on heat and hydration…

I have such a love-hate relationship with July. And mid to late summer events, for that matter. There’s no doubt that the start of actual summer-like weather makes training and triathlons easier in a lot of ways. It’s a pretty safe bet that from now until October, I will probably not have to worry about planning a training workout around rain or otherwise foul weather (I did say probably…).

Here in the Inland Northwest, we generally have 2-4 weeks of really, truly HOT weather. The number of times we break 100 degrees can usually be counted on one hand. But our hot weather has come early this year – a week ago, we jumped straight from 70 to 95 in a matter of two days and haven’t dipped below the mid 90s since. Not that I should complain. I’ve been more than ready for sunshine and blue skies for MONTHS. But I digress.

Most reasonable people spend these scorching days submerged in water – floating lazily in an inner tube down one of our rivers or on one of the many lakes. Me, I have the distinct (mis?)fortune of being in the midst of training for a summertime 70.3 Those of you doing the same or something similar know that when these hot days come, we must spend the time acclimating ourselves. Because lord knows, come race day, it’ll be 95 degrees out and we’ll have no choice but to deal with it. Better to give our bodies the chance to get used to it.

Saturday was a scorcher and that is an understatement. Seriously. And from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. I was out in it. During the nearly 3 hours I spent on the bike, I was thankful that I had remembered to apply sunscreen on my arms and face. But I still got a mild sunburn on the side of my thighs, adding to my rockin’ bike shorts tan lines. Note to self: remember to apply sunscreen before the race and stash at transition area for “just in case”.

I’m working on fine tuning my on-the-bike nutrition and always have to make a conscious effort to eat, eat, eat when I’m on the bike. Note to self: make sure that whatever you bring to refuel is tolerable when it’s warmed up! Some gels are really pretty gross when they’re warmed to 90 degrees… but some are ok – apple cinnamon flavored Hammer Gels taste like warm apple pie! And espresso flavored GUs also seem pretty normal at 90 degrees… I guess because coffee is often served warm so the temperature matches the flavor. Or something.

Bicycle water bottle

Bicycle water bottle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And then of course there’s the issue of hydration. As you all know, the hotter it is, the more you sweat, the more you need to replenish – both fluids and electrolytes. On hot training days, I really have to make sure I’m carrying enough water. Or that I have a plan for refilling often enough. I drink quite a bit cause I’m a big sweater… so I need to have quite a bit of water on hand or a lot of planned water stops. The problem with carrying it all is, of course, making sure you have enough water bottle holders on your bike (or you could carry a Camelbak or some sort of hydration pack) and also that the water will heat up the longer that you’re out. The other day when I was out, I was definitely drinking really warm water, which makes me not really want to drink it. Race day is generally a different story with water stations, but it’s definitely something to think about. Note to self – try this: freeze some water bottles the night before the race. Stash them at transition and pull them out at T1 and T2 (depending on how hot and how long the race is).  And also, find some better insulated water bottles. Pronto.

photo from: guysandgoodhealth.com

Post bike/post run, basically as soon as I stopped moving, sweat just poured off of me. How the heck was I going to cool down? The last late July race I did, I jumped back into the lake following the run and sat until I could get my core temperature back to normal. Fortunately, there was a river alongside the trail I was riding and running on, so immediately after I finished running, off came the shoes, the tunes and the sunglasses and into the river I went. I sat and I floated and I cooled off. No better way in the world to do it. Note to self: pack a cooler with a post workout water bottle! And only work out near cool rivers and lakes!

Just a few things to think about…after this weekend and also after today’s toasty midday run, I’m reminded that hydration issues can definitely derail my race day. So as much as I’d prefer to skip the midday 90+ degree workouts, practicing and adjusting my race day strategies and hydration has to be part of the training plan. For a few more weeks, anyway.Do you have any special tricks for dealing with the summer heat?

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in the blink of an eye…

Yesterday we took advantage of the cool, but very pleasant weather, the Memorial Day holiday (day off) and a really fantabulous 70 mile long multi-use trail we have in the area that we had (remarkably) never used before. We were slated for a 3 hour bike ride this coming weekend (the end of week 11), but bumped it to yesterday because we had all the time in the world and who knows what the weekend would look like.

Along the way, we were graced by 3 moose and countless great blue herons in the river and marshes alongside the trail. It was quite easy to get distracted by the abundance of wildlife. And it would have made the time go by really quite quickly if it weren’t for a persistent headwind that kept us from really cruisin’.

