Thinking of Nepal

One year ago today, I was on a plane to Korea – final destination, Kathmandu, Nepal and the trek of a life-time.  Today, I woke up to text messages and emails about a 7.8 magnitude earthquake hitting the region.  To put it in perspective, the Loma Prieta, the ’89 earthquake that hit San Francisco, was a 6.9.  The Napa quake that caused quite a bit of damage late last year was a 6.0.  A 7.8 in California would do a lot of damage….in Nepal, it’s been catastrophic.
I took the below photo on our first day out and about.  We’d just finished touring our first Durbar Square (basically the word for palace in Nepal) and were enjoying lunch at a rooftop restaurant.  I took the photo because I liked watching the people in the street below….and there was just something about the multi-colored building across the way.
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I found this picture of the same area online this morning.  I recognized the colored building right away.  However, most everything else, including the building I was standing on it seems, is gone.

photo credit: http://time.com/3835621/nepal-earthquake-pictures/

It’s unsettling to know that many, if not all, of the historical places I visited around Kathmandu are gone, if not forever changed.  From the first day exploring Kathmandu on a seven mile walk to the tour we took with Ron Jon (totally not how it’s supposed to be spelled, but that’s how I remember it ;)), all of those would be completely different if we took them this year….if that would even be possible now.

And that was before the trek even started.  I read an article somewhere that said the small villages were 80% damaged.  I tried to look for further information, but was unable to find any.  Not really surprising….communication and internet and phone were difficult enough to come by during normal times, I can’t imagine now.  Are the lodges we stayed in still standing….in any sort of shape that’s reparable?  Are the people who showed us nothing but kindness safe?  I can’t help but think of the woman who ran the lodge at Lobuche and knitted wool hats to sell as souvenirs.  She had a horse for rent and let me charge all of my electronic gadgets for the hourly fee, even though they ran over the hour.  Or Namche….what of the bartender who served celebratory beers on the way down, who had moved from Queens, NY, after her Sherpa husband.  And the souvenir shop owners who sold us most of our gifts….and told us we could store it in our guide’s house while we were trekking….haha.  I can only hope that they’re all safe and able to repair their homes and businesses.

And that’s not saying anything of the guides, porters, and kitchen boys who were with us every step of the way.  From the ‘sherpa saunas’ to clear my congestion to a hand up to the top of Kala Patthar to all twenty-some of them rushing out to say goodbye as we made one last trek to the Lukla airport, nothing was overlooked and they always made sure we had exactly what we needed.  I can only hope, pray, and send positive thoughts that they and their families are safe.

We’ve reached out via email, but haven’t heard back yet.  Of course, internet will be very difficult to come by, and they’re trekking with a group, so I’m sure have lots to sort out with their current group.  One of my fellow trekkers checked the site, and we think the schedule puts them somewhere near Gorak Shep, the highest point of the trek.  Hopefully it was Kala Patthar day and they would have been heading back down at the time of the quake.

All the places I’ve traveled have been special to me.  Nepal, first because of the people and second because of the history.  Never have I been somewhere that just about everyone treated you like one of their own.  I hope that they are able to rebuild and that people continue to travel there, because it truly was a life-changing experience.

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Respect the Limp

Well, I can cross prolotherapy and ozone off my bucket list, and hopefully fix my knee once and for all.

After hurting my knee during this race, I’ve spent the past four months trying to heal via rest and PT, but it didn’t seem to be getting there. It got better, but was never really where I wanted it to be. At this point, the doctor thought the pain might be caused by a tear, so I had three options – prolotherapy and ozone, platelet injection, or surgery. I opted for an MRI so I’d know what I was really dealing with and learned that nothing was torn – yay!  Based on that, I was advised to go the less expensive, less painful, and less recovery time route of prolotherapy. And now my iPad recognizes prolotherapy as a word….haha. But, I digress…..

Prolotherapy is an injection of basically sugar water into an area with limited blood supply to cause irritation and increase the blood supply, thus improving the tissue’s ability to heal on its own. He also advised ozone…..some sort of oxygen substance.

Having had cortisone injections in the past, I was a little nervous about how it might feel after….cortisone was all well and good until the numbing agent wore off and then BAM – worst pain ever. However, I was assured this would be very different.

The procedure itself was pretty easy and painless for getting nine or so shots. The only ones that really hurt were the numbing ones. The first one caused some weird muscle reflex/jerking thing, which was odd and a little freaky. He asked what happened and I really wasn’t sure. Once I was numb, it wasn’t too bad….felt a lot like jello running through my veins if you can imagine. What that feels like.  And some pressure and a feeling of fullnessas it went on, but that’s about it. Three shots later and the inside was done. On to the front.  That part was….weird. Really weird.  And it was right on the side of the tibia, so I could feel most of it. Felt kind of like lava running down my bone. Ouch. But, luckily short lived. There was another shot that had to be jostled or something to get the muscle firing. Also weird. Then on to the quad.  Not bad at all once it was numb. And then it was over.

Knee felt full and was all sorts of oddly swollen. Almost like a smaller version of what happened at the race. Walking was interesting since half of my leg was numb…..doctor told me to respect the limp and go slow. Haha….after a stop at Walgreens to get the pain killers and Safeway to get some chicken – I was told to eat protein and not carbs, so my Friday night go-to of pasta was a no go, it was home to rest and let the healing begin.

Now, it looks far less deformed and is a little more achy.  And my leg muscles are softly quaking….it’s weird, but not awful and hopefully that means the stuff is working. I just hope it stops before bedtime.

