Saturday, January 04, 2014

Air and a lot of it and the 130s...

On a vacation you're supposed to gain a ton of weight and get out of shape, right?

Clearly, I did not get the memo. I knocked off 12 pounds during the trip. That after eating so well! It's just that this was probably the most active vacation of my life. I wasn't in bad shape before heading down there but now I'm back into the 130s which corresponds to life-best fitness levels for me.

How about not running for a month?

Well, yeah. Not running for a month but instead spending four weeks above 13000 ft and hiking over a 100 challenging miles! It was funny how when we'd get down to about 9000 ft or so I'd think in my head - "Oh, so we're going down to lower elevations :)"

Back at sea level I'd say I'm in pretty decent fitness :) I find an abundance of air and runs appear to be effortless! All my clothes in my wardrobe fit and fit well! Now if I can just hold onto this fitness level ... Somehow...

I wasn't sure how I would deal with altitude... Sure, I had finished the Pike's Peak marathon with practically no altitude training but I wasn't at high altitude for long then. This was a definitive test that my body can handle altitude pretty well. I didn't need any altitude meds or didn't have the need to chew cocoa leaves like a cocaine addict :) Onto Mt. Kilimanjaro next!!

I spent my formative year in Lovedale in the Niligris at an altitude of around 7500 ft. That could be a factor. I remember I'd volunteer as a healthy subject as a poor student in college (hey, it was easy money). In one of those studies they took an EKG of my heart and told me it was abnormally large. That they said could be normal or a deformity. I didn't give it another thought until I started running long distance and Ryan Shay died due to a heart malfunction in the NY Olympic trials. I figured I'd better get checked out. Then I was working and had the best of the best health insurance. So on one of those 3D cardiograms I got a stress test done. The cardiologist was elated and informed me that I had a very low chance of a heart attack for the next 30 years and I had a "well-trained" heart.

Long story short, I represented my flat-lander clans well during the Inka trail hikes. I even got a nick-name Chaski (which is what we called our porters out of respect). Apparently, when we were climbing up Dead Woman's pass (14000 feet+) and the Chaski's were taking a break I showed no signs of tiring and then I'd run down the hills like they did :)

I remember when I was seeing some of the sights I did I told a friend - "When we go back home it will hit us as to how amazing these sights are." That comment appeared to be quite fortuitous. Some of the pictures I have captured just appear surreal! A couple of Colombian guys in our group who had traveled across South America remarked - "You won't see too much more amazing than this in South America"...

I remain thankful for the mental, physical and financial abilities to be able to travel to all the places I've been to so far. I hope to cover a lot more of the world but if I don't... I'm satisfied. I've still seen a lot more than a lot of people see in their life times :)

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