Race Schedule

2018 Races…TBD!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Minnesota Voyageur 50M: Getting it Right

Waaaaaay back in 2000, Geof ran his very first ultra at the Minnesota Voyageur 50.  Upon putting together our racing schedule for 2010, we noticed how well it fit in with our Leadville training and decided to make the trip up for it.  After about a 9 hour drive up from Chicago, we arrived in lovely Carlton, MN for packet pick-up followed by a spaghetti dinner at the Cozy Cafe in downtown Carlton.  When we walked into the Cafe, we were greeted by a large table of fellow runners that invited us to join them for dinner.  Sounds good to me!  Robert Wehner (Glacial Trails 50/50 RD), Pat Gorman, Brenda Bland and Kathy Siculan were familiar faces at the table and made us very welcome in their group and we had a great time chatting with them, thanks guys and gals!

After wandering around the waterfront area of Duluth for a bit afterwards and grabbing some much needed ice cream, we headed back to our hotel to put the final touches on our drop bag which we would have waiting for us at the Fond du Lac aid station (miles 15.5 and 34.5).  Lights out by 10:00.  The Country Inn and Suites in South Duluth is where it's at if you're ever in the area...lovely hospitality!

Walking along Lake Superior in downtown Duluth.  Gorgeous, huh?!

Since the race didn't start until 7:00 a.m., and we were only a 15 minute drive from the start, we "slept in" until 5:15, we spoiled ourselves :)  After prepping and dressing, we grabbed some coffee downstairs and I grabbed a plain bagel to help settle my hungry tummy.  I went with my rockin' Atayne CHUG shirt, my Drymax Maximum Protection socks, and my trusty La Sportiva Wildcats for this adventure, along with some compression shorts and a skirt, of course.  I found I was having a blistering issue with the original insoles in the Wildcats, so I did some experimenting at this race.  Since I was already babying two relatively fresh blisters from my long run a week prior (in which I did NOT wear my Drymax socks...coincidence? I think not!) so I wasn't too keen on the idea of adding to the collection.  I pulled out the insoles from my Brooks road shoes and replaced the Wildcat insoles with these.  They fit perfect!  Plus, I had the added benefit of a little extra cushion.  Shazam!  The Wildcat insoles are really smooth and firm and this allows my foot to move around a lot within the shoe which = friction, which = blisters.  Sheer genius if I do say so myself :)

Moving on!  So this race was going to be a little treading of the Leadville waters to see what we each had in the tank.  We decided we were going to run this one together and just enjoy the day.  Voyageur is a fairly technical and challenging out-and-back course, from Carlton to Duluth and back, but I found it to be very runnable in most sections...except for the powerlines (oh good heavens, the powerlines...the pain, the suffering, oh the humanity!).  But I digress.  At precisely 7:00 Andy Holak, RD extraordinaire, sent us off into the warm and muggy morning, skies threatening to open up on us.
The starting field of ~150 runners
Photo Credit: Helen Lavin

This was my very first visit to Minnesota, so this run was going to give me a good tour of what it has to offer.  It is gorgeous!  The first 1/2 mile or so heads up a paved bike path before turning onto the Carlton Trail which was going to be a fast introduction to technical trail running for anyone who hadn't done it before.  Thankfully, I remembered to put on my agility hat that day and managed to navigate the tricky terrain with no problems.  In fact, I managed to stay vertical the whole race, imagine that!  We stayed on the Carlton Trail for about 3.5 miles.  The terrain is very rocky and rooty, and follows along a rushing river.  
The view to your left coming across Swinging Bridge
Photo Credit: Helen Lavin

The trail was lush and green and muddy in spots due to recent rains, and got even muddier after it rained later in the race. Eventually, we got to the Swinging Bridge which literally swung as you ran across it, kind of unsettling at first.