For now, I’m excited to relax and watch the Red Sox, and sleep in for the first time in as long as I can remember. Though, I do wish I was heading out for a run or to volunteer tomorrow, I think I could use the rest.

Over and out….

Grizzly Peak Half

Another weekend, another race with Coastal Trails.  It was early, but I was excited for the race – whether I’m volunteering or running, Coastal always puts on a good race.  My knee still wasn’t where I wanted it to be and life, well, life continues to be assessed one day at a time. Based on that, it was safe to say I wasn’t in the physical or mental shape to complete a 50k.  But, I forced myself to get up and go to the race….I always have fun and I didn’t really care what distance I did, it was all about getting out there.

I managed to get to the start with minimal issues. I’m pretty sure the gps was confused with all of the highway over passes, but I made it.  I parked and checked in with no problem.  I picked up my 50k bib and changed it to the 30k.  While I hadn’t been specifically told not to run, I figured 30+ miles on a knee that was MRI’d last night wasn’t the best decision. It was colder than I had anticipated, so I took my shirt and bib and hunkered down in the car for a bit.  Got my shoes and ankle brace on, and all of my stuff out – gloves, headphones, phone, etc. and packed up my pack.  Didn’t grab any food….that would have been far too easy.
I decided to swing by the bathroom and then come back to my car, grab my stuff, and head out for the run.  I had twenty minutes….should be fine, right.  The line did move quickly, and I was back at my car with about three minutes to spare. However, either my gps clock was off or the race started early….I was maybe thirty seconds from the start and I heard Wendell’s telltale count down ending at ‘1’.  The race had begun!  Luckily, I was close and not too far behind. I also knew with the knee injury, I’d be walking a lot.
I had come out to preview the course twice, but I really didn’t recognize the first few miles.  I think I was still settling in from being late and mentally preparing myself to run. It was a lot of gentile up, if I recall correctly….but, I made it to the golf course before I knew it and was able to grab some electrolyte drink.  Of course I was feeling like my sugar was low on the day I forgot to bring gu.  But, the electrolytes did the trick and I was off….I jogged a lot more than I thought I would, down Selby, to Redwood, to Tower…..how quickly I had learned the names of new trails and gotten used to the rolling hills. I jogged most of redwood and walked up tower pretty easily.  I was in a groove and feeling alright. Knee was a little sore, so I had 95% decided I would stop at the half – probably a good idea to stick to that distance until my knee and life are resolved.
I got to the top of tower and turned down grizzly peak….at some point, I started passing people. I never pass anyone….but it was fun to be with other runners – say hello, or good morning, or nice job.  I was also surprised that I knew where I was going, after only a few trips to these trails. After grizzly peak, it was more rolling hills and a really steep, rocky descent.  There were so many times I was sure I was going to tumble to the bottom, but I made it. I had a guy pass me and say, ‘these stones suck’, why yes they do, my friend. Then there was a guy coming up the hill towards me…all I could think was, please let this man be looking for the quickest way back – don’t tell me I have to climb up this too. No such luck…..the closer I got to the bottom, the more people that were coming up.
Just before I got to the bottom, I had a guy tell me I was at the bottom – thank god….my knee did not enjoy that. I stopped at the aid station to grab some more electrolytes and was off up the hill, and down the hill, and up, and down.  Lots of rolling….it almost felt like I couldn’t settle in and I thought I preferred the somewhat more predictable, longer hills of the headlands, but looking at Strava later, I ran pretty well, so, I’ll take them.
The rollers ended on the fire road I ran with Ksenya and Arielle last weekend, so I felt good about that and was able to run most of it. Walk the uphill, jog down, became my mantra. The views were amazing and it was a nice ride for the most part. Close to the aid station I came up on another runner who had fallen.  A lot of people had stopped to check on her and help her up….trail running is such a community. It seemed like she was more starteled than hurt, and I was happy for her when I saw her blow by the finish line later to start her second lap.
I got back to the aid station and grabbed a hammer gel – yay, they had vanilla!  I didn’t eat all of it, but I definitely felt like I had ingested a bunch of frosting…..perhaps the caffeine in gu mellows that piece out. Haha. Either way, I began making my way up the steep stone hill….I was glad for two thing – one, the other runners I was with and two, the fact that I didn’t have to climb up this again. And I guess three, this was the last big climb in the race.
I got to the top, and from that point, it was pretty much down hill to the finish – maybe four miles or so…..a bit of rolling, but then, I decided if i was doing the half, this course was mine.  From there, I was able to run down most of grizzly peak, other than jumping out of the way of some horses, until I got to the golf course aid station.  Stopped to grab some more electrolytes and off I went. Past the golf course, past the bench I had lunch on last weekend, across a street…..passed a guy, back into the woods. At that point, it had to be about a mile back I and I went for it….one of my fastest trail miles to date….other than that moment where I thought I would bite it. Haha. Only funny because I didnt.  Around the corner, and to the finish.
I got my medal and found someone to change my distance from the 30k to the half, chatted with some of the other finishers, and grabbed a recovery beer while I waited for the sausages that had just started grilling.  While I waited, I met a guy who’d done this as his first half (doozy course for the first time) and was waiting for his wife to finish hers.  It seemed as though he has caught the bug and will do more races in the future.
I enjoyed the sun and got my sausage – it was delicious.  Great time, great race, kudos Coastal Trails, Wendell, and volunteers, for such a great race.
Until next time!