Sunday, May 6, 2012

Heat Games

The Panda Endurance race Walking Team has just returned from doing the Indianapolis Half Marathon.  It turned out to be a lesson in not being invincible, for me.  We went to do the 5K and then immediately after that we crossed to the start of the half for a total distance of 16.2 miles.  What happened to me had nothing to do with the race, it was awesome and I highly recommend it.

We drove up on Friday so we could relax, get to bed early and be well rested on race morning.  That worked great and we had a good dinner at a place called Champps.  The next morning I got up, had some coffee and took a hot shower to wake up and get loosened up for the race.  The hot shower helped loosen up my calves and injured left Achilles tendon.  I had a couple of granola bars and met one of my team mates and headed out.  We were about a mile from the start so the easy walking there helped me loosen up my Achilles even more.  We got to our starting area and after about 20 min of gentle stretching we were off on the first leg of our dual adventure.

It took a mile or so for me to get into a comfortable race walking stride and that left tendon was just a minor ache.  After that I felt good and the remainder of the 5K went great.  We finished in about 39 min which is what we had planned as a good warm up for the half.  Sally was waiting for us with our new race bibs and we changed them out.  We met another team member at the transition area and we all three went over and jumped into the mass of athletes doing the half.

It was starting to get hot and the race officials had posted warming signs about the heat and humidity danger.  I wasn't worried the heat had never bothered me and I planned to drink the sports drink at every aid station to stay hydrated.  That didn't work out as well as I'd hoped since the sports drink and water stations were separate.  But I did manage to drink something at each station.

Mile 5 I stepped in a pot hole when I was passing a group of slower runners and walkers.  That hurt and it was a couple of miles before I was able to walk it off.  Then we went to the race track where they have the Indy 500 and got to race on the track for the next 2.5 miles.  I was starting to get really hot and by mile 10 I was running out of steam big time.  I told my team member I was going to have to back off the pace for a bit.  I stopped at the next sports drink station and got two full cups and walked slower while I drank it.  I started feeling better and picked up the pace and headed on to the finish.  I crossed the line and went through and got my medal, a bottle of water and a couple of cookies and staggered over to the "K" area to meet my group.  By the time I got there I was very dizzy.  I just dropped everything and sat down.  I ate my cookies and drank the water and just sat there, till the rest of my group arrived.  I tried to stand and was so dizzy that I couldn't go.  I had to just lay flat for a few minutes before I could get up.

I was very close to going into hyporthermia.  I hadn't trained in the heat yet this year since all my training walks are in the early morning before it got hot.  The high heat and humidity took it's toll on me and taught me a lesson.  I won't take it for granted like that again.  Just because I have been an endurance athlete for about 40 years didn't make me imune to the dangers of over heating.  After I got back to the hotel Sally made me a recovery drink that we had got samples of at the Expo and then a good nap helped a lot.  I was finally able to think more clearly and over dinner my team mate and I discussed what had happened.  A warning sign that I was having trouble was that even though I was moving along well I was not not acting normally.  I was uncharacteristicly bad tempered with people blocking the road and doing other minorly irritating things.  I had also stopped talking a lot like I normally do during a race, I was just zoning and in my own world.

I think I was very lucky that I didn't really get in trouble till I had already finished.  If I had become dizzy like that during the race I could have had a nasty fall.  This race taught us to take it more seriously if one of us starts acting out of character even if we are still moving along well.

Thanks for reading.

No comments: