Friday, June 12, 2009

June- San Diego done and Badwater Approaching

Sorry I haven’t written in awhile. Going on a honeymoon and planning a wedding will tend to make things rather busy. In the beginning of May, I finally kicked the shin splints that had plagued me for 2 months. Of course, this happens as I’m getting ready for a wedding. Fortunately, I was able to get some running in before the wedding and even on the honeymoon. The island that we were on in Fiji (Matamanoa) had a trail that ran the length of 1 mile from one end to the other. It was pretty much two large hills without any real straight terrain. I would run “Island Repeats” back and forth in the mornings for an hour after breakfast. In New Zealand, I ran with my childhood friend Tim Gibb in a local park that surrounded a lagoon. While the distances were 4-6 miles at a time, it did help get my body back into the swing of things. When I returned, it was 1 week before the San Diego 100, which I intended as a benchmark of my fitness. I want to make sure that June is filled with 100+ mile weeks before a week and a half taper to Badwater.

The San Diego 100 was really a tale of two races. On the one hand, I ran a very relaxed 9:29 first half. After a 9 minute break, I came back into mile 70 at 13:50 still feeling relaxed and confident as the sun set and darkness approached. On the other hand, the last 30 miles were a tale of how to simply grind it out. The section from mile 70-76 was a slog fest. After a 10 minute break to prepare for the night time weather, I didn’t realize it heading out, but an insufficient light from my headlamp made seeing through the thick grasses below a challenge. On several occasions, I knocked my feet into rocks and stabilizing logs on the dirt pathway. I was slowed to a crawl on the rockiest sections, leaning backward for fear that in the fog that one wrong step could lead to a faceplant. A 1:52 for that section was just the beginning. The slow pace cooled my body down, giving me the shivers that mentally started to challenge me. I broke for 30+ minutes, and that was the end of my 20 hour pursuit. The rest of the night was filled with freezing rain, a heavy mist that gave me less than a few feet of visibility for significant distances, and a mental outlook that was more focused on just getting through. 25 hours after I started, I finished. While it’s easy to look at the final 30 and see some level of failure, I think the value of that 30 miles will bear itself out at Badwater.

Ultrarunners are always searching for that mental toughness that will allow them to “flip the switch” and turn it on even in the darkest of circumstances. We expect the worst to happen, but we also expect the best of what we have to offer to come out. Being able to fully experience the kind of sleep deprevation and mental darkness that comes with an experience like I had in San Diego this year will only help me when I’m struggling in the middle of the race to get over the pleateau and turn on the jets from Darwin to Lone Pine. Putting the full 100 miles on my legs will help to boost my training and help me make June the kind of month I’ve needed for awhile to have an A level performance at Badwater this year. It’s been an awkward year with the training sporadic due to the shin splints and other circumstances, but I’d like to think that by forcing me to switch it up, I will come into this year’s race a little bit fresher. My steely focus is firmly fixed exactly where it needs to be. With this experience to fuel me and the full support of my crew behind me, I’m still eyeing a sub-30 hour finish even with a few hiccups this year (which are to be expected and planned for). We're also getting a Spot Messenger so you can track us online in real time where I am at. More details to follow next update.

I’m back and I’m looking forward to a great month training with my crew and baking in the sauna again. I’m also looking forward to building some more wells in Uganda. I’m trying to negotiate with a company to make financially supporting the wells a more regular thing for them. Stay tuned. Be sure to donate if you can on the website, Saving the lives of those who can never repay you is always a good thing.

God bless,