Heading out along Swinging Bridge, ~mile 3.5
Photo Credit: Helen Lavin

The first aid station was right after the bridge, but since we planned ahead and prepared ourselves 4-hour bottles of Perpetuem we didn't need anything so kept on going across the parking lot and back onto another trail.  We were moving good and I felt amazing.  My feet were happy, my legs were happy, my head was in the right place and things were just clicking.  Since much of the trail is single track, I took a spot behind Geof and kept my eyes focused on his feet.  It's hypnotizing and gets me into a really good rhythm for some reason.  His feet are magic :)  We walked big hills and ran everything else.  I was very quickly thankful for all the calf endurance exercises I've been working on, in addition to the gazillion planks and decline squats I do most days!  We noticed others getting off course pretty easily, despite the really well marked course.  There are a number of intersections, though, where, if you're not looking up, it's easy to get off course.  I think technical courses need to mark the trail down low since runners are looking down most of the time in order to negotiate terrain.  Some food for thought.  There are a number of stream crossings in this race, but with some snazzy footwork and balance you can pretty much avoid getting your feet wet. 

Just after the 10.5 mile aid station you enter the portion of the course called powerlines, named for the...powerlines...that you follow along it :)  Holy EFF!  Those things are steeeeeeeep!  I guess it was good training for Hope Pass and Sugarloaf Pass, though.  Geof described the powerlines section perfectly later on: "if you stood straight and reached out two feet in front of you without bending over, you'd touch the hill we had to run, it was that steep."  I don't know how long this section was, but there were more than a handful of these 300 ft. climbs and descents up narrow and slippery trail.  Some portions were so steep going up that I was grabbing branches and plants alongside the trail to keep from tipping backwards!  Then, you had to get down the backside of it.  If the muddy trail had been any muddier, we could have slid down these on our butts very easily!  My quads and hams held up amazingly well during the race, but now I'm feeling it.  The second time over powerlines, heading back to the finish line, the sun had come out and humidity had risen considerably so getting through this section was even tougher due to the exposed climbing.  Beyond the powerlines were miles and miles of glorious runnable trail, stream crossings, technical footing, steep climbs (but not as steep as powerlines!), running across ski slopes, along quiet country roads, and through some of the greenest forest I've ever seen.  The rain trickled down lightly on us from time to time, but the thick canopy of trees kept us from getting soaked.  For a field of ~140 runners on an out-and-back course it sure was quiet.  We could go miles before seeing anyone else. 

Naturally, as soon as I had to pee and stepped off course around a corner, someone pops up behind us and yells that we're going off course...where did she come from?!  I said we were taking a quick pee-tour :) laughing at my own clever quip.  Speaking of bodily functions, I noticed that I was holding up really well.  My stomach was happy, and I was on top of the S!Caps like white on rice.  I was taking a salt cap every 45 minutes since it was so humid and I was sweating so much, and this kept my hands from getting puffy, until the final 5 miles where I completely stopped paying attention to nutrition.  I was drinking my 4-hour Perpetuem from a bottle along with some gulps of plain water from my Nathan Intensity pack to make it taste less gross, and also took in one gel per hour.  Most of the aid stations had watermelon so I ate that whenever we stopped.  We managed to skip the first four aid stations since they were so close together (about every 2-4 miles).  Eventually we began to see the front runners heading back.  Showoffs.  They were moving to effortlessly :)  Before long we knew we were getting close to the turnaround at mile 25 (neither of us were wearing GPS for this race, only HR monitors) so we took it up a notch.  Before we knew it, we were rolling into the turnaround and I was verrrrry happy...

Coming into the Zoo AS Turnaround at mile 25
Photo Credit: Eve Stein

The rain had picked up some and we were running in exposed areas, so both of us were now soaked from that, in addition to being insanely sweaty from the humidity.  Can we say ripe? :)

I grabbed a couple chunks of watermelon and another gel from the aid station table and we headed out.  We were freakin' rockstars with these aid stations.  All our stops were under one minute, generally under 30 seconds I would say, except for Fond du Lac the second time through, at mile 34.5, when we both made a sock change, which may have been close to five minutes.  I liked just rolling through stations rather than lolly gagging.  The way back was more uphill at first so we powerhiked it, then we got to the road and that was downhill, so we ran.  Running across the ski slopes was flat, so we ran that, too.  We were moving, though it felt faster than it actually was :)  I gave up on any sort of PR at the turnaround, which we reached in just barely over five hours, knowing the powerlines were going to give us a run for our money, literally.  So, I let myself settle into having a solid race and feeling good.  I focused a lot on my form once I began to fatigue, which really set in around mile 40.  I made sure my feet were under my hips, hips pitched forward, core contracted, shoulders back.  Magic.  Still, nothing was bothering me and I felt infinitely better than I had during our 24 mile run the weekend before.  Particularly of note, my lower back never made a peep throughout this race...all those planks are paying off, no doubt!

