UTMB Race Week is here!

Wow, it is here. All the fun and excitement has started. Seeing a lot of people I know already and there’s a lot going on! Chamonix has really filled up fast. I’ll want to be a part of as much as I can but also will need to save my energy for the race. I’m trying to take in the fun and experience but not to get too overwhelmed with all I need to do!

Monday kicked off with PTL runners heading out for their 3+ days of adventure racing, the MCC race, and the opening of the Ultra-Trail Village. We were quick to the hit the UTMB merchandise tent as soon as it opened to see if there were any must have items and grab them before they either sold out or the lines got too long. Mike and I had run into town and back so we got our easy run in for the day.

Mike and Krissi returned back to village as soon as the vendor booths opened while I hung back at the house to work. They had hoped Vibram and their truck would be there to re-sole shoes but were sad to find they were no longer participating in that capacity.

On Tuesday midnight TDS started, and we were up and out early to hit the vendor booths early to get some items. With the approaching cold front I wanted to upgrade some gear. I had brought with me SealSkinz gloves which I used in the past (CCC and TDS) but they were really too small and ill fitting. I hadn’t really needed waterproof gloves for running so just hadn’t bothered to replace them. I found a similar glove made by Verjari that I think will work much better. I also picked up a nice pair of Raid tights (at a nice discount) and and ankle support brace by Zamst that can be worn while running. I’ll put that in my pack for insurance. Our friend Clodagh who as been great, providing much needed massage therapy, has been helping be get the ankle ready. I got one more pre-race tune up with her and we’ll probably Rock tape it before the start.

Friends Kelly and Elise rolled into town and I met them out at one of my favorite places – Poco Loco and then Big Mountain Brewing where we cheered the top 10 TDS finishers into Chamonix before I had to get off o bed.

Cheering in the top TDS finishers

Today is a rest (from running) + work day. Hoping to get out with Mike for a beer later though, and maybe see DPMR friends if I get all my stuff done – or enough to feel good about and not stressed.

Thursday’s going to be a busy day with a short run, gear checking, race bib pickup, greeting Linda Claire and Scott who will be crewing me, going over race plans, seeing Krissi finish, dinner, and hopefully retire to bed at a reasonable hour.

Friday is going to be interesting as we have 6pm start. I’ve debated about how I am going to prep for the late start and think I’ll just go about my day as normal, but chill, take a midday nap, then wake up and go!

I’m sure I’ll be tweaking plans as the weather forecast changes, but at this point I think I got everything. It’s now just a matter of taking care of myself as best I can the next, ugh, 54 hours…

UTMB T-1 Week

I can’t believe I’ve been here for 3 weeks already, and that I’ve got a week (or less) til race day. I find myself wishing for more time, or time back after having to take it easy the first week due to the ankle injury and getting COVID – both of which I’m mostly recovered from. I say mostly because of the ankle, though doesn’t seem to be affecting my running, I can feel on hard step downs or foot plants that are more awkward. They also feel noticeably notchy when I walk downstairs in the morning, not to mention it’s still larger than my other ankle though doesn’t feel swollen. COVID-wise, I found my breathing and lungs a bit congested during Sunday’s threshold workout.

But I’ve managed through and think I’ll be as ready as ever to go on Friday. The biggest factor for me is workload and the related stress. I’ve been working my regular day job the whole time I’ve been here but to be in sync with my company, I have to work split days where I get some work done during the day, then plug back in night for meetings and timely comms with my US-based co-workers. To add, I’ve got a big deadline and a presentation to deliver the minute I get home and step off the plane. I had hope to get it done before this week so I could take all next week off, but looks like that’s not going to happen.

Soon my friends, both running and supporting, will all be here. I’ll want to go out and play and hang with them for sure. But it’s going to be tough balancing act between race prep, hanging out/chilling, and work…

Tech Notes

Since getting and recovering from COVID my vo2 max on my Garmin has been trending down and my Race Predictions (marathon, half, 10K, 5K) have all gone up in the wrong direction. I’m gonna take this will a grain of salt since I don’t think some of those measurements are that accurate to begin with, but perhaps on a relative basis. But I’ve never seen a trend up from running where I know I’m at least maintaining my fitness (or maybe I’m not?). It could be the beta (formerly alpha) software that I loaded on my Epix 2 and their algos and calcs are off still. I had hoped they would iron everything out after several weeks since joining in the program. I was prepared to rollback to the last public version.

