Sunday, March 16, 2014

Week 40 Update: Post 2 of 2 for today - The Weight....

Week 40 Update: Mar 16, 2014 for the week beginning on March 9th, 2014

Second post of the day. Sorry for the delays the past few weeks. I was swamped with work and climb preparations. Here are some major updates from the past two weeks:

  • Training has taken a slightly different course. After I got sick with whatever attacked my system, I had to re-evaluate what mattered most for my climb. The bottom line is that I needed to gain weight and get acclimatized more than get fit. I was already fit. I have enough training to last me a few expeditions. Now, I need to gain some residual weight to shed while climbing (more on that in a subsequent post). Eating is a chore these days. Between the hypoxia and the meds I am taking to kill this beastie living inside me, I cannot muster any enthusiasm for eating. I love food…but I don't love food now. I eat to eat.
  • Work stress is high and only going to get higher as I approach my departure date. That stress affects my sleep. I wish it didn't but the reality is that it does. Nothing I do affects people's lives directly. Sure, I have students who appreciate my guidance but they can cope just fine without me present at all times. Projects consume my spare time - whatever spare time means. Now that I am not training as much as before, I do have more discretionary time. That time is almost completely devoted to getting things done. I have four major projects that rely on me to get things done. All my efforts are focused on wrapping them up before I leave. My colleagues expect me to be done and I will be done before I leave - I promise. The stress from that promise weighs on me every evening when I fail to complete all I need to complete. Stress….stress….stress.
  • Lists, lists of lists, and more lists. I am a checklist fan and every day I go over several lists to make sure I have all my gear sorted and ready to pack. Mt. Everest is a different climb from the traditional alpine style climb I grew accustomed to preparing for. These lists help me keep things in order and ensure all is there before I leave. The lists, however, only remind me. Each list item takes time. Passport photos (1 hour at Kinkos), emergency preparations (hours of paperwork and email to family and expedition leaders), communications (sat phone and spot setup), travel details (flight, hotel, etc.), pack weight (packing, sorting, repacking, resorting, culling, adding ), additional food (snacks and dehydrated food) and and countless other things keep coming back to mind - especially when I go to bed.
  • Not all stress is stressful. Yes, I am stressed by work and preparation but most of my stress is good stress - whatever the heck that means. I am so excited to leave. Sometimes, when I get really tired, I just think about getting on the plane and drifting off to sleep. Yes, I can sleep on planes - just ask Kathy. I got on a plane to Australia once and slept for 17 hours. Sleep is my friend and there is not better place to catch up on sleep than on a plane. For those of you who know about airplane survival, don't worry about my sleep interfering with my survival plans. I never sleep for the first or last 15 minutes. Very important to be alert and ready during those periods. The rest of the time….I sleep. I can't wait to log a few high-quality nap hours on that first flight.
  • Another positive stressor is the excitement to climb. I cannot wait. The thought of being on the glacier and doing what I love to do in the mountains excites me to no end. I remain focused on today but I cannot help but think about mid-April when I can finally climb.

Workout Progress

Feel awesome training or at least the little bit of training I am doing these days.

plot of chunk WeekEx

All that training sits in the bank ready for me to draw upon it while climbing. Now, I rest and get strong. Fat and strong. Well, fat might be a bit of hyperbole. I want to be fatter than a skinny dude. Bring on the bacon!

plot of chunk DailyWL

Little added this week. All is well though. Those antibiotics are winning the battle inside me. Only 3 more days of 'em.

plot of chunk DailyWL2

More data….to show that I am not contributing much to the overall total. I met my goal to be fit. Now, I focus on other things.

plot of chunk CumWL

Weekly Summary

Thanks to Dr. Ted Kim and my brother Sean (Dr. Sean McKnight), I am now pretty much healed. I can breathe without any problem, workout if I see the need, and sleep when tired. The drugs they prescribed or suggested really helped. Better living through chemistry? Nah. Just better living when these bugs get killed.


I'm starting to feel almost manic. The lack of training and running around gets me antsy to burn some energy. I am not totally sedentary - far from it. Shifting from 15-20 hours a week to 5 feels like nothing I experienced in a while. I have so much energy. That energy is being put to good use. By getting things done, I am feeling better and relieving some of the pent-up stress that builds from my impending deadlines.

plot of chunk Mood

Hypoxic Training

Yep, back at it. I now train exclusively at 20,000 feet and feel great. There are times when I get off the elliptical after a session and feel pretty wonky. The other day I had my students over for a brief chat. They arrived just as I climbed off after 3 hours at a relatively low intensity (90 HR @ 130 Watts) and I felt stupid. Altitude training sure ain't gonna make me smarter. In fact, I know it has a short but profound influence on my cognitive ability. Maybe all that reading I have planned might be a bit optimistic. Perhaps I ought to bring some children's books on my Kindle.