At mile 34.5, we both sat and changed into clean socks to freshen up the feet for the final 15.5 miles into Carlton.  I put on a fresh pair o' Drymax Max Pros and it felt like I had new feet!  We refilled our Perpetuem bottles for the third and final time and then headed back out.  Shortly after this station, we managed to get off course and crossed a stream we didn't need to cross, of which I managed to plant my left foot directly into.  So much for fresh, dry feet!  Once we crossed I noticed there weren't any of the shocking pink ribbons on the trail, so we crossed back over and backtracked a hundred yards and found where we went wrong.  Back on track and we went quietly on our way.  Geof wasn't having the best day, mentally, so he was within himself and I just ran along with sunshine coming out of my every pore!  But, after our second go of the powerlines, I began to get a little grumpy.  Those powerlines took it out of me, but I was still happy to be done with them.  The aid station informed us it was another 10.5 miles and I decided I hated hearing that.  I ate more watermelon and Geof had some pop as we headed back out.  We sort of switched roles here, he was the sunshiney one and I was grumpy.  After a few miles of everything starting to feel achy from the pounding, and my insatiable thirst for water (despite drinking copious amounts of it all day long!), Geof gave me a couple of ibuprofen.  Oh bless it!  Why didn't I do that earlier?!  We got to the second to last aid station and I was sure that was the last aid station and I wanted to shout bloody murder when I was told there were still 5.5 miles to the finish (curses!).  I drank a cup of defizzed Mt. Dew and downed a couple cups of ice cold water as we walked out of the station and across the road.  Now I was peeved.  WTF, where did my good mood go?  Geof said to be patient, that the ibuprofen would kick in and then I'd feel better.

Of course he was right, Geof is always right :)  It kicked in just before the final aid station, at the Swinging Bridge.  I said aloud, "suck it up Troelstrup!" and those were like magic words somehow.  I had some more defizzed Mt. Dew at the station and we kept on our merry way...
Coming into the final aid station, just before Swinging Bridge, mile 46.5
Photo Credit: Helen Lavin

Now we were back on the super-technical Carlton Trail and thank goodness I had my head and my legs back...I needed 'em!  We moved swiftly and consistently, switching back and forth up front.  The rushing river was on our right now and we could catch short glimpses of it when the trail cleared a bit here and there.  The sun had been swallowed by clouds once more and it cooled just slightly for this final stretch.  We could smell the finish line and were getting stoked as we approached the end of the trail. 

We ran alongside this for awhile, it was just beautiful!
Photo Credit: Helen Lavin

The trail plopped us out on the paved bike path and suddenly my legs kicked into high gear.  We began flying, knowing there was a little less than a mile or so to the finish line, around a bend.  I was breathing heavy, but my legs felt effortless in their movement.  As we neared the bend, I saw a runner up ahead, rounding the corner.  I asked Geof if he could tell if it was a chick and as we got closer, saw that it was.  I said something 'competitive' under my breath and then motioned to Geof to follow.  We busted out and around that corner and passed the poor gal like she was just standing there.  I'd like to believe there was a rush of wind as we passed her :)  I felt bad doing that in the final straightaway, but I've never done that before and I couldn't pass up the chance!  I always get passed like that in the final steps and this time it was my turn.  And I loved it!  What a rush!  We crossed the line gasping for air in 11:33:29.  I left it all out there in that final mile and it felt darn good.

Andy came up to congratulate us and give us our custom made finisher mugs, which totally rock.  We then immediately headed to the truck to grab our bags so we could shower up and eat some of the post-race lasagna dinner being served inside the finishline headquarters, Carlton High School. 