UTMB Previewing Col du Bonhomme

One of the main objectives of getting out to Chamonix early has been to preview sections of the UTMB course that not only I haven’t seen before, but that I will hardly see when I race because it will be during the night time. With a recovering ankle sprain it has been a huge concern. But also wanted to know the magnitude of this climb. Mike had gone out to go up and over Col du Bonhomme a couple weeks before starting from Les Contamines and said it was a beast. He had then gone all the way to Courmayeur. With just 3 weeks out it was a little late in the game for me to go this long. While I really wanted to see both this major climb and the backside descent, I would have to settle on just the climb. From the Notre Dame de la gorge its a stiff 1425m in about 11km to Refuge du Bonhomme. So an out and back was going to be plenty for me. With the weather suspect on Sunday I also didn’t want to be caught out to far. Alas, I get to test out my rain gear. It had been sunny and warm up until then.

Mike drove me up to the church to spare me the run up and through the towns to pick me up later after they had a look around the markets and towns St Gervais and Les Contamines with Usha and Krissi.

Notre Dame de la Gorge

The cooler air was definitely refreshing. As I ascended it got a bit colder and more drizzly but never the downpour that was expected. I was feeling quite good but not pressing it – I kept it pretty mellow and easy but tried to run when I could. The poles were out early but a bit useless on the rocky semi paved first section up to Le Balme. I was a bit wet before I decided to put my rain jacket. The climb wasn’t as constantly steep as I expected with a few breaks that are very runnable. With that, I know I will do just fine up this climb.

Labs protecting sheep

The Col du Bonhomme came before I knew it but as Mike mentioned and I found it to be quite a false summit. There’s a bit more meat going up to La Croix du Bonhomme and was longer than expected. Colder and a bit more wet, the Refuge was absolutely packed with backpackers without any space to sit down let alone put your pack down and sort things out. I wasn’t particularly impressed with the refuge and what they were serving (soups) despite it being cold up there, I only stayed long enough to rearrange a few things in my pack, put on a dry long sleeve shirt and a beanie, and warm up/dry off a bit inside before deciding to head down.

Refuge Bonhomme was packed with wet backpackers

The descent felt great but took it very easy. The trails were a bit more slick by now and I actually washed out and jammed my thumb on a corner. Not the shoes (Dynafit Alpine) but me being stupid and planting my foot on an off camber mud spot on a switchback! No problems with the ankle though which was good.

I was able to send out a message to Mike that I was on my way down, along with using the new Google Location Sharing feature they met me with perfect timing back down at the Notre Dame de la gorge. I had a a croque monsieur and an Orangina waiting for me which was awesome. Overall felt really good today. A huge confidence booster.

And I made it back to Cham in time for my massage!

I’ll have to be mindful on how soon to put on the rain jacket. I don’t want to overheat but I don’t want to be wet. Getting to the top of the Col was cold, but I know it can get much colder as we move in the night. But I know I won’t be stopping at the top. Back down the mountain is significantly warmer. I made it to the top from the church under and hour and half which seemed short for some reason for a big climb. I was pleasantly surprise to find that was a pretty good time – and I wasn’t even pushing it. I know I will likely be going slower on race day but mentally its good to know I can clear than mountain in under 2 hrs.

