Scatter my ashes here...

Scatter my ashes here...
scatter my ashes in the desert...

Saturday, June 28, 2008


This week Steph came up from Denver and we had a brainstorming session. We went over all of the lists of gear and supplies, talked strategy, decided on our code word, and discussed our final travel plans. When Steph showed up at the house around 10:30 Thursday morning, I had already gone for a walk with the Buffaloes, did my morning sauna session, and went for an 18 mile bike ride. We sat down at the table with our lists and then we visited the pile of stuff in the garage and we went through it all in three hours.

We have a few last details to work out like the signage for the van and backup crew vehicle. We will also have our reminder with us, to keep me cool and in the zone the first day. That would be the Puke-Free Zone...

The race starts 2 weeks from Monday. I'm leaving in l2 days. I have three more stores to go to. I never thought I'd hear myself say this, but I have to go to Wal-Mart. In Phoenix and Las Vegas I was able to get everything I needed on my list at Wal-Mart. For the past two weeks I've been trying to get all the loose ends tied up and get all the things on my list and I can't seem to find what I need.

Auto parts stores don't have windshield shade screens. Target doesn't have them, either... Walgreens and King Soopers don't have the first aid supplies I need. Target doesn't have them either...I don't have the time to be running around to 50 million different stores and asking for help from the clueless 16 year old at the cash register while he asks the clueless 20 year old manager...trying to call on the phone and talk to a human being who won't keep you on hold for half an hour and without disconnecting the phone line is another problem.

All I have left on my list are a few items from the running store (1 more pair of shoes and more gel flasks); Wal Mart for first aid supplies and batteries, and the bank, for crisp or as new as possible $1.00 bills for the ice machine in Furnace Creek.

Speaking of the bank, our Economic Stimulus Act of 2008 check arrived, a little boost to the Badwater budget. I wish I could go spend it outside of the U.S. and send my receipts to the White House, but I guess Death Valley is somewhat like leaving the U.S., no cell phone service, non-potable water, and no air conditioning.

Tuesday I only had to go into work for a meeting. I did a long bike ride and two sauna sessions. I've been staying in the sauna about 90 minutes a day, in two 45 minute sessions. I know I'm getting ready for the heat, because now my heart rate is only 96 after 45 minutes in there! When I leave the sauna I'm drenched with sweat but I feel fine. When I first started back in March I'd have my heart rate at 130 after just 20 minutes and when I got out I'd be wobbly, lightheaded and need to recover a few minutes before I drove home. Now I walk out after 45 minutes and it's no big deal, I'm just soaking wet.

The sauna has done strange things to me. I have sauna hair and sauna skin. I try to put conditioner on my hair and lotion on my skin after I take a shower but when I was in that meeting at work, and I looked down and saw my legs were all dry and little flakes of dry skin were falling off. I look diseased.

My hair goes POOF! whenever I brush it out or let it dry and leave it down. It's completely dried out. I'll need a good haircut after this is all over.

I have to go back to work tomorrow, but I'll end this post with a quote Steph and I found from Ken about three weeks before his successful run at Badwater:

"Why can't I just be content to sit on the couch and watch NASCAR?"

-Ken "Sunny Skies" Eielson, June 30, 2003

photo credits: top two photos by Stephanie Willingham, bottom photo by Nathan Nitzky

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Energy Summit

As you know, energy costs have gone through the roof the past few months. In the paper the other day Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman was meeting with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia to negotiate an increase in crude production. Let's call this the "Energy Summit". (click on red Energy Summit link to for a virtual visit to the Summit)

Team Towanda has a dual mission at Badwater. Not only will we be en route to a successful Badwater finish, we will also be solving one of the world's most pressing issues. Energy costs.

Chocolate Slim Fast is now $672 a barrel which translates to $16 a gallon at the pump. What can we do about this crisis?

We can attend the "Slim Fast Summit", I hear the next meeting is on top of Townes Pass on July 14th. I'll be dressed for the occasion.

Yes tapering is already getting to my head. Too much energy...or is that too much Slim Fast?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Pandora's Box

Now that I'm cutting back on training, it seems like the number of things I have to do to get ready for the race is multiplying. Every time I look at a list I think of more things I need. It's like opening Pandora's Box. Kind of like when you shop at those big box stores and you go in for one thing and come out with a shopping cart full.

That's one of many reasons I don't like big box stores.

Today I avoided shopping. I spent more time in the sauna today than I did running. I did two sessions, for a total of 1 hour and 22 minutes. I walked the girls, went for an easy 5 mile run, did a short bike ride, and spent some time cleaning the coolers and organizing supplies. Then I sat out in the sun in the back yard and tried to sleep. I didn't fall asleep but it was nice to soak up some rays and do nothing for a while. It was probably about 90 degrees but that doesn't feel hot anymore. That's good, because it's 121 in Death Valley according to the newspaper.

My packages from Zombie Runner and Magellans arrived in the mail today. I ordered a lightweight more breathable shirt to wear in the sun, in case the Sun Precautions shirt gets too hot. I got more electrolyte capsules, some socks, LED reflective bands and a few other things I can't get locally. Most of the supplies I need to buy now are just normal stuff that I can buy on a trip to the grocery store, like ziploc bags, plastic containers, etc. And I need to make one more trip to Runner's Roost for shoes and a few other running supplies.

There is so much STUFF. The extra bedroom upstairs has become my dumping ground for all my supplies. And my closet- the pile of used running shoes is enormous. Imelda Marcos would be proud of me. I use the old, worn out shoes in the sauna because after a month or so, they are trashed from the heat. Not to mention how bad they smell.

I'm going to pick Ken up on the 11th and we will drive out from Glenwood Springs to Death Valley, with a supply stop in Las Vegas. Steph was able to get an extra night at Furnace Creek for us. I plan on arriving there and "chilling out" in the heat for an extra whole day.

I work the next two days and I have just Sunday off, and then my work schedule is really crazy next week. I have to be in there nearly every day because of a class and a meeting. It's "the crunch", when you try to arrange your schedule with a long stretch of days off, you end up with a whole bunch of work days stuck together. I had just today and yesterday (Wednesday) off this week, after having 4 in a row off last weekend.

Wednesday I went to Home Depot first thing in the morning before I went to my morning sauna session. They had everything on my list. Bug sprayer, tarps, rope, wire cutters, bucket, sponge, magnetic key holders.

Then I went to Sports Authority: got another cooler on sale, and a battery operated lantern with LEDs for the crew at night.

I need to take the backseats out of my RAV 4 to make room for equipment. My vehicle will be the backup crew vehicle, so I need room. I looked at the owner's manual to see if I could figure it out myself, but I couldn't get past the first step.

I don't have the patience to mess with mechanical things. I get really annoyed with manufacturers (of anything) who make owners manuals non-user friendly. You'd think they could hire some competent technical writers.

And don't even get me started about making things impossible for a person my size without superhuman hand strength to do. And making tools that I can't grip in my small hands. Those are entire whole blog rants in themselves, up there with socially challenged cell phone users.

I'm going to take it in somewhere to see if they won't overcharge me just to take the seats out. Dennis doesn't have time and he broke his finger a few weeks ago, so he can't do it.

It seemed like I spent the day shopping. I hate to shop, especially at big chain stores. Even for fun things, I don't have a lot of patience. I like to go into a store for something, find it as fast as possible, get through the checkout and leave. If I can't find what I'm looking for and I have to go looking very long for anyone working there who is available to help me, I leave. That's another reason I don't like big box stores.

Finally after a day of shopping at Home Depot, Sports Authority, trying to figure out the seats, emailing Steph about the reservations, two sauna sessions totaling an hour and 20 minutes, a bike ride, walking the Buffaloes, a trip to Whole Foods to pick up some things for dinner (I like to cook new things on my days off when I'm not training)...

I decided it has been too long since I've had a beer so I bought one at the neighborhood liquor store and drank an almost frozen Corona with a ton of lime squeezed into it and sat in the back yard with the girls, threw the snake or the duck every so often and read my DV crewing book. I would prefer a Ruination IPA but that will have to be A.B. Half of one would knock me on my butt right now and I can't afford any bruises. I'm tapering.

And one more important thing I did Wednesday. Last week I got an unexpected package, the BAR shoes arrived in the mail. The company that created these shoes tested them at Badwater last year and they are sending every Badwater entrant a pair of shoes. They are bright red and really cool-looking. They are soft and comfortable and wide in the toe box.

I tested the BAR shoes Wednesday morning when I took the girls for their walk... NO. I love the shoes, the way they feel and fit on my feet, but they are way too soft and flexible and I am used to shoes that are like bricks. I need major motion control. After just 1/2 mile in the BAR shoes my left knee was killing me, I could feel my whole leg twist slightly with every step. I had to go home and change shoes before we could finish our walk. The girls were not happy but...

Mom is tapering.

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Bedpost Lady & Other Tapering Tales

Tapering is a psychologically difficult time for an ultrarunner. After months of long training runs, rearranging your life and schedule, and building up to the best possible level of fitness, it's hard to switch gears and rest. You have all that energy that you've been using to put into workouts. Now you have to focus on resting, letting the body heal and recover, and being mentally and physically prepared on race day.

Losing fitness is not a concern because after years of training, your body adapts to the demands of ultras and mentally you have the ability to push through anything. It's easy to continue the high caloric intake which can lead to gaining a few extra pounds if you don't pay attention.

Staying hydrated, eating high quality food, and resting the body are your main physical concerns. At taper time you want to do light, easy workouts, starting by cutting back on mileage slightly at the beginning of the taper and dropping off progressively each week until you allow yourself nearly complete physical rest.

Taper time is something I always look forward to because of the amount of free time I have when I don't have to train. My life starts to feel somewhat normal again. I can return to doing the activities I normally enjoy that have to be cut back when I'm spending every spare minute working out in some way.

I always feel like I have more energy and I have to channel it into something or I bounce off the ceilings and walls. Fortunately Badwater takes a lot of time to plan and prepare for. I have an entire room in my house plus part of the garage taken up by Badwater gear.

Tapering allows you time to plan and organize for the event, and to mentally prepare. Some examples of mental preparation include visualizing and imagining what it will feel like to be there, seeing yourself out there running or imagining what you will feel like in your body at different times during the race. For Badwater, you need to be thinking through scenarios of what could happen and how you will deal with a challenging situation.

When you switch gears, it's important to remember that your body is fine-tuned and you don't want to do anything to upset the balance or injure yourself. Taper time is not the time to take up a new sport or hobby. If you don't usually play basketball or go rollerblading, taper time is not the time to start.

