Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Summer Sizzler

Once again I find myself walking the line between being a wimp and being crazy.

Maybe that line I'm walking, the one that's ever-changing and always undefined, is actually that gray area called being "smart." At least that's what I'm rationalizing.

Temps have skyrocketed into the 90s and even inching up over 100 degrees in some places over the past several days. And the humidity? Well, there's a reason that the "it's not the heat, it's the humidity" saying is so popular.

Don't get me wrong. It's not that I dislike the heat. Actually, I really like it. I love the summer and being outside with the sun beaming down on me. I love sitting on the beach or by a pool. I love floating around in a canoe or in a kayak. I love the sun-kissed look of my summer skin. I even love a good sunburn every now and then. (Yes, I realize that's a stupid and dangerous thing.)

But the heat becomes a whole other story when it comes to running or cycling. It's when that wimp-crazy line become completely blurred.

An integral part of my "birthday weekend" - (yes, I declared a whole weekend of celebration, which is what you're entitled do when your birthday falls on a long weekend in the summer) - was to log a whole slew of miles from the minute I stepped out of work on Friday until I had to go back on Tuesday.

I wanted a Friday ride, my usual Saturday morning team practice, a pre-cookout ride on Sunday and a good long ride with TC on Monday. I wanted to take advantage of the wonderful weather we were going to have, coinciding with the lack of must-do's on the calendar (except for a few welcomed family activities).

Everything up until Monday was pretty normal. I put in 56 miles on the bike between two rides and sandwiched a 9-mile run in between them on Saturday.

On Sunday, TC and I planned an early start to our ride and, in another near-perfect long holiday ride, managed 54.5 miles through the New Hampshire countryside - even having a fueling stop (a.k.a. lunch) on some shady rocks near a lake tucked away from the main road.

As we made our way back into the city and the sun climbed higher into the sky, I could feel the temperatures rising. I could feel the rays beating down onto my back. I could feel the heat coming up from the pavement.

I glanced at my bike computer's thermometer at one of the stoplights. It read 106.

Yes, 106 degrees!

I realize it's not entirely accurate and the thermometer was most likely picking up the intense sun that was shining on it. But hey, that same sun was shining down on me. I was only a foot or less from that thermometer and it was telling me what I already knew. It was insanely hot.

We both noted how empty the city was. There was barely any traffic at the intersections, no kids running on the sidewalks, none of the usual hustle and bustle we see on rides back to our downtown place. It seemed everyone had high-tailed it to the ocean, the pools or the lakes.

During the ride, we'd been lucky to pick up some country breezes (combined by the natural wind created while cycling), and we'd gotten up early enough to beat most of the heat. If not for the heat, I'm sure we would have gone further - we were both feeling great, and I managed to log one of my fastest rides yet.

That was Monday morning. We spent Monday afternoon holed up inside our air-conditioned apartment, even leisurely napping at one point. Even by Monday evening, the heat was so intense when you walked outside, it was almost unimaginable that we'd put on that kind of bike mileage earlier in the day.

It was so hot that when we decided to take TC's new convertible to the beach for dinner we drove with the top up. Think about it - a new convertible with the top up on the way to the beach? Yep, that's really hot.

There was no relief on Tuesday - when official temps were recorded over 100 degrees. And no relief today. The heat hangs heavily in the air, and the humidity wraps itself around you when you step outside.

Tuesday became an automatic rest day. I had no desire to go outside an run or ride. Even the mornings, when the air is usually refreshing and crisp, seemed unbearable. Wednesday, today, was a scheduled track day. No way I was stepping foot on a track on a night light tonight.

So that makes two straight days off. Tomorrow is another day off due to an engagement we have to entertain some friends for dinner. Truth be told, if the weather continued like this (like it's supposed to), I'm sure I wouldn't want to do anything physical even if I had a free evening.

That's where that blurry line comes again.

I've read the heat warnings and advisories to limit physical activity and to stay indoors as much as possible. I've learned of "emergency cooling locations" opening up to help people without air conditioning. I've read story after story on how people deal with this weather.

On the other hand, I continue to see post on preparing for summer runs, filled with tips on hydration and other hot-weather accommodations to make. I see workouts posted by fellow runners who brave this stuff and survive.

So I know I can do it. The problem is I really just don't want to.

Undoubtedly, I feel the nagging inside of me when I miss a few days like this. I wouldn't even call it guilt. It's just that I'm missing something I genuinely like doing. Lacing up my running shoes or hopping on my bike after work might even be part of what defines who I am. It's what I do.

But until Mother Nature decides to make it just a bit more practical for me to get out there, I'll try to do the smart and sensible thing - and stay cool.

1 comment:

  1. If the goal of running and cycling is to be healthy and fit then avoiding heat stroke and dehydration is a good thing. If you must run and bike in 90+ weather there is always the air-conditioned gym with its dreaded treadmill and stationary bike. I know how much you hate to use them in good weather. Sometimes it's better to be smart than crazy. A mom's wisdom. Love Mom


You can post a comment here by selecting any of the options below. If you do not have a gmail account, choose "Other User" or "Anonymous." All fields are optional.