05 September 2013

Two days and 12 hours left

I did my last training run before TDG yesterday. It was a reasonable quick Fartlek in a hilly pine forest close to Uppsala City just to “wake” my legs and lungs. It feels really good both in terms of leg strength and aerobic capacity, but naturally you start to feel all small blemishes stronger right now, some kind of pre-race hypochondria. I am not worried, at least not yet, as often the issues you encounter in a race as long as TDG are very different from your usual running injuries and a little strain only is natural after a quick run as yesterday. I have also felt a minor cold the past week, but it felt good yesterday so any residual issues I feel now I can safely confer to pre-race hypochondria.

Going to Courmayeur through Geneva and Chamonix tomorrow morning. Packing tonight and will come back with an update on my final equipment choices later on. I have for instance still not decided what shoes to use etc. The weather forecast for the Aosta Valley is a little disturbing, with Thunder showers and rain for most of next week. The weather will as it seems luckily stay warm, however, but it would have been nice with sun as the past two weeks. I am now getting more and more questions about the race and some of the more common ones are:

Isn’t it dangerous?

There are certainly risks with running a mountain ultramarathon such as TDG. However, the medical support from the organizers during the race appear to be excellent and if you are running responsible and listening to the medical staff and, most importantly, your own body, it should be safe. Still, I am already scared for running down Col Fenetre which supposedly is going to be the first really steep and technical descent. After all, I am a runner, with a sound amount of height aversion, and not a climber.

How do you prepare for the high altitude?

Not at all, I am simply hoping that I will not suffer from altitude illness. I have not been prone to that before and that is an important factor as having previous episodes of acute mountain sickness (AMS) and the other more severe forms of altitude illness high-altitude cerebral edema (HACE), and high-altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE), increases the risk of developing it again. I will simply have to be vigilant on the symptoms of altitude illness. I will have to be vigilant of the symptoms of altitude illness, which can be difficult as many of the symptoms could be caused by other things during an ultramarathon. A good review of diagniosis and management of altitude illness is the recent publication Altitude illness: update on prevention and treatment by Eide and Asplund in Curr Sports Med Rep. 2012; 11:124-30.

Lake Louis criteria. Table adapted from Eide & Asplund 2012

How do you prepare for running continuously for several days without sleep?

Not at all. I have strangely enough slept very little the past months, usually only around 4-5 hours/night, but it is of course plenty compared to what I will get during TDG. Please see my previous blog text about sleep deprivation.

Why are you doing it?

If I knew that I would not do it. Searching for the answer to this question is an integral part of the journey and motivation.

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