Friday, August 26, 2011

Follow Ups post Race.

The morning after the race I woke up with a severe sore throat, sharp to swallow and just plan sucked! I felt it coming on the last 10k of the race and sleeping on the way back to Leh and now it was totally killing me! I went to the medical team to see if they had any meds and after a quick exam and some talking I was given a Z-pack and took some serious amounts of ibuprofen. I had gone to breakfast with Molly and Bailey but could barely swallow and nothing was fun to eat, the first time I didn't finish anything on my plate since being in Leh! Bummer! I later then went back to bed and slept for half day waking up and feeling much relief! I mean it was still there but the sharp pain was gone and a lot less swollen.

As I started to pack for home I was thinking in moments of the overall race and how Molly has accomplished completing the race, even when she was at her worst. Now remember, I crewed Molly in 2009 Badwater and I remember seeing some pretty low down and out times but this race took her farther and at times in longer periods of the what I call the Suck Zone! I mean she literally had thrown up 5 times, that I know of, within 24 hours! One specific time she was getting sick she asked home many times had she gotten sick while I was pacing her? I replied, Do you want to know within the last 24 hours, the last hour or since I have been pacing this time? haha. poor thing! but all in all Molly is a very Patient runner! Persistent! and Dedicated! I think in tough races/events like these, if you lack any one of the 3, your toast!

Packing was just about finished and the afternoon approached and soon dinner with a big celebration victory bon-fire party was to occur. There was also going to be lots of beer so that was a plus!

First the Party: the party was great! everyone celebrating, having some drinks and enjoy the guitar that was being played by various locals and some of the crew from Lisa's team! After the presentation of the finishers trophy, which is way cool! no belt buckles here, plus you get a nice cloth hanging finishers certificate and shirt. Then there was the finishers picture and a few words from each of the runners all stating there difficulties and the having experienced the toughest race they ever completed, which is saying a lot because these runners have completed a lot of tough races in their running careers! The night was fun and again lots of beers were appreciated!

The Race: First off, let's remember this is the 2nd year this race has been offered. Last year only 3 runners accepted the challenge and only 1 finished! People have to remember that this race takes part in a 3rd World Country! in a remote part of India, so usually and customary things are simply not offered. Since it is the 2nd year to be put on, the logistics of putting the event together are still being worked on and so a participant should be open and flexible to change, with that the great race director, Rajat Chauhan is still working on his perfect race team. It takes a lot of help and getting the right people for the jobs needed is tough, this year he had some great help but some of the race help thought they became the race director in making decision when only the RD can make the decisions and along with those people some of there attitudes were just not comfortable or fit with the overall attitudes of the participants so there was drama and tension at times. With time Rajat will have things worked out for the better of the race and participants, but just remember, if you select this event, you experience not only one tough ass event but a great destination and experience for your life of memories. Not only will this event challenge you in terms of distance but altitude and obstacles such as exhaust from many diesel truck/cars as they pass on the race course!

City of Leh: the city is 11,500feet so landing here you immediately feel the change in altitude so be prepared to acclimate in the days leading up to the race. The city offers lots of shopping and food, surprisingly the food was very good, Yes, there is curry but there is lot of other food as well. Westernized food as made it way there and again eating around the city was not a hard thing to do, especially, when you find the restaurants that you like, as we did, you just keep going back. The city also has great culture and temples to visit as well as driving up to Khardung La, during your acclimation periods. I also did white water rafting this year and that was fun, cold, but fun.
The hotel we stayed in was an older style hotel but nice, toilets, running water, sometimes hot water but the beds were overall hard, which I think that is the standard in the city as Molly's room was the same. Molly's hotel was a little nice in the rooms but they did not have a shower head in the bathrooms and therefore a splash type bath had to be taken, I had a full shower head and it was nice to have a regular type shower. You can pretty much get around everywhere on food in the city, if you decide to go farther and up to Khardung La than you will need a taxi service.

Personal: I love this event! I loved Leh and the people! Yes, the city was very interesting in dealing with dusty roads, diesel exhaust, squat toilets, and other fine changes in our standard lives but that's what it's all about! Even though there was drama and some of the attitudes of the race organizers were a little much to deal with it, it was nothing that couldn't be handled or avoided for less stress. One of the toughest parts a participant will have to deal with is staying health in the days prior to the race and acclimating to the altitude.

I am also excited to see the documentary that Barry Walton, who filmed Profiling Hurt, is working on for this event! He did an exceptional job, filming, interviewing and taking pictures! It will take him some time to get the final work out there but I will be keeping you posted on when its available, most likely a year he estimated.

Experiencing not only a 16 hour flight but a different world in Delhi and Leh has been one of the best things in my 40 years of life experience and I thank Molly for everything! I also thank Dez, who always has supported me in all my endurance sports since day 1. Now both her and Molly will have to return in 2012 as I look to take down those mountain passes and become part of an elite group of finishers!


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Day 3 - some Drama, The Finish!

Rumptse, 161km/100miles, 13,675ft. The past 5 hours have been in the rain and getting here was the first main goal. We Arrived! The plan was to take up come rest in the cottage, eat some warm food and dry out and then make our way up to Tanglang La, the 2nd 17,500 mountain climb of the race. It's 11:30pm and the original time to have left here recommended by the RD was 10pm! We are obviously well behind that but Molly is feeling good, tired of course and is looking for the short break we planned on.

When the Mothership picked us up back in town Bailey had informed us that all the runners, well, 2 of the runners, Lisa and Samantha and there crews, Jason was already on the other side of Tanglang La and Ray and Sharon were on the way back to this camp from finishing and would be her shortly, so this posed an immediate problem, no further rooms were available for us to rest, so we were told they would have 2 tents pitched for us when we got there. After being in the rain and outside for some time now I immediately spoke freely and said, Fuck that, we're not resting in tents outside! Also, Bailey had said that all the food had been packed up and they were unloading it out of the truck for us and reheating it, sure! We pulled into the cottage and sure enough there were the other runners crew cars and two tents were being set up. We all jumped out of the mothership and went inside to a dining room area and the food and tables were there, about this same time Ray and Sharon arrived and the medical team was checking them and debriefing so it was a little hectic in the room. Several of us started eating and most everything was cold, at this time I didn't know they had just brought back the food and no wonder it was cold. Anyway, Bailey and I got Molly some tea and food for ourselves as well as Jigme did and we all started eating.

The reason the other runners were here was because it had started snowing up on Tanglang La, which we could see from afar as were getting closer to Rumptse, and the race officials said the conditions were bad and for safety reason pulled the runners from continuing up Tanglang La. The race officials didn't plan on everyone being at this cottage at one time, hence, no room for us back of the packers. The race officials had made an agreement with the runners that they would let the snow pass and not return till 4am, I think it was just after 10pm before they got pulled because I remember one of the other crews saying they were down for 6 hours! When we got there there was also talk of extending the cutoff time due to the weather but word came quickly that this would not be happening, 60 hours remain. During this whole time the clock is ticking and although we are getting some rest/recovery/food we had been talking and had decided that staying here was NOT an option for us at this time in the race and with Molly pushing the time limits we needed all the time we had so we had to get moving up the mountain.

While we were eating some race officials came to us and asked if they could speak with Molly outside. Molly said she would be right back and walked out. I sat there a little perplexed and my gut feeling was WTF! why are they talking to her alone? I quickly turned to Bailey and said I don't like that they pulled her from us to speak to her, I think they are going to try and bully her or something, and being as she is not really in a frame of mind to handle complex conversations I think we should go! Bailey replied, Yeah this is Bullshit! Let's Go! We got up and walked outside the door and sure enough, the setting appeared like a bully session as 3 race officials were standing there talking to Molly and her in the middle. They all looked at us like deer in headlights and I just remember saying something like, What's up? We're all part of the team, or something like that. There whole concern was the safety of the road conditions and the snow, stating that 10k up the road the snow line had started and that's where the conditions go worse. They also tried to instill the 4am agreement on us saying that was the deal made, Molly was quick to jump on that one saying she made NO Deal about 4am and no one came back to inform us of the agreements being made! We've been here 45 mins so far!

Finally, after talking some sense into the race officials, we had stated to let us go to the 10km snow line and if its unsafe, deemed by our driver as he would make the call for our safety, then we would return to Rumptse but allowing us to get at least 10km more up the road gave us a better chance of completing the race within 60 hours. After just a few more minutes the race officials said they would discuss it and get back to us. We all got back in the Mothership and were waiting just a few more minutes, now its been 50-55 mins and still wasting time. Finally, I said we Have To Go! Let's Find Out What's the Deal! Molly jumped out and tracked down an official who was talking to a medical team member and it was agreed upon that she could continue to the 10km line and deem safety issues, was in good condition and any finish within the 60 hours was official, as it had been said now, that because she didn't make Rumptse by 10pm she would be unofficial! That sent her blood boiling and was actually good motivation for the climb to come, turns out that unofficial talk was just talk and she would be official if she made it within 60 hours. After all this mess, now an hour later, we hopped in the Mothership, back out to the road and off we started up Tanglang La.

Since Molly's blood was boiling and she was over all the drama she had a great pace and we starting moving quickly, yes, still in the RAIN! It's now about 1am and the rain would turn to snow and back to rain over the next 12 hours, so everything from here till the finish was in the rain/snow, well maybe the last 1 hour was not in the rain. When I came out to pace shortly after Rumptse it was great to see Molly fired up! Don't tell her she'll be unofficial when there is still time on the clock! Don't tell her she can't complete the distance! (actually Yes, tell her!! because she was motoring up that mountain in the rain!) When we hit 10km it was still raining and there was no snow, the driver said it was clear and we could keep going until it changed, if it did, which it would start snowing in the early AM but not enough to make conditions unsafe, just cold. Within 10km we were at 15,692feet, already climbed 1,692 feet since Rumptse! and still had more to go as the top of Tanglang La is 19.5 miles from Rumptse.

As we approached the 4am time for the other runners we knew we would soon see car lights coming and by 4:30am we saw them and as they passed us and slowed down to shot encouragement and great excitment it was nice to finally see other runners in this race and knowing that Molly had now closed the gap on them. They had gotten word that she came through Rumptse long ago and was on the way up the mountain and later I would learn that they were happy for her and stating that was the best thing we did was not stop at Rumptse and sleep with the cockroaches and spiders that crawled in the rooms! The early morning light was trying to break through but the heavy clouds and now snow where keeping it from lighting up which was a good thing because by this time Bailey and I had a run in with the Poop Monster due to the cold food and determining it was the noodles we both ate, ughh!! Climbing Tanglang La was much different than Khardung La because of the overall pitch of the mountain. Khardung La was more steep and the switch back were shorter and steeper getting you to the top quicker but Tanglang La was longer pitch, resulting in longer, less steep switch backs and so it took longer to reach the top and we were up at the higher 16000+ feet longer! Both Bailey and I had taken diamox early in preparing for this but now we were both fighting some severe sleep deprivations. (One funny thing before we got to Rumptse, it was raining like crazy and Molly was just in a low spot, trudging along step by step. We were approaching the Mothership and from about 50 yards out, I see Bailey waiting for us, but all of a sudden I see a blinking/strobing light! I tell Molly, hey check out Bailey. As we looked at her, the strobing light flashing, she busts out the Robot moves and starts dancing and pop-locking! freaking Hilarious!! and such a perfect time as Molly needed the amusement! After that while it was still dark we would good with the strobe light from the headlamps and do the Robot for Molly)

As the morning came I had been calculating our pace and everything was looking good to finish within 58-59 hours but still we were not at the top of Tanglang La. Bailey and I had been switching out frequently but this turned out to be a bad thing because just as you got settled in the car it was time to come back out and getting cold again was worse than just staying out there, and besides when you went into the car you were pretty much down for the count, so we had to adapt our rotation and just stay out longer. Once we went over 16,300 feet I had a seriously hard time staying awake, pacing or sitting in the car. We were about 2-3 miles from the top and although it is highly recommended that you do not sleep at this elevations I could not stay awake and neither could the Jigme and the driver. I was working hard and trying to get Molly to the top but I knew I didn't have it in me, I needed to rest/sleep, go higher or go lower, something! The last 1.5 mile you can see the top of the mountain but there is a seriously long double switch back to get there, when Molly saw this she was seriously NOT HAPPY! haha, at this time Bailey and I had switched out and I told her we would head to the top and wait. Once at the top we got some tea and I was walking around taking a few pictures, I actually felt better than being a 1,000 feet below, weird. After a while Molly and Bailey appeared and we took a great picture at the Tanglang La sign and of course Bailey and I planked at 17,582ft! Molly was super excited and happy to be at the top, 192km/119.5miles, and now it was all downhill for quite some time and mostly to the finish.

Once again as we descended I was in that I cant Stay Away zone and looking to get below the 16300ft mark and sure enough once I did I was much more awake and ready to go. We had seen Lisa Tamati and her crew come by and she had completed the race and was heading back to Rumptse/Leh and speaking with her was great and exciting giving us that needed energy to make the final push as the crew, later I would learn that she actually got out of the car when she caught up to Molly and walked with her for short time giving her encouragement, thanks Lisa! When I took back to pacing we were moving along great and knowing that Samantha was just a short ways of head of us and actually being able to see her and her crew on some of the down switch backs gave Molly a little boost of energy to run. The rain was still coming down and pretty much all mud and puddles so I have basically stopped trying to avoid wet feet and just make the shortest route around the corners. By now we are somewhere about 210km/130 miles all is feeling great! Molly is happy and knows that she will make the finish with time. Its a great feeling knowing all the hard work that has occurred in the past 50 hours! Get to a what I call a Tent City about 10km from the finish, the locals came offering some sandwiches and soup but Molly's stomach is not in the mood for any of the kind offerings. I grab some tea and we quickly head off down the road as we are close, Bailey is out pacing now and I am still calculating our time to make sure. Once we reached this fork in the road, we moved left and as the road seems to go completely no where in the distance, which is actually a major psychological blow as you are so close but yet no where in site is the finish. This are is called Morey Plains and the name is perfect because all you get is More and Morey of plains in sight! haha. The good thing is now were about 15,300ft and feeling much better.

On the last 3 miles, Molly wanted all of us to walk together and so we all enjoyed the highlights of Morey Plains, the last 58 hours and all that we just went through. It was an amazing time out there all together for that last hour, holding hands as we walked, laughing and recalling the Werewolf sightings that Molly had, the sign that I thought was a port-a-potty, the Robot dancing, the Wave we all performed and the dogs chasing Molly and Bailey with Molly armed with pebbles and Bailey with boulders! Finally, we could see around the bend and there was the finish line! We had American Flags that we each held and as we approached the finish I had my video phone rolling.

The last 100 meters! The finish line banner was now so close! The great race director, Rajat Chauhan, brought us a prayer flag La Ultra sign and we draped it around us, everyone clapping, cheering Molly! Then it was the last run and we all took off in a jog to finish it out! We crossed the line all together, hand in hand, just like we had in 2009 at Badwater! 58 hours 56 minutes, 222km/138 miles, TWO - 17,500+ft mountains! Molly had finished! It was great cheers, congratulations and photos and a joy of accomplishment, together, we all did it! The ISAGENIX DREAM TEAM had success when others had counted us out, when others believed Molly was too far behind to make it, when others thought it couldn't be done if you were not to Rumptse by 10pm!

Once we finished it was quickly back to tent city for some quick food and then we headed back to Leh, which meant going back over Tanglang La and all the way through course since Leh. It was already evening and once we started driving back we all quickly feel asleep in the car, at first, all of us were proper and trying not impede on each others space but a while later and we were all one unit leaning on each other and bouncing from side to side down the roads. The drive back was actually pretty fast as I know the driver was in a hurry to get back and that was super okay with me, I woke up a couple of times to see where we were but watching him maneuver down the road was not a pleasant sight and my eye lids weighed like 10lbs each so I went back to sleep. Once back at the hotel we quickly unpacked and Molly and Bailey went back to there room and I to mine where a warm shower was wonderful and the hardness of the bed was actually welcomed! I was still so tired that falling asleep quickly was not a problem and now I was experiencing a sore throat.

stay tuned till the post-race day post and thoughts on the race itself, race officials , etc.!!


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Day 2 - Race, La Ultra - The High.

Day 2:

As we rolled through town and getting closer to the Main Gate (mile 50) the town was already awake and people were on the streets watching as we ran by. We were excited to get to the Main Gate as the road then started to head down hill and later would bring more open roads but first it was to get through town before early morning traffic got heavier.

Molly's stomach was feeling much better, although she said she could still feel it just a little bit but as long as it was it better we were taking advantage of the all the run time. We passed gas station which was the Petrol Pump, 86km/53miles and 10,770ft. which was nice to be running so low in elevation, this would be actually be the lower parts of the course. As we continued to dodge traffic and some stray dogs the rest of the crew had went to make a breakfast run and said they would catch up with us shortly, so we made sure we had water and were ready to run solo for at least an hour, luckily, I had eaten a Isagenix bar when I first started pacing. This morning run was really nice because it a gradual downhill and as we kept moving out of town the roads were a little wider and traffic seemed to be a little less but the occasional diesel bomb would come by and gas us! After an hour went by we were starting to wonder if the crew had actually gone to South America to pick the coffee beans for our morning coffee and made jokes how they must be sitting around enjoying breakfast somewhere while were out getting diesel bombed! haha.. but then they appeared and as we all stopped to enjoy our eggs, toast, and coffee it was a crew heaven! We were all happy and spirits seemed to really be lifted, Molly was feeling good, we had some rest and now food.

After a quick eat, Bailey and I switched out pacing as I had now been out for about 11 miles and this was a nice road to run on and enjoy. As we pulled ahead and waited to crew them, I started unpacking the back of the mothership and house cleaning, it was a mess and lots of things were disorganized and with another day on scheduled we needed it back to original status. I basically took everything out of the back and re-stacked/organized and threw all the trash away. It was much needed and later Bailey would come by for another round of reorganizing and all would be set for the day/night leading up to Rupmtse but first we had to get to Karu.