This was a fanTAStic race and we will be back.  It was a lot tougher than Geof had remembered it being, but very true to the course description posted on the website, so I wasn't taken off guard by it.  I can't believe how good I felt throughout the race, and how well everything held up.  Other than the weird thirst I was having, causing me to be a little picky about what I ate or drank in the last 20ish miles, everything was spot on.  This was just the confidence boost I needed for Leadville in four weeks.  I finished feeling like I could have gone on...not that I necessarily felt I wanted to go on, but that I could :)  That's a good feeling.  Another good feeling? not having any blisters, even with high humidity!  Also another good feeling? a tummy full of Wisconsin cheddar cheese popcorn and chocolate milk on the drive home after the race. 

Feels good to get it right.

You can read Geof's account of the day here: That's A Wrap.

Crash, out.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Badwater 135: Drinkin' the Kool-Aid

"It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves." ~Edmund Hillary

Badwater.  That race is in a category all its own.  You really can't clump it in with other races.  It's like apples to...mangoes. 

Geof and I had the immense pleasure of joining our friend and fellow CHUG, Adrian Belitu, for his second running of the Badwater 135 in Death Valley, CA from July 12-14.  When we got the call back in May asking us to join the crew, we immediately set about rearranging our schedules and vacation plans to fit a week of Badwater crewing in.  As an ultrarunner, or even as a running enthusiast, you don't pass up an invite to crew at Badwater, you just don't.  Boy were we excited!  A crew of two is now a crew of four. 

So, now what?

Heat training?  Nah, nothing in the world can properly prepare you for the kind of heat you experience in Death Vally.  Nothing.  At least that was our experience.  So I'm glad we didn't waste any time in saunas.  If we were the ones running, perhaps a different story, but as a crew member I wouldn't worry with that.  I'd worry more about getting enough sleep and knowing your runner!

Fast forward a couple of months.  Lisa Smith-Batchen drops from the race due to a broken foot sustained during her 50 miles in 50 states adventure, so that means Ed Kelly and Terry Madl are looking for a runner to crew for.  The sky has cleared, the sun has shone, and the angels are singing in harmony.  We are going to have the most kick ASS crew ever!  And then there were six.

Geof and I fly into Vegas, drive up and down the strip waiting for Jim's flight to get in, then we head towards the local wally world to meet up with Ed and Terry, who drove the 25 hours from Chicago in Ed's mini-van (aka Team Belitu Headquarters).  After buying out Wal-Mart's entire stock of jug water, loading up on Gatorade, crew snacks, sunscreen and Tecate (c'mon, it was Saturday...still two full days before the race!) we began the 150ish mile drive to Furnace Creek, in Death Valley, CA.  We made a couple stops along the way since we're touristy like that.  Dante's View gives you a bird's-eye-view of Death Valley, and from there we could see where the race starts and where the road courses through the valley in the initial miles of the race.  So that was cool.

Once at the Ranch at Furnace Creek we quickly settled into relaxation mode, hanging out in Adrian and Simone's air conditioned room, enjoying some top-notch Tecate from the can, eventually heading over to the restaurant for dinner
Oh, did I mention how hot it was?  119 degrees.  And it was mid-afternoon.  Heat so hot you feel like you're sitting in an oven with hairdryers blowing at full blast.  Just like that.  But, there's no humidity, which totally rocks.  It's like being wrapped in a sweat wicking down blanket.  You sweat, but it evaporates.  Ladies, you know when you open an oven to check to make sure you aren't burning your grub and the heat hits you in the face and is so hot your mascara melts to your eyelid?  It was so hot, that actually happened to me.  Note to self: no mascara in Death Valley.

Since we had three vehicles, and you're only allowed two during the race (one as the main vehicle, and the second one as a shuttle for crew), we decided to drop off our rental car in Lone Pine and stash anything we wouldn't need until Wednesday in the trunk.  We devised a plan and early Sunday morning, Ed, Terry, Geof and I set out driving the race course into Lone Pine.  I loved that we did this since it gave us the grand tour of the first 120 miles of the race in daylight.  A bonus since a lot of the course would be in darkness once the race began.
On the drive to Lone Pine we stopped at this place...something to do with Borax mining.  Looked so cool.
Heading back to Furnace Creek...had to stop at this sign :)

Once back at the Ranch we joined Adrian, Jim and Simone in prepping the van for the next day.  It was awesome!  I just kind of observed since Ed, Terry, Jim and Simone were already the crew experts and they had it down to a science getting everything placed right!  I learned a lot from this group throughout the next few days.  Learning from the best!
The start of the transformation of Ed's van...soon it would be bulging with more water, coolers, crew members, spray bottles, food, sweaty shoes and socks, sunblock and lots of laughs.

