Ladies and gentlemen; this statement is something you are quite aware of -- it's pretty darn hot outside.

In the spirit of the upcoming Independence Day 5K, I decided to run the loop on Monday afternoon to get the feel of it all. I wanted to do this -- not to show off my manhood -- to, one, prepare for the conditions, and two, do a bit of active research to figure out things I could've done differently.

I would like to preface this post by saying that while I consider myself an adequate athlete at the age of 35, I am not someone who runs regularly. I spend most of my workout time lifting weights, while mixing in different aspects of cardio. There is a high percentage of people out there who run a lot more frequently, and a lot faster, than I do. I am also taking into consideration that a percentage of people only run the annual 4th of July staple race -- which is pretty typical to me -- as their only race of the year, or, it may be their first race in a long time, possibly ever.

A little after noon time, I began my trek. In preparation for this run, I did drink water -- just not enough of it. I drank one small bottle of water on the way to the course, but, at least for me, it was less than the ideal amount. The race will begin at 9:15 a.m. on Wednesday, so the conditions will be a bit different when it all kicks off than it was Monday at noon in the middle of a high heat advisory.

Trying to avoid the sun was impossible. I had my headphones blasting so I could ignore how hot it was out there. The heat wasn't the issue for me, it was the extreme humidity that became a hurdle. I am a seasonal allergy sufferer and they seem to be blasting me worse now than they did earlier in the season. Getting fresh air, and breathing in general, was difficult during this run. But again, it was this day and time of the run that made it that way. It will certainly be different on Wednesday morning with cooler temperatures and, hopefully, less humidity.

This will be my fourth time running this race. Every time I run it, and I kept this in mind when I ran the practice loop on Monday, the hill going up the end of Wahconah Street onto North Street always gets the better of me. This time, I kept that in mind and slowed down a bit. I was breathing a little heavier, but I did a better job than in the past.

The run gets much flatter from there as you head up North Street. For those who haven't run this race before, the bystanders along the route will be cheering you on -- some will just cross the street while your running, which you'll need to pay attention to -- creating a pretty positive environment. The turnaround takes place after the Berkshire Museum on the corner of North and East/West Housatonic Street.

At that point, at least the way I perceive it, hopefully you didn't come out too fast and you can take it to a second gear. You've already faced the route once before, now you know what you are up against. Monday afternoon's run was a little more telling with the heat, humidity and sun beaming down upon you. I probably could've conserved my energy a little bit more heading up but you live and learn, right?

Passing Park Square and more of the parade bystanders heading back up North Street, you begin to start to see the light at the end of the tunnel. The heat will test you mentally, but knowing that you're more than halfway done helps you ignore it. As you continue to get towards Carr Hardware, you begin to realize that the most fun part of the race is coming and it will be time to empty the gas tank -- heading back to Wahconah Street.

Oh yes, the downhill start to the finish line. This is the point where you begin to get that final adrenaline rush. The point where you just want to pass everybody in your sights. The sprint is on to Wahconah Park and the final battle between you and your mental state begins. Once you cross the finish line, and you see hundreds of others who have accomplished the same goal, it's a pretty cool feeling. For me, I have to get back to the parade route, but it's bring on the hamburgers, hot dogs and any other food item you'd like to send in my direction.

Running can be fun, but it isn't easy. If you're not a regular runner, don't come flying out of the gate. Pace yourself and begin to turn it on in the second half of the race. You do not want to burn yourself out early -- a mistake I have made in the past. I'm excited to do it again and I hope to see you guys chugging multiple cups of water after you cross the finish line in celebration. Then, we'll see you again during one of the biggest and best parades in the country.

If you haven't signed up for the race yet, you can do so right here.

Here's to a Happy 4th everybody!

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