Sunday, July 24, 2011

Dealing with the Heat

This has been a long, hot summer (even by Houston standards)!  We have had very little rain this year, and temperatures started climbing into the 90's earlier than usual this year.

Scheduling rides at optimal times (i.e. in temperatures below 90) has been a challenge between the Redhead's schedule and the Princess's schedule.  For awhile, I rode at night.  Night riding is tons of fun on one hand, but scares me a little on the other.  When on the street, I have to be alert for drivers (who I can usually see coming) and the occasional pedestrian (who usually isn't easy to see until the last second).  On the trail, there are all kinds of critters that come out at night, and some of them are potentially aggressive if they feel threatened by me (or, perhaps, very hungry).  Plus, I go to bed later and still have to get up with the girls, so it isn't optimal.

Early morning is a viable option, but I enjoy staying up later and getting up "late" with the girls during my seasonal unemployment.  Additionally, I have trouble going to sleep for the night if less than three hours or so have passed after sunset, so Daylight Saving Time is not my friend if I want to be an early riser.

This week, I have had a two and a half hour window in the morning to ride between 9:30 and 11:30.  If I begin between 9:30 and 10:00, I can get the bulk of the ride done before the temperature crosses 90 degrees.  After 10:00, all bets are off!

Twice this week, Thursday and today, I began riding with the temperature at 91 degrees.  Both days, I rode 16 miles.  Both days, I emptied a 3 liter CamelBak: Thursday, it was empty by mile 13; today, I emptied it with about half a mile to go.

Thursday, I was a little dippy for several hours after the ride.  On Friday, I rode earlier, and I rode slower than Thursday (1:17 on Thursday; 1:20 on Friday).  After Friday's ride, I was in even worse shape than the day before (even though the temperature was cooler).

After Thursday's ride, I drank what I thought was an adequate amount of water.  I also craved foods that are not necessarily my friend when it comes to my weight-loss goals.

To add insult to injury, I woke up three pounds heavier on Friday.

Friday, I figured out that my problem was I wasn't replacing water sufficiently.  So, I drank, and consequently peed, like a fiend for the rest of the day.  By dinnertime, I felt almost human again.  I was pretty worthless the rest of the day, though.

I had been meaning to try a new blended salad (i.e. smoothie) recipe I had received earlier in the week.  The recipe?
  • 3 oranges
  • 1 cup of raspberries
  • 8 oz. lettuce (I use romaine)
  • 1 oz. spinach
Saturday, I mixed and drank the new concoction.  I had altered the lettuce/spinach balance, and I liked it OK, but the spinach cut through the orange and raspberry a little.

The mixture fills most of a Vita Mix container, and it takes awhile to drink.  But, it's a measly 368 calories and a whopping 27 grams of fiber!

I felt tons better, and it stuck with me most of the day.  I continued to drink, and felt fine by the time I went to bed.

Today, I had the smoothie before riding.  I almost felt a little too full.  I also resolved to take it easy on the ride.  And, since I was starting late, I made sure my CamelBak was full and cold (at least to start).

Today's ride took 68 minutes (that includes dealing with stoplights along the route).  I don't think I've ever averaged 14 mph on one of these rides.

Starting temperature was 91.  Ending temperature was 99.  Yikes!

I'm writing this about an hour and a quarter after finishing.  Other than a shower and a glass of water, I've done nothing else special to recover yet.  I feel much better than I did the last three days (including the day off from riding), but I can also tell that I'm going to need to top things off.

I'm thinking that I need to make a practice of preceding rides in hot weather with a nutrient dense meal like the one I had today.  My guess is that the fact that it was high carbohydrate tempered with high fiber and that it was high vitamin and mineral (especially potassium and a number of B vitamins) helped me to beat the heat. 

It brings up a challenge, though: When I begin work in August, I'll ride to work (on the days I manage) in temps below 80.  After work, I'll ride home in 90+ temps.  The smoothie is ideal because liquefying the ingredients in a blender makes them more digestible.  Hauling a blender to work doesn't work for me for a number of reasons.  So, I may have to experiment and see whether or not the morning smoothie will have me stocked up with enough good stuff to keep me from bonking on a hot afternoon ride.  That's no fun, and it's less fun when cycling in the midst of cranky auto drivers during the evening rush (but that's another post altogether)!