While we figured out how to put all the appropriate signage on the two vehicles, I noticed a guy with a big camera walking around taking pictures of us...it was Drymax Bob!  It was great to meet the man behind my very favorite socks finally.  Very cool dude, and he hooked up Team Belitu with a bunch of their rockin' Hot Weather Running Socks (very apropos).  These socks really stood up to the test throughout the race and I loved giving them a go.  I love Drymax :)  Thanks, Bob! 

Once the vehicles were ready, it was about time to head over for the pre-race meeting.  This was fun as it gave a chance to see all the runners at once, listen to some funny bantar, stare shamelessly at the big names you read about but never actually see, watch the recap video from the previous year's race, and sweat your ass off in an air conditioned room packed with close to 500 bodies. 

The 2010 Badwater 135 runners

Quick dinner and then we all hit the hay.  Adrian was starting with the 10:00 a.m. wave (there are three waves, 6a, 8a and 10a) so we didn't have too early of a wake-up call, and it gave us a chance to eat a real breakfast before hitting the road in order to arrive by 9:30 for all the shenanigans.

Geof, Me, Terry, Simone, Adrian, Jim and Ed just before leaving FC for Badwater Basin

Ed and Terry being the stand-up guys that they are, they opted to hang back at Furnace Creek so that Geof and I could go to the Basin for the start.  Race officials stressed the rule about having only as many people in a vehicle as there are seat belts, and, as it were, we were going to be over that limit by one person once Adrian was out.  Ed and Terry have been there done that at BW a couple times so it was really cool of them :)  Thanks guys!  The start was abuzz and overflowing with nervous energy: photogs and videographers running around snapping shots and getting B-roll; runners putting on the final touches, chattering nervously with crew and friends; medical staff weighing runners; everyone taking their turn to snap some pictures with the Badwater sign; pit stops at the last actual outhouse for 17 miles; water being consumed at lightening speed to counter all the sweating.  Intense!  
Finally, Chris (RD) rounds up the troops for the group photo in front of the sign before corralling everyone up to the road for the start.
Everyone is so clean and pretty, and smiling.  That won't last very long...!

Jim and I stood up on the gravel to the left of the start, to see the action, "just like it is in the movie!"  Watching them all take off gave me goose bumps.  The first steps in 135 miles of steps.  This was also going to be the first and only time we would ever see the eventual winner, Zach Gingerich...he took off from the start and kept going.  That dude is sick!

We were now getting a crash course in crewing at Badwater.  There would be no downtime for the next three hours as we followed Adrian along the course to Furnace Creek, where Geof and I would swap out with Ed and Terry.  Ed would be joining Adrian on the road, kicking off the pacing duties.  We stopped about every 1/4 mile to jump out of the van, spray Adrian down with ice water, wrap a towel drenched in ice water around his shoulders, swap out his bottle and make sure all was okay, all while running or walking behind him.  It took a few miles, but we did get into a groove: Jim was the sprayer, Simone was the towel-er, Geof was the water bottle swapper and I was the picture taker :) 
I'll say this now: crewing at Badwater is hands down the most exhausting thing I've done...even more so than running 100 miles.  You are constantly prepping things in the vehicle for the next stop, and as soon as you jump back in to head up the road, you're about to jump back out to get something else to the runner.  Don't get comfortable, that's the kiss of death because then you're useless.  Up and down, up and down, my ankles were sore from jumping in and out of the van onto the heavily cambered, gravel roadside!  Every 3-4 hours we would swap out with two other crew members and take a rest.  Geof and I would grab something to eat usually, and try to sleep in the shuttle vehicle, but that usually didn't work out too well, so we were pretty sleep deprived.  It wasn't until the second night (maybe 36 hours into the race) that we finally got actual quality sleep (for 2 hours).

