The Run of the Year (Subtitled: Why Am I Faster in New York?)

Greetings, blogosphere.

I’ve been maintaining some radio silence lately because I’ve been on the road. I’m visiting Rochester, NY where I will be staying for a while. I’m also doing a 10K run while I’m here, and I may sign up for another race or two. This is a great racing town with runs almost every week during the fair weather months, and even some winter races for those who are feeling bold (which I’m not).

Of course, most of my 10K training has been done in the ever-hotter weather of Tucson, AZ. The week before I left town, I started doing all my runs indoors on a treadmill because the heat–which reached 105 degrees on at least two consecutive days–was becoming deadly. Yesterday was actually my first outdoor run here in Western New York, and what a run it was! I tackled 3.5 miles at an average 9:32/mile pace. That is blistering for me, and over :10/mile faster than my previous fastest run of the year. The 5K time of 29:36 was even close to a PR. Even more surprising is that I managed this time despite a hilly course, getting rained on, and some ornery waterfowl crossing my path. This led me to wonder–Why am I faster in New York than I am in AZ? Some possible explanations:

  • Altitude: It’s true that Tucson (2400 feet above sea level) has a higher elevation than Rochester (500 feet above sea level), but I’ve read multiple studies suggesting that the difference would have to be much greater to make any measurable difference in speed.
  • Air Quality: This may be dubious, too. In 2010, Rochester received an “F” grade from the American Lung Association in terms of ozone pollution, but a 2011 study found a marked decrease in pollution from cars, power plants, and the like.
  • Humidity: Here’s a big difference–Humidity in Rochester has been high. Relative humidity right now is about 53% (though I’d imagine it was higher yesterday while I was running in the rain). Humidity today in Tucson is about 10%. Too much humidity can be a hindrance, but overall I think being too low isn’t great, either!
  • Temperature: This of course matters, too. Trading the upper 90s/low 100s of Tucson for upper 60s evening runs in Rochester is bound to impact performance. Even in the early mornings in Tucson, temperatures were in the 70s by the time I got outside to run.

There are many things I enjoy about being an Arizona runner, but right now I’m loving the achievement of being a bit faster. Happily, I have a few more weeks of this to look forward to. Might a PR be in my near future?

2 thoughts on “The Run of the Year (Subtitled: Why Am I Faster in New York?)

    • Thanks! I had many friends running the Corporate Challenge tonight. It was actually my first race ever back in 2005, when I still lived/worked here. If I could have legitimately entered, I would have been all over it.

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