Acclimation Frustration in DC: Passing Out

“Ma’am, are you okay?” I realize a teenage boy is talking to me.

“Yes, yes, I think so,” I answer, confused how the three boys came to be standing in front of me. Last I looked, they were several feet further down the path. I’m standing too, but a quick body check reveals that I wasn’t upright a moment ago. Blood flows out of my thumb and wrist, and my shoulder is skinned.

The kids see that I am okay, and begin to continue on their way. As they depart, one of them hands me my cell phone and says, “You messed your head up.” He doesn’t say it in a mean tone. It’s more of an observation.

My fingers reach for my forehead and touch raw skin. Swelling has begun. I wish I had had the sense to ask “What happened?” One minute I was looking at the blue sky, thinking I didn’t feel so great, and the next I’m wondering how and where I hit the ground.

Maybe a minute or two went by, I note. The same song is playing through my headphones. I don’t really need the specifics of how I fell, I suppose. I know what occurred. I passed out.

Making my way slowly home from my run, I figure I’m okay, but there’s going to be some bruising and big Band-Aids in my future for the next week or two. My thumb can’t bend fully, either, but at least it’s my right hand and it isn’t broken. (Thanks to Felkerino for patching me up.)

As I walk, I mentally assemble a personal after-action report. Having covered over 1,000 miles in the mountains over the past two weeks, I was riding a high from our trip. I felt strong and primed for a run.

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While I had the fitness for such activity, Felkerino and I had spent the last two weeks in temperate weather in the mountains. Back in the city for not even a full 24 hours, it was too much for my body to suddenly switch from exertion at 60 degrees to steady effort in 90-degree heat, even though I rationalized that it was late afternoon and low humidity when I ran.

I chose a mostly shade-free route, another error. But like I said, it didn’t feel so hot when I first began running.

Additionally, I did not fuel properly, which did my blood sugar no favors. At least I had the forethought to carry water with a Nuun tablet in it. I nursed the bottle the two miles back home.

I consider myself an active person who tolerates heat well, but intellectually I know that no matter how hearty a person is, the body needs time to adjust to temperature changes.

Since we’d only been out of the D.C. area for two weeks, I thought I would be okay. Nothing to worry about. I hope I’ve learned my lesson.

My other takeaway from this experience is that you never know who will help you. I’m grateful to those teenagers for coming over to a complete stranger to see if I was okay. Their kindness meant a great deal to me.

20 thoughts on “Acclimation Frustration in DC: Passing Out

  1. Glad you are doing better. Dehydration can commonly cause fainting and is suspect because of recent air travel & energy expenditure along with heating. Fainting while driving due to dehydration is commonly seen by traffic enforcement officers. Hydration indebtedness can creep up on you. You may have had a BP drop. Enjoyed your posts from the road!

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    1. Thanks, Jim. Life and work have been so busy this year that I have not had much time for blogging. I was glad I could put together of a short journal of our tour this year, while we were doing it. Our tours look a little different after time passes so I like to write some in the moment when it’s fresh.

      I learned my lesson to take it easy after a full day of flying/travel. Just returned from Oklahoma City today, and took the rest of the day easy, even though OKC weather was much more like that of D.C.’s.

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  2. I just returned from a 6-week bike tour from Oregon to Denver and I, too, felt fit and strong. I went for a hike last Tuesday with my normal hiking group and was dripping sweat for most of the hike. It took me about three weeks to get used to the altitude out west, now I think I’ll have to take three more weeks to get used to this humidity.

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  3. Yikes. So glad you are relatively ok. I was frustrated by having to keep my pace low on today’s hot run; by the end I was feeling pretty awful, and now I’m glad I backed off & just shuffled along instead of trying to push through. It’s amazing what heat and humidity can do. We randonneurs are used to just pushing through, and most times it serves us well!

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  4. MG!!! — holy smokes! im glad youre ok. i wonder what happened? geez!! take it easy in this heat. lisa and i are going to pittsburgh tomorrow to ride the GAP/C&O trial back, ’cause i like to recreate my brutal outdoor youth in miami….100 degrees, 100% humidity!! hahaha…

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  5. Wow! That must’ve been quite disorienting and a bit shocking to know that you collapsed in the middle of something you do so regularly. Thank goodness there were people around, and from what you shared, some well-raised teenagers who were willing to offer assistance. I am always amazed at what heat and humidity can do to body/mind functions when I have grown accustomed to cooler and less humid weather. I hope you take it a little easy on yourself while you re-acclimate to DC, and very glad that you were able to walk away without worse injuries.

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    1. Yes, totally disorienting! And then I really wish I’d picked a route that had more shade for the walk home. Definitely better now, and lucky nothing more significant happened. A good lesson, I suppose.

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  6. I used to think I’d be okay in hot humid weather if I just drink plenty of water. I now know no matter how much water I drink, if I’m not acclimated I get nausea and dizzy. Early signs of heat exhaustion. It took many years to learn this.

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