Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Badwater: Salton Sea race recap Pt 2 to the Finish Line

At mile 40.5, the start of the single track trail section, it was 5:29pm when we checked in and just a few minutes to prepare for the upcoming 8 mile section where we not have crew access, we would be climbing approx 3500 feet and were expecting rain, wind and dropping temperatures.


We were soon already and headed off passing Stray Dogs and Stray Dogs #2 who had made it to the trail head section as well but had stopped to look at the general map area provided at the trail head. Just shortly up the trail section we could see a small type sign with an arrow and a Y in the trail section, we were told to follow the arrow up Y section, as another team had missed the arrow and ended up in the wrong place and had to back track getting bonus miles and added time to there overall race, but Team Neapolitan was 4th overall to finish so it did cost them time but they were fast. We took the arrow turn and immediately the trail started to climb more aggressively, Bill was in the lead but he was stepping very carefully not to have his feet slide inside his shoes and cause blisters so he gave the lead up to me. I quickly settled in a good pace but soon noticed that Molly was starting to slow down so I pulled up and stopped a few seconds. I was feeling pretty good heading up the trail section as this part was basically a StairMaster and since I have been doing lots of that I had a great leg power and felt good. As we continued up the trail I noticed Stray Dogs, Marshall's team, was coming up on us and soon caught up to us and passed us. I started to walk with them as they were making a great pace up the trail but then noticed I was way far ahead of the team so had to slow up. After they passed it us it was quite a bit of time before the other Stray Dog team caught up to us,
until then I was taking pictures and enjoying the climb occasionally looking at my heart rate monitor. (oh yeah, I had decided to wear my HR monitor and see how many calories it would say I would burn and what my heart rate would be at different times. Going up this section I was about 130-140 bmp, which was easy compared to my StairMaster work in the 150's -165. I eventually wore my HR monitor for a total of 16 hours and then just got tired of the strap. It said I had burned approx. 12,000 calories in those 16 hours. I mentioned this to Bill who said it was too high. At the time we had a discussion about the body's ability to burn calories per hour so overall I am not sure how accurate it was. I also took a few pictures looking back down to the start of the trail head.



This section of the trail was really great and even though it was pretty hot you could feel the temperature dropping as we continued up and you could also see the clouds and rain looking stuff closer to the top. As we made our way just about to the top of the first section climb, Stray Dogs #2 was closing in and just off in the distance. It was funny because at one point, Chris Frost yells out... "hey guys, Come Here! I got something I want to tell you, its really important!" of course we laughed and yelled back.. Hurry up and catch us so you can tell us!... he yells back.. "No seriously, wait up, you're gonna love this, its really important!"... we all laughed again and kept moving and finally when they caught up to us we asked: So what was it, what was so important? He replies.. "ahh hell I don't remember now, you should came back to me so I could tell you then, laughing."... good times. They went on past us and basically took point as we were able to stay behind them for the most part. We finally made another pass on them as they stopped to put pants and warmer clothes on as by now the temperature had really dropped and the wind was blowing all over so you could definitely feel the cold. I had already put both extra long sleeve shirts on, so I was wearing 4 shirts and once the rain started I put my Wal-Mart special green Coleman camping pancho on to try and stay dry. I also added my gloves and headlamp as it got dark and now we were all in the night time. The good thing was that we were all bunched together so that made navigation easy and we were all going about the same pace but the bad thing was that we still had about 3 miles of trail and we had just descended some so that meant only one thing, more climbing to come and no sooner than that happened and we came into a wide open clearing and you could see this bright flashing blinking red light up on the side of this mountain and that is where we were heading.

We actually got there faster than I expected but none the less it was still climbing and I was still glad to have my StairMaster legs. The cold and wet continued and it was more windy. Somewhere along the line we were in front of Stray Dogs #2 again and wouldn't see them till almost the finish line (more on that later). I remember just marching and now that the wind was blowing, rain definitely coming down and me wearing shorts I was focused to get to the Mothership ASAFP! I needed my gym pants and another shirt as I was freezing but nothing I could do about it now and the faster I moved, we moved, the warmed we could stay. Soon, I realized we were at the top of the 2nd mountain and we were starting to head down a little, or the trail was dropping down again which only meant we would soon be at the highway where the crews would be meeting us. Originally, the rule was that when runners reached the road section again we would continue up the road for another 1/2 mile or longer to meet the crews but this had been changed due to safety concerns for the runners and the crews were moved right down to area of the trail where the runners came out, which was fine with me, thank you Chris K! As I finally made a few last turns I could see lights in the distance and as I came around a tree section all of a sudden I saw someone coming in front of me and of course with headlight to headlight I could not see who it was and they asked, Who is that? I said Team FOMO and then they replied, Hey, its us, Alan and Brendan.. OMG that was the best ever to see them. I was just a few steps ahead of Bill and Molly and I quickly continued to walk to the Mothership with Alan who had said that the van was all heated up and ready for us to warm up in along with hot soup. I continued to get to the van as soon as I could and when the doors opened, holy cow it was like a Bikram studio in there. I actually thought it was too hot as I couldn't even breath but soon with the side door open it was just right. Alan got me my gym pants and then Molly and Bill showed up and we all dressed with another layer or two and grabbed some soup. I sat in the front seat for a little while and then jumped out to use the bathroom but then quickly jumped back in as now I was freezing again. I asked Brendan for a black trash bag so I could put on top of the green pancho plus he gave me another blue long sleeve shirt, make that 5 layers and 2 plastic bags. We also now added all our night gear vests and blinking lights to the attire.