Leaving Refuge Bonhomme

Sierre-Zinal Adventure

My friend Penelope planted the seed during Broken Arrow Skyrace that I had to come out and see her run and hang at Sierre-Zinal since I’d already be in Chamonix then prepping for UTMB. It would be a good opp to support her and cheer on others racing. TBH, I’m still a bit of a noob when it comes to these big Euro races (okay, big trailrunning races in general). As I experience them – whether racing or spectating, I’m becoming more of fan. How could you not? I’ve made it point to not only support the sport I’m into but the athletes as well. Still learning who the top runners are but my friends Krissi and Mike are a big help! So they were pretty excited when I suggested we go check out the race. After all, they knew much more about it than me! So on Saturday, we made plans to head out of Chamonix and adventure to Sierre…

We knew the elites had an 11am start time so we were thinking no problem getting there in time from Cham. The reality was we had to wake up early and roll out by 7am. Originally thought I’d go solo and take the train all the way but with Mike and Usha having a car we opted to drive to Martigny and train in from there thinking parking would be non-existent and traffic a nightmare. In retrospect, we probably could have driven all the way to Sierre. But then what fun would that be? I love the train!

After a couple lattes in the town of Sierre, watching runners prep, a lot of debating and looking at bus schedules and chatting with others, we decided to head to the finish in Zinal. I was bit nervous we’d blow it somehow and not even make it there to see anything but we somehow managed to hop on a direct bus there. We thought about going to the high point from St Luc but it would have been too difficult to get up and we wanted to experience the finish. It was super windy road up that had me a bit car sick but probably because I spent the whole time trying to figure out why my data (internet) access from my Orange Holiday plan eSim was not working. I couldn’t stream the race or check updates like everyone else. It was super frustrating. Krissi dogged me for not having an iPhone (I have Google Pixel 4). Yep, the iPhone is still more user friendly and while with the Android devices have more flexibility, you also get more chances to screw things up! (I eventually figured out I had a bad configuration).

What we weren’t able to figure out until the race started (or even after), is several of the runners we had hoped to see did not even start. Mostly Americans and newer names that we’d been tracking this year with the Golden Trail Series. We already knew my friend had to pull out but were bummed not to see Sophia and Grace. We would have gone anyways as we were all in on the experience, but it fun to be homers too! Still, the US women seemed to be well represent and we were stoked for Bailey Kowalczyk and her 6th finishing ahead of many of the favorites! Jared Hazen looked to have had a tough race. Killian had a rare 5th place finish though I have to assume he’s holding back with UTMB coming up.

We had to catch a 4:30p train back to Martigny so we made sure to give ourselves plenty of time to hop on a bus down the mountain. But not after we saw most of the 25 men and women followed by a beer, of course! A fun day for sure.

Champex-Lac to Vallorcine

Well, as you can imagine, Thursday was a day off after the epic day we had on Wednesday. My coach was a little surprised at me extending a bit more than planned especially given my recent bout with COVID and recovering from my ankle sprain. And she was probably right – it was a risk that I shouldn’t have taken. “The hay is in the barn” as they say, I just need to maintain and stay healthy. Luckily I was fine, and I think she forgave me quickly knowing I won’t stray now.

Yesterday I finally did take that COVID test which to no surprise was negative. I was a bit tired and legs a little heavy but not sore. Today was a good day to prove my fitness, and show that I could easily handle another good vert day.

We were lucky to have Usha drop off us off at Champex-Lac for another point to point where we’d train in back from Vallorcine. It would be a much shorter day but still an anticipated 6+ hrs at an easy pace. Krissi joined us this time as we were finally on the course she’ll be doing (OCC). I had already shot down the idea that I was not going to do the whole course to the finish in Chamonix but to Vallorcine. Mike was onboard with this as he know he needs to rest his achilles and the same thing about hay… So this would be a reasonable 30K and right at limit of how far Chris wants me to go.

I don’t remember much of this section of the course when I did CCC as not only was it in the dark but raining! So it was good to familiarize it during the day time.

We started out with some wonky GPS routing. The official UTMB GPX seemed to off as it was wanting us to stray off the main road though we saw no other trails. I’m not sure if Garmin smoothed it out or the person mapping the route was drunk or thought “well, close enough.” (I’ve since corrected it) .