Karu was 117km/72.7miles, 10,977ft and still about 15 miles away. The Sun was out and Molly was actually starting to make up some ground during the day, she fit well with the temperatures of the day, now mid-upper 80's and still her stomach was finally on the plan. Sitting in the mothership out of the sun only made me realize how much heat there was out there and now that the driver was actually parking in the shaded areas as we waited made things nice for us. As we made our way to Karu I was out running another time with Molly and we took some great pictures and talked to a nice man on the side of the road who just couldn't believe she was running 222km and where she had started from! He knew the Khardung Village where the start was and he knew where she was at now and was really beside himself to understand WHY? Finally, we got to Karu and although there was to be a medical check here they had once again pushed on not waiting as they did at South Pullu but Molly was fine and no reason to take us out of the groove we were now in. Before we got to Karu there was this awesome drainage area from the river and as we parked next to it I thought I would run across the road and check it out. This overflow area back into the river was pretty awesome and as I stood next to it you could feel the splash of the water and the roaring was pretty loud. It was a nice few minutes to slightly cool off and explore while waiting. As we went back to the car and Molly was approaching and we decided to provide a little entertainment and the official Isagenix Dream Team Wave would do just the trick! After a great laugh and picture, the next city was Upshi.

During the day we all continued to eat Isagenix shakes and bars. Over the course of the last 2 days I had even been drinking Want More Energy to change up the pace of plain water. Today, I was feeling hungry so it seemed like I was eating every 15 mins and maybe I was as shakes, bars and IsaDelights were all going down nicely! The only thing I couldn't do while running was take IsaGreens as it just seemed to take longer to digest and I felt it running so I had to stay away from my greens for now.

The road to Upshi goes through a couple of military areas and there are road blockades which just have be driven around and of course military personnel are on the various gates standing with machine guns and full uniform, I wanted to take a pictures but thought otherwise. Upshi is 131km/81.3 miles and 11,184ft so we have started to slowly go back up in elevation. It was late afternoon at I remember at one point Molly has a stomach issue purge but seemed to be okay. Bailey was out pacing her now and I was trying to catch up on some sleep as I knew the night and getting up to Rumptse was gonna be a huge push. We were still behind on estimated time of arrival by 10pm and looking more like 11:30pm but our overall goal of under 60 hours was still very clear. I don't recall how many times I calculated out pace, distance to next town, what our avg. pace needed to be but I do know I got pretty good at calculating quickly! One time when Bailey and Molly passed and all was okay for crewing the driver and Jigme were sound asleep and very tried, again it was early afternoon and since the road was now starting to go uphill more I decided we would wait here and take a 20 minute nap, I set my alarm and went went to sleep. 20 mins later it went off but I didn't really wake up, it took another 10 mins and then I woke up in a panic as we had been gone now from them for at least 30 mins. I quickly woke up the other two and off we went to catch up, when we got there I told them I had fallen asleep, haha! During the day Molly had been drinking Sprite to keep her stomach calm, something she had not really been used to using before but it had been working so why change it, at this time she needed more but we only had coke until the next town so good thing Coke worked too. The arrival in Upshi was much needed and after a few bites for Molly she was quickly out pushing out to Rumptse.

I am thinking before we got to Upshi the medical crew back tracked and found us and actually performed a medical check on Molly and all was good. She was still dealing with some swollen hands which turns out to not be any electrolyte malfunction but a cause of the altitude as the medical crew informs us. This instills relief in Molly worries that its not something else and after she is checked we continued on. Outside of Upshi I started pacing again and now we were down into a nice power walk as Rumptse was over 20 miles away and it was going to take some time to get there but getting there was Key as this was the start of the 2nd mountain, Tanglang La. The sun was starting to set and the presence of clouds were visible and it seemed rain would be coming shortly. Somewhere along this time it started raining and I remember I was not longer pacing but the driver was at this time, so we gave him a pancho to stay dry. The night had come and we had broke out the night gear, lights and again decorated the Mothership in glow sticks. Overall, the driver, myself and Bailey all paced in this section as the night and rain seemed to drag on and not bring Rumptse any closer. At one point I remember seeing the driver sleep walking as he was pacing and I knew he was fried so I jumped out and took over.

The night was actually not too bad despite the rain and it being dark. After a few minutes you were used to it and although it seemed like it was cold from the mothership, it was actually quite nice being out there. Molly was definitely feeling tried by this time and keeping her mind occupied with easy talk and keeping her moving was the primary goal, at times she would just get behind me and follow my feet, other times she would be next to met and talking about this or that and then others there was simply no talking at all and nothing but work being done. I will say again that the road to Rumptse seemed to take freakn' forever, maybe it was the night, maybe it was because we wanted to be there so bad, and maybe because it was just far! As 10pm came and went, the recommended time to leave Rumptse for the 2nd mountain and we were still 90 mins away but having spoke to other race officials and them letting us know that as long as Molly was doing good physically she would not have a problem moving to the finish, famous last words as the drama at Rumptse would prove otherwise!

The town before Rumptse, Lato, 154km/95.6miles, 13,300ft. was a great little village and with the rain coming down consistently there happened to be a little tent place that was still open and serving tea. It was such a blessing to be able to go in the tent out of the rain and drink some tea. Jigme had informed the owners what was happening and now that we were all there they were very interested in what we were doing and watched with amazement. The tea really hit the spot and the 5-10mins rest we took there was super nice as I had been out in the rain for a while and was committed to staying out as long as it took to get to Rumptse, in the back of my mind that was my goal and then I would get some rest for Tanglang La. Molly changed out of some wet clothes here in Lato and we were off pushing to Rumptse, another 5 miles away and about 2-2 1/2 hours away.

Finally, those last miles rolled by quickly and as we approached Rumptse we sent the mothership ahead to find the rooms/check in and get some food/tea situated for us, they went ahead about a mile. Molly and I approached the town of Rumptse and we could see many houses and business that were closed and keeping an eye out for our Mothership and signs. We basically walked through the whole town and out the other side and still nothing that designated our race area. We continued to walk past the town as it looked like another house in the far distance but as we got closer it was even farther then it appeared and after walking at least 1/2 mile outside of town I concluded that we missed it, so we turned back around walked the 1/2 mile back to town and through town again, this time with me shining my lights on every house, nook and cranny I could see to find our area, I was somewhat pissed at the lack of sign designation, glow sticks or fire they could have used to mark it but as we approached the start of town, again, a car was coming and it was our Mothership, they said it was way past the town. We jumped back in the car and drove to out the 1/2 mile we had just turned around from and then just past that there was the cottage, the place we saw in the distance but said it was too far away. Rumptse had officially arrived. 161km/100mile, 13,675ft.

Rumptse, drama... Stay tuned!! the defining moment for Molly.


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Day 1 - Race, La Ultra - The High.

I have titled it #1 because this is going to be long with all the happened over the 58 hours 56 minutes, so the best place to start is obviously at the beginning.

The place we were staying was approx. 10k from the start and on the race course as we came back through the village. We were all up early, packing and getting ready to leave. Jigme and the driver came about 5:15am to load the vehicle and we were off to the start. The morning was exciting and after all the waiting and prior days it was kind of surreal that the race day was here! As we drove down to the start, around some corners and in the middle of no where on the side of the road all the race/crew cars were parked and this was the make shift start line of 222km. As soon as we arrived the medical team was performing weigh in's and blood pressure checks, Molly got that taken care of quickly and then headed for last minute preparations. As soon as we arrived it seemed like time accelerated and the race director was yelling 2 minutes till start time, then 1 minute!

Day 1: All the racers, 6 of them, Molly Sheridan, Ray Sanchez, Sharon Gaytor, Samantha Gash, Lisa Tamati, and Jason Rita were at the banner of the start line, quick photos were taken and the count down was on, 10, 9, 8, etc. 3, 2, 1.. Bang! There off and running of the 2nd La Ultra-The High, current elevation 12,545 feet. As all the runners took off on a slight uphill grade they were all excited and running and about 1/4 mile down the road and around the first corner Ray was taking a fast pace to lead the pack, followed by Samantha and the others. Molly and Lisa soon walked and would use the run walk strategy early on. All the crews soon loaded up and off we went to catch our runners, it's like the Badwater start line, Don't all rush out of the start to catch your runner a mile or less down the road but we all did, haha. Molly was set for a while and we enjoyed the other runners as they all moved down the road back towards Khardung Village where we stayed. As the runners spread out and we approached the village we quickly ran back to our place we stayed, visited the Poop Monster one last time and moved through the village. Molly was doing great and enjoying her morning.

Once passed the village it was easy sailing as Molly proceeded closer to Khardung La mountain, the weather was nice about mid 60's, light winds and partly cloudy so it made running quite nice, crewing you could feel the coolness in the air standing around and we were all waiting on more sun shine to warm things up as we continued to climb in elevation. We were given a detailed Altitude Map and distance chart for the race and one funny thing on the map was the location of
"Boulders to Shit" 12.8km from the start, LOL!! Good thing we were all okay and headed right past that area on to North Pullu, 26.1km (mile 16.2). Once we reached N. Pullu it was quite busy with other tourist and race people, I saw Samantha's 2nd team car and spoke with Nic for while as we got some tea/soup/food and Molly prepared for the next 10 miles up to the top of Khardung La, current elevation here is: 15,193ft. We all left out of N. Pullu feeling good but 5km up the road things turned a little different for Molly.

