|Three major Cols also the second day|
I had already before the start of the race decided to run through the first night and I therefore declined the offer of resting in a bed at the first life base in Valgrisenche. I picked up my yellow drop-bag and changed socks and T-shirt. No signs of any blisters yet and no chaffing between my thighs, which was a relief and I put on plenty of more Sportslick. It was still warm and I decided to continue to run in compression shorts, but I put on long race compression socks from 2XU under my ankle compression sleeves. I also decided to not bring my down jacket, but to continue to run only in the Marmot Essence Jacket I had used throughout the day in the rain and only ad a Smartwool baselayer shirt under my T-shirt. I also switched to a stronger headlight, my Ay-Up system, in preparation for the supposedly very steep descent from Col Fentetre. Regretfully, I forgot to bring my mp3-player for this night. The changing procedure went quick despite that I for the first time felt a little bit stiff and wobbly in my legs. I ate some warm pasta and drank again plenty of Coke before setting out in the night after 45 minutes at 21.59 on Sunday evening.
When outside I quite quickly catched Vigneron Dominique and another finisher from 2012, Vallet Maurizio, also a runner I would turn out to follow throughout the race. I climbed quite strongly up to Rifugio Chalet de l’Epée, but this was the first time I started to feel my legs as I got some pain in my ankles and Achilles tendons. The pain abated after one hour or so and I then learned that pain that is not lasting longer that that is no pain in a long race like TDG. The body has really efficient pain relieving and even healing mechanisms and I quite often during the days running TDG experienced transient episodes of quite severe pain from various parts of my legs and feet, but learned that if I just was patient the suffering would go away.
After some hot tea with sugar (Tea caldo) and some more pasta at the Rifugio I started to climb Col Fenetre. It was not a particularly difficult climb, a nice gradual elevation up to 2854 meters. I however started to feel more and more nauseated when I came over 2500 meters and I realized after a while that I suffered from the altitude. I had no headache, but it felt quite irritating to not dare to take Energy gels when climbing as I was afraid of vomiting. I was therefore happy when I reached the Col and started the descent and, even though it was really really step, it felt quite safe as the gravel was firm despite the recent rain and I had good vision with my headlight. I was, however, as always downhill really slow and was passed by a number of more daring and technical runners. I reached the small town of Rhemes Notre Dame just before 2 am in the night and was really relieved when I learned that my stomach could tolerate warm soup with pasta, some bread and, again, plenty of Coke, before starting the this time really steep ascent to Col Entrelor, the first pass over 3000 meters. I do not recall much of Col Entrelor besides that it was a steep climb and that I again started to feel really nauseated when coming over 2500 meter altitude. I tried to practice resistance exhaling and even though it certainly lowered my heart rate I still felt quite weak. The descent down to Eaux Rousses was therefore probably one of the absolute low-points during the race – I felt sick, was really slow, and felt an increasing weakness in my quadriceps and pain in my knees during the dark morning hours of Monday. I tried to say to myself that if I could only manage the highest peak during the race, Col Loson, the following day I would be set for the rest of the track as there were no more passes over 3000 meters after that. With thoughts like that I somehow managed to reach Eaux Rousses at 7:10 on Monday morning just after the first sunrise during the race.
|Early morning sun over the pastures leading up to Col Loson|
|The highest point during the race - Col Loson at 3299 meters|
|Quite scary start of the descent from Col Loson|