Moo Moos

The legs seemed a bit tired going up hill – not surprising. My body as a whole was a little tired but wasn’t a feeling of being overextended. It took a bit to get my legs going and up the first major climb I decidedly was working the poles a lot more. Mike seemed to be having a better day vs two days ago with better breathing. It was a good sign to see. Krissi and I had to do some work to catchup with him every time we found blueberries and raspberries and stopped to graze! We couldn’t pass them up. We agreed that the raspberries are the best right now! We also stopped to take a lot of pictures of cows (or “moo moos” as Krissi calls them) as we were finally able get some close up. We probably held Mike back, but that was probably good thing. I kept telling him half jokingly, “I think Koop said to take it easy.”

We all seem to handle the first major climb well. It was quite warm and we invited any breeze or moment of shade. Descending into Trient felt pretty good. It was moderately steep and technical but my right ankle gave me no trouble. And it would be fine for the rest of the run, though I really kept it mellow and cautious making sure of my foot placements.

Somewhat steep descent into Trient

In Trient we skipped a potential lunch spot at the top of town but were lucky enough to find the Auberge open at the bottom to enjoy an amazing Croque Monsieur with a nice salad with an impressive amount of diced beets. Also had a Cardinale beer for lunch – why not?

After such a lunch, you’d think it would be hard to get going. I imagined what if I had such a stop in UTMB and the answer seemed to be it wouldn’t hurt me. Then again, we only had a few more hours to this day to go. Nevertheless we hit the final climb of the day and into Vallorcine with no problem.

Post lunch climb out of Trient
Descending into Vallorcine

One final stop for ice cream and smoothies then Krissi pressed on to Chamonix while Mike and I jumped on the train. It was a beautiful chill tour of a day with friends.

It was another good confidence booster – not that the climbs weren’t tough and aren’t going to be when I get to them with over 130k in my legs but I just feel like my legs are much more conditioned than when I did CCC or TDS, and will handle them well. I little more dull today but my legs feel strong. COVID seems to be in the rear view mirror. Crossing my fingers still…

Courmayeur to Champex-Lac, maybe…

Against my own experience and the advice I’ve been giving to others, knowing COVID can put you back in your place and kick you down if you try to do too much before full recovery, I decided I had to do this training day we had planned to do days earlier before we got sick. My symptoms had completely subsided and though I woke up a bit tired, it was not sick fatigue – just the feeling of waking up a wee earlier than you want to. But Mike is a taskmaster and has been great in keeping on schedule. If I didn’t go with him, I felt I would probably miss the opportunity to go altogether. The plan was sound and coordinated – we’d take the telepherique from Chamonix up to ride the Panoramic across to the Italian side and down funi, go for a nice and easy, em hem, 50K jaunt with 3000m of vert to meet Usha and Krissi at our extraction point (ok dinner and car ride). Mike had promised nice and easy, as he’s keeping an eye on a recurring injury and he’s coached by Koop, so I had to believe this couldn’t be worse for me right? I was skeptical until he offered a bailed out point at La Fouly for a more reasonable 30K/2500m day. The fact is, I really wanted to do the Panoramic “Disneyland” ride across the glacier to Italy and down. And so at 6:40am we rolled out of our chalet to the base station and caught the first ride up.

Mike and I had both done the Aiguille du Midi before so while the natural first stop is to enjoy the view from the observation deck, we b-lined it to the Panoramic. It was amazing…

We may have been the very first to ride it across this morning, even down the Italian side – the only two in the entire rotating funi to the bottom. How rare that must be I thought. The windows were spotless, and I was the first one to put my greasy fingers on them – whoops. Noticeably everything on the Italian side seem much more polished and stylish, the tram buildings something you might see in Architectural Digest.

Five different lifts, and an hour and half later, we took to our feet in Courmayeur to start our run. We decided not to get too creative and just found the most direct route to get onto the UTMB course – via the road and then up a trail we found that allowed us to bypass the town all together that would connect us to our first climb of the day up to Bertone. I kinda wanted to pass through town but figured we might be for longer day than anticipated.

Much dryer were the trails on this side and for the first hour, and on the lessor traveled trail we made a few wrong turns and had to refer to a combo of map apps to get us back on track – CalTopo, Gaia, and then on our Garmin Epix 2 watches. I joked with Mike that we probably had a bit of COVID brain still and that definitely needed to get off the COVID trail, literally…

“Mike, we have to get off the COVID trail. No really…”

And soon we were on track and on our way.

