Stage 4 Racer Posts
Lauren: Today was a welcome reprieve, with delicious food (per ususal), as well as relaxation and cooling off at the River. Yesterday’s 42 mile Expedition Stage was certainly the most scenic, getting up to 8,500 feet, with the majority of the day climbing. However, with cooler temps in the 80’s, some clouds and breezes, I felt the best I have all week and Chris and I moved consistently all day, managing to finish before dark!
Chris: Good recovery day today. Great food, and lots of it, and fluids. Wonderful soak and swim in the Colorado. Great to replenish body and mind. Yesterday was sweet and less sweet (not sour) in that the weather switched to cool, cloudy, with teases of rain in the morning. Got more ground covered in the AM. I atribute this to my talk with the Raven the night prior. I suggested that clouds and rain would be a nice change and parted with some cashews to sweeten the deal. Apparently, the Raven is open to a reasonable bargain. The day started strongish and streched the range of balancing constant forward motion with water consumption. Best way, however, to see and be in a beautiful part of the desert and experiencing it first hand up close and personal. Good to have finished this segment above all. Looking forward to good times with great people and a final marathon back to Moab on Saturday.
Renee: What can you say about 42 miles? There were good moments, bad moments and worse moments. There were extreme highs and lows. The desert was both relentless and, oddly at times, forgiving. There’s a lot that goes through your mind over the course of 15 hours…and, in that time, I realized that this week has taught me two very valuable lessons. 1. This trip gently (ok, not so gently 😉 encouraged me to get back to the basics. I can’t even begin to explain the true joy and happiness a cup of ice water can bring after a hot and desolate 12 mile stretch…or how reinvigorating a random, though brief, cool breeze can be when the heat is overwhelming…or how pleasant the distant sound of an unknown creature is when you’ve been surrounded by silence for hours. When life gets busy (and it inevitably does), the simple pleasures in life are the first things we forget…but there is beauty all around us if only we’d stop long enough to realize and appreciate it. In the end, those moments are the ones that truly matter and make life worth living…everything else is just a distraction from that. 2. I learned this week that life, and all that it entails, is cyclical…when things are good, you are bound to eventually experience some pain; however, when things are bad, they will eventually get better. Once you understand this, you are amazed at how easy it becomes to work through the tough times…sometimes the hardest part is just staying in the game…because life does come back. I embarked on this journey in hopes of finding a piece of myself that I thought I had lost. I thought I’d find it in the deserts of Utah, but that’s not what happened. Instead, the desert simply reminded me, through struggle and triumph, that I’m stronger than I think. The answers to all of my questions, doubts and concerns were inside of me all along…I just needed a gentle reminder of where they were.
Stage 3 Racer Posts:
Renee: One would think 9 miles would be an ‘easy’ day, but to the contrary. I honestly believe today was physically harder than yesterday (can that even be possible?). My body is simply exhausted beyond belief. I’m hoping the short day will be enough to refresh us all before the start of the longest leg tomorrow (43 miles). Some random thoughts and tidbits of information: The trails are desolate, hot and mainly dirt/sand. Shade is a commodity and very hard to come by. I have been amazed at how I will contort my body into small, weird positions just to experience a small piece of shade for a brief reprieve from the relentless desert sun. The food at camp has been nothing short of amazing. We had chicken and dumplings on Monday, cheeseburgers last night and our chef is currently preparing spaghetti for us tonight (and it smells absolutely amazing)! It’s honestly as good as you’d get at any restaurant…surely not the camp food I’m used to ;). The crew and medical staff have been incredible. They have made all the difference at each aid station as they wait on you hand and foot while you get a few minutes of rest before heading out for another brutal stretch. In fact, I think there are more of them than there are of us 😉 We even have a camp dog named Coyote who patiently waits for any leftovers! Bathed in the Colorado River today…first soap and water since Monday, and I did it mainly for my campmates because the water is freezing (though refreshing ;). We have just been hanging out at base camp since about noon today, and the temperatures are so hot that it’s tough to stay cool even in the shade. It makes me wonder how we’ve been surviving these temperatures out on the trail all week! As fate would have it, they are having record breaking temperatures for this race! It hit 116 degrees yesterday on a 4 mile stretch of pavement…brutal!! With the exception of sore hips, back and feet (though no blisters yet, thank goodness), my body is holding up pretty well all things considered. The cramping only lasted a day…did a better job of listening to and treating my body starting with Tuesday’s stage. I have found that my body appreciates two cups of iced ginger ale or coke and potato chips at each aid station…two things I’ve never even considered before in races. In fact, I don’t even really like soda but there is something about the sugar and the stomach calming powers that has me hooked. I now even carry flat coke in one of my water bottles out on the trail. The pickles, which are usually my go to, still taste good but dry my mouth out…so I avoid them unless I am in desperate need of some salt. I’ve learned so much about my mind and body in just a few short days! This truly has been a painful but amazing and life changing experience! Cell phone reception has been non existent since yesterday with a few brief exceptions along the trail. To my awesome support group back home, I will send more photos as soon as we get reception again. I love and miss you all dearly!
