Sunday, May 24, 2009

Got it in Before it Got Too Hot

This time of year is pretty strange in Southern California. Through my frequent travels, I have come to love the East and Midwest in the Spring. The air is fresh and everything is green. Most people think that Southern California is no different. But it is. Our repayment for our mild winter is this strange time of the year.

There are two reasons that Southern California's climate is so temperate. The first is this huge radiator that we live next to, the Pacific Ocean. You might think that the water off the coast is warm, but actually, there is a huge cold current that runs off the coast. Unlike the East Coast, we are lucky if the water ever gets about 72 degrees, even in the dead of summer (in fact, today the water temperature here in Newport Beach is 64). The second is that we live in a desert (a normal rainfall year is around 13 inches - that's a little over an inch a month). Well, as the season moves from Winter to Spring, this desert that we live in starts to heat up (Palm Springs, about 60 miles away as the crow flies is forecast to be 99 degrees today). As the air heats up, it rises, and the cool air mass sitting over the ocean rushes in to replace it. This brings cooling temperatures. It also brings along dull, drab, dreary overcast. The technical term is "marine layer". The popular term is "June gloom". Sometimes the overcast extends four or five miles inland. Sometimes it extends 30 miles!

To us runners, this is actually a somewhat welcome relief. Along the coast, we can go a month or two not seeing the sun until late in the morning. Sometimes we don't see the sun all day. But, that means that if you are a morning runner, temperatures are perfect for running. Yesterday when I took off on my 12 mile run at 7:30 AM, it was a beautiful, overcast 63 degrees. Humid for sure, but at 63 degrees, who cares? I finished up a little after 9:30 AM, just as the sun was starting to peak through the clouds. Final stats - 12 miles at an average pace of 10:50, with an average heart rate of 71% of max. By the way, the sun was out in it full glory by 11AM.

Finally, best of luck to anyone running the L.A. Marathon tomorrow! Here's hoping June gloom is in it's full glory!


  1. Good run! I live in Texas and luckily the mornings have still been perfect for running, but pretty soon the temps will be in the 90s in the morning. So I am definitely taking advantage of these great May and hopefully early June warm but not hot morning to run.

  2. i've been out there for the may gray/june gloom. it's not so bad i think. enjoy the mild and nice running weather! :)

  3. Hi there Glenn - I found you on Patrick My New Life On the Run's blog. Am looking forward to reading yours!

    That's interesting about the weather in California. I would have thought it would be perfect too.

    I live in Darwin where it's been very humid... bring on the drier weather!

  4. explained the marine layer really well...but seriously? You get 72 degree water in Newport! That's tropical. I don't think the current ever gets above 65 degrees down here.

    All that being said. I'm with ya, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed this weekend and next for all the LA and RnR marathoners...and that the marine layer holds for several hours. It didn't hold past 10am last year...and those last two hours were HOT!!!

  5. You are right, 63 is beautiful to run in, especially if it's overcast with the marine layer as you mentioned. I wish we had something like that here - believe it or not, but we don't really benefit from anything like that, even though I'm not more than 20 miles from the ocean as the crow flies.