Approaching Buddha Statue/Park (30.3km/18.8miles) Molly's stomach was starting to feel uneasy and was starting to feel a little sick but was pushing on, there would be many times over the next 24 hours where stomach problems would try and take her down. Around this time Jigme and the driver had asked if they could help pace so they were out walking with Molly at different times. As we got closer to Khardung La and the road became more steep with numerous switch backs and now all dirt road I decided to jump out and start pacing as Molly was moving pretty slow and just not feeling well and with about 10km to the top she needed to get there as soon as possible. No sooner than I started pacing she had stomach issue #1 with a basic purge of all lunch consumed at N. Pullu and electrolytes. She said she felt better once her stomach was emptied but this not becomes a delicate situation as to try and find nutrition that can go back in without getting purged, calories are needed! Also Molly's hands had started swelling and we were trying to determine the electrolyte imbalance vs. H2O situation. The traffic now on the road was much greater and many diesel trucks were coming by leaving a cloudy of exhaust fumes we tried not to inhale but was mostly unavoidable, sometimes there was a convoy of trucks and you just had to stop on the side of the road and let them all pass and try not to breath, but again, you are at 16,000+ft so it's pretty hard not to. As the K-Top drew closer Molly's pace slowed with short bursts of picks up and of course there was #2 stomach purge.

At around 39km/24mile, (17,089ft) there was a road blockage as the road was being worked on from a bulldozer and had everyone waiting in both directions, Jigme was able to talk to the bulldozer driver and he allowed Molly and I to pass on foot so we didn't have a lot of down time, the Mothership came through about 20 mins later. Earlier, Bailey and I had taken some Dimox meds for the altitude as we knew we were going to be going up and over the mountain slowly, the original plan was to give Molly a camelbak about mile 23 and have her run up to K-Top then we would crew her and she would continue to run down the other side till about 16000ft, and then we would take the camelbak and she could continue with hand held bottles, but leading up from N. Pullu she was very fatigued and with the stomach issues there was no way she was going to carry a pack so we changed to plan B and as long as everyone felt okay at the elevation we would continue our standard crewing duties. Approaching the top to Khardung La was pretty difficult and although I felt good I could tell it was work and I had only been pacing for 6 miles! My goal was to get her to the top as soon as possible and once she reached the top it was very busy with tourists and traffic. Again, the top is 42km/26.2miles, 17,600ft.! We quickly got Molly some soup and Bailey was quick on the crewing duties with food and tea for both of us. I was ready to jump back in the mothership and head down as I needed a break, Molly underwent a quick medical check and all was okay, she was feeling very fatigued and her stomach was still not with the program. I traded places with Bailey and the mothership and I moved down the mountain a mile or so ahead as Bailey was now on pacing duties, they both started running at times which was good because the faster you get to lower elevations the better everything works!

Earlier in training and acclimation we had gone up to Khardung La and run down about 4 miles and this is the same section Bailey was now on so the mothership moved to the same spot and waited, about 4 miles from the K-top, approx. 49km/30mile, 16,400 ft. we waited and as I recovered feeling much better Molly and Bailey arrived, Bailey was taking a break and now Molly would be on her own for a while to get to South Pullu. Molly had stated that one of her goals was to get up and over Khardung La with the least amount of energy but as fast as possible, but with the stomach issue I knew that had robbed valuable energy which would soon show its face. On of the deceiving factors on this course, in this section, is that you can see all the switch back going up and down so at this point in the race we can South Pullu check point but its still 4 miles away on the road and as you run down you can easily look down the mountain and see it, sucks! Molly kept running and by now we are close to the 7pm check in time and she is working to get there asap. We eventually drive to S. Pullu (55km/34miles) 15,400ft. and tell everyone she is coming in just a few minutes and arrives at 6:45pm, feeling tired, fatigued and stomach STILL not wanting to cooperate! She once again eats some soup and some other little bits of food and off we leave from S. Pullu heading to the city of Leh.

It was now almost dark and we broke out all the night gear and lights and even decorated the Mothership with glow sticks. I started running with Molly again and if I remember correctly we had another stomach issue purging all the food she had taken at S. Pullu. Damn! Again, no ingested calories and stomach is just not wanting to play the game. The night drove on slowly and getting down into the town of Leh was very slow as severe fatigue from lack of nutrition, stomach purge and overall effort of climbing 17500feet has not taken its toll. Bailey and I had made a plan to switch out and I was going to go with the Mothership into Leh to refuel, get some food and come back, it was about 9pm. I left Bailey and Molly on there own and off we went to refuel.

As the driver, Jigme and myself approached the city I noticed we turned off the main road and soon stopped at what appeared to be the drivers house, he jumped out and Jigme took over driving. I asked what was going on and he said that the driver had to get some warmer clothes, food, and meds because his head was hurting from the elevation. An interesting thing about the locals for the race, they were used because of there natural ability to acclimate to the area since they lived there and wouldn't have any issues with the altitude but once we started the race I noticed that these two would walk from the car during crew stops only to figure out they were smoking. Later when we were up closer to K-top, approx. 16500feet I tested my pulse/O2 and there's and Holy Shit if mine wasn't better than both of theirs! My O2 was higher and my pulse was lower, it was crazy but just goes to show even if you live there and you Smoke, your not as good as people that don't smoke and train for altitude! After dropping off the driver we got gas and its here where I caught up with Samantha and her crew, she was feeling sick to her stomach as well and they were trying to find the rest area that was set for crews to take a break and steak out for runners. After chatting with them it was back on the road and Jigme stopped at the pharmacy to get meds for his headache too and then off to get food. I was starting to freak out a little because we were coming up close to an hour being gone and still no food. I went to Oh, La-La cafe, our favorite spot since we got to Leh and the owner was great enough to pack up some spaghetti and pesto pasta for us along with coke and sprites and we headed back to pick up the driver and get back to the girls, as it had been almost 90 mins now. During this time I was pretty stressed out and telling Jigme that we couldn't waste time driving all over and making stops and then there was some issue with the cell phone he was trying to take care of and this only stressed me out more, poor guy, as earlier while he was driving up Khardung La he wasn't used to the stick shift of the mothership and actually stalled the car 3 times in a row on a hill causing us to roll backwards and making me freak out! There were cars and trucks behind us honking and I kept yelling at him to give it gas to not stall it but he interpreted that as Yes, it has petrol, not Push the gas to prevent it from stalling. This was the first time Bailey saw me freaking out and assumed I was definitely suffering from High Altitude Sickness! HAHA!

We made it back to the girls and just in time as Molly was desperately needing to lay down and just give her body and stomach a break. We stopped on the side of the road about 70km/43miles, 13,160ft. and she went to sleep for about 30 mins. Myself and Bailey went to the back of the car sitting outside eating the pasta and recapping the last 90 minutes. After we ate Bailey and I jumped back in the car and went to nap as well, the driver grabbed his sleeping back and crazy as he is laid down in the middle of the road in front of the car about 25 yards. The road/check point at South Pullu has been closed for the night so no further vehicles are allowed past the S. Pullu but since we are lower or before Pullu, there is still a potential for vehicles and sure enough, about 10 mins into sleeping I wake up to honking and headlights and there is a truck facing us stopped because the driver is laying in the middle of the road and he didn't want to run him over. After a few more honks he wakes up and gets out of the road and lays behind the mothership near the side of the road and goes back to sleep, we laid there another 10-15 mins and then Molly woke up and said let's try a little more.

She walked at a good pace even though her stomach was really bothering her and just so upset, I was hoping we could get her into Leh and then stake out for the rooms but we only made it another mile or 2 before she said she couldn't go anymore, we were still 3km from the city of Leh and it was after 1am. We made staked out and headed for the cottage for sleep, this took about 20 mins to get there and once there Molly and Bailey hit the beds and passed out very fast! I decided to take a shower and after I cleaned up I found a blanket in the closet, laid it on the floor and went to sleep.

Sleep was only about 2 1/2 hours and the alarm went off at 4:50am. We were all up, loaded and heading back to the stake point, Molly said she was feeling much better and her stomach wasn't upset. Back at the stake point she started off walking and feeling good so she started running, the Sun was already coming up and as were on the edge of the city heading in she started running. Mothership pulled forward about a mile down the road and on this stop Molly yells out for me to pace her as she was just chased by a pack of dogs and they scared the crap out of her! I got my things ready, still trying to wake up myself and off we went as she told me the story of the dogs chasing her, quite scary! As we entered the city and heading for the Main Gate in Leh, mile marker 50, I was glad to be running in the early morning with her and chatting about the day before!

To be continued on Day 2...

In thinking back about Day 1 and what went wrong with the stomach issue was hard to pinpoint but after breaking it down I concluded with the help of the medical team that being at that elevation for extended periods and breathing the amount of Exhaust fumes Molly and the others were subjected to caused some upset. Its basically poison! and the body can only handle so much of it, once the stomach purge set it in it was a matter of damage control, Samantha and Lisa also experienced stomach issues and they were all the last 3 to get off the mountain and spent the most time here. Overall the only precaution to take is to try and limit the amount of ingested fumes and work as fast as possible to get up and off the mountain. The 2nd day brought much more running and enjoyment to Molly, as by this time many of the race crews/directors had worries that she was not going to make the overall race cutoff, but Molly is a Rocky!! so again, stay tuned for Day 2 and Day 3!


Thursday, August 18, 2011

India Recap 2... leading up to race day.

Sat. Aug 6th

4:30am came very fast and we all headed back up the steps in the dark. We went into the little temple and waited but then I head drums and we moved to the bigger temple where the action was happening. There were only about 5 people in here and they were all chanting something and as I sat and watched I decided to video this. Soon after the Superior Lama came in and lit some candles and incense and sat on a bench in the center in front of this huge Buddha. Again more chanting and after a few minutes I moved outside to watch the sun rise. It so beautiful here on the mountains, some covered in snow, and to see the sun rise and set from this place was great.