I've heard too many horror stories of people who were ready for a race where they'd trained for months and some freak thing happened. I've had a few tapering mishaps myself.

Avoid Bedposts
One year I was staying in a motel room the night before the Collegiate Peaks 50 mile run and I was sharing the room with another runner. It was late when she arrived and I heard her outside in the dark fumbling with her keys, so I got up to open the door for her. As I jumped out of bed, I smacked my leg into the bedpost. The room had bedposts on the beds and I didn't even think of it, who has bedposts?

Being in an unfamiliar setting, walking around in the dark, not a good combination. I ended up with a hematoma the size of my fist and could hardly walk the next morning, so I couldn't even start the race. After that I got called the Bedpost Lady for years, I still get teased about that and it was 15 years ago when it happened! The solution? Be careful walking around in the dark and be extra careful in unfamiliar places.

Avoid Poodles
Another time I was running a 10K race a couple of weeks before I was signed up to run a 100 Km race. I was in great shape and wanted a fast run to sharpen my leg speed. The 10K was held on city streets, and I was accelerating during the last mile of the 10K, and suddenly this miniature poodle came out of nowhere, from someone's front yard, ran between some parked cars and darted in front of me. I had no time to react.

I tripped over the poodle and almost fell on the asphalt. I caught myself, but I did something to my knee when my foot hit the poodle, and I was sore for over a week. The poodle wasn't hurt, it kept going, chasing after whatever it saw across the street. Fortunately I had enough time before my big race and I healed in time, but it could have been a lot worse. I don't know the solution to that one. Avoid poodles while tapering?

Avoid Picnic Tables
Yesterday after the Estes Park marathon, I saw some runners I know from the race circuit, and Doug and Ron from the running club were there, and Dennis came up to watch the marathon after he ran a 5K in town that morning. We were all at the food tent where they were serving breakfast burritos to the runners after the race. We got our food and sat down at a picnic table and were telling race stories.

There were 5 or 6 of us at the table and someone got up suddenly, and the table started shaking like it was going to fall apart and crash. We all jumped and watched what the table was going to do. It managed to hold together, but I decided to move to the next table over. The second I crossed the finish line, I was officially tapering.

The moral of the story is, if you see me acting strange, being generally avoidant of things over the next few weeks, understand that it's not you...I'm tapering.

Beware the tapeworm...

And his cousin, the mean, scary TAPER WORM!

I have been eating nonstop for the past 48 hours except when I'm sleeping. And I ate plenty in the marathon yesterday, at least a half dozen bananas, 2 cans of slim fast, and an energy bar. All those miles eventually catch up with your appetite. The tapeworm is back...

I'm hoping the tapeworm will be satisfied soon and leave me alone. I'm going to feed him slim fast and try to keep him happy. I don't want him to send his cousin after me! I have 4 weeks to go where I won't be putting in the miles, and I don't want to drag anything extra across the desert.

102.5 miles this week. I included the .5 on there because I feel it. My legs hurt.

I did 7 Rock Repeats for a little over 7 hours and 35 miles on Friday. Saturday I did a few miles with the girls, rode my bike, and went to the sauna. Sunday I ran the Estes Park Marathon, in 4:45, started slow because my legs ached, but I felt good at the end. I passed over 30 people in the last 10 miles and by the last few miles I was running something like 8 minute pace. Did the last 2.2 miles in 18 minutes flat.

I froze most of the day! I've been wanting to get some sun exposure so I keep putting on my tank top, but I ended up wearing my hazmat shirt the whole run because I was so cold up there in Estes Park! I cranked the heater up on the way home so I got a good hour of heat training in on the drive back to Ft. Collins.

My original plan was to do between 40 and 50 miles of Rock Repeats Friday but when I got to the top after the 5th one, I felt like taking a nap. I told myself I had to get to the bottom and then re-evaluate. On the way down on that 5th one, I could feel my legs. I was sore from the downhill. I think it's because of my long training week the week before last, when I slammed that downhill into Panamint, 3000 feet in 9 miles on pavement. Between that and the mileage I did, I think my body was protesting when I made it do 7000 feet of vertical this week.

I started on my 6th ascent of the Rock and all was good. I did see two snakes, and one was a rattlesnake. And I ate one bug. On the 6th descent my quads were screaming, so I made a decision to do one more repeat and call it good at 35 miles.

I'm ready to taper. This week I'll do very little running, probably will get on the bike and hit the sauna. I have a ton of stuff to do to get ready, I need a big marine cooler that I'm having a hard time finding, I need to buy more shoes, reflective gear, gel flasks, and miscellaneous stuff that I need to haul out to DV. Then I need to organize everything. Steph and I are getting together in another week and going over everything to make sure we haven't left out any important details.

My ultrarunner friend Dale Nagel who lives in Greeley has generously offered to let me borrow from his cooler collection. That's going to save me a good chunk of money, not having to buy any more coolers. Dale and his wife Gay lived in Arizona at the same time we did, and moved back here around the same time as us. Dale went to Badwater in 2002, same year I crewed Josh. I'll make a trip out to Greeley sometime in the next week to pick the coolers up.

I talked to my dad yesterday, Father's Day. He was running his daily 10 miles on the treadmill in his air conditioned house. He said it's 110 there and I wish I had time to go visit him in Scottsdale and bake in the sun before Badwater, but I didn't plan my work schedule for that.

