Thursday, 28 February 2013

Ain't No Mountain High Enough (until you have to run back down it)

Oh Oh it's all going a bit Motown!

It was a mild -5C when I set off on Sunday. I ran passed the guard hut where we had been detained the day before, but this time on the road not the wrong side of the armco "fence", and instead of going out onto the river (which would have meant stopping to add the spikes to my shoes) I went along the dyke and through the construction sites. Having dodged the small pack of ferral dogs I slowed to a yomp up towards the mountain. I was aware that it was not perhaps the wisest thing was was 'warm'...the pollution...well ok it hung in the valley making everything look a little foggy but I went anyway. After all Sarah and I did this as a walk and as a run last September - and it was a small compared to the distance and elevation I was running in Japan -what could go wrong?

It was beautiful! The Ger camp at the base of the hill (7km into the run) was busy, the car park was full. I jogged down the road and up passed the gers feeling great, despite the heavy pack (5kg of 'what if it all goes wrong clothes' snow pants, down jacket, extra hat, gloves, polar buff, socks, food, a survival bag -you get the picture) and then began the yomp up the hill, and out onto 'White Circle' the clearing at the top. The track was in great shape, slightly softening  packed snow making for great grip and the clothing layers just about right. The path was busy with everything from young ladies carrying bags full of bottles, to men pushing 'off road' pushchairs, to fully equipped hikers and boys in jeans and 'sneakers'. I enjoyed the climb- not my fastest ascent but it was steady, the people were out, the sun was shining, the air was clean and I was pleased to be out there, "ain't no mountain high enough..."

Looking back at the Ger Camp

I heard them before I got anywhere near the top. The laughing and cheering of the crowds. There were a couple of small groups and a couple of larger groups some playing Red Rover others sitting and drinking or cooking up some grub.

The trail I usually take was not obvious at all, it's indistinct at the best of times but in this case the myriad footprints disappeared into un-trodden snow which ever way I went. There were a few clear trails but non heading the way I wanted to go so it was back the way I'd come. Apparently the well worn trail leads down and then back up to Tsetsegun, the nominal peak of the Boghd Khan range. It looked good but I was conscious of the time so I saved it for another day - "ain't no mountain high enough"

I count running down hill as a strength, even on steep technical terrain I generally move pretty quickly and 'brake' lightly, but on this day, by half way I was completely done. My quads were screaming! I was enjoying myself but knew the consequences were going to be severe.

The rest of the journey down and the trip home was a painful run, jog, walk. I knew I was in trouble when, on the roadside, as I passed the guards hut, a chubby old local in multiple jog pants and a pair of 1980's trainers shuffled passed me. Four days later and I still can't walk down stairs without wincing. It's better today (Thursday) at least I only look like an old man for the first couple of steps then the pain levels out and I move a bit more freely but my right quad still won't fire properly allowing my knee to overextend occasionally with comical partial falls as a result.

"Ain't no mountain high enough"...huh?   In the sage words of B.A. Baracus "What you talking about fool?"

Perhaps a long run of 25km and 750m vertical was not the wisest after 6 months when  10km and 3m vertical constituted a big day.

I might be fit to do it again by next weekend.

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