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!!!


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great recap...hurry with the rest. I need to know how the race went for Molly!!