I'm going to bump my sauna sessions up to two a day on my days off from now until I leave for Death Valley. I think that will help give me the confidence that I'm ready for the heat. I can hydrate in between. Plus it will help me when I don't have the energy to go to the sauna after working 12 hour shifts. Some days the only thing I want to do when I get off work is go to bed.

More Bad business to take care of today, time in the sauna, and it's back to work tomorrow. 4 weeks to race day!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

$5 a gallon gas?

No sweat!

The new alternative fuel.

This stuff allows you to go a LONG way.

Why is this runner smiling after 135 miles?

Slim Fast not only gives you 135 miles to the gallon, it also produces large quantities of gas!

Thanks to my ultrarunner friend Wally, who helped to plant this evil idea in my head.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Now, and A.B.

My mind is in Death Valley. It has to be that way. I looked at the paper today, I was squirming as I read about 116 degree temperatures there. It's heating up and I want to be there!

I feel my patience wearing thin when I'm drawn away from mental race preparation. People who want to chat about trivial things annoy me, more than usual. I am not a chit-chatty person. Right now, people I encounter who want to talk about mindless things irritate the $#@&! out of me.

I cannot stand to have a casual conversation that lasts more than 15 seconds. I am so focused that it's hard to pull myself away from thoughts of the race. I only focus on other things for the necessary amount of time, and then my mind is back in Death Valley or on preparation for the race.

I'm taking plenty of days away from work to keep my head in the right place.

Today I got home from work to a jury summons in the mail, wouldn't you know it, it's the day I'm leaving for Badwater. Hell-looo-ooo! What is it about the government that makes them send you a jury summons at the absolute most inconvenient time? They must have been reading the local paper. Fortunately there's the postponement option. They can have me any day in August that they want. Anytime after July 26th, for as long as they want me. After Badwater.

Chatter in my ear about mindless things all day. Torture me, shackle me, tie me up, kinesio tape me, put me in a cage. Make me eat Vanilla and Espresso Hammer Gel until I puke. Force me to sit in a courtroom all day, even all week, listening to the truth and consequences of someone's misfortune, stupidity, or both. Make me watch TV, I don't care, Oprah, Jerry Springer, or worse!

You could even make me watch reruns of the last 8 years of State of the Union addresses! Make it as painful as you want. But it has to be A.B.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

More heat...

Tried taping my feet today using the Kinesio tape that I ordered last week, I used it on the ball of my foot where I get friction spots. Then I taped my heels with brown foam tape, this time using tincture of benzoin to make it stick. I did 25 miles at Horsetooth and went easy. It was a warm day and I took advantage of the sun to get some sun exposure, which I'll need to avoid burning when I get to Death Valley.

After the run before I went to the sauna, I pulled off my shoes and socks and the Kinesio tape stuck well, it did peel off a little around the edges but I think that's because I didn't give it time to completely adhere. I taped my feet about 1/2 hour before going out this morning. The foam tape was worthless, even with the tincture of Benzoin it peeled off and was wet, sticking to my ankles. Miraculously I didn't get any blisters.

This weekend I'll have to try the Kinesio tape on my heels. The only problem is how to deal with the need for extra padding on my heels. Maybe I can figure out something with my orthotics.

Realized while I was out there that I only have a few long training runs left before the race. I'll miss my long days out there looking at the scenery and listening to music. Today I was listening to David Bowie, Ziggy Stardust & the Spiders from Mars. Don't forget the spiders. I bet that could give me some good hallucinations after a day and a half of running in the heat!

Did another sauna session after my run. Tomorrow, back to work...

Monday, June 9, 2008

Blow out some carbon!

In an earlier post I wrote about my secret love of speedwork on the track. I don't know what's gotten into me lately but this spring I miss the track. There's something so addicting about pushing myself through the discomfort and sticking to the pace. I think ultrarunners need speedwork too, because it gets the lead out of our legs. We become so accustomed to going slow that our muscles and nerves forget what it's like to turn over at a faster rate.

Today when I woke up, I knew I needed to go to the track and blow out some carbon. I did 10 miles at the track, mostly easy running, but I did do two one-mile repeats. I took it easy and didn't try to push the pace, with each 400 meter lap I tried to increase the pace slightly. I did them in 6:57 and 6:52. Not bad for someone approaching the fossil lite age group!

The miles weren't very hard, and it felt good to run faster. But after the second one my legs felt pretty tired so I took it easy and then did a few faster laps mixed into my easy running where I did sub-7 minute mile pace for just a lap at a time.

After the run I went to Runner's Roost to order a few things I'll need to take with me to Death Valley. Steve, Larry and Bill at the Roost are so good about helping me find what I need and supporting my ultra habits. I'm pretty sure I am the most frequent shoe buyer right now. I'm getting about 3 weeks out of a pair of shoes these days.

I ordered two big containers of unflavored Heed, and checked out the reflective vests, LED lights, gel flasks (for Slim Fast!) and started making my final shopping list for gear before I leave in July. I'll be getting two more pairs of shoes in addition to the new ones I'm about to break in tomorrow, I need to get everything broken in before Badwater.

Speaking of Slim Fast, every time someone offers me junk food at work now, I think about having to drag it across Death Valley. I'm trying to curtail the crap I eat.

After my track workout, Dennis & I went out for a 2 hour bike ride, and then I went to the sauna.

