With some pretty high temperatures expected during the race, I decided it was time to get some acclimatization done. so last week I took myself off to Dahab on the Red Sea so that i could do some training in the heat. I picked a package tour with Neilson as it included flights, accommodation and food at a bargain price and if I wanted to mountain biking and watersports. The desert in the hills above Dahab were ideal having a range of different terrain from sand, to gravel to rock.
Day one was reasonably relaxing - a 5 mile gentle jog in the morning followed by a 10 mile bike ride in the afternoon. The weather was quite warm for the time of the year and the first thing I noticed was how much quicker I started to breathe heavily.
Day two I was up early for a 10 mile bike ride before breakfast. I then had a reasonably relaxing morning and lunch and in the afternoon I followed the same course on foot. The initial "climb" was a steady incline about 2 miles in length. Then there was a long flat section before a steep descent through a bedouin camp and onto the beach. Then it was a steady 5 miles back along the beach with the sun at my back. I wore compression tights and have to say that they were quite comfortable in spite of the heat and being black. The pack weighed in at 9 kg and I was starting to feel the grinding in both my hip joints. The physio told me there was not much I could do apart from get younger and not run with weights! Oh well. Also used the peaked Buff for the first time. Felt strange to start with, but the visor kept the glare off and then as I was sweating the sweat dripped off the neoprene peak and fell to the floor. So all in all very happy with it.
Day three and I did a similar routine to the previous day except the bike route in the morning went up a serious hill. It also went through the centre of Dahab on the way and as I was getting some very strange looks running in the midday sun with a pack and unflattering tights i opted for the same route as the day before. I took the poles today but could not use them as the handle had collapsed the day before - only used them 4 times! They will have to go back. Wore shorts for this run and interestingly, started to feel cramp coming along at around the 8 mile mark. worked through it, but reckon that compression tights might be the way forward.
Day five (I missed out four as I had a day off and went diving) and my hips were really playing up. I wanted to get some miles on my feet to see how they held up. So i did 5 miles with the pack first thing in the morning, then another fast five miles just before lunch without anything. Felt weird taking all the weight off and going running. Then around 2 in the afternoon I did around a 7 - 8 mile walk at a good pace. This helped me to stretch some of the joints - i decided not to take the pack. At the end of that 18 mile day across desert terrain I felt ok. The shoes were looking like they had taken a battering, the poles were knackered and the Odlo shirt had performed brilliantly. The Helly shirt I didnt like - can't explain why - it felt hot, itchy and just seemed to feel wet all the time. Oh and used the neck cobber. A neck tie that you soak and the crystals swell and stay cold for ages, cooling the blood in the carotid - it was brilliant. Definitely coming with me to MdS.
Day 6 and I was feeling tired. 3 days of the squits had not helped, but my drinking routine was sorting that out. Getting through around 6 litres a day and 1.8 for every 10 miles I did. Useful info to know. I did a 5 mile job today, but even that was hard as going one way was into a force 7 gale! Coming back was fun though. Also used the day to try out cooking pots, worked out how many fuel tablets it needed to boil 600ml and used the wind break. A few flaws so will need to make mark 2. Sadly broke my sun glasses today as well so will add that to the list of have to buy items along with some more reliable poles.
Then it was time to pack up and go. worth doin? Absolutely - infact I think I need to go again before the race - however that will depend on money and time available.