- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 30, 2006

Today, the 40th running of the USATF National Junior Olympic Track & Field Championships concludes in Baltimore. Four days later, the USA Masters Outdoor Track & Field Championships start in Charlotte and last through next weekend.

One thing these two meets have in common, other than that they attract many of the fastest athletes in the nation, is that this year they both are being held in brutally hot conditions.

Just like here in Washington.

I am sick of this heat. Oh, they say, it’s not the heat, it’s the humidity. But it’s the heat, too.

These last few weeks have been rougher than normal. Maybe they’re not 100-degree days, but every day the mercury rises cruelly into the 90s, with no break. That’s a problem for a runner with a program that’s seven days a week.

In weather like this, the kidneys’ only function is to filter out more than a gallon of water a day. That’s only good news for one person: the operator of the water truck that pulls into my driveway. The driver always seems to be smiling, perhaps laughing all the way to the bank. Cha-ching.

Another frustrating issue lately for runners is keeping their feet dry from sweat. Years ago, I bought a boxful of “super absorbent” socks, guaranteed to keep the feet bone-dry by moving the sweat “away.” Unfortunately, the 10-year warranty must be up because they don’t work anymore.

Maybe it’s because they have as many holes in them as a golf course. The socks create the feeling of running in ankle-deep water for the second half of a workout, kind of like steeple-chasing.

Competing in the heat obviously has not reached the senior levels of running. How can the elite runners in the nation get their nationals at the end of June in Indianapolis while the Junior Olympics are in steamy Baltimore in late July and Masters Nationals are in really steamy Charlotte in early August?

For Masters Nationals, there were slim pickings with respect to venues. Good ones in the past have been in Eugene, Ore., (2000 and 2003) and Orono, Maine (1998, 2002 and again in 2007). But oven-like Orlando, Fla., (1999) and Baton Rouge, La., (2001) virtually were the only interested parties in their bidding years.

After Charlotte this year, it is back to Orono, which is tracking six degrees cooler than Washington right now. Then to Spokane, Wash., in 2008, tracking a full 10 degrees below our swelter here.

Maybe I should be grateful that the heat has not injured or killed me. That leaves me much better off than the now-famous Deer Runner, the injured Nick Fernandez.

Tom Temin, race director of the Riley’s Rumble Half Marathon in Poolesville last Sunday, said the 22-year-old Maryland senior with a personal best 3:13 in six marathons was competing in the half-marathon in preparation for the Steamtown Marathon in Pennsylvania in October.

“At around mile 5.5, which would have been on Sugarland Road, he noticed a deer poking its head out of the woods and the next thing he remembers is being helped by paramedics, who eventually had him helicoptered to Suburban Hospital. … He suffered a fractured skull, brain contusion and various cuts. He is expected to recover fully. Needless to say, on Monday he had a rather bad headache.”

I’ll take the heat, thank you, dear.

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