Stage 3: Give Me Silence, Water, Hope
Sitting here at the end of Stage 3, reading the messages from you all, I have no words. Thank you. The combination of them all has me fighting back some serious emotion; BUT… the goal is to make it through 100km without crying and so far I’ve covered 98km so 20 minutes into tomorrow I’ll give myself the go ahead to let the flood gates open.
“Happiness is pushing your limits and watching them back down.”
Today started out okay. I still couldn’t take in any food. I tried swallowing without tasting but that wasn’t working so I just stopped rather than risk the sickness continuing. I was in good spirits this morning so that was a positive start. 7 of the 8 people in my tent have now been overcome by the plague and unfortunately for the German team in my tent they’ve lost their lead in the team category.
The course started with a gradual climb alongside a river for the first 10km or so. We crossed the second suspension bridge of the day into a school yard full of kids playing soccer. The kids here are super friendly so as I ran next to field (oh and by field I am giant patch of dirt) one of them passed me the ball and I ran up the field with a couple of them before passing it off for one of them to fire on net.
The next few km took us right through the middle of a sizeable village with locals lined on either side. We dodged the morning traffic which included motorcycles, cars, taxis, trucks and of course donkeys and goats. Coming out of the village we rolled into the “Nepali Flats” that climbed 550m over the next 18km.
“Give me silence, water, hope.”
I spent much of this section on my own moving from feeling as relatively strong as I could. I settled into a shuffle but the lack of food intake finally caught up with me. I’d only been able to get down 2/3 of a protein bar, 2 gels and a handful of potato chips. While we’re not supposed to many people had stopped at small shops in the little villages to by Coke and small snacks. At about the 30km mark of today’s stage I did the same. Much needed calories.
This section was also relatively unpleasant / uninteresting terrain as it was all on dirt road. During this section I had another one of those moments of doubt and thought I might not be able to carry on as my IT Band was flaring up. After finding a manageable hiking pace I distracted myself by singing as many songs as I could remember and running through all of the parts of the final scene of Scent of a Woman. Yeah, I’m cool.
Coming into Checkpoint 3 I was asked how was doing. I said “Exhausted.” I got asked again how I was feeling and I quickly smartened up to say “I feel a little tired.”
The medical team is quite diligent and strict on pulling people off the course if there is doubt they can make it to the next checkpoint. I don’t know the numbers for today but I am guessing another 10 – 20 have dropped on been pulled.
“When discomfort and fatigue become unbearable I will run because I can.”
Leaving checkpoint 3 the route quickly climbed 600m over the next 2km. I popped another gel knowing this was terrain that was very familiar to me. While still not 80% I allowed the muscle memory of my legs to take over. Leaning forward so much that my weight and pack were helping me fall forward and with my hands on my knees I powered up the climb passing approximately 20 – 25 people on the final 4.8km from checkpoint 3. A team of three Irish Defence Force members was about 25m behind me but there was no way I was going to let them catch me. Coming through the toughest section and into a village a local teenager told me it was 20 minutes til camp. I smiled back and said “15”. I finished the final leg in under an hour. BAM!
I finished up today somewhere around 45th on the day. I don’t know cumulative yet but you can probably check the race website for that.
“Relax. Breathe in deep. Hold it. Let it out. Loosen your shoulders. Smile.”
Alright. So I brought a yoga strap with me. The first couple of days I’ve spent 60 – 90 minutes stretching after getting back. Today as I walked back into camp I got asked to lead a bunch of people through some stretches because they noticed that I seem to be able to walk around comfortably each night whereas most others are hobbling. Now I am highly unqualified to do this but I gave it my best shot with the Himalayas in the background. (Oh there was also a helicopter because parts of the course tomorrow are inaccessible by jeep. I’ll be fine.)
Best part of this? I finally felt like eating and ate an entire meal!! Now, it wasn’t the New York Fries covered in nacho cheese, sour cream, chives and bacon that I was craving but it did the trick. And yes, large parts of each day are spent salivating about the various meals I am going to gluttonously enjoy upon my return.
Tomorrow is a shorter day at 27km. We climb for 1234m over the first 10km. Fun fact that I learnt last night fireside (and would have really preferred to have remained blissfully ignorant about), each 100m of elevation is equal to an extra 1 km of effort. It is followed by 3000 downhill steps so tomorrow could be slow and painful but I’ll manage.
Thanks again for all the messages. Greatly appreciated. Camp tonight is at 9000’ and it is freezing so I am going to warm up by the fire. I would love it if all of you could join me.