Thursday, February 13, 2014

Week 35 Update: Thursday bust but not a complete failure. Snowed in right now and making the most of my electricity.

Week 35 Update: Feb 13, 2014 for the week beginning on February 2nd, 2014

Last week I was excited about Summit Sundays but this week (yesterday in particular) taught me a good lesson. I need to pay careful attention to how much I eat and when I eat. Moreover, I also need to reduce my intensity. Yesterday was the first day of next week's update but serves as a great reminder of what is important in my training. If I press hard early in the day with a relatively hard run followed by an arduous 1.5 hour swim workout, I have little left in the tank. The previous Sunday, I was much wiser. I woke up at 5am, trained at 18,750 feet on the elliptical and then ran to swim practice (30 minutes). By that time, I was pretty tired and so my swim workout was much easier - at least my effort was much lower. Yesterday, I decided to sleep in and skip the hypoxic training prior to my run/swim session. That was a huge mistake! I ran too hard and swam way too hard. Pacing matters on 8 to 9 hour days. Yeah, you would think I knew that by now but yesterday was a grim reminder of how fatiguing those long days can be when you fail to pace well early on. I have a few other highlights from the week.

  • Thursday was a complete bust. I was exhausted from a long day at work and I just didn't have the drive, interest, or energy to train. It was a good day to skip everything (all but about an hour on the elliptical) to fully recover for the following few days. Friday I started feeling better and Saturday I was completely energized. Note to self: when I feel dead tired, it might be a good day to take off.
  • Only 8 more weeks of preparation before I leave. I am feeling a little antsy about last-second trip plans. There is always something that slips my mind even with my compulsive list-making.
  • Food just ain't that attractive these days. I have lost my taste for just about everything. My latest approach is to eat one large meal each week at my favorite Indian buffet (Curry Mantra in Fairfax, VA) and a few crappy meals with tons of fat. I might need to put a few more of these calorically dense meals into my diet just to keep my weight up. So far, I am holding steady at 165 but I want to have a few extra pounds of muscle in my legs and some extra fat to lose while climbing. Yeah, I know I sound like a broken record but weight loss is a huge deal in climbing. Well all lose it and it is better to plan to lose some than be surprised to lose what is most necessary when you are climbing. More on that later.

Workout Progress

Another grind at work but I think I am adjusting to my work and workout schedules. Some days just seem to drag on forever. See what happened on Thursday? I just didn't have it that day. Instead of pressing forward with workouts I was not terribly interested in completing, I decided to put in about an hour on the elliptical at 19,000 feet. That compromise of doing something rather than abandoning the entire day worked out well. I felt refreshed the next day and felt a great sense of accomplishment that I did something in spite of feeling so low.

plot of chunk WeekEx

Pickup sticks now. The huge jumble of lines serves as a reminder of all the money I deposited in the bank on each day. I might try a few new figures just to sort out this mess of lines.

plot of chunk DailyWL

I cannot believe I am under the 10 week mark - single digits before my departure. There are too many things to do between now and then but I feel physically prepared now. I might need a few more weeks of 20K feet of training to feel very comfortable at that level. Below is a simplified version of the figure above that aggregates all the weeks into a boxplot. What do you think?

plot of chunk DailyWL2

The figure below reminds me of how little time I have to finish my hypoxic training. I remained pretty faithful to my schedule - dropping a total of 20.35 hours in 35 weeks of training. Not bad if you ask me. That is fewer than an hour per week of lost training due to being sick, tired, or sick and tired. The finish of my preparation is only 9 weeks ahead now and I need to remind myself that the hard part has yet to begin.

plot of chunk CumWL

Weekly Summary

I am a human garbage can now. My new favorite food is anything that I can grab. I have no appetite but force myself to eat on a schedule. So far, that forced diet seems to work. I now can tolerate salty foods far better than any sweets; thus, my food intake favors the high salt variety. It would be a disservice to my medical support crew to detail the total grams of sodium I take in a day but I suspect it is roughly 2-3 grams. Yep, sorry guys. A little elevated blood pressure easily offsets a bony body for the climb. I promise to cut down on the crap when I return.


My workouts are far less intense than during my first two phases and that lower intensity almost eliminated any muscle soreness. Some days I feel a little sore - particularly after a hard run or a grueling swim practice - but nothing compared to what I felt in June (remember, I started in June. Yo!). Work stress and impending deadlines have quickly dampened my mood. I feel more overwhelmed with everything. Thankfully, I have some great support from my family and colleagues. I want to make sure I do not leave anything unfinished before my departure and I suspect there will be many sleepless nights trying to make those deadlines. I'm even getting stress out writing about these deadlines. Enough for now!

plot of chunk Mood

Hypoxic Training

Last week was my first at 19,000 feet. Kathy and I also increased the tent altitude to 15,000 feet and plan to leave it there until I move to the new tent downstairs. My move to the new tent allows me to increase the altitude without affecting Kathy. In addition to the regular hypoxic training and hypoxic sleep, I had three days with two workouts each of the IMIHT (Intermittent Maximum-Intensity Hypoxic Training) variety. These brief 5-6 minute sessions are killers. I find myself really gasping for breath during the last few 10-second high-intensity bursts. Actually, the gasping for breath comes during the 20-second rest interval. I feel like I am suffocating. Very strange but good for me, right?

Regarding sleep, Kathy and I both acclimatized quickly to 15,000 feet. We now routinely wake up to good pulse-oximetry readings. The downside of the hypoxic sleep is that we want to sleep more and routinely feel unrested when we awake. I think that groggy feeling is just the hypoxia. Once we get out of the tent, we feel great.

plot of chunk Hypoxia

Recovery (Restwise Data)

My resting heart rate is now back to the usual lower 40's. I was starting to think that the hypoxic training and sleeping shifted my resting heart rate up by about 5-10 beats per minute. Now that I am working out at a lower intensity, I think I am able to recover more and my resting heart rate reflects that recovery.

plot of chunk RestwiseData

Updates for the week

I am snowed in right now on Thursday, February 13th, 2014 and have a brief window to submit this update alone with another thought piece. Once I do that, I have three google hangouts with my classes and lab with plenty of writing and data analysis on my plate. No swim practice today so I will run out in the 12" of new snow. Should be fun. My updates for the last week are as follows:
1. Finally got most of my checklist things done or purchased.
* Evacuation insurance and extended rescue insurance purchased ($800)
* Gor-Tex summit overmitts purchased from ($190)
* Finalized my “In Case of Emergency” list for my family ($FREE)
* Sent off questions to my friend Dave Roskelley who answered them in record time. We look forward to seeing Dave and his family in two weeks when we take off for a climb in Utah. I can't wait.
* Booked travel for Utah climb - Mt. Timp. Going to climb with Dave Henkel and my family. Should be a great trip with good climbing/skiing opportunities.
2. Got into a writing routine with my students. With so many projects underway and limited time, I now meet with several students each week for a few hours of in-person writing time. The students come to my house and we plug a computer into my big screen TV so we may all edit the same document via google drive. It is a great learning/teaching experience for us all and we get the papers written. Hope to have 4-5 papers submitted before I leave in April.
3. There are several other things I accomplished but the pending tasks on my list have more of my attention right now. I will end with this item….I did a ton with limited time. Now, back to work!

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