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RacingThePlanet: Ecuador 2015 Blogs

Stage 4 – The Road To Quilatoa Crater
30-Jul-2015 04:54:48 AM [(GMT+08:00) Beijing, Chongqing, Hong Kong, Urumqi]

Just got in 20 minutes before cutoff, cyber tent (church) closing soon so have to be quick!

Thanks again for messages! Hi to bump, Jen J; SVARTIFOSS!; funny about dad and Timmy mum, and thanks for the updates; thanks everyone else too! <3

Today went awesomely. Last night I managed to get through a WHOLE lamb fettucine freeze dried meal so that was amazing. Dealt with altitude ok again, got into check point 1 30 minutes ahead of cutoff and checkpoints 2 and 3 1 hour before cutoff. First half of the first stage was fun, was like walking up the river of the Mistake Creek hike I did in 2009! Had some river crossings on some interesting bridges and a river crossing through calf deep water so got wet feet. Quite refreshing! Managed to catch and hang on to the kiwi team and Hamish Travers partway through until we hit a cliff – which was 500m elevation gain in very short order and I was rather slow!

After checkpoint 3 I walked with a woman from Hong Kong (138, can’t remember name) and some others along Quilatoa Crater and back down to camp. We are in some buildings tonight which is awesome and start at 10 tomorrow for the long day!

No ITBand issues still! Amazing. Left Achilles still being silly. Shoulders sore again and feet definitely sore (and blisters probably having issues, haven’t checked yet), but all up feeling good!

Bring on the long stage!

Food, clean feet, sleep.

Stage 3 – Camino del Inca
29-Jul-2015 02:46:38 AM [(GMT+08:00) Beijing, Chongqing, Hong Kong, Urumqi]

First, thanks so much guys for the comments! They mean a lot J Much love to you all (and in Portuguese, beijos Celiamar!). Trying my best, if slowly, and the comments are awesome incentive to get into camp and get to the cybertent before it closes. J

Today was an ‘easy’ day – it was quite interesting. I started well and fast (first 4km in 45 minutes) despite still being at a calorie deficit but then we hit a hill and I slowed down fast. Halfway up I stopped to rest and happened to look at the hill we walked along after and saw a local kick a barrel down the hill. I was with Carlos (from Brazil) and we just started yelling our heads off at the competitors just below the where the barrel looked like it was going towards. Fortunately it just missed them. The wind before checkpoint one along that point was phenomenal. Got Iceland flashbacks!

Was sorry to find yesterday that Rick from Canada withdrew, he was really nice to have around while out walking. I was leapfrogging Kate from Australia a bit the past couple of days and today we walked the most of the day together, which was nice. I started channelling the personal trainers I’ve had before I think and alternated between the semi-psychotic cheerfulness I’ve had the past couple of days to compensate for feeling sick and my more usual cynicism, haha.

We got some amazing single track today along part of the Camino Inca Trail (so perhaps I don’t need to walk to Machu Picchu now…) and I think I even managed to run more today than I did in the entirety of Iceland! Suzanne (?), a kiwi volunteer, has been keeping me up to date with the other kiwis and said they’re still all in; Ake’s still in number one spot and we’re all feeling good!

Special hi to Optima Fitness trainers! Guess what! My IT band (knee) issues haven’t shown up yet! I’m doing better than in Iceland! THANK YOU. The moral boost from that is huge. My feet still hurt (totally normal), my left Achilles is telling me it is there on the up hills (said hi on the long day in Iceland), and I discovered my sore shoulders were from my sports bra and my backpack straps arguing it out, so that’s fine now when I make sure they are not layered on my shoulders. My blisters have multiplied, but not bothering me so much.

Still not eating heaps but getting enough in I think. Hit the mental wall today halfway between checkpoints two and three, and a combination of a bar of nougat and Kate keeping me company got me through, so I got to unleash my inner personal trainer on her afterwards on the Inca trail

All up, a good day. Tough day tomorrow I expect, going up Quilatoa! Looking forward to getting that done and hoping the weather is good for views! And less windburn… Hmm.

Much love to all,

Stage 2 – Journey to Illinizas
28-Jul-2015 04:17:46 AM [(GMT+08:00) Beijing, Chongqing, Hong Kong, Urumqi]

Hi all!

Feeling better again today – still not 100%, but getting there. Took it super easy today as after about 14km we had a massive incline to get up, and I wanted to pay back the kindness of the people who kept me company yesterday. Turns out altitude still agrees with me, though I’m a little on the slow side on the uphills still. That’s ok though, I’m still coming in before cutoffs with time to spare and I’m not pushing it, so all good. Might see if I can speed things up tomorrow a bit, because day 4 will likely be tough.

Good things from today:
Ake took the leader bib! Proud of him J And from what I’ve heard, still has it after today!
Altitude is still fine.
2ish km of single track along some cliffs was pure awesome.
Managed to get my timing expectations right all day.
In general, feeling good.
Got to walk with dois brasilieros, tambem. Carlos e Jane. Muito divertido! Apprendade poco Portuguese, haha. And that’s all I can manage because of altitude and calorie deficit. Desculpe!

