Saturday, July 1, 2017

Can't Take the Heat

I'm still trying to understand what climate change and global warming really means, but what I do know is that every year it feels as if summer gets hotter. I'm not sure if that's because the actual temperatures are rising, or other weather-related factors are changing, or if it's just because I hate the summer heat more every year that I get older. I love Miami, but sometimes I wish I could move it a few degrees north.

I remember being a kid and having so many camping trips during the summer - with church groups, family, and anyone else who would take us out. Now, when I'm really trying to make an effort to go camping more often with the kids, I can't even imagine being outside of the air conditioning long enough to even set up a tent, much less sleep in one. I can barely make it from the house to the car without complaining.

On top of that, it's never cool enough in the bedroom at night. The air in there can't seem to work as hard as I need it to in order to feel comfortable. And the whole time, my wife is wearing pajamas under a sheet and a blanket, while I'm nearly naked on my side with no covers, just trying to make sure that no part of my body touches any other part of my body. She makes fun of me for dodging the heat like I do, but I tell her that my people don't come from the land of sun. My ancestors hail from the land of ice and snow, and the genes they have passed down to me don't include any UV resistance.

I don't know if it's a gender thing or a size thing or a melanin thing, but I really don't get how my wife doesn't feel the heat like I do. Our little daughter seems to be just fine with the sun, too. On days when I pick her up from summer camp and her class is outside on the playground, she's running around outside with the rest of the kids, sweat pouring down her face and neck, but loving it. If I were in her class, I would have to tell that teacher that I respectfully decline the invitation to play outside and wish to do some more coloring, thank you.

On the other hand, she does seem to react to the summer brightness like I do, even if she doesn't feel the heat the same. Since we both have blue eyes and very light skin, we both squint at the sun the same way, which is to say, painfully.

Besides just the general discomfort and fear of leaving the air conditioning, I've got the added problem of trying to train outdoors. I'm still committed to this idea of competing in some kind of race every month in 2017, but I can't just run on a treadmill and expect to be ready on race day. I try to run outside twice a day when the race is about two weeks away, but I can feel the difference in performance under this summer heat. I usually run after work, so between four and five in the afternoon, but now that I'm only teaching one summer class, I'm trying to get in the park by eleven in the morning. Either way, about halfway through a 5K run, I'm starting to feel that gorilla jump on my back, and my body is telling me to either stop or die. I've gulped more Gatorade and Powerade and even Pedialyte in the last month than I have in my entire life, and I still can't figure out how to keep electrolytes in my body. The irony is that since the races are usually held right after sunrise, the heat isn't nearly as bad. I'm trying to turn a negative into a positive by telling myself that this is a training technique to make the race seem easier - something like oxygen deprivation or weighted vests. And maybe it is, because I went into June's 5K race thinking I might end up walking the last half, or crawling it, but instead, I felt really good. I hadn't had a decent run since May, but with that cool morning air in my lungs, I felt like I could have gone another two or three miles when I was done. I didn't, of course, but it felt good.

If there's anything that this summer is teaching me, one thing is that I am going to stick to this commitment to race every month, even if it means I have to slow down a little just to avoid heat stroke. The other thing is that if I want to go camping more, or do any outside activities, I need to plan a whole lot more of them between October and February. Until then, all of our family fun times are going to be movies, museums, video arcades, and other well-shaded and air-conditioned venues.

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