Sleep remains a problem. I am not going to comment on it other than to say that I find it hard to get to sleep and stay asleep. Too much on my mind.

plot of chunk Hypoxia

Recovery (Restwise Data)

Yep, finally recovering. I had a few days two weeks ago where I registered restwise recovery values in the 20's and now I am usually hitting well above the 80's. Little wonder that I am recovering when I am barely training.

plot of chunk RestwiseData

Updates for the week

Plenty to report this week and plenty of folks to thank. Here goes…

  1. Thanks to Roz Schanzer, Steve Schanzer and Rich Wilson for hosting us (Kathy and me) for a wonderful dinner. We really enjoyed the company - especially after several days of recovering at home without much social contact. Roz and Steve are wonderful hosts. They have so many great interests that overlap with ours that we wanted to stay for hours. Roz is an accomplished artist and author. She wrote so many books, I lost count. Please check out her website. I know Roz through swimming. She is my inspiration. Roz kicks butt! Steve - Roz's husband - is a fantastic guy. He and I are very similar. Hopefully, I can laugh as much as he does when I retire. Steve is a true renaissance man. He makes beautiful art pieces, tames computers, and remains the most down-to-earth guy I have met in ages. Kathy and I both look forward to many more evenings of chatting with Roz and Steve. The purpose of our meal was also to meet Rich Wilson. Many of you know me and know that there are few if any individuals who I hold in such high regard that I would feel giddy to meet in person. Some people are prone to “hero worshop” but I am not one of them. Rich Wilson comes as close to a hero in my eyes that I felt giddy the whole day before our dinner party. He is quite an inspirational guy. Not only did he sail around the world solo in the Vendee Globe race but he also posted to an educational website during the event. The website is called SitesAlive! and he has completed several adventures and posted about these events DURING the adventure. Some of you may not appreciate how amazing this feat is but you ought to watch some of the youtube videos on the Vendee Globe. Rich is quite a guy. He is smart. He is adventurous. He is kind. I admire him greatly. Roz and Steve are great friends with Rich and they agreed to host the dinner. It was the highlight of my week, month, and perhaps even past year. Thanks to you three. We hope to get together soon. See you in a few weeks at my sendoff party.
  2. Last night, Kathy and I had another dinner party. Well, this was not exactly dinner but it as a heck of a party. We went to John and Leslie Carney's house for a wonderful get together. They live on George Washington's former property in Alexandria and have a beautiful house. John is a fellow climber. He had an unsuccessful attempt on Everest in 2012 with the Himex expedition group. The expedition leader called off the climb after rock fall and other hazardous conditions presented too much danger for the team. It was a painful decision for sure but probably the best for all involved. John took the cancellation well - at least two years later he was not bitter about it. John is climbing Everest again this year from the Nepal side. He and I intend to stay in touch via sat phone while we approach the climb from different sides - him the south and me the north. I really admire John. He is a great guy. He runs a business, does triathlons and maintains a wonderful family life. I met John at a Quantified Self meeting last year (June or July) that he hosted at his company's office in Alexandria. John and I could be related. No, not literally related but figuratively related. He has a similar sense of adventure, humor, and interests. We are geeks at heart. Kathy and I felt at home with his family and friends. They are great people and I look forward to seeing him in Kathmandu after our climb. Our post-climb party ought to be quite memorable; might need my patented Ronco™ strap-on party liver to keep up with his friends. Thanks again Carney family for the great evening. Good luck to all of you on the trek and to John on his climb. I look forward to our summit bear hug.
  3. The Weight.

I pulled into Nazareth, was feelin' about half past dead
I just need some place where I can lay my head
“Hey mister can you tell me where a man might find a bed?”
He just ginned and shook my hand, “no” was all he said ….
Take a load off Fanny
Take a load for free
Take a load off Fanny
And…and….and you put the load right on me……
– The Band (no not R. Robertson but The Band)

I love the Band. Saw Levon Helm at his studio in Woodstock for one of his famous Midnight Rambles. The weight is my theme song for the next few weeks. I'm trying to put on the pounds. The weight just ain't comin' but I'll have it when I need it. Right now, I hover at 168 regardless of my intake. Come join me for a huge meal if you are in the area. I dine at Curry Mantra for lunches on Mondays and then the pub (Auld Shebeen) on Friday evenings. The rest of the time, I can be found at Elevation Burger eating a few burgers, fries, and a shake. Life could be worse but I feel stronger than ever and need just a few more sacrificial pounds before I head out. Come on out and help me put on “The Weight.”

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