Missoula’s Naked Bike Ride Saved me from Heat Stroke

I know I haven’t posted in a rather long time. I’ve really been meaning to get back into regular posting, and today’s events seemed like a great reason to get started.

Let me back up here, so this story actually makes sense.

My plan for today was to run 12ish miles. This would keep me on schedule in preparing for the Sweathouse Half. Also, I really want to keep my miles up at least at the “I could run a half marathon on a whim” level. However, since I also ended up planning to run alone, I slept in and had a leisurely morning, thus getting started rather late (11am). That was my first mistake.

I had mapped a route for myself that would take me on a 5.5 mile loop back to my house and then a 6.5 mile loop to finish up. I brought along my 18oz Nathan SpeedDraw bottle, thinking that refilling it when I came back by the house would be enough. Since I had around 1/4 of a bottle left when I stopped at my house, I didn’t have any idea just how wrong I was about that.

I started to struggle around mile 8. At first I just assumed that my problem was mostly because I was running on my own, rather than with my group, and thus feeling less motivated, and paying too much attention to negative physical sensations. Then I noticed I was starting to run low on water.

I was very determined to finish, though, so I kept struggling along. I took a few extra walk breaks, and kept my eyes peeled for sprinklers. I was not in luck.

Eventually, around mile 9.5 I stopped in a shady spot near flowing water and wet myself down as best I could. I rested in the shade and cooled off. But I still had 2.5 miles to go and had a few sips of water left at most. I was feeling a bit weak and had a mild headache, and suspected I wasn’t sweating as much as I had been, which I knew were bad signs. So I walked on. I figured running would heat me up too much, and without water, that would be a mistake.

At mile 10 I texted a friend and let him know I was having some difficulty. I specified that I would keep in touch, and that if I failed to do so, he should come find me or send help.

Not long after that, I had a lucky break. I spotted a woman* outside a house, in workout clothes and I knew I was saved. I asked if I could fill my water bottle, and got ice water, which was probably the best tasting, coldest water I’ve ever had in my entire life. I walked and drank and in very short order, I actually felt good enough to add some run segments back in.

In under a mile I had mostly drained my water bottle, so I stopped at a local plant nusery and refilled again there.

From there, I took it easy and went pretty slow. I kept in touch with my friend via text, keeping him apprised of where I was and how I was feeling. And then I was home. I immediately stuffed protein and carbs into my face, along with water. (I’d been taking in sugar and electrolytes on my run, as well.)

So I’m sure you’re wondering what any of this has to do with Missoula’s inaugural Naked Bike Ride. So I’ll tell you.

As it happens, I had forgotten that today was the day of the Naked Bike Ride. I don’t really see the appeal myself, but I think it’s great if people want to do it. But as I was running along on the first loop of my run, I passed by some people who were on their way home from the naked bike ride, still naked.

After realizing that this show of boobs and penises had not brought on any sort of apocalypse**, I considered that perhaps, I didn’t really need a shirt to run in. It was hot and muggy and I was wearing a nice running bra, so I decided that if Missoula could handle some naked cyclists, they could surely handle my white, somewhat giggly belly.

So right around the 3 mile mark I took my shirt off, tucked it into my Spibelt, and off I went. And you know what? The world didn’t end.

When I stopped at my house to refill my water bottle, I went ahead and put sunscreen on my newly exposed skin, as well as reapplying on my arms and face.

I’m pretty sure that having my shirt off helped me keep cooler than I would have been otherwise. I believe I would have been fine running 6 miles with my shirt on. Had I left it on, I would have stopped at my house, filled my water bottle and gone on my way. By mile 8 I would have either taken my shirt off, risking some serious sunburn, more likely would have left it on and been even lower on water (both from drinking it and dumping it on myself) and been significantly more overheated than I was with it off.

So all in all, today’s Naked Bike Ride probably had very little impact on the community as a whole. But for me personally, first it gave me a little lesson in body acceptance***, and then, it saved me from heat stroke (or possibly just a bad case of dehydration, but I’m going with heatstroke). 

For information on the symptoms of heat related illnesses and all sorts of other related info, check out this page.

Hopefully I’ll be back soon to update you on all of the goals I had to put off and what my newest goals are, and why. In the mean time, run happy!

 

*Let’s face it, with the assault situation in this town lately, there was no way I was asking a strange man for help. I’d have called for an ambulance first. That’s really sad.

**Because of course it didn’t.

***And below is an “Honest Selfie” to go along with that.

*****Please don’t give me any grief about not having called for a ride home or something. If I’d actually thought I was in danger, I would have.

Me, in my running bra, after a brush with heat issues.

Me, in my running bra, after a brush with heat issues.