Saturday, October 30, 2010

Elbrus Race 2010 - What Happened and Why?

Now that I've had a month to recover, rejuvenate, relax, and sort out my thoughts, I'm going to talk about the different things I discovered on this particular phase of my journey. Note that I'm not blaming anyone or anything, just pointing out some simple basic facts that had an impact on my performance or lack thereof, in retrospect.

My acclimatization schedule was pretty good, overall, and instead of spending a few days in Colorado at 10,000' prior (I didn't receive credit for the days I worked from home in CO while acclimatizing or recovering), I would prefer spending more time in the barrels. I did a hike first thing after lunch on my first day, and it probably would have been better to just wander around taking pictures, and have a couple more days to do the hiking. The second day I went up to nearly 1000' above the Qualifying checkpoint, which was probably one day early. I should have had two more days, one to go to 17,000' and one to 18,000'. Then relax for the Qualifier.

As I had experienced in Argentina, I have a tough time working around some random foreign eating schedule that breaks the day up into periods in which I cannot possibly recover or train. I would take a lot more food, especially meal replacements like Shawn Phillips' Full Strength, and arrange to only have Dinner, which really didn't interfere with my training much at all.

I trusted the water that the cook was giving us in my first stay at the barrels. I used my SteriPEN Classic Handheld Water Purifier until I managed to break the tabs off the lid. I'd had it for a few years and used it in several countries, so I didn't feel too bad. I did finally figure out how to hold it so the batteries made contact.

In that gap time, due to the complacency of the first cook, since she wasn't boiling the surface water they were gathering from a pipe near the barrels, I managed to contract a major case of diarrhea (our second cook was great and I managed to get only boiling water from her). While I was sick everything I ate went straight through as water. Yuck. Totally sapped me of strength, and I had to pause in my Qualifier to let some out, after very tightly holding it in all the way up. If you look at their video on Youtube you can see how weirdly I'm walking uphill.

Sleeping in the barrels with the officials sounded cool at first, but in typical Russian fashion they partied late watching movies and stuff, and then twice started up to the checkpoints at 2 AM, which resulted in my not getting a lot of sleep for my second stay at the barrels. That, with the diarrhea (and starving) really impacted my acclimatization.

For one reason or another I don't really want to go into the food issue in the second stay at the barrels. Maybe I'm just being nice ...

Staying on the wrong side of Cheget added about an hour or so to all transportation events. For purposes of normal training and acclimatizing, it would probably be a lot better to stay in Azau. Especially if you're doing the Extreme.

My music issues totally confused me. I managed to have no music because of some mystery with my Nano locking up until I could plug it into a PC. Because of some glitch in the programming of Creative Centrale that allowed my Zen MX to believe that the hard drive had more stuff on it than existing space until I could plug it into a PC and delete the imaginary files. Because I hadn't put any music on my phone. Because I had trained with music and it threw me a bit to have none.

I had some major babysitting problems, which of course I allow myself to get sucked into, and have for a few trips now. Alas, I think I'm going to just skip all group endeavors forever. And skip offering niceness. You hate to flush all the traveling and money and training.

This isn't the Boston Marathon, where you can show up two days early, fly to in less than 5 hours from most of the USA, run around in nice safe prepared park trails to figure out the climate and kick the very small amount of jet lag to the curb, stay in a hotel 5 minutes from the start and finish, eat whatever and whenever you want, and buy anything you want or need within a 10 minute cab drive. Best of all, your boss probably wouldn't even miss you.

Again, not blaming anyone, just pointing out some glitches that for the most part I could have worked around if I'd been more alert and prepared myself. Now I know.