Beating the Heat as a Triathlete
Howard County's Hector Garcia tells some secrets to competing in triathlons in extreme heat.
Hector Garcia is in his 12th year of competing in triathlons. Garcia, an Ellicott City resident, last year finished his 100th triathlon at the age of 54.
And he's gearing up to participate in an event Saturday, the Diamond in the Rough triathlon in Perryville, MD, when temperatures are expected to top 100 degrees.
Do you take exercising seriously in the summer? What tips do you have for keeping cool and hydrated in the extreme heat? Tell us in the comments.
Garcia is also the executive director of the Columbia-based Foreign-born Information Referral Network (FIRN), a nonprofit organization that helps immigrants adjust to life in Howard County.
He said he trains year-round for the competitions, which begin in early May of every year. And he takes special measures in the heat.
"I will train in the conditions I am going to race in," Garcia said. "Heat changes a lot in our plan."
Instead of taking a cool run or ride on his bicycle, he said he will run during the hottest part of the day, just as he would train in longer distances when the race is longer than usual.
He said he has seen people collapse from dehydration and heat exhaustion, and being in-tune with what his body needs is what protects him in extreme weather.
"You can read a hundred books on how to prepare for something like [a hot race], but the saying 'Know your body' is for me," Garcia said.
The week before a triathlon, he drinks Pedialyte, an electrolyte drink for children, and cuts his hair very short to keep his head cool. During the race, he puts electrolyte capsules in his water as he cycles and fills a hat with ice during his run.
"You're keeping track of how you feel, how you're sweating, if you're thirsty or not," says Garcia, "So knowing your body can really save you."
According to Olympic triathlon coach Bob Seebohar, who writes on TriNewbies.com, normal people typically require six to eight glasses of water a day, while a triathlete needs 12 to 16 glasses of water per day to stay properly hydrated during training and competitions.
According to BGE, more than 1,300 customers in Howard County are still without power, so the county is recommending residents visit cooling centers and issued a heat advisory for the weekend.
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