When everyone was already we proceed back into the cold freaking rain and wind and now all of us were freezing so we had walked as fast as possible to get the body heat back up but that only lasted about a mile as we reached check point Ranchita, mile 50.2 in a time of 15 hrs 26 mins (avg. pace 18:26/mile) I was hoping we would make it there under 15 hours but with the cold wind and rain just didnt't happen but on a good note at Ranchita we all took a picture with the beast! too funny!
Then we quickly got moving again as next time check would be at mile 68. Again, its raining, sometimes hard fast rain, sometimes just steady easy rain and sometimes just misting but overall it was still cold. After a few minutes at Ranchita we were back on the road trying to warm up.

Over the next couple of hours all I remember was starting to feel tired and just annoyed that it wouldn't stop raining or let up. Overall the team was quite, we were all just staying in our zone and moving as fast as possible. I actually think sometime after this we only ran just a few more times before Lake Henshaw and pretty much walked the rest of the course. As we came up to make a left turn I remember seeing all these lights off on the side of the road and was trying to figure out what it was and as we got closer to it, turns out to be an electrical station hub. I remember walking by it trying to avoid the big random semi's that were traveling on this part of the road probably wondering that the hell these 3 people were doing walking in the middle of no where in the rain, but looking over at the electrical station and thinking, I bet its warm inside that little office bldg.

Our next big exciting team drama happened at the next T in the road where we needed to make a right turn and made a left turn instead. Luckily, the Mothership had stopped just after the right turn and noticed we all went left and shortly jumped out to yell at us that we had gone the wrong way. Bill was pretty sure we had to make a left turn and Molly and I couldn't remember exactly which way so we left it up to them to decide. Well turns out after some very loud voices and over energized enthusiasm and deciphering the map we had indeed gone the wrong direction, so Bill handed the map back and proceeded to walk in the correct direction. I looked at Brendan and said, "so we're going the wrong direction? He said yup.. okay then.. so Molly and I started walking the correct way too. It was clearly evident after this over excitement release of energy that there was tension in the ranks and as we try to let it settle we also try to get into a running rhythm but Bill had clearly stated he was not in the mood to run, guess he had no more excitement left but all was good as we continued on with Molly leading us. Soon Bill was dropping off the back and Molly peeled off and said just keep walking. I thought ohhh shit, its gonna go down now but then I was pretty tired so didn't think much of it and kept walking. I could hear these two behind me with another surge of excitement and again after a few minutes I had to join in because overall we were wasting too much energy on something that had already happened and was over. Yes, parties of Team FOMO were over joyous with expressing there feelings at a over exited volume but nothing that was expected at some point in the awesome adventure. As we all quickly talked about it, it was said, over and done and we all moved along as normal, although I do remember Bill saying he was ready to run and happened to pick a nice uphill portion of the course so I remember not running, but in reality the hill seemed monstrous but really was only a small rolling hill the next day driving the course home.

Shortly after all the festivities I back so sleepy that was weaving all over the road and shuffling and simply could not stay awake. One time I even walked into the curb almost falling over! Finally, Bill offered a No-Doze and so I took it and got a little pep from it but it was short lived and soon I was back to sleep staggering. Bill recommended that I take 5 minute nap and see if it would help revive me so I gladly accepted. That was the best 5 minutes of sleep ever! I quickly hit the van seat and I passed out, only to be woke up which seemed like a couple hours later but I crawled out of the van and off we went with a much more revived feeling and a much faster pace. But like this too, it soon began to wear off and so I drank down a Rock Star Recovery and got a little pep from it but then soon I was back to sleep as ever so Bill suggested another 5 minutes because it had lasted a couple of hours and we had made some good time vs. my slow sleep walking pace. So again, I took it and soon laid down again in the van seat. This time Bill had to get something from his bags and I noticed the back hatch was open, the side door was open, wind was blowing through the van, I was freezing and said.. GUYS, can we close the f'n doors I'm freezing!! I remember the doors being closed but I also remember opening my eyes and now seeing the side drivers window rolled down. With being in sleep deprived delusional state I somewhere yelled out... Close the windows you assholes!!... but honestly, I don't remember yelling that at them but I do remember bitching about the doors being open. Well the 5 minutes was over and basically a waste of time because I had no peaceful rest and as I climbed out of the van I grabbed my Starbucks Double Shot Espresso drank it down with some nice rain water pooling on top of the can lid. I did get a little pep again but this time I felt like I crashed even worse than before, like a total sugar dump! I told Molly I was not drinking any more of those as they were making me feel worse and more tired.