Adrian was a superstar runner to crew for.  We could not have asked for a better person to crew.  He never lost his temper...he never even showed signs of any discontent...he wasn't even close to being demanding, I think he may have been more worried about all of us than he was about himself!  Adrian's a pretty independent dude and knew exactly what he wanted each time he stopped.  This made our job very easy and kept things going really smoothly.  After a couple of early shoe changes due to the ice towel dripping into his shoes, his feet were good to go.  He was moving really well and had such good spirits.  The only real issue was his stomach, and this was something he wasn't anticipating as he didn't have that problem last year.  So, he began the tough process of problem-solving on the go.  Before long, most of his calories were coming from defizzed regular Coke and Mt. Dew, and by the first night he was subsisting on PB&J and...MILK!  Since he was drinking so much milk, he didn't want to run for a bit afterwards so that the milk could settle, very smart move.  He did get sick a couple of times, but just as soon as he was done he was back out on the road.

Geof paced the next 17-20 miles after Terry finished his leg.  This was part of the early, hotter part of the first day and he did so well!  I was proud of him and couldn't help but picture him doing this one day...
Van with a view: Adrian and Geof

I was having a great time working with Jim and Simone, learning more and more, and laughing so hard at times I thought I would burst :)  Can't hate that!  After Geof finished pacing, Jim jumped in for a short stretch, running with the water sprayer behind Adrian.  They began the long climb up to Townes Pass, and when they got here... 
Who says the desert doesn't have any good views?!

...it was time to put on the night running gear.  Each person on the road is required to wear a reflective vest and at least two blinking red lights (one front, one back) in addition to a headlamp or handheld light.  This is where I jumped in, 7:00 p.m.  The grade wasn't too steep and easily runnable with fresh legs, but with however many miles it was at this point in your legs, plus the heat, most everyone was hiking up this section.  Adrian and I had a really good clip going up and he was in great spirits still.  We chatted on and off about random things, meeting the crew every 1/2 mile now.  I was really enjoying myself, so happy to be out there with him, experiencing the course from the other side.  I recall the wind.  It was a'blowin' but not as bad as the year before I guess.  I had to turn my head to the side in order to hear Adrian.  The stars, oh, the stars!  They were bright and bountiful, and climbing higher and higher it looked as if you could reach up and touch them.  Adrian would snap off his headlamp from time to time, and I had mine on its lowest setting.  I wouldn't say you could run without light out there (no moon), but it was certainly a lovely sight without one.  I also really enjoyed the power walking; I'd like to think that's my specialty :)  I remember wondering when 100 degrees has ever felt chilly...I got goosebumps a few times during that section!  After spending a day near 130, a 30 degree drop is pretty significant.
Me, Simone, Adrian

I'm not exactly sure how much I got in the way of mileage, but Terry took over with about 3-4 miles left to the top of Townes Pass.  From there Ed would take over and bring Adrian back down the other side of the mountain and into Panamint Springs.  Once they jumped in, Geof and I went ahead into Panamint in search of the shower, food and maybe a nap.  Only two of those things materialized.

At Panamint Springs, there is a hotel with a cabin that is opened up to the runners and crew during the race.  It has three rooms and one bathroom.  The bathroom was stocked with toiletries and hand towels, very cool.  The rooms were stocked with bodies.  We stepped through a thick veil of bugs and into the chilly cabin and found ourselves surrounded.  People passed out on the couch, every bed, the floor.  There were a couple people in front of us in line for the shower, so we sat silently in the front room and waited.  As long as you didn't open your eyes in the bathroom, it was top notch!  I won't go into detail, but it was kinda gross :)  However, it was a shower and presented the opportunity to get clean for the first time in 24 hours.  Glorious!  We grabbed a burger inside the small restaurant and then made a very feeble attempt at a nap after that, but excitement and Adrian's impending arrival kept us pretty awake.  Oh well, maybe we'd get a nap the next evening :)

After a longish rest for Adrian when they came into Panamint, we headed out again.  The night was a funny thing.  Much quieter from the daytime and now runners were getting further and further separated on the road so it was pretty desolate now.  As the sun rose again from behind the mountains to the east (breath-taking) I was with Adrian again.  We witnessed a sunrise of awesome proportions; the mountains behind us were exploding with color and light.  We were hiking up a steep and winding pass up to Father Crowley I believe (man, I'm getting foggy on this already!).  I was holding a can of coke and marching quietly behind Adrian.  He had gotten quiet and seemed to be very within himself.  I'm not sure when the realization hit him, but in those very early morning hours it became clear that his sub-30 hour goal had slipped away in the night.  He seemed to come to terms with a second full day ahead of him very well.  He joked with us about another 24 hours and maintained his relatively sunny disposition and laid back nature.  What a trooper. 