The climb to Bertone were quite a few TMB’ers. While we passed so many, it gave me a chance to practice my bonjours and buongiornos had the temptation to join them in stopping to take in the views, but also sort out my pack – in taking in the views on aerial ride over I didn’t bother to eat anything or make my nutrition accessible while wearing it. I knew I’d be ok as long as we got to Bertone soon enough for a latte. And it did. I averted sabotaging my day early with poor nutrition.

It was a familiar sight, though when I ran CCC I didn’t stop long enough to appreciate the refuge. Bertone is perched perfectly on a point, and provides nice steep first climb rewards – coffee and a nice deck with a view. As we walked inside a lovely girl helping customers caught my eye. She was wearing a UTMB shirt. I know we were on the route of the race itself, but I suddenly had this warm fuzzy feeling of support along with the sense that I was a part of something special. As we contemplated our order, she leans in with one arm on the counter and with a bit of sass says “Tell me everything.” It was unexpected and perfect.

I had no witty response (because that’s what happens when you haven’t any coffee yet) and all I could do was smile. As we grabbed out lattes, fruit juices, and ham and cheese sandwiches to go, and thanked her, I quipped “see you for UTMB?” Not that I didn’t expect her to say yes, but with sincere interest, she asked for our bib numbers and wrote them down. They’re fans. I’m now a big fan of theirs. If they make Bertone t-shirts or hats, I want one. And I’ll most definitely look forward to this aid station to provide an energy boost I’m sure I’ll need as I pass thru in the morning hours during the race.

“Tell me everything…”

The stop was about 25 minutes and according to Mike on schedule. From there we enjoyed of the most beautiful traverse overlooking and into the Aosta Valley. Memories of CCC and going way too fast in the section were in my mind. I was so stoked to be going easy enough to enjoy everything I missed the first time. I hadn’t really taken half of what I saw this time…

It was super mellow and we made up some time back so as we dropped into the valley at Arnouvaz we definitely deserved some ice cream – and we couldn’t pass up the locally made ice cream! And it was a nice pit stop to fuel before the Grand Col Ferret.

Gelato Break

On the way up, as water flowed and cascaded down the mountain alongside the trail next to us, I spotted a nice little pool and told Mike half jokingly that if I need to cool myself in the race I’m going to stop to sit in in. (after all, I jumped into Warren Lake during Castle Peak 100k and it totally cooled and revived me).

One more stop at Refugio Elena to eat our sandwiches and top off our bottles and we were on our way up what I think is among the tougher race segments. The Grand Col Ferret was as stiff and steep of a climb as I remember it, but didn’t seem as long this time. Maybe because last time it was wind and rain/snow. Today it was absolutely gorgeous.

Mike with less than 200m to the Grand Col Ferret

Over the top and down to La Fouly felt good descending. The ankle was good though was taking it easy to be cautious. After a really fast section, the trail turned more technical. This is where I needed to be careful not to re-roll my ankle. I didn’t remember this section from CCC and perhaps it was slightly different course, but I was a bit bummed that to know it won’t be as fast (or easy) of a section as I thought. Keeping things fun, we stopped for a little berry break. I wonder if you actually burn more calories picking the blueberries than you consume. The yield is small but tasty.

Picking blueberries on trail to La Fouly

I have fond memories of La Fouly from CCC of running with another American who I caught up to in the flat section. The USA flag on bib attached to his pack was rare to see as few Americans were participating back then. We made a quick bond. I remember how evenly matched we were. Like teammates we would endure and push each other running the rest of the race together to the finish.

Once again, at a more leisure pace and with more coherency I was able to open my eyes to more of the beauty I missed last time.

Wow, I love trailrunning here.

After another ice cream and refreshment break and we made the quick decision to keep going. We were on schedule and feeling good enough to finish the last 12K and climb up to Champex-Lac.