After breakfast and coffee we had a crew meeting and went over all the logistics of the race, time, places, mileage, food, and gear. Sleeping times for Bailey and me and packing for camp for two days before the race! Yes, we are leaving two days before the race starts to a base camp about 15,500ft and will be sleeping in tents and roughing it which is weird before the race but the altitude acclimation will be great!

When we were done with all that we took off to use the internet, go shopping, and eat lunch at the pizza place on the roof top. Today has been warm and actually walking around its hot!

When we got back to the hotel I did laundry, which is in a 5 gallon bucket you put soap in and hand wash and line dry. Later in the afternoon I saw Cath and she informed me she would be dropping from the race as she was not feeling good due to altitude and nutrition and didn't feel like it was a good idea to start this race the way she was feeling. I was sad to hear this bc she is a talented runner and I thought she had been doing good adjusting, had a strong hike on the day up to Stok mtn. But like anyone had experienced a couple of fatigue days and then had a hard day at Khardung La. It takes time to adjust to this altitude and listening to your body is Key! I had heard later that she said she was having had time with the conditions of the cleanliness of the city, hotel, and I guess food. I do know the carbon dioxide from the exhaust is very noticeable in the streets and on the road running down from Khardung La so that is just a little difficult to deal with, and of course the hotels and food are different simply bc its a 3rd World country and I would be interested to know from her what the key factors in her decision were and why this race wasn't for her. All I know is she made the best decision for her and her health and that's all the counts, all other 6 racers have there own reasons for being here.

On a side note about this race, its the 2nd year for La Ultra - the High and with only 3 racers last year and 1 finisher, this year 7 racers (now 6) the race itself is still learning how to handle certain logistics with the local community and government so its definitely not like US races with all the bells and whistles. This year some different things were tried and were not as productive as thought to be but that's the learning process for the race director, who, by the way is a great funny and knowledgeable guy!

This race will continue to grow and all those small things will be worked out juts like any other race but one thing for sure this race offers Destination, Adventure and will challenge all the best but it definitely brings meaning of Ultra-Running.

Later Molly, Bailey and I had dinner and discussed more logistics and then it was off to sleep for another early morning to head back up to Khardung La for a run.

Sunday Aug 7th.

I checked my pulse O2 as I woke up: O2 92%, pulse 58, awesome.

I got ready and was feeling good to head up the mountain. We left just after 6am but bc we had a smaller van taxi it took a little longer to get up there bc the roads are dirt and bumpy we just went slower. Once up there, 17560ft, we got ready and took off walking down the back side if the mtn, which will be the Up route on the race. We went down a mile and then turned around and hiked back up, this was great bc you could immediately feel the 30% lack of O2 as I walked up at 18 min pace and my heart pounding. We all did our own pace and I made it to the top and rested by the sign as we were. Going to take pictures with our Isagenix shirts. We quickly posed and had someone take some great pictures then got refueled and Molly and I started running down the road which is the actual race route.

Molly took off a little fast for me and as I tried to stay with her I could feel I was breathing too hard to I slowed up and let her go, she said she was gonna put her music on and blast it so I said go for it and off she went. I had recovered and just kept a 13-14min pace but after a mile or so from the top about 17000ft I felt just a little more O2 and picked up the pace passing Molly and continuing on down. A couple of time my pace was 11 minute miles at 16500ft and I was feeling good. The down hill is pretty easy on the quads and many many switch backs with an easy grade. The road is pretty much dirt and lots of pot holes so running on the side is the best especially if a truck and taxi approach from opposite directions you may have to take the jump down but really its not that bad. As I ran and I was slowly dropping in altitude I was feeling good just running along and realizing I was running at 17500ft in Leh, India and looking across at the mountain range covered in snow, especially, Stok Kangri mountain at 20,177ft. Simply beautiful and I just enjoyed my run. Bailey had drove down with the taxi and met us about 4 miles down from the top, as I pulled up to the taxi I was feeling good and happy to be back at the car, Molly was shortly behind me and after all settled we drove back down to the hotel for breakfast.

By the time we ate it was about 12pm and we decided to take a nap till 2:30pm and then meet back up for race shopping, camping stove, and internet use. One thing here in Leh is the power is usually out between 1-4 pm, so when I woke up the power was off but I was able to gab a luke warm shower. It was also thundering and raining around the area so we waited a few more minutes for it pass and then headed out.

Shopping for things and time goes farley quickly since I've been here and today was no exception. By the time we were done it was dinner at our favorite spot and then the rain really started and made the walk back to the hotel wet but once back I've been relaxing by catching up on the blogs. It’s colder now at this time than earlier in the week and the presences of storm clouds are still hanging around. As the evening rolled in Ray Sanchez wanted a stretch session so I situated my table and introduced him Fascial stretching! Thanks Ray!

Until tomorrow!

Monday Aug 8th.

What a chilly night it was and I was struggling not only with the bed but staying warm. I had taken the two bed mattresses and bed coverings, basically a huge heavy yak blanket, and used them as cushions for the bed then covered them with my sheet set I brought so I was basically laying on all the warm stuff. I eventually got up and put on sweat pants and my pull over jacket and went back to sleep. When I finally got up at 6am I did a load wash as it will take all day to dry esp. Since its cooler outside.

Breakfast at the hotel and chatting with Lisa Tamati about race logistics. She had stated that she was not interested in spending 2 days in camp, as last year it was one, I agree but all in all, we all went with the plan. After another meeting on emergency aid, general Q&A, and Half/Full marathon meetings it was time for lunch, shopping, and a watermelon hunt! I finally found one and all was good.

When I got back to the hotel I packed for the camp/race then stretched Molly, Bailey and worked on Jason’s upper body afterwards my low back was achy due to the table being so low but hey, its India and you make it work.

Once again there was an individual team meeting with the RD and introducing, Percy, who is a great mountaineer and showed us these 2 way radios we would have for emergency/communication use. It was a quick meeting and off we went for dinner and to use the internet, the last time for the rest of the week.


Tuesday Aug. 9th.

Ray, and Isagenix Dream Team were up early for breakfast at our favorite spot and before we left for camp at Khardung Village, which is 2 days at 13000ft. We returned back to the hotel on time, 8am, to find out the transportation/taxi/bus were gonna be about hour - hour half late, no surprise being as nothing has been on time since we got here.

We relaxed in my room for a while then a couple of taxi's showed up so we quickly jumped in one bc the driver was the same guy we had on a Khardung La trip and was super nice and good people. Others were getting in a bigger van and also the luggage was being stacked on the van. Then once that was full a huge older bus that pumped out more diesel exhaust than any ocean cargo carrier arrived and more luggage and people piled in.

We were all finally ready another hour later and left the hotel but didn't get very far after passing the diesel bomb bus bc they got detained at a smaller check point due to permitting issues. We were at 13500ft and pulled over for an hour waiting on them.

This was actually a fun time, as we played music, Ray ran up and down the road several times, and the we all Planked on a couple of huge rocks and great backgrounds of the Himalayans!

Once back on the road and over Khardung La heading down the road was pretty bad and washed out in a couple of areas and we had to wait for the bulldozers to clear the path.

The ride took a lot longer than expected and while riding in our SUV I couldn't imagine the Diesel Bomb bus ride and the bouncing that thing was under let alone how much slower it was.

When we finally arrived at Khardung Village we had to wait about 30 mins for the others to arrive and when they did it was utterly chaos. First of all, the original camp site where everything was supposed to set up was flooded! 2nd there was nothing set up bc the workers had no idea where to place anything and so were waiting on the RD and Coordinator to arrive. When the did they had to scramble around the small village and find a new camp site, this took about 90 mins and in the mean time Ray had walked around and found one guest house with a room that sleeps 4. He quickly reserved it not waiting on anything from the camp site. Molly was waiting to see what the out come of the camp site was but soon decided to just take the room and not camp. I was glad she did bc I was not too big on camping first of all let alone for two days. Soon after Lisa's team took the other room next to us which the owner didn't want to rent out at first but then changed her mind. Also Ray’s team negotiated a price to camp in her back yard instead of the camp site.

It was a weird feeling ditching the camp site with others but with so many changes at the last minute each person has to take care of them selves when it comes down to a run like this in a 3rd World location, less than 50 miles from the Pakistan border!

Once we all got situation it was quick to sleep and luckily no one snored in the room, although, Ray, did get stuck in his sleeping bag at one time and was wrestling with it like he was in an UFC Octagon cage fight! Haha.

The Guest House: owned by a local family that have lived in this area all there lives, the own this house and another which they travel back and forth between the Summer and Winter. This house is about 10 years old made with mud bricks, like Adobes. The quest rooms are on the top of the main house, each room is just one big room that sleeps 4-6 people, we actually got the bigger room. The roof is dirt and edge line with some wood/straw and on the far end there is a stack of wood for burning along with dried cow patties! Yes, they use these for fuel and the dry on all the roof tops. These is no running water in the house. No TV, internet and the satellite phone only works for 3-4 hrs in the morning. The house sits about 20 ft. Off the road with a small fence in-between. Our second floor room has a windows facing the road which provide a great view of the mountain but also invite tons of dust and exhaust from all the traffic and big cargo trucks from China at night, remember this road is only open 2.5 months out of the year and commerce is brought over from China.

