So you spent July and August huddled by the air conditioner, unwilling or unable to go outside and exercise because of the the searing heat and unhealthy air.
Now's the time to come out of hibernation.
Even though it's still pretty darned hot out there -- temperatures just shy of triple digits are forecast for the next week -- things should cool off in time for an unprecedented string of running, cycling and multisport events scheduled this fall in the central San Joaquin Valley and nearby mountain communities.
During a seven-week stretch between late September and early November, people who like to run and pedal have their choice of 12 races and endurance events. (Due to conflicting dates, it'll be virtually impossible to do all 12.)
It all starts Sept. 22 with the Smokey Bear Run at Bass Lake and the Tour de Fresno. The next day, Sept. 23, is the Shaver Lake Triathlon. Running and cycling events follow every weekend in October leading up to the Two Cities Marathon & Half on Nov. 4.
"There's been a real upsurge in physical fitness, and you're starting to see that with all these new events that are piling up," said Ken Takeuchi, longtime director of the popular Valley Runner of the Year Series. "I like it. It gives people a choice."
Felicia Gomez, owner of Pinnacle Training Systems, has noticed more people signing up for her training groups and nutrition seminars.
"There's a demand for these types of events," Gomez said. "I don't know if there are more people doing extreme events, but there are definitely more people who want their families active."
There are a couple exceptions, but most of these events cater to people of all fitness levels.
For example, the Tour of Fresno charity ride, which has grown from 160 participants in its first year in 2009 to 600 last year, offers five different courses of varying lengths and difficulty.
Yes, there are two century rides of 110 and 101 miles. (The 110-mile course has an extra 1,600 feet of climbing.) But there's also an 18-mile scenic ride from southeast Fresno to Fowler and back -- with a rest stop -- where average speeds will be less than 10 mph.
"Some people like to ride for long distances and climb big hills, and some just like to cruise with rest stops every five or six miles," said Varoujan Der Simonian, the event's executive director. "Everyone has a choice."
The main drawback to having so many events packed into a seven-week window is that conflicts are unavoidable.
For example, the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure -- which drew a field of 6,000 runners and walkers last year -- and the increasingly popular Valley Girls Ride are both Oct. 20. And a new cycling event called the Off the Front Century not only shares the same Oct. 13 date as the 8-year-old Bass Lake Powerhouse Double Century, but the two courses also overlap in places.
"October is probably the most popular month for events on the entire calendar, and that's because of the weather," Takeuchi said. "We used to do events in July and August, but the turnout was poor because it's so darned hot."
Fall into action
The Fresno area will be a hotbed of running and biking events between late September and early November. Here's a sampling:
Smokey Bear Run (smokeybearrun.com)
Tour de Fresno (tourdefresno.com)
Shaver Lake Triathlon (sierramultisport.com)
Grizzly Century (grizzlycentury.org)
Visalia Runners Harvest Run (visaliarunners.org)
Cross City Race (samc.com/cross-city-race)
Bass Lake Powerhouse Double Century (fresnocycling.com/powerhouse)
Off the Front Century (offthefront.org)
Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure (komencentralvalley.org)
Valley Girls Ride (valleygirlsride.com)
Homegrown Cyclocross Series, Race #1 (ccorc.org)
Two Cities Marathon & Half (runfresno.com)