Sunday, June 8, 2008

Race Day Count Down: Day 7

Well boys and girls, today's lesson is on heat exhaustion.  Sit up straight and pay attention... you in the back, Jacques, stop talking!  
Heat exhaustion  is no laughing matter; you'll feel as close to death as you'll ever want to be.  I was 26 years old when I had the brain wave to set out for a solo bicycle tour to Kenora via the back roads north of Highway One.  I was geared up to the ying-yang with tent, sleeping bag, change of clothes, food, stove, well you get the idea, I had a heavy load.  
It was stinking hot, not unlike marathon day.  Under the noon day sun I removed my helmet thinking it would help dissipate the heat.  I started to feel a little lightheaded and confused.  I knew the heat was an issue, but I thought as long as I kept hydrated I'd be ok (remember, I was young and stupid).  I hydrated like crazy which, in reflection, probably attributed to the extreme nausea. I remember the confusion setting in, talking to myself, and weaving like a drunk down the deserted back road.
I remember dismounting my bicycle because I could no longer ride straight and was losing my balance.  In my confused state I thought I had drank some bad water.  I imagined I had consumed sewage water and it was causing me to be ill.  I was dazed, confused, and starting to get scared.  I remember weaving into a little town. I managed to call my parents from a pay phone. My mother answered and I blurted out "I'm in Renee and I'm really sick. Come and get me" and then I promptly fainted in the phone booth with the phone dangling. My poor mother, she had no idea what was going on, but understood -like only a mother- that I was sick and in need of help. 
This is turning into a long diatribe so I'll cut to the chase.  I was suffering from heat exhaustion. Believe me, this is not a good place; you absolutely do not want to go there. The above chart show the likelihood of developing heat exhaustion is largely dependent upon heat and humidity.  The yellow zone shows a high probability of developing heat exhaustion.  The red zone -heat stroke- is a completely different kettle of fish. The treatment for heat exhaustion is to stop exercising, hydrate, and cool the skin. Unlike Heat Stroke (the evil cousin to Heat Exhaustion) the body temperature is not elevated significantly.  Heat Stroke occurs when the core body temperature elevates to 41 degrees Celsius or higher.  People with Heat Stroke need immediate medical attention... death is imminent if left untreated.
Be smart out there on marathon day.  If you feel sick or confused, tell someone.  If you see someone weaving and acting erratically tell an official... you might just save a life.  
Did 3. 5 miles today... nice and s-l-o-w... it felt great! 
Six more "get ups" until race day. 
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