We were making pretty good time despite the headwind. But our heads were on swivel sticks. Looking this way and that to glimpse all of the creatures we could see. And somewhere along the way, I decided to look down – at my shoulder, I think – and in that second, maybe two, I drove my bike right off the side of the trail into the soft gravel that grabbed my tire and threatened to take me down.

Now, I know what you’re thinking right now.  “Didn’t she just fall off of her bike not too long ago?”  I’m not going to justify that ridiculously inquiring line of thought with a straight answer (see answers here and here); suffice it to say I may or may not have some injuries that may or may not have originated from a certain incident approximately 5 weeks ago.

As is always the case when you’re falling off of your bike, it all happens in slow motion. Well, steering off of the trail happened in the blink of an eye, but what happened after that was Matrix-dodging bullets-slow.

“Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.”

“Not…”

“a-”

“-gain…!”

“(insert self-scolding)”

“@#%$^%)*!”

“Aaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!”

Fortunately, in this particular instance, I was able to steer myself back onto the path and slow my bike to a stop. Rather gracefully considering the circumstances if I do say so myself.

And eventually, I was able to swallow my heart and put it back into its rightful place in my chest and get it to beat at a less frantic pace. Eventually.

Talk about a close call. I mean, really.

And I can hear you judging me – “GOOOOOOD-ness! Someone get that girl some training wheels!”  At this point, I can’t say I blame you. I will certainly not turn down training wheels. Elbow pads. A-D-D meds. Whatever would help. This is madness.

All I can say is this – please be careful out there. You may not have the same tenuous relationship with your bike as I do, but all it takes is the blink of an eye to steer off the trail, hit some gravel, or lose control and turn your training ride into a trip to the hospital or worse. I’ve had enough mishaps on my bike for a lifetime (or at least it feels that way with how things have gone lately). I think I might even start taking my own advice: Take ‘er nice and easy out there. Happy riding.

week 8 recap…


Day What I was supposed to do… What I actually did…
Monday Rest Rest? Meh, who needs it?
Thursday’s Bike 1:20
Tuesday Bike Short Hills (1 hour, 10 minutes total with 9×1 minute hill climbs) Wednesday’s run:
47 minutes with 9x:30 sprint set with 1 minute rest
Wednesday Swim (1625 yards)Run Speed Intervals (47 minutes with 9x:30 sprint set with 1 minute rest)  Lame-o Swim Attempt – ALMOST today’s yardage… 1500 yards
Thursday Foundation Bike 1:15 Swim:2x {50 free, 50 back, 50 breast, 50 fly}4×50 scull drill

5×300 (sight 1x per 25)

2×100 Cool down

Total 2300

 

Friday’s Foundation Run:  37 minute predator run

Friday Swim / Foundation Run + Strides set REST.
Ok. I’ll admit it, I guess I do need it.
Saturday Foundation Bike 1:45 Sunday’s Brick WorkoutBike 1:15
Run 30 minutes
Sunday Swim / Brick Workout Combine Tuesday’s hill workout with Saturday’s Foundation RideBike: 2 hours of hills, hills, HILLS!

on still not quite being prepared (again…)

The plan for Week 7 included three bike rides:

– 1 hill workout (1:15 total time including a warm up, cool down, and 11×1 min climbs with 2 minutes of active recovery), proposed for Tuesday

– 1 “foundation” ride (1:30), proposed for Thursday

– 1 long ride (2:30), proposed for Saturday

Admittedly, seven weeks in, I’ve been trying to see some friends this week and juggle some after work activities this week. So I decided to squish my hill workout in with my foundation ride and did a 1:35 hill workout one night after work. A twofer, if you will. Legitimate? Yeah, this week, totally counts.

While on my ride, 5 hill climbs in and getting a drink of water at the top, I reached underneath my seat for some strange and unknown reason and I realized something.  Holy geez. My seat pack – you know, the one with all of the supplies? – was not there.  Huh.  We had gone out and purchased pumps and installed them on our bikes so we’d be totally ready for next time. But after that, my husband had taken my seat pack off to give me a spare tube and it never made it back onto my bike. Which meant that all of those tools, and the spare tube, were ever-so-conveniently back at the house. Seriously. After all of my posturing about promising not only to be prepared for my own future flat-tastrophies, but also so that I could help save others if the need arose. You know, so I could pay it forward from last weekend. So much for good intentions. Chalk that up to a big, fat FAIL.

