Running on Purpose

April 17th, 2012 by Harrumpher Leave a reply »

Yeah, yeah. New Englanders enjoy weather talk at least as much as anyone else. For heat though, we’re not so remarkable.

Take yesterday, Patriots Day celebrated and to much of the world Boston Marathon running. For all the pre-race noise about record-breaking temps and certainly for post-race recaps looking for agony, Southern-style heat/humidity combos are extremely rare up here. Yesterday wasn’t, if you pardon, in the running.

I wanted to take a long bike ride. To me, 80’s with a humidity in the low 20’s is comfortable. Of course, I wouldn’t have put myself out for the self-brutality of the 26-plus mile set. However, my legs were a bit sore from previous cycling, so it was a six-mile hike instead. I did take a water bottle though.

Along the way, I passed a Latino heading in the opposite direction at about equal, rapid pace. He was happy and from his accent and appearance, he seemed to be reflecting on his Central American upbringing. He called out cheerfully, “Hola!” and added in English “Summer!” He was a happy guy.

My youngest though, at 18, considers sweating grotesque and an affront to all humanity. He called yesterday “Damned hot.”

For the Marathon though, the Globe reported that thousands of registered runners punked out. The Boston Athletic Association said 3,863 did not pick up their numbers (c. 14%). Then 22,426 did but 427 took the option of deferring entry until 2013. Yet, after all that, the BAA also said that 96% finished the race…eventually, compared to 98% in a typical running of this race. There was a wide range of estimates of how many needed any sort of medical assistance and none differentiation for heat-related troubles.

So, in the main, the slightly higher temps was much harder on the runners’ fragile self-confidence than their bodies.

I don’t do marathons. However, it seems that set has a fair number who are Goldilocks. They want things just right…not too cold, certainly not too hot. I may question their wisdom in trying to run 26.2 miles, but never their perseverance.

Then again, for weather, having lived throughout the continental U.S., I find the reactions to air are themselves remarkable. We didn’t hear the African runners complaining of the heat, nor runners from the Southern half of the nation. Yet, visiting here or there, we see those differences. Southerners are apt to put on a sweater at 70 degrees, while Yankees may be in shorts and t-shirts in the 40s. Bostonians are wont to complain of the heat at 78 degrees, while down South that point of comment is in the 90s.

Of course, a cliché of Southerners with some truth is that they don’t run if they can walk and don’t walk if they can sit.


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