After a few minutes Molly suggested that I hang on to her shoulder, remember, you can push, pull or drag your teammates, so I quickly clinched my big meat hook onto her shoulder and started to walk with her which was seemed to speed up our pace for a while but I know my arm felt like 50 lbs to hear and probably was so Bill offered to help with me holding on to is pack with my left hand, so I clinched on with my left meat hook but the I quickly realized I was now really starting to lean on both of them because I was not having to support my weight. Overall, I let go of Bill and told Molly I wouldn't clinch down as much and just keep walking. Not sure how long this went on for but at one point Molly quickly turns around and says: "OMG, were you just snoring!?" ... I said, it wouldn't surprise me because it certainly felt like I just totally went to sleep there for a second! haha.. After that I woke up some but then asked for another No-Doze. I took it down but didn't feel any pep and Bill said I should take another 5 mins. By this time it had already started on daylight and somewhere we passed the 68 mile mark in 21 hrs 45 mins (19:11 avg pace). I gladly took the 5 minutes again and once again came out feeling super refreshed along with popping anther No-Doze. I was waiting for a break in the clouds to get some Sunlight but it would be another hour or so before that happened but in mean time the pep I had received was good for us and we were all moving good again. There would be no more sleeping till after the finish so it was a final push the last 10 miles.

I remember at one point I was starting to question in my mind if we were actually going to finish under the 28 hours. I mean we were moving like 20+ mins per mile and still had approx 12-13 miles to go and realisticly having 4+ hours to finish seemed doable but 20 min miles can easily turn to 30 min miles if the road because steeper or you just run out of gas and cant move fast enough. I asked Bill.. are we going to make it.. He replied Yes, as long as we keep moving and no more stops. I was relieved to hear this and knew I just had to dig a litter deeper to keep moving. Finally, after 10 hours in the rain if finally stopped! It was foggy and the Sun was trying to peak through the clouds and finally for about 10 mins it did pop through, long enough for me to stop and look up at the Sunlight and get my internal clock turned on. I felt good after this and all the way to finish other than I was tired, of course.

There was a race photographer, Dave and Margaret Nelson, that had shown up and was following us along taking pictures and got some great shots of us, or as I like to call it, the Zombies warmed over, haha.




As we continued to the top I could see the mile markers and noticed they were marked every .2 tenths of a mile which kind of sucked because you saw them so frequently but was kind of good because it was counting down very quickly or so I thought. Although one time I thought we had been walking way longer than .2 mile and when I saw the next sign I was like NO WAY!! that's wrong we have gone a least 3 miles! haha, felt like it any way. 

As we were approaching the last 2 miles we could the Stay Dogs #2 behind us down around the corners and knew they were closing it. Just about this time, there crew truck passed us and turned around heading back towards there runners. I told Molly, ahh, those Dogs, are pacing us and seeing how far we are ahead of them! About this time a medical car had gone by just a couple minutes earlier and had returned and stopped to tell us that Stray Dogs #2 were only .6 mile behind us and moving pretty fast. We now had 1.6 ish miles to go to the finish line and I had already calculated that they would catch us in the last mile. I remember telling Molly, I don't really give a crap if they catch us now because we are all going to finish! She said yea she didn't mind if they caught us either as we knew it was going to happen based on the amount of speed we had left in our bodies. 

Just after this Team Coyote with Jimmy Dean Freeman and Ray Sanchez pulled up next to us, hooking, cowbelling, yelling and screaming for us. They said the other team was just around the corner and was giving us so much encouragement to keep moving and not get passed. I was definitely exciting but again I guess in my mind I had already conceded to them and knew we would all finish and that was the main goal. Team Coyote took first place with a time of 15 hours 57 mins. They pulled up ahead to a spot where we just under an mile to go and it happen to be a long steep down hill area and as we picked up the pace just a little running down hill Team Stray Dogs #2 comes flying by us literally in a sprinting fashion carried by the downhill momentum. I mean we couldn't have tried to keep up with these guys/gal if we wanted to! They passed us with .8 mile to go and finishing 6 minutes ahead of us. We all exchanged congratulations and high fives as they passed and said see you at the finish, save some beer for us!