Shoulders are sore, feet are sore, knees and ankles are fine! Shoulders and feet are to be expected so all good. Two tiny blisters, which is also fine. Hoping I don’t have a third, but priorities are food first, lovely freeze dried meal haha.

Ok, food, stretch, sleep. Camp is up on a ridge, bit chilly.
Oh! And I think the locals think we are hilarious. Been greeted and chatted with them (in portunol) and had photos haha. Lots of fun!

Stage 1
27-Jul-2015 07:37:42 AM [(GMT+08:00) Beijing, Chongqing, Hong Kong, Urumqi]

Crossing the Panamerica
End of stage 1!

The last couple of day sucked. At 3am on Saturday I got hit with a stomach bug. Apparently I looked quite terrible going by the comments about my improvement today. I felt terrible!
Anyway, gear check had my bag weigh in at 9kg. A little heavier than I wanted, but lighter than Iceland.
At camp last night we had a great view of Cotopaxi. I missed some awesome sunset photo opps though and went to bed early.
Today’s stage was to be 48km, first part went well, then got cramping after checkpoint 2 which sucked. Some foul tasting  medication definitely improved things, but I wasn’t able to eat much at all today which is a problem. Walked with a man named Rick from Canada and we motivated each other as I was under orders to take it easy and we were both finding it a bit of a slog. Especially the last 13km.
Tonight’s camp is in a monastery which is quite cool. But it’s cold and the keyboard is annoying me so I’m going to go to sleep.
Mum, thanks for your comment, feeling much better today. Meds from the travel doctor are helping. Can you please forward the how to follow the race email to Sarah McNiel? She was interested and I forgot (oops).

Tomorrow will be tough, but hopefully I can get some calories in!
I love my poles and my shoes and my sleeping bag and my sleeping mat…..

Cheers all,

Acclimatisation time
21-Jul-2015 02:27:52 AM [(GMT-05:00) Bogota, Lima, Quito]

Less than a week till the start of the race now! My blogging efforts have been nonexistent this time round despite my best intentions, but be that as it may.

I have to admit I was very worried about the altitude part of this race because of no (well, perhaps an hour) prior experience with it. I arrived in Quito last Wednesday though and all the symptoms I was concerned about (headaches and lack of appetite being the most prominent two) have not caused any problems. Go figure! The only headache I've had was dehydration and travel related from the planes I was on (I'll just blame this on the ~30 minute delay which added 12 hours to my trip!).

I'm normally a very small and slow eater (ahem, “energy efficient”) and on top of that a couple of weeks ago I had a cold which had me on chicken soup for a week, so I was fully expecting to get to Ecuador and find my meal sizes halved, if not quartered. Altitude seems to have had the opposite effect though, with food disappearing quickly and in larger amounts that previously I've equated with the recovery period after the 2013 Iceland roving race! Again, go figure!

In any case, so far I've had a great time getting used to the altitude. My heart rate (both resting and active) have both been quite high, not helped by the recent cold. We went from Quito to Chugchilan last Thursday and spent the weekend at the Black Sheep Inn (fantastic place!) to take the ‘shock’ approach to getting acclimated. A 3km walk (up and down steep hills) took an hour that day, which was shocking. But a 22km walk on Friday up to Quilatoa was a bit more reasonable. Flat and downhill sections felt somewhere between normal and brilliant, uphills were still a killer. The views were breathtaking. Literally. I was out of breath even at the sight of an up hill, let alone getting to the top and seeing Lago Quilatoa! Saturday I decided to do something a little different and did a 4 hour horse ride + 1 hour hike in the cloud forest to look around there. A very different sort of sore, but still good. Sunday I did a 5km walk (Edmundo’s Famous Skyrun) which was a brilliant route with a lot of hills, and while it was still slow for me I was able to run bits and generally my body felt better about it, so overall I'm feeling a lot more comfortable/confident that I'm acclimatising!

We came back to Quito on Sunday afternoon and spent Monday having an easy day just wandering the city a bit. Travel felt a bit meh on Sunday (despite the entertainment of local public transport) and felt like a slight backward step in terms of acclimatising, despite going lower (logic, who needs it), so an easy day was a good plan. Naturally, this involved climbing a church bell tower and spire for the view!

The rest of this week will be quite cruisy. We got up the TelerifiQo today and hiked up Rucu Pichincha this week as a last effort at acclimatising – I had to stop 77m from the top because of the altitude, technical last section and weather, but I'm satisfied with my attempt. Ive also been using my inhaler (for berry-induced asthma, though I've been very good about avoiding berries this year in preparation for this!) to try and get my lung sorted with the remains of this cold and to help my heart rate come down a bit. Seems like it's generally calming down and improving, so that's something!

All up, feeling pretty good, now just to see how many times I repack/reorganise my gear before Saturday!

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