RAAM Revisited 1 – Dehydration, cramps, and stubbornness

After spending about a year and a half focused on the one goal of completing the race, it is strange to be back home and returning to a more regular lifestyle. It has now been 2 1/2 weeks(when I began this post) since returning to Chicago. I have not been out on my bike for longer than 4 hours at any time. An inordinate amount of time has been spent on the couch.

For the first week following the race, I felt fine, even energetic. There were a few minor issues such as numb feet and healing saddle sores, but all in all I was in good shape. I ended up losing about 7 pounds over the course of the race. A fairly big amount for me. The second week brought a strange kind of fatigue. If I sat down for a few minutes I would fall asleep, I felt like Grandpa Simpson falling asleep mid-rant.

Memories from the race have popped back into my mind as the days have gone by. I had completely forgotten/blocked out the time fighting through cramps on the first day. I remembered getting dehydrated and vomiting on the side of the road, but hadn’t been recollecting the time spent in bed in the RV unable to move because any movement or thought of movement would cause a cramp to build through my legs and than getting back on the bike and making myself pedal again. I have never had cramps before in my life, I would be happy never to experience that again.

That first day was the day when I could have been knocked out of RAAM, yet even still I cannot remember considering this at the time. Some of my crew has mentioned they were very worried. I never saw it as anything more than a temporary problem that would disappear soon. Maybe stubborness didnt allow me to view it rationally. Perhaps that is exactly the mindset that is required to keep going in those circumstances.

The end result of this day was that nearly all my nutritional plans were thrown out the window. I had planned on using Hammer Sustained Energy in concentrated flasks that I would slam once an hour. Occasionally having an Ensure to provide some variety. Following the dehydration I couldn’t even think of swallowing the Sustained Energy. So new options had to be found. My coach sent the crew out for Pedialyte and that became a staple for the remainder of the race. What seems like hundreds of Turkey wraps and occasional fruit and string cheese filled the void. The best BBQ brisket sandwich I’ve ever had was eaten on the bike somewhere in Kansas. I even broke from my usual avoidance of McDonalds and had an occasional hamburger. The times when I managed to sit down and eat real food before a sleep break in memory seem like the best meals ever made.

Hammer Nutrition Endurolytes, Anti-Fatigue Caps, and Race Caps Supreme were standard throughout the race.

Needless to say I need to figure out a new fueling plan that works with my stomach for long races. I can manage anything for a 24 hour race, but start adding on the days and my stomach gets more touchy. A good task for the winter off season.


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