Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Next month I will be attending the Kern County Women's Stage Race, which always seems to be the hottest race of the year.
Some of my teammates have the "Kern Taper", which I think involves some combination of asceticism (lack of alcohol and sugar) along with a big fitness build and rest right before the race. This year, I am practicing "Kern Acclimation", which involves exerting while being uncomfortably hot, so that when I arrive at the fabled stage race, I will not suffer the same magnitude as last year.
Last year I noted that on average the southern California gals just plain old did better at the race than the northern California gals. Are they more fit? Doubtful. More disciplined? Doubtful. The only difference I can think of is that they spend more time training in the heat. And, I fondly remembered the days when I could go running in the hundred degree heat in Stockton and be slightly uncomfortable, but not panicky hot like I was at Kern last year.
So, instead of always riding first thing in the morning, I've purposefully put myself out in the hottest part of the day. Well, this week, the weather presented the perfect opportunity for Kern simulation. So, I took full advantage. When I tell normal people my regimen, they just think I am crazy. But, that's OK.
Sunday, the temps soared to over 90 degrees. So, I planned to ride leaving around 1-2:00 pm and then stay out until 4:00, putting me in the hottest part of the day. I also had a climbing workout on Sunday, so I was going to be pushing pretty hard. I threw on a wool base layer and knickers just to up the effect. I figure 90 degrees with warm clothes has to be close to 105 degrees with minimal clothes. I did a series of climbs. And, on the lower part of Page Mill managed to give myself that crazy, woozy, panicky, tunnel vision feeling I had throughout the hill climb at Kern last year. I told myself to relax. It was a mental game. I finished that climb and had 2 others of less steepness and felt fine on those. I just have to relax and keep going.
Yesterday, I continued my acclimation. The temps soared to the mid-90s yesterday. And, we have no air conditioning at work and old, no-insulation construction. So, I got to practice sitting all day in the heat sweating and then doing my workout at the end of the day - just like day 2 at Kern. Amazingly, I felt cooler once I was on the bike. The cooling effect of the wind was good - even though it was still in the mid-90s when I left work. I was pleased that my resting heart rate in the heat was slightly elevated, but not nearly as high as I experienced at Kern last year. And, when I got to doing my efforts during the ride, I had to push as hard as I do in the morning to achieve the desired heart rate - so no major effects of the heat. Granted, the sun was not high in the sky, but the temps were still very high. I was pleased with my body's ability to cope.
Now that I've prepared myself for the worst, it will likely be in the 60s and raining during the race. But, that is OK, too. :)