The second day was in large part paced by Jim.  He did an amazing job and really kept things moving.  Great job, Jim!  He seemed taxed after a long stretch, but pushed on nonetheless.  It was another steamer, that second day, and perhaps hotter than the first!  We were convinced the van's thermometer maxed out at 130, but that it was actually considerably warmer, wow!  I was really feeling the effects of sleep deprivation, but was really thankful my stomach held up.  I made sure to keep up on water intake, salt and good calories...things that are far too easy to overlook when you're crewing and worrying about someone other than yourself.  It's so important to take care of yourself as crew/pacer during these events, perhaps equally as important as your runner. 

Boy did we laugh a lot during this journey.  Ed inhaling not one, but TWO double quarter pounders and fries was by far the most hilarious.  "I haven't eaten a burger from McDonald's in over seven years, and here I am eating two!"  I think we turned Ed back onto Mickey D's :)  We got some mileage on that one!  Later in the second evening, Adrian's stomach was really rebelling against him and he had stopped sweating and started shivering so he opted, very smartly, to take an extended rest in the van to catch up on fluids.  Feet up, laying on the floor he rested for a long while, drinking big amounts of Gatorade to rehydrate.  Simone wanted him to stake out so we could take him to medical, but he wouldn't budge.  Then Geof noticed a med official had pulled in front of us to grab something from the side of the road, so he waved him down and had him take a look at our guy.  Adrian was reassured that he would be fine, and to keep up exactly what he was doing.  Phew!  I think this is exactly what he needed and was a turning point for him.  Jim, Terry and Ed were resting in Lone Pine, so the remaining four of us entertained Adrian in the van while he relaxed, talking about all the funny stuff that had happened throughout the day.  This was one of my favorite parts of the experience :)

Geof and I finally got some quality sleep in around 12 a.m. on Wednesday.  We, along with Simone, drove into Lone Pine to our hotel and slept until 3 a.m. (amazing sleep!!) and then drove up the road to meet up with everyone, hoping they were on their way up Mt. Whitney by then.  And boy were they ever!  They had made some really good ground in the time we had been sleeping and I was so excited to see them.  The road up to the Whitney Portals/Finish Line (~8,300 ft.) is a steep mother with only a few switchbacks, but damn is it beautiful!  Outcroppings and vistas galore!  The sun exploded from the Panamint range behind us and we got the best seat in the house for that show!  My heart began picking up speed as we gained more and more altitude and I was downright giddy as it was clear Adrian was going to make it under the 48-hour buckle cutoff.  On the second big switchback, Geof jumped in to walk Adrian in the rest of the way.  We drove up a ways to one of the few safe places to park and I jumped out to watch them come up the road.  You can imagine my shock when I saw that they were RUNNING!  133 miles in, on a steep mountain road and he's running!!  There was one guy he had been leap frogging with and Adrian decided once and for all that was it; that guy was going to be left in the dust.  Terry and Ed had re-joined us now and followed us up to the parking area where we waited for Geof and Adrian.  They rounded the final corner and moved up to us where we all lined up and held hands and we marched toward the finish line.  As soon as the finish line tape was in sight, hands still together, we broke into a sprint, Adrian breaking the tape in 44 hours and some change.  He DID IT!

What a ride!  What an experience!  How exhausting!  I can't fully describe the vibe of the finish line, but it was just awesome.  Goosebumps and all.  The chilly air stood in stark contrast to the baking heat down below at the foot of Mt. Whitney.  The buzz in the air matched that of the starting line, minus the nervous anticipation.  I couldn't believe it, I was actually there, seeing all this with my own eyes. 

