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Namche to Khumjung and Back
by Denis Oakley in

Namche Bazaar is at 3440m which means that there is only 64% of the oxygen that there normally is at sea level. At this level most people start suffering from a shortness of breath and I am no exception. The air is also dry and as there is little moisture the ground is very dusty. Lots of interesting medical problems - serious and irritating can arise. So far I have been lucky. I have had mild stomach upsets but these have been more irritating than debilitating (and thank you to Shen for suggesting I take baby wipes - a godsend when you can't wash everyday). My liops are dry quite often and I have a light cough from the dryness of the air. My eyes are also somewhat dry and irritated. Partly due to the lack of moisture but also due to the dust.

Today I slept for longer - but got up in the middle of the night to pee ( a consequence of the diamox I am taking to help with the altitude and slo with the large quantities of liquid I am drinking to stay hydrated. In the morning though I felt quite lazy and stayed in bed until 0630 when tea was brough round to the tents. No morning run today.

I'm trying to experiment with my clothing and kit to find the best gear to wear. So far it has been try shorts with trousers on top. Today I went for my compression leggings and those finger socks. I'm not sure that I noticed much difference - save only that in the sun I started to get quite hot wearing all black.
After breakfast we climbed 400m straight up to the Everest View Hotel. Right at the beggining I decided to have an easy day and played tail end charlie encouraging the slower members of the group. The day before I'd blized the long climb and it seemed sensible to take things easy. It was just as well that I did as my tummy started making funny noises and soon enough I was afraid to fart. Hmmm. Because the climg was so slow (sorry Kay) I put very little stress on my systems which is what I wanted - and the climb upwards was slow but enjoyable. Nattering all the way and continually spotting wonderful little alpine flowers. all brightly coloured and with amazing delicacy in their petals and leaves.

At the Everest View Hotel (built by the Japanese but abandoned when they discovered that the tourists they flew in started getting horrible altitude sickness) we had some lemon tea before traverising through some beautiful rhododendron woods to Khumjung and then followed part of the race course through the village.
It was good to come here as it made me realise quite how unrelenting the course is going to be right until the very end.  I don't think that there are going to be many points where you can switch off mentally and let our feet do the work. It is going to require constant concentration the whole way.
This means a slight adjustment in my race strategy.  I am going to create a number of special needs bags with red bull, mars bars and possibly spare hydration packs which I am going to leave at checkpoints to supplement the water and rehydration salts that they provide. I need  to figure this out today or tomorrow though as the cost of buying stuff as we go higher will become extortionate if possible at all.

I haven't spoken mch about the views today because there haven't been any. From the Everest View we saw - fog and cloud, and the occasional snowy face of a mountain. Nothing to write home about though. That will change though

From Khumjung we walked to Khunde a village less than a kilometre away and then started heading back up the hill and then down to Namche. I had a few problems with my camera and fell behind the group. So as a test of my fitness I challened one of the shera guides to a race over the 200m or so to the rear marker. He wanted to bet and the key was in chosing something that I was happy to lose. We settled on a can of coke and headed off. He was very fast.

I was slightly hampered by my rucksac and jacket and he chose a better route up the incline. It was probably about 20% and very hard work. He won by about 5 - 10 metres and I was glad to see that he was out of breath. It took me a minute or so to recover from the pain and about 5 to recover fully. The oxygen debt is significantly worse than doing 12 x 50m swim sprints all out on 10s rest. Running - I'm not sure under normal circumstances I could hurt that much that quickly.

Still I was pleased as I was within a competitve distance of him. Yes over a longer distance he would have pulled away further but he was not superhuman. That is importnat to remember. I'm going to try and challenge a sherpa to some sort of race each day. I don't expect to win - but racing against them will give me a far better competive benchmark to aspire to than against the europeans.

Once we were back o the hill looking down onto Namche I decided that I would do a bit of a descent test and ran down. Here the issue was not the oxyen extractive capacity of my lungs (brilliantly meaningless technobabble :) )but the strength of my ankles and feet.

Unlike Malaysian trails the trails are hard - similar to running on concrete due to the lrtge amount of stone and the arid nature of the dirt. There is no give and this hammers your legs. Again this is an important leson to learn for the race. Going out too fast on this hard ground will incur a large amount of pain towards the end of the race.

Large strides are also a big no no. I can exceed by oxygen capacity easily trail running in FRIM. Here it blows away in seconds. Small steps and leaning forward provide a much better solution. It is also MUCH lighter on the ankles and feet.