The last .8 miles was pretty great. I mean hey, we did it! We had come 80.2 miles and this was the end for 26+ hours! The crew did awesome and Bill, Molly and myself all made it through without major injury or issues. As we got to the gate to run and walk up the finial .3 mile Brendan and Alan had parked the MotherShip and joined in the last part. We could hear everyone yelling at us to hurry up and the excitement was totally great. As we reached the finial driveway we would see the other teams and people and telling us to run so we all joined hands in Badwater fashion and ran the last 100 yards to the the finish line inside the garage of the house that Chris had rented. We made the last little turn and there was the finish line tape! Hands up, all cheering and smiles and accomplishment to have made it! 26 hours 40 mins 23 seconds.

The feeling after finishing this race was the same as I felt after finishing my first 100. Different than my 2nd 100 finish as well. I was surprised in myself that I finished this run with only (1) 8 mile training run as my longest distance since Nov 2012, although I had run some shorter distances of 4-6 miles my run volume was only in 20 miles per week but I had been busting it in the gym and crossfit type workouts. My left foot did have a small blister on is only because I stopped applying the FootKinetics stuff the last 12 miles and my right ankle was achy but probably because I was putting more weight on it from compensating from the blister. Other than being freakn' tired and ready to eat some real food I was great. 
We took our finish line photos with Chris Kostman and him giving us our finishers medals and then Team FOMO Finish photos.


Since the post race brunch was about to start we simply hung around and waited for the food and others to show up. It was a little tough and I remember napping on the couch for another few minutes until food was served. This was a great location for the finish line activities, it was a rented house, beautiful, big and just a great location. The plan was to have things outside but with it still being chilly and foggy we were all indoors. I enjoyed the finish food, maybe because I was just plain hungry. After eating and sitting around for a little bit it was time to move on and finish up this great experience and head to our cabin. Since we had been sitting around and resting the stiffness and aches all started to set it. We loaded up and headed out saying our good byes and arrived at the cabin to check in and getting settled in. 

The cabin was a great little 1 bed room loft with kitchen and pullout bed and I made my way to the loft area which was really only about 4 1/2 feet tall so you had to either crawl on knees or simply squat/bend over, crawling was my option. I crawled my way to the bed, took of my shoes and still basically in my race clothes, passed out! I probably slept for about 2 hours, then woke up and headed to the shower crawling back down the stairs. Got showered up, crawled back up stairs and slept again for another 3 hours after which time everyone had woke up and we all great ready and drove to Harris casino in Rincon, Ca, which was only about 15 mins from the cabin. After a great buffet, again, probably because I was hungry. After dinner Alan had to head back home and we went back to the cabin where yes, once again, I passed out for the rest of the night sleeping about 10 hours. Everyone was up early, about 6am and we all got ready, packed up and headed out driving most of the course back to Salton Sea area and then on back to Vegas stopping a couple of times to stretch out and stopping in Borrego Springs at Kendall's Kitchen for breakfast which was pretty good, recommended. 

Final Notes:
  • Probably should have more run training overall before attempting long distances like this, even though I thought I performed great.
  • The nutrition drink I used by Herbalife, called Prolong, performed well and settled with me and my stomach. Might have been different it was hotter as it reminds me of Hammer's Perpetuem. The pop tarts and crackers are always a saving grace as well as the chicken soup!
  • I need to bring better clothing for possible weather conditions, no matter what it may say! I was really out of my element not having sufficient clothing for the colder wet conditions, my fault.
  • Continue working on crossfit workouts and gym stuff as this is proving to be beneficial for my overall run fitness/conditioning.
  • I have to manage the night time blues better! Something has to work, maybe Mt. Dew but I have been avoiding soda's at all costs lately so that's not really a viable option. More No-Doze??
  • I am now officially qualified to apply for the Badwater Ultramarathon 2014!
  • I would love to do this race again next year under 24 hours.
  • Highly recommend this event as the race director, staff and volunteers do a great job all the way around. It will sell out next year, you watch.

Well that's it for now. I am 8 days post run finish and my recover is going well. No longer swollen or tender feet and feeling good overall that I have actually performed a couple of workouts already this week, no running yet, but was on the StairMaster!
Up next is a training run in Zion National Park Aug 31 and then Kodiak100 in late Sept but let's not forget July 15, 2013!! Yes, I will be back crewing at Badwater 135 for Cath Todd again this year!! So excited to see everyone and the Badwater peeps!


No comments: