I am finally back in California and proper training. I am slowly shedding the added flub from eating a diet of 60% meat, 40% chocolate and feeling pretty sharp on the bike.
As it were, the training is all geared towards the Ironman World Championships in Kona. Obviously, outside of getting fit as hell, heat is the major focus. A lot of people write off hot races by saying "oh, I'm just not good in heat." I was one of them for a very long time, until I came to the realization that that is a cop out. It's a defeatist mentality. Heat is a problem. Generally problems have solutions. So my goal before Kona is to find a solution/ coping mechanism so my brains don't turn into scrambled eggs in the heat.
I became interested in the external cooling method after seeing Torbjorn Sindballe stuff a glove full of ice at each aid station on his way to a 3rd place finish at Kona. He was a huge guy with a history of huge blow ups at Kona but he'd done his homework and maximized his potential in the heat. There was obviously something to that glove.
My first exploration into this conundrum was the Bexrunner. It is basically an ice pack that you strap to your palm. The bexrunner claims to keep your core cooler by increasing the efficiency of your body's cooling mechanism.
It's an interesting little product that I first noticed through Conrad Stoltz, 4x Xterra world champion. He's a large dude and obviously trying to solve the heat issue, so I figured I would see what it was about. Let me start by saying, I am in no way sponsored by bexrunner. I just reached out to them to see if I could test/review their product. The following is my first experience with the gadget.
I took the bexrunner out of the freezer and set out on a long run of an hour and ten minutes with over 2000 vertical feet of climbing. It was a hot day in the canyons of the Santa Monica Mountains. The air is stagnant and there is no cover from the sun. It really heats up and I ran at noon so it was a bit uncomfortable back in there. Running was like someone aiming a blow drier directly in your face.
My immediate reaction to the Bexrunner was very postive. It was a delayed onset of the usual downpour of sweating. I was much more comfortable in the heat, despite being aware of just how hot it was (95 degrees F). My heart rate stayed lower and I was more lucid than I would normally be in those conditions. The added alertness kept me on the lookout for rattlesnakes as they tend to pop out more often on the scorching days. It did not magically make me faster, but I suspect it prevents the slowing down that occurs in heat, especially for us meatier athletes.
The question was: how long would it last? It is billed to last anywhere between 45 minutes and 1 hour. It lasted 42 minutes for me before it melted and warmed up. After it had melted, I felt like I started from square one and that my body hadn't taken on any heat. 42 minutes was long enough to have an effect. That still leaves a lot of time to get hot in Kona, but I can see it being a valuable tool in training and racing.
Any suggestions on heat training or other tools aside from the Bexrunner would be greatly appreciated.