I'm Randy Mouri and this blog is about my quest to be an official finisher in the Race Across AMerica (RAAM), the toughest endurance race in the world. It's over and I became an official solo finisher in 11 days, 1 hour and 13 minutes! We continue to raise money and awareness on behalf of Habitat for Humanity of Northern Virginia (Habitat NoVa). If you would like to make a donation to Habitat NoVa, please visit my page on Habitat’s site. Endless thanks to our sponsors and all the folks that have made such generous contributions. Team Mouri would not have been able to travel so comfortably, which certainly may have changed the outcome of the race.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Keep cooly cool man!

In case you don't recognize where the title of this post comes from, it's from the musical West Side Story. I use it because Randy is going to face significant challenges in the desert heat in the coming days (Parker AZ forecast to hit 105 on Thursday). To combat this, Al has devised a strategy. Rather than paraphrase it, I'm going to post a lightly edited version of Al's description.

I have spent hours researching the issue of helping Randy maintain his performance in the Eastern California and Arizona desert environments, where we are looking at day time temperature often in the 110+ F. range, with relative humidity less than 20%, and sometimes as low as 5-10%. In that environment, sweat evaporates rapidly, which improves evaporative cooling. However, instant sweat evaporation often leads athletes in this environment to underestimate sweat losses until it is too late. Our experience clearly shows that fluid and salt losses in the sun in this situation can exceed sometimes 2000 ml per hour. The science also shows that losses of as little as 1.5-2% of body mass through sweat losses can seriously degrade athletic performance.

Additionally, body temperature control becomes a real issue at any decent energy output level. The literature from attempts to improve the performance of soldiers and firefighters in various forms of environmental protective suits in hot environments provided the clues that together with data on precooling athletes prior to high level competition led us to the following solution, which we have only tested briefly.

First, we will try to supply Randy with cold fluids to drink, which should contain appropriate amounts of sodium to prevent the development of dilutional hyponatremia. To begin we need to prevent him from getting significantly dehydrated at any point before the Rockies as he could then develop exercise induced IADH (Inappropriate Anti-Diuretic Hormone) Syndrome, which would then cause him to inappropriately retain fluid, possibly until the end of the race. Randy is a least a moderately high salt sweat producer, so we must be careful that he get enough salt. We have one piece of prior data , in that Randy clearly seemed to improve his performance in the last 200 miles of the HOS race as we increased his salt intake through us of high salt instant soups.

Secondly, we located relatively lightweight cooling vests containing a hydrogel designed for athletic use. These vest have sufficient thermal mass to cool the rider for up to an hour. By rotating vests when Randy is riding on the flat or downhill (to avoid the 1.8-2# weight penalty when climbing), we can reduce his skin temps by 10 degrees or more. The vest is simply dampened to allow the hydrogel to absorb water, placed in a plastic bag, and placed atop a mix of salted ice and a block of dry ice in a small cooler. The vest is then removed, and sprayed w/water before Randy puts it on. We can cool a vest to below freezing in less than 30 min with this technology, giving Randy up to an hour of relief from the heat

ALL of the above are parts of the medical team strategy to reduce the environmental strain of reaching Wolf Creek Pass. Past RAAM history provides many lessons which suggest that helping Randy have every advantage to overcome the environmental threat of the desert is well worth the effort since attrition in this race section has been very high in the past

1 comment:

Mike said...

All the best to Randy and Team Mouri! We're very much looking forward to meeting Randy at the finish in Annapolis.

Insights like this on HOW Randy and the Team will pull it off are fascinating. Please keep 'em coming along with the mile by mile accounts once he clips in.

God Speed!!

Mike Binnix