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Namche to Deboche
by Denis Oakley in

Today I considered to be a recovery day. I'd felt a bit tired after yesterdays efforts and one of the girls, a ski mountaineering endurance champion, had told me of the risks of muscle damange and the difficulty of muscle repair at this altitude. So I decided from the start to take it easy and sit at the back.
As a consequence the walk to Phungi Tenga, which had taken just over an hour to run yesterday, took almost 3 hours. It should have been a bit more but I sped up on the down hill approaching the bridge.
Today I wore some knee supports to portect my knees as yesterday at the end of the last downhill they were starting to ache a little bit. I need them in good shape for the marathon; and I need them to be in good shape post marathon. There is a lot of down hill - almost 3000m that is measurable (excluding the usual ups and downs) and that will put a lot of strain on my knees over the day.
After lunch we went up a 600m ascent which was long and not to bad because I was in recovery mode. Heart rate was very low and Pereceived Effort was a 1 or 2. A stroll in the park. Almost. The only problem was my tummy.
I've been having tummy issues for a few days now and there has been a slow decline. Now my stomach feels very bubbly and I'm experiencing mild cramps. I've spoken to the Doctor and he says he'll put me on antibiotics tomorrow if it doesn't improve. That will be a bummer as I'll have to stop drinking beer. (that said 1/2 a 330ml can has a noticeable efffect now!)
All in all a pretty easy day.
I covered the last part of the course yesterday. Today we covered one of the big downhills Tangbche to Phunki Tenga. It will be a descent of 600m to the river. The first 200m of descent should be fast with a long constant gradient dirt path. The problem here is going to be keeping heartrate down and not going faster than I can sustain. The second 400m is a series of switchbacks or Zigzags.
These are stepped in places and look to be a bit of a pain. Hard on the knees and concentration if still potentially fast depending how I am feeling at that point. However there are lots of semi vertical shortcuts which offer the opportunity to speed the descent considerably. A little bit harder in effort they will save quite a lot of time and also save quite a lot in concentration and effort - assuming I am going at a reasonable speed. If I don't have a good energy reserve it will be better to stick to the path and grid it out.
Another potential difficulty arose today. This is the amount of very fine dust in the arid air. Supposedly this is the course of a large number of chaest ailments and is why a lot of the sherpa wear face masks. As I speak I am wearing one over my nose and mouth in the tent in an attempt to keep the fine particles from my lungs.
So far the cough effect that it has cause seems to be equivalent to smoking about 20 a day. Not nice and something that I must keep under control. One of the less obvious issues here - apart from the altitude is chest health. Our lungs are working hard with the thin air. As that air is also cold that causes lots of other problems - heat transfer and oxygen transfer efficiency. Add lots of fine dust which clogs the lungs and irritates them - like asbestosis. On race day this is something that can be born as the effect will be teporary and short lasting. Up to race day I need to be careful and need to ensure that they are healthy.
Not a lot else to add really other than that now we are almost at the treeline it is significantly colder and lots of other issues are bound to arise soon. 


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