Lauren: Today was a good day for me, as grasping 9ish miles was much easier today, “only” a few hours! Vivian and I missed the first turn off the road so we got in about 10 miles today. Felt the heat and kept my heart rate under control on the hills, and was able to actually push an actual running pace down the last few curves into the finish. Having an amazing experience thus far, the people the place…because I have nothing better to do.
Chris: The desert is an amazing place that can constantly surprise you. When you think you have a handle on some part of it or its essence, it changes and informs you, “Not so fast. You aren’t as clever as you thought.” You strive to meet it on its terms, but in the end, the desert decides what that will be. Today was a recovery day following my new lesson taught by the desert yesterday. “Think you’re drinking enough…Well atcually you’re not. Here’s a little reminder of what hot is.” All the while, you soldier on wanting to continue your time here. Rather than wanting a full reprieve, really what you want is a better way to continue to experience all of this. A day of drinking, refueling, many cold soaks in the Colorado, all so that we can head out in the morning to run the longest leg of the event through another day of high heat, yet to try to use the lessons that the desert tught you the day before. Well fed and hydrated at dinner, planning a better night sleep to continue the journey.
Day 3. Only 9 miles. Walking slowly. Lots of bisters!
Stage 2 Racer Posts
Brutal stage with 8 miles of pavement, 4 of which I covered on foot, with temps topping out at about 111 degrees F. Couldn’t keep cool enough, burning face, stopped any meanureable sweating, sweet Chris taking care of me over miles 17-26, where I called it quits about 2 miles from the aid station. He continued on strong after dropping the dead weight (me). A lot of carnage on the course today, but also a lot of tough-assed troopers. Still wating for my “tough son of a bitch” to finish!
Day 2. Hot, hot, hot!!!!! I don’t think humans are supposed to exercise in those temperatures. Dropped out at 28 miles. Very happy to be in basecamp, well fed and watered instead of being still out on the course.
Renee: Well, 39 desert miles and I’m still alive :). I wasn’t sure last night that I would even start today considering how badly I was feeling but a pep talk at our team meeting convinced me to at least start, no matter how long I actually lasted. So I started with no commitment to finish and before I knew it, I was halfway there…and at that point I decided that I couldn’t quit, mainly because I didn’t want to let those those down back home who have supported me from the beginning of this journey. Not only did I finish, but I didn’t come in last place 😉 My friends and family pulled me the last 10 miles as their encourgaing words kept running through my mind. So I dedicate this stage medal to them…because I truly couldn’t have done it without them. This was the most amzaing physical feat I have ever accomplished!!! Lessons learned today: 1. When you focus on someone elses pain and struggles, you pay less attention to your own. 2. You truly won’t know, understand or appreciate the depth of your strength until you truly struggle. 3. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time (our pep talk last night, and the one that got me to the start line today…great advice not only for this race but for life in general)!!! Love to my support group back home! I truly would not still be in this race without each one of you…you rock!!!!
