After several weeks of training in the heat, you should be well acclimated and perhaps ready to try a Texas summer half marathon. So what should you expect on race day?
Finding a Texas summer half marathon can be tough
You may have noticed that races — and especially half marathons — become scarce this time of year. In fact, the website Running in the USA lists only a few dozen Texas summer half marathons, with only six each in June and July.
North Texas runners looking for a Texas summer half marathon may want to try the Wildfire Half in Denton on July 16 or the Hottest Half in Dallas on August 13. These rank among the few options at that distance. In addition, both races provide ample time to prepare.
While racing in the Texas heat poses challenges, the weather is at least predictable — hot and dry, with rare exceptions. This takes the guesswork out of what to wear. Lightweight fabrics in light colors (though perhaps not white!) provide the best option. Beware of cotton and anything that presents the slightest potential for chafing. As mentioned previously on this blog, sunscreen and/or a hat is also a must.
How to prepare for race day
Texas summer marathons almost always begin in the morning, and often slightly earlier than usual, say, 7-7:30 a.m. That means you need to be up extra early to get to the race, find a parking spot, use the port-o-let (thanks to all that hydration!) and get to the start of the race.
While not exactly comfortable, the first hour of the race will generally be tolerable, with the sun’s rays not yet beating down full force. Humidity can pose a challenge. And now that you’ve acclimated to the heat, expect to sweat early and often.
Tips for your best Texas summer half marathon
As the miles wear on and the day heats up, remember to pace yourself. The excitement of race day may tempt you to push the pace. But remember that your heart and lungs are working harder just to keep you cool, so respect your limits and listen to your body.
This advice holds especially true near the end of the race. If you’re still feeling good by mile 10, you can pick it up a bit, but pay close attention to any signs of lightheadedness, cramps or nausea because those early signs of dehydration will hit with a vengeance after you finish.
Speaking of the finish, when the race is over, be sure to take in some fluids. Sports drinks offer a good option to replace some of the electrolytes you no doubt lost during the race. If salty snacks are available, take advantage of those as well. While you may want to collapse in a heat, it’s best to keep moving for a bit. That will prevent the blood from pooling in your legs. (Unless, of course, you enjoy passing out on the pavement in the sweltering heat).
Congratulations, you didn’t die! (Now what?)
Once you’ve crossed the finish line, be sure to congratulate yourself. A Texas summer marathon isn’t for the faint of heart. You’ve trained hard to get here, so bask in the accomplishment. If you plan to keep running in the Texas heat, you should now know you can do it. You may set your sights on one of the races mentioned earlier. Or, if you want to go further afield, Athlinks provides a rundown of top summer runs nationwide.