I still came down fast though and I was pleased that with a high cadence and moderated speed I was within what my aerobic system could handle.

I've also been looking at the map and thinking about race strategy. I don't have mileages yet but it seems that the last 8-10 will be the hardest. For most of the rest of the run it is is either undulating or downhill though there are three passes on the first half of the route (Lobuche 5110m, Thokla 4830m and Pheriche 4270m).  There are two potential trouble sports. The first is the climb from Pangboche to Tengboche which looks as if it is 300-400m. The second is the climb from Phunki Tenga to to Shyangboche which is 500m. Joy oh joy oh joy. This makes the hillock in the Boston marathon look kind of insubstantial.

As we have a rest day tomorrow I am thinking that a good exercise will be to walk out to Phunki Tenga and then follow the race route back in. By the time I reach this point during the race I will be very tired and many of my higher mental funtions will be working at a reduced capacity. Running the route now - even if I don't get it entirely correct will be another small piece of preparation that will make this section easier on the day. I will also know how hard it is to do fresh and be able to alter my pace accordingly.

That is about it for now. There will be a report tomorrow. I will write reports each day as I head up the mountain but they will be store on my laptop and I will upload them on the 30th.

Once we leave Namche Bazaar there ill be no more electricity, internet, phones, toilets, facebook or hot showers. The though of all these will spur me to run faster during the race :)


Darren Wright said...

Hey Denis, It sounds like your having great fun. Good luck with the race, keep safe. We will see you in a couple of weeks.


sofiantriathlete said...

All the best Denis.


Anonymous said...

Hi handsome, it really sounds like a brilliant place to be there, I might be saying it because it really does look interesting or I might actually be saying it because we miss you so very much, or it might be because of both :-)

I have been reading that book you suggested and I could see why you liked it, its one of those where once you pick it up, you can't put it down until you have absorbed everything off the book.

Work has been okay, could be better but we are still busy with other stuff, enquiries have increased again whih is good. Im rolling out the newsletter on Monday, hopefully with Nasriq's help.
Maid is getting on well with house work and she has a silent kind of relationship with Maya. It was soooo funny the other day (I think Ive told this to everyone) when on the morning of Maya's school trip we had to take kids to school half an hour earlier than usual to gove the teachers time to get kids on the buss and settle them. Anyway, i got up, dressed Maya and went downstairs with Maya with a few hair clips. Asked Kunthea to help me brush Maya's hair and put the clips on whilst i got myself & Maua's breakfast ready, Kunthea said yes mam so I left her to it and rushed back upstairs to get ready. When I came back down what do I see? Maya had sat Kunthea down and Maya was brushing Kunthea's hair muttering the words 'nice, nice' as she was brushing her hair. I looked at them half in disbelief and half about to burst out laughing and said, no Kunthea, please get Maya's hair done quickly so she can have breakfast and leave for school. Kunthea looks at me and says no nam, i repeated what I said and again Kunthea's answer was no mam, so repeated myself again but with rush & frustration in my voice to that she said yes mam and ran into the kitchen grabbed a glass of water and brought it to me, i just laughed and hugged Kunthea and sent her to her tidying whilst i did the hair & breakfast :-) it was jusy hillarious! though having said all that I find the helper to be great, she gets more stuff done with her barely English than the previous ones we paid more just because they could speak English. I am seriously thinking about getting a permanent helper from Cambodia than Philippines now.

Im taking Maya horse riding tomorrow, we were supposed to be going with Nur & Doruk but Nur was quite poorly yesterday so I think she might not make it now. But I will take Maya down anyway as I have been telling her about it all week and she is really looking forward to it.

Joyce and Kenn are here with us until tomorrow morning so I think we will stay in tonight as they will need to pack and stuff for their departure in the morning.

Im going to work on the news letter a bit today & tomorrow to get it all nice and friendly for the audiance.

I have just put Maya down for her noon nap and im leaving her with Joyce to go to Jaya for some essential food shopping.

I miss you like crazy handsome and thank you so much for that long email of yours as it really made me realise a few things about the way forward which i will tell you about on an email, i love you and agree with everything you put in that email! Time to change now and time to make time for eachother a lot more!

My time is not usefully spent if I dont have you to spend with!!!!

With all my love

Senay xxxx

Denis Oakley said...

Thanks Everyone for your best wishes - I'm sure that they were wat gave me the feet of a mountain goat, the agility of a snow leopard and the endurance of a yeti!

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