Thinking Cold Thoughts

So, I’m racing on Sunday. Or, maybe more accurately, I am participating in a race — the USA Productions Olympic tri in Folsom.. After a better-than-expected race at Napa in April, I’m not going for any kind of PR. I just wanted to practice execution and transitions — and to experience racing in some warmer conditions before Vineman.

But. I did not mean this.

Screen Shot 2013-06-05 at 10.25.19 AM

Yes, where normally there is a picture of clouds or the sun, there is a picture of a thermometer full of blazing-hot mercury.

I do not do well in the heat. I mean, I do NOT do well in the heat. I was dripping sweat just standing outside in 95-degree weather in Paso Robles last weekend. I train in a place that is 65 degrees and zero humidity for all but about four days of the year. Obviously, this is why I knew I needed to get some experience in actual heat before July, but 100+ degrees is a little … aggressive.

{And to be fair, Accuweather now has the temperature at 100 on Sunday and my phone has it all the way down to (“down to”) 90. I’ve never before in my life said “oh thank goodness it will only be 90!” but there’s a first time for everything, I suppose.}

I need a game plan (other than googling images of cold places), but I feel a little like a polar bear trying to figure out how to pack for a strenuous vacation to the equator. I’ve been in 90+-degree temperatures probably 10 times in the past 10 years, and I’ve spent most of those days either splashing around in a lake or lying under a mister moaning “whyyyyy is it so hotttttt?”

Salt. Right? I’ve got my normal fast-food salt packets that have saved my ass in Napa and Berlin (both races when it was, y’know, 65-75 degrees). I also have SaltStick caplets that I bought before Wildflower last year and never used because swallowing them kind of weirded me out — but they’re an option.

The wetsuit issue. The USA Productions site says the lake temperature will be 60-65, which I suspect is a damn lie. On Sunday I swam in Lake San Antonio in just a swimsuit, and I’m guessing the water there was in the high 60s, and I was comfortable (if slow). I’ve never tried swimming in tri shorts/top. What do I do if the water is 60 degrees and the air is 80+ degrees? I overheat so easily that the idea of putting my full-sleeve wetsuit on in those conditions makes my skin boil. I found a sleeveless wetsuit I can rent for the weekend, so I’ll have a whole array of choices, but I’m not sure how to pick.

Hydration. I’ll have two bottles on my bike, but I can really only reach one of my holders while riding — the other is a backup. There is an aid station at the halfway point, and I’ll plan to grab a water there, drink half and pour half on me if it’s really hot, and ditch that bottle. If I have to slow down or stop and get my second bottle, no big deal. On the run, I’ll take my small bottle and Nuun and plan to refill as frequently as I need; there are aid stations marked for every mile.

Speed. As in, this race is not about that. I legitimately do need to practice being in hot weather, and I need to know how it feels to put effort in under my least-favorite conditions, but if I have to really slow down on the run, that’s fine for this race — as long as I learn something from it for Vineman.

Ice. Leah suggested freezing a bottle overnight and shoving it down my top for the run, and my hotel room has a mini-fridge, so that might be feasible. I don’t know if the aid stations will have ice, but my Vineman plan was to run with a plastic baggie that I could fill with ice and shove under my hat or down my shorts, so I’ll pack some baggies just in case.

What else? Acclimation is clearly not an option; this is my acclimation! But any tips for making it more bearable?

Icebergs in Jökulsárlón

Iceberg photo by MrHicks46

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2 thoughts on “Thinking Cold Thoughts

  1. Wow, that is so intense. I lived in Florida for eight years and my best advice is, at every opportunity, put something cold, wet, or both on the undersides of your wrists. If it gets dire, I would like, I don’t know, spit or lick my wrists. I can feel maybe 5-10 degrees cooler when I do this. (I just googled this to make sure I wasn’t crazy and the internet confirms that this is actually a thing!)

    Good luck!

    • Kimra says:

      I feel cold just thinking about that, so I can see how it would work. Thanks for the tip! The weather also now says “not as hot” for Sunday, so … dare to dream?

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