The bathroom/washroom:

Is another mud brick little building divided in two; the left side is the was room with a nice paved concrete floor and a drain that drains to the outside in a ditch with a PVC pipe for bathing. There is bucket in there that water is placed and that's how you shower/bath.

The right side is the bathroom and it’s a square hole about 14"x8" and that's where you go! It’s a squatter hole and in the room is also saw dust mixed with something and a shovel that you throw into the hole once you finish your business. There is a toilet paper holder on a nail and what we figured to be a balancing stick. There is a sky light as well in the roof, basically the roof has a hole in it to allow for light and some ventilation. It the type of place a little kid could be scared of and Bailey and I were no different, as we soon knew a monster lived there but this was no ordinary monster, it was The Poop Monster! Haha.

Weds. Aug 10th

We were awake early and I decided I would walk over to camp across the field, about 1/2 mile away, maybe less. The breakfast was good with scrambled eggs, toast, coffee, milk, cereal, pourage, and tea, similar to what was served at the hotel. I chatted with everyone and then decided to head back to our room. Bc we were all up so early a morning nap was in effect and I woke up just before lunch and went with Lisa Tamoti's team to go eat but this time we had a car take us.

Lunch was yet again pretty damn good! Rice, Pasta's, veggies and some chocolate cake for desert. I talked with Lisa mostly and we exchanged our life running stories and life. Its great talking and learning, making friends with runners at events like these, I have made a few friends in Triathlons but not like you do in these Ultras!

After lunch it was time to organize things for the race and condense our inside the car clothes as the rest would go on top in the roof rack. Then I read some of Running on Empty and relaxed.

Dinner that night was back at the camp and this time Molly and Bailey joined in. They had been very careful in selecting there food and mostly eating what they brought. After dinner we were waiting on the crew cars to show up but they said it would be later and so we talked with Jigmay, our local Ladakh person assigned to us for the race. We meet him 2 two days ago briefly, he's 22 and owns his own travel agency here in Leh. We asked him to pick us a great crew car and bring it to us as soon as he got it!

Then we were getting ready to head back taking the car and as we were waiting for Molly to do some film stuff with Barry a huge storm rolled in! The wind started to pick up and as were sitting in the car watching the wind suddenly raged! And tents started flying so we all jumped out of the car and ran back to help hold the tents down as the dinning tent and 2 others had already been flipped over! It was pure craziness and Lisa's camera man, Luke, and Barry were filming the whole process. As I ran from tent stepping on the spike about to be pulled from the ground and holding things down so others could grab rocks/baby boulders and secure the ground pin, I finally had to grab several myself as everyone was trying to save there tents. The wind and dust was blowing like crazy and some spots of rain and as everyone had everything secure we headed back to the car and by this time the wind was mostly gone, weird! But hey Molly’s never been to a race where some act of Mother Nature takes effect, haha.

Later Jigmay did a great job in picking us a great SUV with everything working. We packed some things in it and the rest would be in the morning, it was now time for early sleep as tomorrow its Race Day!!!


India Recap!

I am official back from India and I have blogged the days as I was there so here are the first few days to get you going on the story and trip leading up to race day. First of all it was an AMAZING TIME!! The race was super amazing and Molly finished in 58 hours 56 mins. A come from behind story where she was really struggling and most didn't think she would make it, a Rocky Story for Sure! but more on that later.

The culture and change of pace from the US life was very eye opening and I really appreciate everything I have or don't have here in the US because it's so much more than most have there, anyway.. read along.

The Plane Ride and Delhi, India (Friday July 29/30th)

After getting packed on Weds before leaving on Fri I would be taking two full 50lbs bags, clothes, protein shakes, bars, beef jerky, and peanut butter seemed to be the main stay of food items as well as Isagenix products.

Friday morning came fast and once checked in with some minor adjustments to my slightly over weight bags to avoid further charges I was set to go. The flight to Newark was uneventful other than the fact that the dad/owner of Pawn Stars was on the flight and dressed exactly the way they show him on the start of the show, old school style but sharp.

My bags were checked all the way to New Delhi so once in Jersey I got some food and looked for "The Situation" or Snookie but no luck. After a 4 hour lay over I was boarding the plane. Once on the plane there were 3 of us in the row, with me at the window, but luckily once all peeps were on board the middle guy moved to the last row, this turned out to be really nice and just over all more room! Don't get me wrong, this Continental 777 is HUGE and I was surely impressed. It was nice to have a wide variety of movies for free where ass the flight to Jersey they cost $8 but there was nothing I really wanted to watch.

Before we started to take off I had already loaded up The Lincoln Lawyer and being as it takes a long time to fully load a 777 I was easily 30 mins into it when we rolled away from the gate. As we were taxiing down the run way suddenly there was a light flicker in the cabin and a sudden loss of power and a sound of engines shutting down. We soon stopped and the Captain announced the 777 had lost power to a generator and we could not fly until maintenance came out to our location and fixed it, no estimated time of this. I was a little bummed because they had just said that we were early leaving and it would be 13 hour flight but now who knows. After about 20 mins the Captain states they've fixed it and in about 10-15 mins we would be on our way and we were only to be #18 in the take off line! So another 30 mins later, almost 1hr 15 mins later we are in the air and guess what? Lincoln Lawyer movie is done! 1 down. Next up The Adjustment Bureau, then Quantum Solace, Jonah Hex and then I tired so I took a little snooze.

I woke up after about an hour and started watching Music and Lyrics with Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore and noticed that we were flying near Iceland. It was pretty cool following the flight path on the map and see we were flying straight over the top of the world to the other side. After Iceland it was north of London, Berlin and into Russia! As you can see I was super excited to fly next to Moscow and then through some of the other northern countries taking careful note not to fly into Afghanistan and Pakistan.

A huge down side to flying at night was the fact since we were crossing the time zones so fast we fly through day time but because it was our USA night time the plane had told everyone to close the blinds so people sleep, well.. Okay for a while I was cool with it but we fly through a whole day in the dark plane and didn't see shit! I would crack my shade but the sun was so bright in the dark cabin I didn't want to be the assface that woke everyone up! But also we would be landing at 9pm and so I didn't want to sleep that much bc I know everyone else was gonna be screwed when they got to there hotels/homes.

After a while a few others cracked there shades and I joined in. My brain was happy to see day light as well as my Arcadian rythem cycle.

The plane ride finished out okay and once landing in Delhi the first thing I noticed was the blast of humidity that slapped me in the face, 90%+, ughh. As I made my way through customs and on to baggage claim I saw a couple of other people who looked like they could be associated with the race and besides when a guy is wearing a Death Race coolmax hat you know he's involved. After quick introductions he was one of the runners and part of the medical team. They were staying at a different hotel so plans of hopping in with them were spoiled. I looked around for any signs of scheduled pick up and was hoping to see someone with a Dr. John sign as I was wanted to have someone like that waiting for me but no such luck and a gut feeling told me I was pretty much on my own. I headed outside to the taxis and pre-paid for the service and was loaded in a car but the driver didn't really know where it was so asked me in his really thick India accent if I could get the phone number. Well I didn't really want to find it be it would cost me $2.29/min plus data fees to Google it but I had no choice and as I searched for it the realization that I had entered the India New Delhi 500 but drove in both directions!! Omg it was the craziest thing I've ever experienced or seen.

All taxis and vehicles honk! No matter what. There is no stay in your lane and signal or Yield the right of way. Its beep beep, move over, first come first serve to the road space and forget about a double yellow line to divide the oncoming traffic, if there passing oncoming its a game of Chicken! No joke! After finding the phone # the driver called and got directions and I finally made it safe but barely after our almost lose game of chicken at 50km, 2 right hand turns from a left lane cutting in front of traffic, 2 ran red lights and passing my hotel by half a block on an one way street and just backing up on the side! WTF!!

My visual perception of the country so far at night was very populated, over crowded, and poor. There was many people just hanging on the sides of the road or in the middle of the divided highways talking and being with friends, like its there Saturday night thing to do. Lots of construction was being worked on with night lights and I quickly noticed that there were very few women present or visible on the streets and zero driving.

Arriving at Hotel Beyond is an interesting look bc right at the front door is a medal debtor that you and your bags pass through. The security is quick to help with my bags and up we go in this elevator that is literally 4x5. How I know because I reached my arms out both directions and I could touch both sides. As the doors opened I'm in the lobby of a nicely decorated place and I quickly ran into molly. As there checking for my room, the say I do not have a room and will have to call the RD that scheduled the accommodations. I retreat up to Molly’s room while we wait to find out what's happening and about 10 mins later I'm told I will be sharing a room with Ryan from NYC that is crewing for Samantha Gash. It’s all good and off I go to settle in and shower up. After a little talking, meeting Samantha, Ryan and I are lights out.

Its now Sunday morning and we have a schedule group run with the locals at some park and are up at 4:30am to leave by 5am. The sleep was short but it's exciting to be going on a run and meeting the other runners. An Australian but living in Dubai. It’s super humid again and only feels a slight bit cooler when we arrive at the park. Normally there is a 5-10 person meet up but today there is 100+! Lots of introductions and we are finally briefed on the run. It will be a variety of 4 distances 4k, 8k, 15k. I really wasn't prepared to run 15k with the type of humidity and water I would need so Bailey and decided we would run 8k. As the run started it was a fun group that quickly strung out along the morning roads of Delhi, soon we were running down Embassy row which was cool because all the Embassy’s were here, the landscaping was really nice but the humidity was quickly sucking the fun out of it. Bailey and I made the turn around and headed back walking more now than the out. As we walked we say the US Embassy on the opposite side of the road and although I wanted a picture I didn't want to play frogger crossing the road so I took a picture with my born country of Germany Embassy sign.

