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J173 - Wednesday, April 7: in the mountains – St Andrä (Austria)

73.05km – 9H59’
Altitude : 526m
Last night there was frost and this morning the sky is blue.  There is beautiful, dry, cool weather waiting for Serge, who starts the day with a nice climb in the pine woods to the border between Slovenia and Austria.  The recently built border post (1995) is closed down.  After the ascent, there is a nice downhill and like a lot of runners, Serge is not a fan of these long descents, which strain the knees due to eccentric or negative work on the quadriceps.  But Serge is no longer complaining about his knee and he had better not, since he refuses to take care of it!!! Dr. Roattino prescribed an anti-inflammatory treatment for 15 days, which Ludovic brought in his luggage, because we have no anti-inflammatory drugs with us (they disagree with Serge).  Mr. Serge, after a lot of discussion, said “OK, I will take the medicine but as soon as it upsets my stomach I will stop”.  So for 5 days he remembered twice in the evening to take the pill with a gastric demulcent, then Finished!  So I won’t fight with him anymore, since he is stubborn as a mule; however, he had better not come whispering in my ear that his knee hurts. On the other hand, Ludo, a physiotherapist, offered to give him a massage or mobilize his legs.  Serge refused each time!  Moral, Ludo has stopped asking him.  So Serge is not running under medication, except for an occasional Paracetamol (an over-the-counter pain reliever & fever reducer) or with the relief of any massage.  He does no stretching, but there experience leads me to agree with this decision in his case and I will stop here because that is a story for another time.  He does not take any food supplements (in answer to a question which I received via Internet).  The only substances he swallows, with the exception of water and Coca-Cola are:  a Red Bull  if he is exhausted, which has been rather frequent lately toward km 45-50, and a drink that does not upset his stomach and which was supplied by the laboratory Affysport de Guérande: Hydrenergy4.  At the start and knowing Serge, I didn’t think he would use this drink for long periods.  In the end, he was drinking 1 liter per day until he had his stomach flu in January, at which time he had trouble finding a balance of nourishment so he stopped for 1 month.  Since then he takes ½ liter per day of that drink.  The fact is that for such a long period, it is difficult to eat and drink the same thing every day.  The “support team” can attest to the fact that it is very hard to find food to replace things that Serge does not want to eat: for example, the “Bolinos” (freeze-dried meals) or the delicatessen or nougat or fruit.  Often the refusal of a “pseudo” dietary habit is due to stomach acidity or poor digestion.  After the first three months, when everything was going well, from time to time it is good to adjust the food, which is very basic, with nothing out of the ordinary during the 14 daily feedings.  There is no wonder-working powder, just willpower and past experience and without any doubt a certain ability to put up with sore legs, which started the second day of the race.  That’s Serge’s secret.  I forgot to say that Serge sleeps like a baby, between 9 to 11 hours per night and psychologically, it is what enables him to recuperate.

Town : St Andrä (Carinthie)

GPS : N 46.44’25.3° E 014.47’14.5 °