We ate, we moved and we actually avoided injuries. Nothing really bad happened. But even if nothing happens your body feels torn and achy after a week. Eric took a big fall on the bike but shook it off. It resulted in a huge bruise on the hip. It took a few hours to fix the bike in the middle of the night but after that he kept going. He fell down a steep hill and was lucky to hit a boulder that stopped him. He basically disappeared in the darkness. I took a couple of falls on the bike but nothing that hurt. It was tipping over because I fell asleep riding. One of those things that happens when you don’t sleep.
Feet: You can imagine what happens when your feet are wet for 7 days straight. We had our first river crossing 12 miles into the race, I got wet up to my waste. I went through 20 pairs of wool socks in 7 days but the socks never stayed dry more than 5 minutes. Crossing the glacier in ice and snow took us close to 2 days of walking and climbing. I had cold feet from the first step and got hypothermic the first night. When I finally took my boots off after 2 days my toes had changed color and shape. 4 days into the race I had blisters on every toe and around my heals but it was not as bad as I thought it would be. My toes and feet are still numb and I am on my second round of antibiotics for an infection. I still have trouble wearing shoes, but I finally got a pair of runners on and got a few miles in. I have a big toe that looks yummy.
Fingers/Hands: Bushwhacking in Alaska is not so different from bushwhacking in Washington. The only difference is probably the huge Devils Club that goes through everything, even gardening gloves. I had a bad infection under my fingernails from all the thorns when I returned home and my hands were covered in tiny blisters. It only took a few days to clear it up with penicillin but I am still completely numb and very clumsy.
Lungs: Got a lot of water in my lungs after the pack raft got caught in a strainer upside down. And a sore throat and stuffed up sinuses. Still working on that.
Hips: Completely seized up before the 70 mile bike. It was so painful to walk but if I managed to get up on the bike, and I was fine. Overload of pills for the last 3 days of the race. I still can’t lift my left leg and it looks like I’m 85 when I get in the car.
Shoulder: I had no strength in my right arm when I paddled the last days but could not really figure out what it was. Realized when I got home that it popped a little bit out of place. It’s now completely frozen and my shoulder blade points out. I can’t even lift a milk carton out of the fridge or hold it straight out. And my strategy has been to wait it out… it’s not working that well.
Bruises: All over the body from bumping in to rocks, ice, trees, falling, tipping over…
Tailbone: Coming down the glacier included a really steep climb down tundra and a bushwhack in the dark. I managed to glide and fall a few times which resulted in a very sore tailbone. We were all happy we still carried our ice axes for self-rescue gliding on the grass. I crushed my tailbone a few years ago and got the same feeling this time, including the bleeding part. Biking and paddling did not feel comfortable.
I will bring more socks and shoes next time. Even if they get wet it’s a nice feeling to put on dry shoes.
I think we all did well with clothes. I wore double jackets a few days and sometimes even triple. I even wore my down coat under my dry suite a few times. Glacier water is cold. I would bring one more down coat for the TA next time and one more sleeping bag to keep in my bin.
So, it’s overall pretty good. Nothing broken this time but lots of stuff to heal. It’s been nearly two weeks since I left Alaska and I think it’s the first time in years I don’t feel like working out. But if I had a bike around I would probably go for a ride. I’ve been out running the last 3 days, short runs. Lots of compresses and tape on my toe and roomy pair of shoes. I don’t feel tired, it’s easy breathing 8 minute miles but my body feels torn. I think it’s time to sign up for a new race to get the mojo back.