Approaching the final climb to Champex-Lac

We arrived into Champex-Lac close to 7pm to meet Usha and Krissi for a change of clothes and beers right as we entered town, the sunsetting and then a nice dinner. It was perfect. Such a beautiful day. I must have taken well over 200 pictures. Hopefully I’m posting enough of the good ones here! Most importantly, I felt great with no complications from COVID or my ankle. It was a huge confidence booster to complete the day feeling like I had a lot left in the tank.

It took us about 10h15 to cover this part of the course with about an hour in total stoppage. Mike had anticipated a 10hr day. Amazing how close he was. Even when I geek out on spreadsheets and take into consideration pace, grade, elevation, heat, etc. I seem to be way off. I guess that’s also why I had to go with him. I’m still learning.

Tech Notes

We tested our Garmin Epix 2 watches capabilities with Mike using a single GPS system along with many other optimizations for battery life, while I use all of the GPS systems and had everything on (WiFi, Bluetooth, PulseOx, touch screen, notifications, etc). Mike ended up using up about 30% of his battery, while I burning through about 75%.

It was clear that using all GPS systems is significantly better than one as Mike would find out. He would get the “of course” alert often while I would only experience it on occasion but mostly due to bad route mapping from the GPX file we loaded. He actually switched it shortly after leaving Bertone, or about 1/3 the way. Even with nav on he’s looking to get close to 30hrs of battery life.

The race course will be well marked but we want to take advantage or the Epix’s feature of showing you distances to your next waypoints. I’ve personally have the aid stations and key points like the Cols mapped. Some people don’t want to know but I do.

For me, I’ll want to turn off wifi and pulseox which are pretty useless during the race. I’ll likely keep bluetooth on as if I get any text messages from my crew or the race, it will be more convenient to glance at my watch then pulling out my phone. I’ll likely create a few custom responses as well. I’ll keep WhatsApp and FB Messenger on as well. There are ton of other notifications to eliminate from other apps on my phone including alerts from my smart home devices. And for sure, turn by turn alerts will be turned off! I don’t need to hear beeping alerts twice for every switchback. I imagine that is the #1 battery drainer.

One additional item I had was wearing the Garmin HRM Pro chest strap which is paired to my Epix. Though I have not tested it yet, supposedly turning off the wrist sensor and using the chest strap is more economical.

COVID Day 6: Done and Run?

This morning I woke up maybe slightly dehydrated but otherwise thinking “I’m testing negative today!” Wide awake by 7am, I rolled out of bed and took another antigen test. Nope. A bit of a bummer, but what does that really mean? CDC guidelines say I no longer need to isolate after 5 days. But we’re also in France. Besides that, I feel great. So I rode bikes to grab coffee in town with Mike and Usha. They had been going regularly to Shouka and I was finally able to join them along with Krissi. Quick stops at the Super U and a couple new favorite places (Ela!) – it was great to be out. Of course, consciously I did mask as appropriate.

Sticking to the theme of feeling great again, it was with certainty that I would be doing something longer than 4km today. Mike wanted to climb up to Col de Le Balme in Vallorcine – it would be a pretty tame climb on pretty easy trails. (We took the gondola up). I felt pretty good running uphill, even on the steeper grades – no problems breathing and much And bonus, the ankle felt good, though its still a bit swollen still.

Tomorrow we plan to run Courmayeur to Champex. It had been on our calendar since I got here but we’ve had to push it out. Although the plan is to go super easy, I’m hoping its not too long for someone who hasn’t even tested negative. And then there’s the ankle…

COVID Day 5 – Test Run

Feeling good today. Once again, no symptoms though have a occasional cough. The Garmin metrics are trending back in the right direction. Decided it was worth an antigen test as I’m starting to anxious. Botched the test by putting too many drops. But I could see the T line was there. Oh well, I guess that was expected. I was pretty confident I would be clear tomorrow and then went out for a run.

The run was a short and flat 4km. Felt sluggish but no fatigue or anything out of the ordinary. I’m breathing just find and that’s a good sign. Not to jump the gun, but I rewarded myself with a glass (or two) of wine. Things are looking good. I’m planning for a more legit run tomorrow.