Yesterday it was slow at work and I got the day off. I did 4 miles of snail's pace running, finally took my slick tire off the back of my cross bike, went for a bike ride, did 45 minutes in the sauna and I was toast. As soon as I got home I got a good nap in, which was what I needed more than anything. It made a huge difference taking an extra day off. I never realize how tired I am until I stop.

Tomorrow I'm doing a 25 miler at Horsetooth, I will be taping my feet and taking it easy. I'll experiment more with Slim Fast and a few other foods. I'll have to overdress, the forecast is only for 89 degrees. Afterwards I'll hit the sauna and maybe have time for a nap and a bike ride. I go back to work Wednesday and Thursday, and then I'll be getting 70 or 80 miles in over the weekend. I'm planning an all day Rock Repeat run to test my foot taping technique, followed by the Estes Park Marathon on Sunday.

And then it's taper time! Then it will be the problem of what to do with all my energy. I'll have to find things to keep me out of trouble. I am sure I'll have more than enough to do just packing and getting everything ready for Death Valley.

Tapering means avoiding bedposts and poodles, more on that in a future blogpost...

p.s. Congratulations to Felix Wong on his successful finish of the Sulphur Springs 100 mile race in Ontario and Happy Birthday to Kirk Apt!

Friday, June 6, 2008


After doing 129 miles on my feet last week, I'm taking it easy this week. Yesterday was my first day off since coming back from Death Valley and it was 46 degrees and raining! I was freezing my butt off all day, I couldn't wait to go to the sauna.

This week I actually got my bike out and rode it twice! I'm missing my bike more these days with the nice weather in Ft. Collins. As I taper, I'll have more time to do some short rides and I plan to ride my bike a lot in order to recover A.B., that's After Badwater. Today I ran 8 miles easy and I can feel how tired my legs are.

I've been to the sauna almost every day this week. The other night I went for the first time after work. It's hard to go to the sauna after working 12 hours. You'd think it would be relaxing, but I was so tired that I could only tolerate it for 30 minutes. Plus there was this strange old dude in there talking on his cell phone. Why people think everyone in the world would want to share in their phone conversation is beyond my ability to comprehend. Don't get me ranting about cell phones. I think they are the worst gadget ever invented. That could be a whole blog in itself...

I'm getting the last of my supplies together. There really isn't that much more I need other than the grocery shopping Steph and I will do in the days before the race. Steph's been working out crew glitches and transportation arrangements. I just found out Coleman is providing each Badwater entrant with a new cooler! That's one less cooler I'll have to bring. The Coleman company has been generous enough to give each of us one of their ultimate extreme coolers which are bomb-proof in the heat. Keep that Slim-Fast cold!

Next week is my last big training week. I plan to do some Rock Repeats and a long run in addition to the Estes Park Marathon, and get about 100 miles in. Then it's a gradual taper until race day. I'll be spending more time in the sauna and more time running like a normal runner. I might even go up to Estes Park a few times and run Longs Peak and Twin Sisters as far as the trails are dry. It snowed up there yesterday and it all looks white from town. This weekend is going to be hot. Of course, I'm working. Sigh...

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Crew Notes

Before I left for the training weekend, I promised Steph that Nathan and I would take notes on everything we learned out there to help Team Towanda be prepared for race day. We're trying to get as many of the possible glitches worked out before race day as we can.

Like I said before, you can be prepared, but you can't overplan this thing. You never know what can happen and you need to be ready for anything.

The most important thing to recognize is that everything that happened over the weekend will need to be modified for the temperatures on race day. I expect it could be 20 to 25 degrees hotter. Or more.

Nathan took notes while I was running, and I took notes by keeping a pen and a few pieces of paper in my Hazmat shirt pocket, and every time I'd think of something I'd write it down in indecipherable scrawl across the torn out notebook pages...I had to put the pages inside of a plastic sandwich bag because every time I filled my ice bandana, the ice would melt down my neck and onto the pages.

I'll transcribe the notes here in chronological order, what Nathan wrote and what I wrote. It includes helpful tips, random thoughts, and anything else we thought was relevant to helping the crew.

