When it comes to the world of endurance sports, former Ultraman champion, Shanna Armstrong has done it. She’s competed in 11 Ironmans and more than 80 triathlons in just three years. Still before her prime, 30-year-old Shanna was looking for another life’s challenge. Bored with the prospect of doing Kona (AGAIN) she decided to take on an even more grueling race. A 10-day,-3,000 mile cycling event across the US of A. If that wasn’t enough, Shanna agreed to be a guinea pig for science. During the race, scientist will study her electrolytes trying to discern what causes gastrointestinal distress athletes feel during such long endurance races. The goal is to measure blood electrolyte levels throughout the race, replace those losses with IV fluids and ultimately determine an ideal oral replacement recipe to decrease the number of people who dropout of endurance races. In addition, she’s hoping to raise money for the Boys and Girls Club of Lubbock, TX. Shanna agreed to keep an online diary through B.T.com periodically giving us updates on her quest to rein cycling supreme. Here’s her first journal entry:
----------------------------- December 2004 Though I love to participate in Ironmans and Ultramans, and while I qualified for Hawaii this past year, I decided not to go. I’ve adopted an athletic and fundraising challenge bigger and better than Ultraman….it’s called RAAM (Race Across America) 2005. Let me tell you how this all came into being. Because I agreed to work the Buffalo Lake Triathlon, I met Guy Wells, the cardiologist that works the electrolyte tent every year. We had worked side by side at this triathlon for years, never really meeting each other. This year, however, I was suckered into working after swimming and sprinting a ½ Ironman. I spent some time in the tent getting an IV for the heck of it before I began working my tail off in the massage tent. It just so happened that, during this IV, Guy and I spent time talking about my goals of fundraising, RAAM, and the Swiss Gigathlon. I related my idea of doing high mileage races and collecting money per mile for Boys and Girls Club. Little did I know that I was talking to a terrific athlete that was interested in some of my ideas. One month later, Guy showed up at my shop and asked if I would join him, creating a co-ed team for RAAM in 2005, a 23-year-old cycling event that is perhaps the toughest endurance event in the world. Besides being a 10-day, 3000-mile-long cycling race, it requires months of training, an endurance coach (in our case, Chris Carmichael), a crew, road vehicles, world-class bikes, and two seasoned cyclists (That’s Guy and me). Dr. Wells was also interested in helping me raise funds for B&G Club. I could see in his eyes that he had the crazy mentality to take on this event and I knew we were in business. Our team name is TEAM ENDORPHINS…that is what we are–endorphin junkies. Our coach is Chris Carmichael, founder of Carmichael Training Systems and personal coach of 6-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong. We are currently assembling a 10-member crew dedicated to ensuring the success of TEAM ENDORPHINS. They will provide 24-hour support, repairing bikes, driving, organizing events, navigating from coast-to-coast, and monitoring proper nutrition for the team. Through rigid training, Coach Carmichael’s direction, and a polished crew, TEAM ENDORPHINS hopes to set new records. What really makes this race even more exciting is the fact that we are also doing an electrolyte study to benefit other athletes. This medical research may help endurance athletes worldwide overcome the odds of failure–gastrointestinal distress and orthopedic impairment. The goal is to measure blood electrolyte levels throughout the race, replace the losses with IV fluids, and ultimately determine an ideal oral replacement recipe to help decrease the 50% dropout rate of endurance races. Our goal is not only to use our athletic endurance to win (or finish) RAAM and raise funds for a worthy youth organization, but to conduct a study that, combined with thorough evaluations of capillary lactic acid levels, will yield fascinating results for physicians, trainers, manufacturers, and athletes alike.