Might as well have been riding here!
Photo by fireflythegreat

Fortunately, I flatted not, nor did I run into any other dudes or damsels in distress. Whew. I didn’t miss my first opportunity to pay it forward…There is still time for redemption.

And, needless to say, the first thing I did when I got home was to locate my bike bag and reattach it to my seat. And now, ladies and gentlemen, I proclaim myself ready  prepared for anything.

 

 

p/s – to whom it may concern, that is not be misconstrued as “bring it”… I’m perfectly happy never touching my fixin’ tools…

the kindness of strangers…

As you may recall, we had quite the flat-a-palooza last weekend on our bikes. Well, as I was leaving for my brick workout today, I didn’t exactly forget about it, I wouldn’t say that… but I didn’t exactly “remember” what it had done to my flat-fixin’ supplies. You know. Spare tubes. Cartridges. Things that come in handy when you have a flat and want to be able to keep going. Things that keep you from phoning a friend and calling in a favor. Let’s just say, I was tempting fate. Or tempting flats. Foreshadowing, anyone?

The workout for the day was to be a brick workout, calling for a 1:15 bike ride followed immediately by a 20 minute run. I decided to do a 1:30 bike to make up for the 1:30 bike I had skipped earlier this week (which, I should add, was the only workout I skipped this week!).

I left the trailhead, headed west straight into a vicious headwind. Ugh. But better to have it on the way out than on the way back, I thought to myself. Not even 2 miles in, the trail, which follows the river, was completely flooded. No passage to the sides of the trail. Too chilly of a day to ride through. Fortunately, I knew of a detour that required more street travel, but would still do the trick. No big deal, I was off on my merry way.

One of the things I love about being out in the spring is seeing all of the new flowers pop up and today I saw the first of the purple silky lupines that grow on both sides of the trail, and also lots and lots of happy mule’s ears. See?

Fairly close to my turnaround point, around 40 minutes, I came across another puddle and debated my options. It was not huge and it was passable, but a couple out walking their dog informed me that another puddle lay just around the corner and the only option there was to go through it. So I opted to turn around and head back. No big deal.

Around this time, my headphones decided to poop out on me. Well, I should be more specific – the right ear pooped out the other day. Today, the left ear called it quits too. Bummer, but not the end of the world (today at least).

The rest of the trip was uneventful, until it wasn’t. As I made my way along the shoulder of the road – the detour on my way back) – I remember thinking, “I never even notice how much junk is on the road. Or maybe there’s not this much junk on the road, just in the bike lanes. Lots of land mines and potential flats in these parts, eh? Oh…. I hope I don’t get a flat… watch out for that twisted metal shrapnel looking thing…” You know the drill by now. I’m not sure what I caught, but just as I had finished that stream of thoughts, I could swear I heard a slight hissing noise. Nah, maybe my mind is playing tricks on me.

Pssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssst. Psssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssst. Psssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssst. Psssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssst.

Really? Sure enough.

And only then did it actually occur to me that this was one flat I was not going to be able to fix.

Fortunately, I had made good time and good progress. By my estimates, I was between 3-4 miles from my car. Not too far if you’re biking. Or running. But pushing a bike and walking in bike shoes, well. Doable, definitely. I mean, if you had to…

I decided to pop the tire off and switch out the tube. Knowing I had no cartridge, I was only hoping that someone would pass by and check on me. And then I would be ready.

It was my lucky day. First, having seen Jason change not one but two flats last weekend, I had recently gotten a refresher course. And second, just as I putting the tire back on the bike, a couple passed by and asked if I needed help. Me? Well… now that you mention it, I could sure use a pump if you happen to be carrying one! As we were pumping up the tire, two guys also passed by and asked if we were good.

Thank you to those kind strangers that helped me get back on the road this afternoon! While we weren’t able to get the tire fully inflated (to 120 psi – kind of hard on those little travel pumps), we were able to get it full enough for me to make it back to the car without having to walk. And I still had plenty of time to go run a couple miles. All in all, my day was better because some people I didn’t know took the time to help me. Some days it’s hard to feel good about the future of mankind, but days like today really make you appreciate the camaraderie of sports and the generosity of others.

And I promise that next time I head out on my bike, I will be prepared. Not only for my own potential mini-catastrophe, but also armed and prepared to help in case we see another rider who needs a hand.  Guess I’ve got some shopping to do before tomorrow…