Day 1: Furnace Creek to Stovepipe Wells, 42 miles. Slept well last night. Friday May 30th Start time: 0824 Temperature: 85
Nathan: 1st stop Heed, lipscreen
Alene: before start, ate peanut butter & honey sandwich, 1 banana, drank 20 oz plain water
N: 0900 90 degrees
A: need a hat flap, or 2nd hat
N: 0905 Pee
N: 0919 Ice in hat
A: only 92 degrees but needed to start with ice in hat, sandwich too heavy in stomach
N: 0925 Ice in bottle, 4.3 miles
A: pulled tape off feet at 1 hour. Itch, feeling friction, allergic to hypoallergenic tape?
N: 0935 1 salt stick cap in bottle with ice & Heed, took chicken crackers
A: unflavored Heed with Salt Stick, need to find unflavored Heed, chicken crackers 8 at a time in sandwich bag
N: 0944 ice in hat & bottle, pee
A: 1st hour, 4.3 miles, 2 pees, Awesome!
N: 0955 ice in hat & bottle, spray, 6.1 miles
N: 1000 crackers, banana, 1/2 scoop Heed in bottle
N: 1005 pee
A: need to start walking in place during sauna training
N: 1012 spray, refill hat, ice banadana
A: pen exploded! pen parts everywhere. not DV worthy. Buy different pens.
N: 1030 pee # 4, ice hat & bottle, Bad Pen!
A: car from Washington, wants to know, are you stuck? Look down, no tar on asphalt. Test feet, not stuck. Moving forward ok. Do I look stuck?
N: 1045 ice hat
N: 1100 pee # 5, ice bandana, change bottle to Heed & salt stick, pen
A: I wonder if Badwater runners ever get frostbite on their necks? Rocks below Zabriskie point on Furnace Creek side, psychedelic colors
N: 1124 12.6 miles
A: European tourist stopped to ask if I was okay, if I was just taking pictures. No camera. How could I be okay if I'm taking pictures without a camera?
N: 1145 pee # 6
A: starting to see heat waves on road
A: Furnace Creek list-check feet, dump shoes, re-tie, cold drinks, re-sunscreen, ice everywhere, food/slim fast, soak shirt
N: 1230 Furnace Creek, + 4 bags ice, gas & 8 bananas, & New Pens!
A: tour bus, give cow look as I run by
N: 1319 Pee # 7
A: Heat waves on road past Harmony Borax Works, ask for more chicken crackers
A: I feel the spirit of all the runners who have run down this road before me. Realize I can't plan too much, go with what the heat gives me and respect it.
N: 1452 Pee # 8, 103 degrees
A: Woman in car: Are you ok? Asks twice. Pissed me off. Not satisfied with yes, thank you. Leave me alone, I'm running, don't make me stop, I don't want to talk to you. Maybe thinks I'm writing suicide note?
N: 1500 Slim Fast vanilla
A: Austrian film crew?
N: 1511 Pee # 9, change bottle to water, not feeling well after Slim Fast
A: of all times they want to talk to me, I feel like puking. Good documentary material. Glad to be of assistance.
A: Film crew annoying. Having barfophobia. Need break, @ 30 mi? sunscreen taste in mouth. bad. Asked if I feel compelled to do? maybe if forgot Haldol. The voices told me to do it
A: break at Beatty sign, drove with AC on for 15 minutes, back to same spot.
N: 1612 28.8 miles, 103 degrees
A: next time, drink slim fast slowly, stays down. pee #13 after break Salt stick # 5 in fluid. tell crew not to overdo salt stick, dump capsule in bottle, dilute heed and unflavored best
N: 1710 Saw Devil's Cornfield, Spaz Attack! Doing well. 99 degrees
A: shades of brown in rocks. painting of Josh from here. don't want it to end.
foot friction, 20-25 degrees hotter race day, Devil's Cornfield & dunes awesome, get pics Damn bee chasing me from 2nd Beatty turnoff into Devil's Cornfield. Bug spray?
A: last 5 miles to Stovepipe Wells takes forever, 8:30 mile into Stovepipe
A: 10:46:47 for 42 miles to Stovepipe, want to eat something and go all night, will stick to original plan.

Summary crew notes from Day 1: Peed 15 times. Start using ice in hat and neck bandana from beginning. Find unflavored Heed. Don't eat a sandwich right before start. Brown foam tape does not stick, try tincture of benzoin. Drink Slim Fast S-L-O-W-L-Y. Need straws and maybe small plastic bottles to make portions of Slim Fast smaller. Avoid documentary crews. Do not take notes while running. Buy better pens. Watch for bees. Bring bug spray.

Questions to ponder: Are Death Valley tourists more intelligent than the average national park tourist? What are the demographics of Death Valley tourists? Does carrying 9 pages of salt-crusted, sweat-warped notes slow you down? Can you get frostbite in Death Valley? Am I stuck? Am I okay? Am I just taking pictures? Why do tourists ask runners for directions when they are going in the opposite direction of the runner? Don't they know we're running in a forward direction?

Day 2: I didn't sleep as well the night before day 2, I woke up early, decided to get early start. Went to Stovepipe Wells store to check out what they had, was worried about running out of crackers. They didn't have any good crackers and I decided to not get anything. The Furnace Creek store has more variety. We can get tourist crap there. I figured it would be a shorter and cooler day and I wouldn't need as much of everything.

For breakfast I had coffee, then chocolate slimfast. Attempted to use wi-fi in guest lounge to e-mail Steph, but Nathan couldn't get e-mail to send. I hit the road while Nathan got ice at the store, and met me up the road a few minutes later.