Finally we made it back to the park and just waited for the 15kers to return and drank Gluterade, a similar product of Gatorade with added Glutamine. I thought it was good and since it was so humid my body took to it quickly but Baileys quickly rejected it and ended up in the bushes puking.

After the puking incident we went to a breakfast at another hotel and this place had armed security at the gate with barricades and then another metal detector with an x-ray scanning machine just like the airports! These precautions are because lots of diplomats stay at theses hotels and then want top security.

After breakfast it was back to our hotel, shower and nap time because at 3pm we had an afternoon early dinner with the whole race team. Great food was severed in courses and even Budweiser was poured!

After dinner a quick packing session, but I had not really unpacked much and off to early bed and up at 3am for taxi ride to airport to fly to Leh.

Monday, Aug 1st.

After riding our chartered bus to the airport we were passport and grouped checked at the door just to get into the airport, then once in line it was a group check in weighing all the bags as a whole and finding out our little group was over the weight by 38kg, which meant pay 3800Rupies($96US) or 4000R($101) for two people to upgrade to Priority class and receive a higher allowance for weight for the group. Molly stepped up and paid the hundred bucks and got us all on board and she and Bailey enjoyed some perks.

We took off at 5:30am and flying to Leh was about 1 hour and the view is amazing of the snow covered mountain tops and approaching the city of Leh is very ahh struck. You can see the entire little city and patches of green and desert surround the area as well as a strong presence of military personnel. Arriving at 11450ft several of the racers and personal could immediate feel the altitude, I was feeling nothing and didn't realize we were at that elevation.

Waiting for our luggage was interesting and congested with only 2 luggage belts and about 200 people waiting with luggage carts. After our luggage arrived we all had to wait as there was a ceremonial celebration for the race arrival so I broke out my pulse/O2 monitor and it read 90%O2, pulse 77, with normal being 98%, 64. Although I could not feel the difference in altitude the numbers showed there had been a significant change. As we walked out of the airport it was simply amazing, there was monks praying and some people playing music with women holding flowers on the opposite side and the smell of burning incents. As we walked through to all our taxis it was definitely a realization that we were in Leh.

The drive to the hotel was pretty cool but mostly because I am seeing new things and a country side, the drivers here are a distant cuzions to the drivers in Delhi and its a little more laid back but still lots of horn honking. Arriving at Hotel Ri-Rab we unloaded our luggage only to find the whole welcoming crew from the airport here playing music and waiting for us. We all were greeted with an official Leh culture white scarf as we walked in and escorted to the back patio of the hotel for early coffee and tea, its

7:30am and I have suddenly forgotten its Monday morning.

After coffee it was organize the rooms for crews and runners. The race director had wanted to cater to the runners this year so they reserved rooms at a hotel next door to Ri-Rab and once Molly found her room, two single beds, so Bailey roomed with her. I settled in a few doors down taking a room for medial personal because they all had decided to stay in Ri-Rab together. After a long story about all theses rooms there was a meeting called to state that Only Runners could be in the other hotel and all Crew had to be in Ri-Rab and this was due to the negotiated costs the RD had with the hotels. We were all a little bummed bc as all runners want to stay with or next to there crews. So I had to move to Ri-Rab and Molly paid extra for Bailey to stay in her room. Mine turned out okay as I got a whole room to myself and once unpacked it was home for the next 16 days!

Now that all the hotel confusion/drama was over we went off to walk around the town and do some window shopping. We went to this Temple where Molly knows a Monk from last year and there was some sort of spiritual celebration occurring and many people sitting around outside the Temple praying and inside it was completely packed. We tried to get inside but it was just too crowed so after a few minutes we left and went to lunch.

After lunch it was nap time and then a Team medical meeting, followed my dinner and sleep in a bed harder than the ground!

Tuesday Aug 2nd

Ray had found a river rafting tour and since I've always wanted to do this might as well do it in the Himalayan Mountains! He and his gf, Gloria, myself and Catherine, aka, Cath, all went. The ride took about 45 mins and it was great seeing the other side of the Leh and outside, although I was sitting in the far back of the SUV vehicle it was difficult to see out or take picture. There was 8 of us in the raft with 2 guides and after a few stoke and paddle instructions we were off and rafting, hitting the first rapid and water coming in all over the boat and soaking everyone! At about 58* it was awesome! After a few more rapids and looking at the river/mountain side we were in a calm part of the river and one of the guides jumped in! Followed by another tourist. Then Ray got all excited and said "if I jump in your next!" And knowing me I was in, so I said You first! Splash Ray was in! Then I jumped in and feeling water splashed on you at 58* is much different than a full body dunk and I was quickly reminded of water temperatures at IMCd'A and Rage! Brrr! Back in the boat the other guide broke out the dry bag and took pictures for everyone but I had not brought mine so I will have to grab copies from Ray or Cath. Then Ray asked if I wanted to jump in again for the camera so over I went!! Anything for the camera! Haha. (river name)

We finally finished out the trip and then was drove to have lunch and then back to the city.

The day had been mostly overcast and cooler than the day before with a little more wind so it was pretty nice.

At 4pm we had a race meeting to go over the next 12 days of acclimation and events leading up to race day. This is also where we found out that all runners/crew will be leaving hotel 2 days before start of the race to go camp at 15500 ft. And we needed to bring all our race/crew gear that we could need! Let alone be sleeping in tents and yoga mats in low-mid 20's temps! Exciting but not really esp. before the race!

Molly is a little off the schedule they have planned this year because she is repeating her acclimation period from last year so after speaking with the RD he was okay with it because the Race officials have been very adamant about mandatory events. After the meeting it was dinner and bed time.

I took my other single bed in the room and put it on my bed and it was much better than a hard floor and I actually slept 7 straight hours.

Weds. Aug 3rd.

Let me explain about some of the accommodations. The Ri-Rab hotel reminds me of a hostel but each room has a bathroom. Basic two single beds in all rooms, even in the other hotel. There is a satellite TV, a small dresser and a built in book shelf. The bathroom is one room all tile with sink, toilet and shower, no separation of curtain or divider. Luckily, I have an actual over head shower head but the runner’s hotel has a hand held sprayer to use for the shower. Also we have a standard toilet with toilet paper, although I did buy my own in town for $1.25US and its not Charmin but its not bad either. Other place in town have simple a squatting hole and a wash pitcher to clean. In Delhi out hotel had a sprayer at the toilet and paper with a small 3" step dividing the shower stall.

All water must be bottled water and things like coffee or teas are all filter. No using tap water to brush your teeth.

Washing clothes which I have done already as to not accumulate stinky stuff is done in a bucket provided in your room and air dried. I brought a Wal-Mart camping clothes line and pins so I strung it up in the bathroom.

The hotel has a smell of older mustiness to it and no pictures in any rooms only the hall ways.

Food has been much better than I expected: coffee, tea, milk, corn flakes, granola, eggs, and all fresh vegetables. The curry used can be spicy so you just have to taste test before you eat it or don't order it. There's Italian places and Chinese as well and lots of vegetarian dishes that so far have been really good.

Pulse O2 this am is 92% and 58. Much improved over the last 2 days.

I was scheduled to participate in a Lactate threshold test but the medical team didn't have enough testing strips for the study and being as they determined that based on my triathlon and running experience I was basically conditioned as one of the runners here at La Ultra so I was excluded. The study is to determine if a trained athlete acclimates better than a non or lesser athlete based on lactate thresholds and hemoglobin counts, now I still will be able to have my blood hemoglobin count measured.

After Molly and Bailey did there tests we went up Khardung La which is the highest motor road in the World at 17529 feet! (Although its some how measured at 18,380ft but not according to GPS.) The drive up was amazing and scary at the same time as the road is narrow and barley wide enough for one vehicle let alone a huge truck similar to a 24' Uhaul but raised up about another 2' off the ground. These trucks are transport vehicles carrying commerce over from China and visa versa as this road is only open 2 1/2 months out of the year and snowed in the rest of the year. So the traffic is high and when meeting these trucks oncoming its a matter of finding Literally every inch of the road to squeeze by let alone deal with the exhaust fumes that don't dissipate very quickly bc of the lack of O2 in the air at this altitude.

Once we got to the top you could immediately feel the difference in lack of Oxygen and your Heart pounding in your chest! Just walking around I was thinking, HFS, and the runners have to run/walk up and over this pass (the road up to Khardung La is actually the down run of the course as the runners will start on the other side approximately 42km from the peak of Khardung La)

We stayed up at the top for about an hour and pulse Ox measured 71-73% O2 and 96-101 pulse Standing Around!!

I walked up to a little temple about 50 meters from the road and had to stop and rest on the stairs as my heart rate was really beating hard. After taking some pictures and buying a mug from the Highest Gift Shop in the World we headed back down to Leh and passed Sharon (Australia) runner who was running down from the top and doing very well.

Once back in town we had dinner and it was pretty much bed time as tomorrow the group would be going on a hike to Stok Kangi mountain.

Thursday Aug 4.

Up early for breakfast and preparing for the day which would turn out way unprepared due to lack of communication from the organizers of the day.