Stage 1, 20 mi, completed in about 6.5 hours! Felt good for the first third, horrible for the second third and stable enough at a walking pace for the final third. It was hot but what got me was a new experience of too much sugar, which was difficult to recover from. First ever experience of dry heaving, dizziness, and racing heart rate, with the heat, was just a little more stress than I could handle. Going with a different strategy and some leftover chicken broth for tomorrow. Dinner was delicious, just what I needed! Now rest and recover.
Chris G.: Beutiful desert run. Melting temperatures held at bay by lots of water and ice. It’s good to thank the desert for allowing us safe passage as it knows we have more days ahead. Thank you desert.
Theresa K: Survived Day One! It was hot, hot, hot!! Had to walk the last stage due to the heat.
Ulla: Survived Day 1. The heat is really a challenge. Lots of walking !!!
Renee: Wow! What an amazing experience…the pendulum swings that I experienced throughout the day were swift and strong. First the good…I felt great through the first 6 miles…was even holding down the middle of the pack. And the scenery was absolutely breathtaking…pictures just can’t do it justice. You realize how small you really are in the grand scheme of things. After the first aid station, felt a second wind but quickly lost it about halfway through. Now the bad 😉 I’ve challenged my body in a variety of ways over the years but this was a totally new experience. At one point, the temperatures registered at 112 degrees…the desert sun is truly merciless…there is no escaping it. Dizziness, naseaua and extreme fatigue were so bad that it took me almost two hours to travel the last 3/4 of a mile to the second (and last) aid station. I would take a few steps only to be forced to sit down again because of how badly I was feeling…I’ve never experienced anything like that before. If it wasn’t for Glenn, the photographer, who brought me a two liter bottle of cold water and a half liter of coke (of all things), I have no doubt I would still be out there. But as horrible as the experience was, I also learned the resilency of the mind and body. After about a 30 minute stay at the aid station with some amazing care from the crew and medical staff, I actually left out running again! I was absolutely amazed at how a little water, coke and nutrition literally brought me back to life! And for those who know me well, I know you are thinking that I didn’t have enough water with me. Actually, I had plenty…the problem was no matter how cold the water was when you first put it in your pack, it was steaming hot within an hour…and even though I was still sipping on it, it was doing very little to cool my core, which was part of the problem. Despite all of the issues, I made the cutoff! Tomorrow is a new day, but a daunting one…39 miles! I’m going to give it a go, but need for my feet, shins, calves, hamstrings and hips to stop cramping first 😉 Even if I fall short, the things I learned today about the resilency of my mind and body (and the amazing scenery), will have made this trip well worth it. Of course, the love and support from home definitely played a vital role! Until tomorrow………
Megan (Medical crew): It was really great to get to meet all of the race crew and the racers. This is one of my first experiences in heat over 100 degrees, and wow, I’m glad to have people around who have experienced it before. Good luck to everyone for the rest of the week.
Mitchell (Med Crew): Today it was really really hot. I’ve never experienced triple digit temperatures before. But it was fun. Did my best to make sure the runners were happy and had all they needed. I’m super stoked I got to do a little hiking today. Only a few miles, but the views were phenomenal. Hopefully all the runners are good and ready for the next day. I’m glad I decided to come.
Katie: Today was the beginning of my 3rd Desert Rats. I have never finished stage 1 before, and today I not only finished, but by some miracle took 1st for the ladies and 2nd overall! Tomorrow Reid is making me (and the other top 50% of runners) start 30 minutes later. I also have to/get to wear the Race Leader bib. I suppose this is an honor, but I dont want that target on my back! Reid says we can eat an elephant one bite at a time; I think thats a good perspective so Ill be thinking about that tomorrow- and hoping I can finish the whole stage since Ive yet to complete day 2 on foot also!