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Rise to the Challenge

Yesterday my friend, Rachel, approached me with an interesting opportunity.  Run the Mount Everest Ultra Marathon with her.  If you’re not familiar with what an Ultra Marathon is, I would love to explain.  A marathon is a 26.2 mile running race.  An Ultra Marathon is a race beyond the 26.2 mile mark.  At this stage in my life I have ran a few marathons, but never an ultra.  To complicate the challenge this is the Mount Everest Ultra Marathon.  It is advertised as being the highest marathon on Earth.  The starting point for the race is at Mount Everest Base Camp, an elevation of 17,572 feet.

Here is the challenge.  As I have previously stated, I have run marathons in the past.  My last full marathon was over ten years ago.  Currently I am not in marathon shape.  After surgery I am 20 lbs. heavier than my ideal weight and my ideal weight is a little heavier than my ideal marathon weight.  when assessing this challenge I need to lose 30 lbs. right off the bat.

The second complication is the altitude.  I live, breathe and work at 19 feet above sea level.  At 17,000 feet the air is thinner.  A condition called hypoxia sets in at higher altitudes.  According to “Hypoxemia (low oxygen in your blood) can cause hypoxia (low oxygen in your tissues) when your blood doesn’t carry enough oxygen to your tissues to meet your body’s needs.”  To put it in simple terms the higher you are the less quality oxygen there is in the air.  At sea level when you breathe in the air has close to 21% oxygen in it.  When you ascend to higher elevations you leave yourself susceptible to acute mountain sickness (lower amounts of oxygen in the air and ultimately your body).  Generally, you will acclimate to the elevation and quality of the air given enough time elapses at altitude.  Normally within a week people will report the symptoms (Headache, Dizziness, Nausea, Vomiting, Fatigue and loss of energy, Shortness of breath, Problems with sleep and Loss of appetite) resolve.  The above symptoms can present anytime someone from sea level (me) goes above 8,000 feet.  In addition to the above symptoms I may also experience; loss of coordination and trouble walking, severe headache that doesn’t get better with medication, tightening in my chest, confusion, shortness of breath even at rest, inability to walk, a cough that produces a white or pink frothy substance and Coma.  The more severe symptoms occur at the higher elevations.  At 17,000 feet there is only the equivalent of 11% oxygen in the air.  Not to sound pessimistic but I can almost guarantee I will experience some of these symptoms.

The third consideration is the financial and logistical constraints.  The sign-up for this ultra is $2700.00 (flights not included).  Additionally, it is going to require three weeks of vacation time.  Prior to embarking on the race participants are required to be in Nepal getting accustomed to the environment and trek up to base camp.

When speaking with Rachel I did not give her an answer immediately.  Instead I informed her that I would think about it and let her know in a few days.  This permitted me time to evaluate if this challenge is something I can and/or want to do.  So far, I managed to identify all the negative considerations.

What is the benefit of doing such an extreme challenge?

Accomplishment.  Run my first ultra-marathon at a higher elevation than I have ever been.

Explore a place I have never been.

Have a definable fitness goal to work toward.

Spend time training with a truly amazing person.

Experience something most people never will.

When weighing the pros and cons of participating in the Mount Everest Ultra Marathon I believe I have far more to gain by going for it.  Once I say I am in I am giving my word that I am going to do it.  To back out will be a breach of my integrity and honor.  So, this is my very public declaration that I will be competing in the Mount Everest Ultra Marathon, May 2021.

There is enough time between now and the event to figure the rest out.  Rachel and I will discuss training timelines and logistics to make the rest happen.  The important thing is the commitment is made and I am ready to be held accountable.

Looking into the future I must ask, what big goals have you been putting off?

Does something in your life seem overwhelming?

What looks impossible from your current perspective?

Big challenges in life really aren’t that scary.  It’s just a matter of breaking down and identifying what steps need to be taken.  Then establish a timeline.  Am I ready to run the Mount Everest Ultra Marathon now?  No.  Will I be ready to meet my objective when the time comes?  Absolutely.

Well friends I am asking you to shoot me an email.  Tell me about your big goals.  What have you hesitated to commit to?  Make that commitment to yourself today and if you need someone to keep you accountable, I’m right here.  Remember you are more likely to regret what you don’t do than what you do.  Let’s live without regret.  Let’s LIVE BOLD.!!!

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