Day 2: Started at 8:07 am, 88 degrees. Saturday May 31, Stovepipe Wells to Panamint Springs, 30.3 miles, 5000 ft. gain, 3000 ft. descent.
A: Chafed along edge of liner of running shorts yesterday. Need body glide or vaseline soon. Feel heel friction, hot spot under ball of left foot. Saw piece of fried chicken on shoulder in gravel. I'm hungry.
N: 0807 start with 1 salt stick, feeling friction spots, contemplated fried chicken roadkill in gravel
A: Pee # 1 @ 27 minutes. 1 salt stick, Heed, iced hat and neck to start.
N: 0835 pee @ 43.5 mi
A: shirt and shorts need wrung out. Too much ice to start.
N: 0855 pee# 2 elev. 550
A: sign language: point to hat for hat ice and bottle ice, hold bottle out for empty bottle needs fluid. Pee # 2.
N: 0908 ice elev 610, elev 800 46.2
A: Car stops, European tourist asks: "Do you have problem?" Hmm. Should I take offense?
N: pretzels & ice
A: tell crew- never assume. Things happen fast. Pebble in shoe bad. Keep runner in sight. Mentally hard for runner if can't see crew. pacer watch sign language and carry double pack.
A: Pee #3 past 1000 ft elevation sign 1:08
N: 0924 pretzels, pee elev 1000
N: 0930 hat ice elev 1065, 47.2 mi
A: 2000 ft elevation 51 mi. 2:22 good to see parts of course where it will be dark during race. Snake wafer. Got cheese whiz?
N: new bottle Heed & salt stick, first trees
N: 0949 ice bandana, not drinking. told her to drink, wants food.elev. 1430
N: 0958 Body glide BAD! crackers, drank 1/2 bottle since 0949
N: 1007 Vaseline- wants to try and Slim Fast slowly soon
N: 1014 new bottle Heed
N: 1044 pee, ice hat, water, pretzels 52 miles
A: 2:33 pee # 4
N: lip swill & bandana, ok on ice
N: 1102 11 miles since SPW, took off ice bandana, WET! No more spray. Pee
N: 1108 added salt stick to bottle
N: ice to bottle, wants slim fast, offered grapes, didn't want. temp 85 degrees, 3225 ft elev.
N: 1117 stopping points getting rare, will try to stop every half mile or when find ok spot
N: 1125 trade bottle for Slim Fast chocolate, 3500 ft elev, 83 degrees
N: 1136 still drinking Slim Fast, no needs
N: 1145 finished slim fast, feeling good, back to bottle
N: 1149 doing well, no needs, 4000 ft elev 55.5 mi
N: 1205 56.5 mi, 4425 elev, still going- doesn't want 2nd bottle-thinks she could make it to pass without stops if needed, will park where I can.
N: 1234: Townes Pass 4:27, 58.5 mi, Jello break 10 minutes, No SUGAR FREE!!!!
Got new bottle Heed & salt stick. Pee- a little dark but ok amount
A: Townes Pass 4:27:31, 4956 ft elev. 10 minute break, jello break. Sugar free jello sucks, wildflowers last mile up to pass.
A: pee # 5 other side of pass
N: 60.3 mi 4400 elev still going, no stops since Townes Pass
N: 1315 New bottle Heed. Wants water next. Finished 1st 2.5 gallon water container.
A: Whitney view! Tour bus at 61 mi. run without bottle so I can run descent. Go back to ice and bottles at lake bed.
N: 1331 63 mi gave up bottle- running without fluid
N: 1350 65 mi drink
N: 1422 E. edge of lake bed, 95 degrees, returned to ice bandana, hat ice, heed bottle with salt stick & spray 68.1 mi
A: 6:14 to lake bed, 68 mi. 3rd salt stick, get bottle again, ice up
N: 1437 W. edge of lake bed 68.9 mi, hat ice, pee
N: 1453 70.1 mi ice in bottle, spray
A: 3000 ft descent, 3 hours. 7:19:20 at Panamint. Got Ensure? They knew I was coming. Gas $6 a gallon
N: arrive Panamint Springs resort. 96 degrees, 72.3 mi, 7:19:20 elapsed
A: Jello break, drove to Lone Pine to meet Ben and drive to Whitney Portal. Drove to Portal with Ben, then out for burger, then drove back to SPW. Restaurant on corner in Lone Pine with big gravel parking lot had good burgers, reasonable prices. Ben said there are some nice restaurants in town for a post-race dinner for crew. Awesome Joshua tree at 89 mi on course, took pictures. Darwin turnoff to Owens lake bed near Keeler, downhill & runnable. 100 mi mark is marked on road past original 100mi marker. Huge snakes on road at night. Ugh. Warn crew.

Day 2 Summary crew notes: Peed 6 times. Much cooler and less water needs. Buy regular jello. NO sugar free! Let me run downhill without weight but ask when I need a drink. Body glide breaks into pieces when soft. Use Vaseline. Wear my new shorts so liner of old shorts won't chafe crotch. Need padding on feet hot spots. Figure out easier way of dealing with hat, not stopping to refill and put it on every time. Ginormous, Huge Mega-snakes on road at night. Ugh. Crew please use Snake-B-Gon. Bring cheese whiz in case of snake wafers.

Questions to ponder: Do I have problem?

Monday, June 2, 2008

Got air?

A few months ago, I realized that it's been 5 years since I've been out to Death Valley. To prepare for Badwater, I really needed to refresh my memory of the course.

I'm writing two posts about the weekend. This one is about the trip in general, and I've made a separate post for the crew called "crew notes" to describe the run and transcribe the notes that Nathan and I took during my two day training run.

For years there have been unofficial and official training weekends over Memorial Day for Badwater. This year I really wanted to do the Wyoming Double and Houska Houska, and I'm not a big fan of traveling on holiday weekends. I'm not into crowds.

My brother Nathan is a big fan of Death Valley, the desert, and outdoors in general. He's also a great photographer, and when I mentioned the idea of going out to Death Valley for a training weekend, he was packed and ready to go before I even asked him if he'd be interested in crewing.

My sister, sister-in-law, niece, and nephew decided to go to Disneyland together this weekend, leaving Nathan a free weekend to travel. It was perfect timing. Memorial Day weekend turned out to be cool, only a high of 84 in Death Valley. This past weekend, it never got to be hot, but it did reach 103 degrees and 96 degrees on the two days of my training run.

