothing else, and it will even out.

angie's pink fuzzy 5/21/08, 12:29 PM  

yes, i have clear tan lines that my coworkers make fun of. i even have spots on my wrist from where the sun can shine in between cracks from my garmin.

robb 5/21/08, 3:04 PM  

My feet and ankles had a clear line of demarcation from where they were covered by my socks. The t-shirt I wore made my forearms noticeably browner than my shoulders. My hand-held water bottle carrier left a stripe across my left knuckles one shade lighter than the rest of the hand. And my visor created a slight disparity between the colors of my forehead and cheeks.

Sounds like the 30k in mid-90's heat that I ran over the weekend.

SLB 5/21/08, 4:09 PM  

I was out of town and missed the worst of it but it still got to a tan line sweltering 107 in our yard and 114 at my wife's office on Monday!

olga 5/22/08, 12:38 PM  

I am with Craig - I wear mine as a badge of honor. I love pulling my skirt up in the summer and showing where the tan stops...OK, that's a sick image, but we all know me by now:) I did get a great laugh at Mark's comment - now go and do that!

Darrell 6/29/08, 5:58 PM  

Just me, catching up, yet again.

This post made me laugh. Glad you were able to keep your sense of humor through the trials/trails of training.

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