I awoke with a start in the middle of the night, unable to breathe. I sat up in my sleeping bag and the effect immediately wore off and I coughed out some thick gunk from my lungs. I laid back down and again had to sit up. I rolled around trying to find a position in which breathing was less labored, and found that laying on my side was a bit easier.
After a few minutes of laying, breathing gently, I managed to drift off to sleep. I awoke with a start, unable to breathe, and sat up coughing. Repeat a few hundred times. That was my night on Elbrus, and that was my night on Alpamayo.
In the morning I described my symptoms first to Chris, a team member who is also a doctor, and he identified symptoms of AMS as well as lung inflammation. He gave me some recommendations, including taking diamox for the next day or two until we could work out how to get me down to Huaraz, at 9,300' and home so that I could seek medical treatment from a pulmonologist.
After an eventful trip down to civilization in Huaraz, Lima and finally Denver, I arrived home in Summit County Colorado, also at 9,300'. In the interest of experimenting with the lung inflammation, I decided to try running again and check my stats with my Polar Heart Rate Monitor.
|Polar Training Load Report|
With all of the hard training days in a row, in Colorado I was sleeping at 9,300' and had any types of herbs, medicines, food, hot tubs, etc. that I might need for recovery. Sleeping at 14,000' in Peru I had none of those. Chris also mentioned that in his experience both as a doctor and as a climber, that some people just suddenly fail after a few days sleeping at 14,000', or high camp as the case may be.
|Strava activity report for last week|
I mulled that one over a lot and seriously considered the times I was only at high camp for a day before the summit, vs. the times I had spent a few or more days at high camp. I have to admit that I've never had a summit after spending more than two days at high camp. It's a weird feeling to analyze yourself so thoroughly. I began to formulate various experiments to see what I could do to test this.
One thing that all my multi-day failures have in common is heavier loads and fewer rest days. I guess if I could suddenly arrive at 12,000-14,000' with almost no effort, spend four restful days doing nothing, then summit, it would prove one aspect of the theory. Since I would be taking effort out of the big picture.
I did a moderate speed 4 and 9 mile run, a very fast 2 mile run, and a very slow 2 miles in which I mostly walked. The fast 2 miles felt really good on my lungs, overall, without as much hacking and coughing as on the previous two runs. The slow 2 was mostly because I had managed to bruise the tendons on my left foot from wearing my shoes and socks incorrectly during the 9 and fast 2.
|Trail Running at 9,300' + in CO|