After heading back down into Lone Pine for some sleep, some eats, and a short run around Lone Pine, Geof and I headed back up to hike and run up the Mt. Whitney Trail for a few miles.  What a spectacular trail!  I wish we had had more time to spend up there.  I highly recommend it.  Upon returning to the trailhead and Portal Road, we found we were just in time to watch the race's final and oldest finisher arrive, Jack Denness, 75.  It was his 12 official finish and it was another of the big highlights of this experience.  The RD said his finish drew the biggest crowd he'd seen all race.  People were clapping, shouting and whooping as he approached, British flag held high, smiling ear to ear, more than 58 hours after he began his journey.  I was so happy we got to see that and be a part of it all.  That was some history happening right there!

I may have had my sleep-deprivation induced bouts of grouchiness, but I knew the whole time that I was really going to miss this experience once it was over.  And I was right :)  Adrian was such a pleasure to crew for and so respectful and outwardly grateful to have all of us there.  It really has turned me on to this race so much...but not as much as Geof.  I have a feeling we'll be back, albeit in slightly different roles next time ;-)

We are seriously drinkin' the Kool-Aid now...thank you Adrian!!

I took a ton more pictures so check 'em out if you like: Badwater Pics.

Crash, out.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Badwater 2010 Party Video

I'm working on putting together a post about my Badwater 135 crewing experience, so, in the meantime, enjoy this awesome snippet that the video crew put together and then played for us at the post race party on Wednesday.  What an amazing experience!

Crash, out.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Oh, July

The month isn't even halfway through yet and I'm already wondering where it went!  It's a busy one.  I always feel better about my stuff when I've written things down and I can see them in front of me, rather than volleying everything around in my head, trying to make sense of it.  We have one weekend at home this month.  And that's a lot...

Photo Credit: Los Angeles Times

Badwater (holy eff!) is next week (and dominating two full weekends)!  Geof and I are crewing along with Jim O'Brien, Ed Kelly and Terry Madl for our guy Adrian Belitu.  This will be his second running of BW (last year he finished in 33 hours and some change), and this year he's got a faster goal in mind :)  Looking forward to being a part of the mayhem.  I'm also looking forward to doing a couple of training runs in the heat the weekend before the start of the race (Monday, July 12 @ 10a.m., for Adrian).

I'm not quite sure what to expect out of the Badwater experience, but I do know I plan on taking many a picture and soaking it all in (in spf 75+). I have no plans of attempting the Mt. Whitney summit (14,505') afterwards, but I will look forward to the stories that will surely follow from the others! I decided that, should the summit be a reality for Adrian, I don't want to be the one who puts a wrench in his plan by having my stomach or head explode at altitude, or get eaten by a mountain lion (or whatever awesomeness they have out there). That would suck. Plus, everyone else planning to summit are far fitter than I and I don't want to get left alone in the dust, on a mountain, being circled by vicious man-eating beasts, without water. That would really suck! 

As soon as we return from the left coast, we have our final big training run: Minnesota Voyageur 50.  I keep forgetting about this race!  If all continues to go well, I still plan on running this one, but I'll decide that race morning :)  Geof and I plan to run it together.  Since I haven't raced since February, I'm already getting nervous about it.  Last year I raced so much that I never really had the chance to get too jittery...I'm officially jittery!

You may well know that Wilderness Running Company is my favorite running retailer due to their very high level of awesome.  In January, they published a write-up I did about Acadia National Park.  And, THIS month, they decided to give me another go and published a write-up I did about Trail Running in Chicago,  That was fun!  I hope it's helpful for readers looking to get out-of-doors in the big bad city :)

Reading about Leadville is making my head spin.  I need to stop.  I already know what I'm doing and have an idea how I want to do it.  Anything anyone else is doing is erroneous when it comes to my race, and I need to keep reminding myself of that.  Not a lot of time stands between me and that finish line...WOW! 

I got some 6 mile runs in this past weekend, and today, and all felt good.  I'm going to hit up my PT, Brendan, for a screening though just to make sure all really is okay, and so I can get some better strengthening and stretching routines to incorporate. 

I suppose that about does it for now.  Today totally feels like a Monday, and the fact that it's really Tuesday makes me downright giddy :)

Crash, out.

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