Richmond Paddle Cup 2021, 22-mile Kayak Race | And A Few Words About Heat Exhaustion

Yesterday was the annual Richmond Paddle Cup race here in Central Virginia. Primarily a stand-up paddleboard race, the organizers, Crosswind Paddle Company, have been kind enough to incorporate a longer 22-mile kayak race into the event to take the place of the now-retired James River Rundown.

I’ve been busy retrieving West Side Boast Shop kayak molds from Lockport, NY to Charlottesville, VA over the past month and trying to re-start the West Side Boat Shop business, and as a result my on-water training has taken a hit. I was probably less prepared and less conditioned for this race than any race prior.

But I figured, “Hey, I play a real athlete on the Internet, I should be able to just jump into a boat and paddle for 22 miles.”

I was wrong.

I should have paid more attention to pre-race preparation and hydration the days leading up to the race. Weeks of long hours, disordered sleep, and…lets call it competitive arrogance…got the best of me.

I left my house at 5am yesterday to pickup Paddling Buddy Dave to get to the starting line on time and was running a bit late so I forgot my action cams that I had so carefully charged the night before so there is no actual race video, but if you watch my James River Rundown video from 2015, the view from the front of my Cobra Viper kayak would have looked just about identical this year except for the last mile.

I did really well and led the race by a significant margin for 21 miles of the race, but alas, it is a 22-mile race and a lot happened in that last mile.

I’ll let the video and photos do the talking, but a 22-mile race in late August in the heat of Central Virginia adds a layer of challenge and complexity to this race. A layer of challenge and complexity for which I was ill-prepared.

When life hands you lemons, eat a dill pickle or two

It took me a while to bounce back and feel human and people were handing me cookies and Gatorade, but I declined them all knowing that as low carb athlete I would either throw them up immediately or the sugar in those items would spike my heart rate even higher.

I had a jar of dill pickles in the back of my truck and as soon as I was coherent enough to think clearly and talk, I asked Paddling Buddy Dave to retrieve that jar and I immediately drank some of the juice and ate a few pickles and started feeling just okay again.

Mt. Olive Pickles does not endorse me, but I wish they would. I swear by their products, especially for marathons and ultra marathons as a low carb athlete. I’ve tried other brands but no other pickles compare to the crunch and taste of Mt. Olive. Much better than any pricey goo or electrolyte product marketed to athletes and always just as close as the closest grocery store.

Once I was able to stand then I took a few steps. Then I walked a little in the shady areas and slowly recovered.

I had never experienced anything like that but now very much view this experience as a teachable moment to help others recognize the symptoms of heat exhaustion and stress the importance of listening to what your body is telling you.

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