COVID Day 4: Minor Symptoms and Getting Better – Tracking Metrics on my Garmin Epix 2

Day 4 of COVID. The first two days I had pretty minor symptoms and only a slight sore throat. Friday I did wake up with a bit more of a head compression and was in bed most of the day. I had no problem getting up but would quickly get tired and retreat back to my bedroom. The appetite has never diminished. Like last time, I’m starving. Always. Not sure if that’s because I’m in training or if it’s because I’m not eating junk. I’ve been eating healthy thanks to Usha. Sometime when I eat too healthy, it’s just not enough calories!

On Saturday, I woke up without symptoms worsening – a good sign. I was still tired, and took a nap after breakfast. Then got up to watch the livestream of Stranda Fjord (Go Sophia!). Then went to lay down after.

By afternoon, I felt closer to normal and was able to get out for a short walk. The head compression and all other symptoms had subsided. No ill effects from the walk which was a good sign.

An easy walk down the block from our chalet

I’ve taking the recovery seriously, but broken down slightly by the eve. I had been wanting beer and had a Guinness with dinner. An old belief I still hold onto – that Guinness is good for you, especially when you’re sick!

Today, and as of this moment, I feel great. I woke up feeling better than the previous day. Am I back to normal? I’m not being over confident so I opted actually do no more than riding a half a block down the street just to test out the new mountain bikes Mike got for the house.

Like last time, I’ve been tracking the metrics on my Garmin Epix 2. I’m wearing my watch 24/7 to monitor everything. In particularly, I’m paying attention to Stress, RHR (Resting Heart Rate), HRV (Heart Rate Variability), and Pulse Ox. Interestingly enough, Stress dipped to it’s lowest on Wednesday, when I first noticed a slight soreness in the throat and felt a bit nasally. I thought it was allergens in the air and the hot temps. It went up a bit a on Thursday when I tested positive but not an alarming spike (as last time). Friday was a minor uptick. Saturday, the day symptoms started to lessen, was the biggest spike and the peak level of stress before it came back down to Thursday’s levels.

Stress during COVID on Garmin Epix 2
Stress trended up before dropping down on Sunday.

HRV is a component of Garmin’s Stress measurement and likewise trended in tandem with last night being the lowest of the week (in general, higher is healthier).

RHR had been flat Wednesday through Friday. Again, Saturday spiked up despite feeling better. And this morning my RHR was still elevated at the same level. This could have been the Guinness, though it’s low in alcohol so who knows. (I’ve been hydrating very well the entire 4 days BTW.)

Resting Heart Rate increased despite feeling better.

Pulse Ox I didn’t find to be that useful this time. It’s hard to say if and when it’s accurate, just only when there’s a dramatic change. I did not see any this time. Maybe because of the oranges Usha bought me and the extra C helped. But clearly, I’ve had no respiratory problems so I’m probably getting good oxygen into the blood. The one observation I did make however is after I went for a 45 minute walk. I had my highest Pulse Ox readings of the week. And I did feel good. So there maybe something to be said for getting some light exercise to get the blood flowing just a bit. Granted, this may also have been the cause of the spike in stress and perhaps RHR when I went to sleep. Even though it was a super super easy walk and I felt no weakness or fatigue, perhaps this is a good warning/indicator to not push your luck. A brisk walk might have been detrimental and set me back.

Well, I would not been able to sit at my computer long enough to write this blog post a couple days ago. I have my energy and focus back. Planning an antigen test and then hoping to go for a short run tomorrow.

COVID in Chamonix

Since Chris left Chamonix following Marathon du Mont Blanc she’s been adamant about me masking from the time I arrive at SFO til I arrive at the chalet in Chamonix. She didn’t want me taking the Mountain Drop Off shuttle, and while here I am to avoid crowded places (“no Aiguille du Midi!”). No one masking anymore here and it’s everywhere. Well, I took her advice. Unfortunately, it seems to be highly contagious and it didn’t take long…

Confirmed it wasn’t allergies or a cold.

6 days after arrival I’ve tested positive. The hope is that since I’ve double vaxed with a current booster that this won’t last too long. Crossing my fingers…