Last week and this week I did a couple long runs but with three layers on top including my arms. Although it was warm out (about 20 degrees) I needed to start teaching my body how to deal with the heat that will be the Desert Half Ironman on July 8th. Train for the worst is how I’ve always done workouts - hills, tempos, and now heat.
Back last Friday I drove to Osoyoos and rode the bike course of the race and ran one loop of the run. FIrst of all, anyone who’s done it knows that Richter Pass is no picnic. I parked at the Visitor’s Centre, gave them my name and next of kin and told them if my car was still in the parking lot in the morning then something’s gone tragically wrong.
I started up the hills with an absolute tailwind which meant in 30 degree weather, sweat was soon blocking out any ability to see. Cars were speeding up behind me and I could hear them for a kilometer because the wind carried the sound way ahead of them. There were moments when I’d crest a hill and get a slight crosswind to dry the eyes and then I was climbing again. Made it to the top and looked forward to the long descent on the other side but any semblance of an easy ride I wasn’t having this day. There were headwinds on the down and crosswinds on the flat. Of course it was easier than normal as through the rollers and the flats towards Keremeos is usually fraught with winds bearing right down on me. These weren’t just any winds, these had obviously travelled over the Pacific straight and unobstructed from the Queen K near Kona. Now any traffic behind me was startling me every time because the wind was blocking out the sound from reaching me. Giving it all I had and not looking at the computer was all I could do to keep my ego in check while realising that my bike strength is not where I’d like it to be. At the halfway I was at 1:20 time-wise and thought I was on a good pace. Of course now the turn was made and back to Osoyoos I suffered. Having never rode the opposite way back up Richter, I was expecting similar rollers and finally a fairly long climb back to the top. I lost count how many rollers there were but it felt like ten. There was at least three eight percent hills that went on and on while getting battered by the hurricane force winds. At least I could see. Now began the long four percent hill to the top of the Pass where I thought there would be a break from the wind. There was. Due to the change in direction, or shelter in the hills, or just some kind of weird jet stream pattern there were winds looking to defeat me. This once again brought on searing heat and sweat-drenched vision. I could also feel the spots on my back that were missed by the sunscreen. There has to be an easier way to apply that stuff by yourself in hard to reach areas. Of course, most of my body fell into the category of “where the sun don’t shine” as everyone on the coast has been bundled up for months on end. Then the sun comes out and so do the tri shorts and tanks and that separates the fake-and-bakers from the arctic-tanners. Pretty easy to spot those who thought they could get away with little or no lotion on the first real sunny days. So I got to the top looking so forward to some kind of relaxing decent but the wind Gods were still angry. They threw at me horrendous cross wind that kept me gripping the bars tightly, too afraid to stay in the aerobars for fear of being blown over. At the bottom the wind was fully in my face and I passed two guys loaded down with panniers heading to, get this, Newfoundland!! Ha, suddenly I felt worlds better with my ride over in ten short minutes. I finished in around 2:50, somewhat slower than the out part of the course.
I packed up the bike and headed to the run start. Of course there was wind at almost every turn but luckily the course is mostly flat. My legs felt really heavy, probably from the heat, and after a few missed turns I was done a lap and went to cool off in the lake.
So I don’t know how the body will hold up for Osoyoos but I’m hoping a few days at the Shuswap and then some time in Penticton will build up the heat endurance. We’ll see.