The group was heading for Stok Kangri mountain which we would hike up to a couple of the camps. Overall the summit of Stok Kangri is 20,177ft and covered in snow, so it for serious mountaineers and its said that at the summit on a clear day K2 can be seen!

Our group was only going up to 14,271ft and would take about 4-5 hours, of which I found this out when we got to the start of the hike at Stok Village, 12139ft. We were supplied a box lunch which included a veggie sandwich, 1 hard boiled egg, Tropicana OJ box, cookie and Nestle Crunch bar, but each of us had to carry our own as well as any water. (I didn't think to bring a camelback as I didn't see a need for it but damn I which I had it now as I carried all my stuff in a triathlon draw string bag) I grabbed 3 - 33oz waters and we all headed off.

There is a river here that is flowing very strongly and lots of little break away streams running all over. We had to cross several of these on the way up and it was rock hopping time. Quickly I realized I should have wore my trail shoes but yet again it was said that this was "an easy trek, on easy trails, Shoes-anything is good" but I guess in the printed material I should have 2nd guessed the any shoes is good statement. It was totally not meant for road shoes and every minute I was wishing I had my trail shoes. As the trail got away from some of the stream crossings but still near the river there were a few serious climbs that were short and steep in grade that really sucked the O2 out of me and then there was many many stretches of nothing but big rivers rocks about 6-12" or giant river rocks that we were walking on, basically in the dry part of the river bed.

After reaching out first mini-camp at mile 3.3 and 13,191ft I was definitely feeling the lack of air while hiking and I had to slow down. After resting at this mini-camp with a few of the front hikers we all left to the next camp and immediately we were in a switch back climb that was pretty freaking steep, reminded me of Caballo climb steepness at Jemez50k. I got dropped and took my time getting to the at 13,550 in less than 1mile! After the climb up we had some gradual downhill and I was able to run a little, the first since we started and caught back up to two of the others. Then it was back in the river bed for the rest of the hike to 2nd mini-camp of 5.5miles and 14,100 and this is where we had lunch and stayed about an hour, it took me 2hrs 50mins to here. I was a little concerned bc it was hot and I only had 1 bottle of water left and I know going down would be faster but again it was hot. When the organizer got here he said the last base camp we would hike to is 30 mins more and asked who wanted to go, I did, but knowing I only had 1 bottle of water and 30mins and back to where I'm at now plus 90mins down meant 2 hours and that didn't sound like a smart thing to do for me, plus I was starting to feel a little bit of tingling in my heels and I knew that was from altitude so I said I was heading back (later I found out the next camp was only 10 mins away and there was a huge camp with all supplies! I was pissed that the organizers didn't state or clarify that as I would have gone and been okay, despite the tingling)

I headed down with 3 of the others but I started going fast and I was quickly alone as I attacked the runable parts. I got back to the 1st mini-camp and most of the others were here as they chose not to go farther. I said hello and informed them who was behind me and took off down the trail. Again it was hot now so I was drinking a little more than I wanted but I knew I was on rations and I hate feeling that way but still 3 miles out I had to conserve. The run back was actually quite nice and I enjoyed my solitude in the mountains, it was the first time I've ran since we got here and I was feeling good, even my hamstring issue was feeling good.

As I made it back to start in 1hr 15mins I was happy to get water as I drank down 33oz quickly and sipped on another one waiting for the others. Finally almost 90 mins later they showed up and off we went back to the hotel.

That night was dinner with Ray, Gloria and Ray’s crew as well as Cath and then back for bed. I was feeling pretty tired so I was glad the day was over.

Friday Aug. 5th.

I woke up early being as I had slept about 9 hours and as I laid in bed and moved around I was feeling fatigued and sleepy, I immediately knew I was not recovered from the Stok hike/run yesterday and being as Molly and Bailey were heading up to Khardung La (17500ft), as well as others runners/crews, I elected not to go and stay at the hotel and rest all day. This was a pretty easy decision to make because of the fatigue and tiredness I felt I knew my body was not recovered and I had no business being up at 17500ft!

As we were all waiting around for the taxis to take them up the mountain, Samantha Gash asked if I could stretch her while we were waiting, Samantha is a very accomplished young runner who became the first Female to conquer all 4 Desert Crossings (Chile, Sahara, Gobi, and Antarctica, yes, its considered a desert). As explained Fascial stretch therapy more in-depth and working on her hips she immediately experienced an adhesion release in the joint capsule and it was super exciting for me as the doctor as I have not felt or heard one as strong as hers! After working through all the left side I had her walk around as she could immediately feel the difference so I enhanced the stretch session with some lower leg calf stretching and now she was really happy and sad! Happy that her left side felt so good and sad bc it was time for her to go and the right side would have to wait till this afternoon!

So they went on ahead without me and had a great time walking up the back side of the race route and taking pictures, no worries though bc I went back to bed and slept another 2.5 hours, almost till Noon! I woke up feeling only a little fatigued but the tiredness or sleepiness I was feeling earlier in the AM was gone. I spent the rest of the day hanging around the hotel and garden area with some of the other crew members from Samantha Gash's team, showing them the TRX and just talking. It was really nice to just lounge around and I knew my body needed the rest/down time.

Later in the afternoon, Jason, another runner was dealing with some low back pain and so I used one of the local benches and hooked up my FST straps and put Jason through a lower body Fascial stretch therapy session! I had to make some serious adjustments bc the table was so low and I had Barry Walton, who is here filming a documentary on the race and is the maker/filmier/producer of "Profiling HURT", a great video which I purchased last year before my failed attempt and only 27 miles at HURT100. Barry was filming the entire stretch session asking a few questions here and there and getting me to explain what I was doing. It was a great segment and later I will have a copy of it!!

A while later Samantha returned from her training day at Khardung La and I finished stretching her and she was feeling great.

Earlier we had decided to walk up to a pace called Shanti Stupa, its where a temple is built high on a mountain (557 steps from the road) and there is a Shrine that the call a Stupa. When the Stupa is constructed a list of prayers are enclosed and offered to Buddha the Gods.

This Stupa is huge and many thousands of prayers are enclosed.

Last year when Molly was here she met the Superior Lama that built this place (he is really high ranking and close to the Dalai Lama) and as he was speaking to the crowd he borrowed a guitar and started to place music but stopped quickly bc the guitar was out of tune so he quickly grabbed his guitar and place French Classical music for them, well this year when Molly saw him again she talked to him and he remembered her. We took pictures with him and chatted briefly as he asked where we were from, Las Vegas! And he said he wished to come view the Beatles Cirque d'Sol show! How awesome is that!! We watched the sun set and took pictures around the Stupa and then went back down to the temple to find (him) again and ask for a blessing.

As we were sitting in the temple he came in and sat, which is in the corner in this little bench box type sitting area for him. Molly moved over and asked him if he could give us a blessing for being safe during the week and during the race. He sat there a few seconds thinking and then said he didn't understand asking for a blessing because we are already blessed; we are blessed by the Stars, Moon, Sun, Air, Water etc.. And we are blessed because we are here in Leh, safe. Wow! Some easy wisdom there. Then he proceeded to tell us that Life is 50% Choice and 50% Destiny and it is the Destiny that most humans have trouble accepting.

The story continued as he looked at me and spoke about Karma, that if you have had your wallet and credit cards stolen (I have, some broke into my car a few years ago and stole only that!) Then in a past life you stole something from some else! Holy crap, heavy stuff. After just a couple of other things he stands up and says follow me, so we all stand up and he walks behind this curtain with a door and Molly goes in, Bailey and I stand outside the door not knowing and he says Please all come in.

We walked into this little room and he shut the door behind me and locked it and asked us to sit down on some carpet/small bench but basically on the floor. I was still a little unaware of what he was going to do and I as looked around the room I realized this was his private chambers, with a day bed, table, radio w/cd player, pictures of the Dalai Lama, and other personal belongings.

Then as he walked to the corner of the room he picked up a guitar and went to the sit down as he started tuning the guitar. OMG he was going to give is a private playing!!! After a few tune ups on the guitar he looked at us and said Spanish Classical music this time.

I would have NEVER thought or has it happened that music has brought to tears to my eyes but as he started playing the sound was so BEAUTIFUL I was completely filled with happiness and peace with the joy of tears in my eyes! I just listed and still couldn't believe that I was hearing this but the sound was so magical that it let me feel deep within for myself and Dez and nothing else really mattered. The song lasted longer than I expected and when he finished it he began a 2nd song which also beautiful and a little more up tempo. I guess he looked at all of us in a mystical trance and figured he better snap us out of it. The song was shorter and I vaguely remember it but the sound of the first one I can still hear when I close my eyes! He finished and we applauded and he thanked us and as we stood up to walk out we were all really happy and just a little beside ourselves trying to process what just happened! That was our blessing and other than finishing the race that 10 minutes was worth every minute I spent to get here. (It would have been a great thing to have video of or pictures but it just wasn't right and I actually didn't even think about it at the time bc it was so special)

We all walked out and back down the 557 steps pausing to talk about our feelings and experience, it was truly amazing. We had dinner back at the hotel which was not that great and decided that really none of the dinners had been good there. I liked breakfast bc they have cereals, toast, coffee and sometimes omelets or scrambled eggs, almost like continental breakfast.

After dinner was sleep time as we had decided to go back up to the Stupa at 5am to see the chant and music they play and watch the sun rise.