I've been so busy lately, I never get a chance to really stop. The past few days I'd been working and didn't sleep well for two nights prior to leaving. As we flew over the Rocky Mountains and over Utah, I looked down at the Colorado River where I ran that race on the Kokopelli Trail a month ago, and then I closed my eyes and to try to sleep. Sitting there in the same spot for two hours was the longest rest I've had in months other than sleeping.

Nathan and I met each other in Las Vegas at the airport baggage claim for my flight. I forgot about two things that Nevada has, that we don't have here in Colorado. One is slot machines in the airport. The other one is smoking. Everywhere.

As we waited for the bags to unload, I was eating the only food I had, a piece of Starbucks chocolate pound cake that was left over from 4 days earlier, race food I brought for the Wyoming Double. While eating it in the Las Vegas airport, I realized I should save some for when we got into California. That piece of pound cake traveled to 4 states before being eaten!

I picked up my bag and we went to pick up our rental car, a mid-size SUV. It was a Dodge Nitro that drives like a brick and has no acceleration power. Regardless, it had plenty of room and served it's purpose as a crew vehicle. Gas in Las Vegas was only $4.50 a gallon. As soon as we crossed into California it was $5 a gallon, and in Panamint Springs we saw our highest gas price at $5.89 a gallon for regular unleaded.

Once we were in the garage picking up the car, Nathan started pulling out his gadgets. In line at the rental car counter they asked if we wanted GPS with our rental car. Nathan said, no. He brought 2 GPS gadgets of his own! The other thing about the rental car was that they give you two keys to the car, but they're locked together on this unbreakable metal ring. One of the cardinal rules of crewing is to always have a spare key somewhere separate from the vehicle in case you get locked out.

We asked if we could get the keys separated. They guy looked at us with that blank stare, the one that cows give you when you run by their pasture...

Whatever. I guess the rental car companies aren't up to speed on crewing for ultras. Can anyone answer that question for me? Why do they give you a spare key that you can't separate from the other key? Does that make any sense at all to anyone out there? I'll give a Vanilla Hammer Gel to anyone who provides the best answer.

We spent a couple of hours in Las Vegas driving around to Super Wal-Mart for supplies and a bike shop for Heed. We bought 4 cheap styrofoam coolers, just in case, some snacks and lots of water and drinks. Then we hit the road for Pahrump, to pick up the coolers at the post office.

As we drove into Pahrump, we saw some interesting signs off the road. One billboard was for the Brothel Art Museum. And then we saw these:

Only in Nevada.

At the post office, we walked in and Nathan was tall enough to see the coolers sitting behind the counter. We tried to get dry and block ice at the ice shop in town but it was closed, so we went to the gas station and got some. We got back in the SUV, and soon we crossed into California and I finished the pound cake.

More interesting signs along the road. One was, the Death Valley Health Center. Hmmm.

As we drove toward the park, I was thinking about how every time I'm in Death Valley I am sleep deprived, and the heat together with the fatigue make everything seem surreal. I'm always finding humor and irony in little things there. I need to come here some time when I'm not doing a run. I need to come back and be a tourist. So many interesting places to check out.
The sky is huge in Death Valley. The scale of things is different than anything you'd experience in most places. Everything is dwarfed by the landscape. Roads wind around mountain ranges and nothing is as the crow flies. It reminds me of how running in Death Valley is. You have to take what it gives you and make the best of it. You have to be prepared, but you can't plan too much, because unexpected things happen.

As we descended into the park, we stopped at the information kiosk and got our park permit. We were looking down toward Zabriskie Point, and I got this feeling like I never left since the last time I was there. I think this place bakes into your bones.

We checked into our room at Furnace Creek and went to get dinner. I noticed a few more little amusing things. One was the list of "Hot Weather Tips" given to tourists on the hotel map, which includes: Never leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle during hot weather.


On the menu, ice cream was listed under "drinks". I guess that would be correct in Death Valley. We had a good dinner, the food is really good at the cafe in Furnace Creek. Then we went back to the room and organized the vehicle for the next morning and put our drinks on ice.

Friday morning when we woke up it was 72 degrees at 6 am. I taped my heels with some foam tape, bathed myself in sunscreen, and we got our stuff together, checked out of the room, and hit the road for Badwater.

After a few pictures I got started at 8:24 am, close to the time of my race start and just as the sun was coming up over the top of the high cliffs above the Badwater monument. As you look up, there is a sign way up high on the cliffs that marks Sea Level. It was 85 degrees in the shade.

Within a few miles Nathan had a smooth method of crewing me figured out and I should have started with ice in my hat or around my neck, but I figured this out after a couple of miles. Then all was good.

It was amazing how many times people driving down the highway would slow down and pull up next to me to find out if my car broke down, or if I was okay. The first time the question caught me off-guard when this guy asked me if I was stuck. For some reason it didn't make sense. I lifted one foot at a time off the pavement, to see if I was stuck. My feet weren't sticking to the pavement..."No, I'm not stuck."

Then I realized why he was asking me. People don't normally go for a run out here?

After that, each time I would point to the crew vehicle and tell them, "I'm running" and thank them, and they'd usually leave me alone.

Occasionally they didn't believe me and I had to do further explaining, but I kept moving forward at my racewalk pace. Don't you think I'd be waving my arms trying to get their attention if I needed help?

There were lots of motorists who went by and gave me a thumbs-up. They must know about the race. There was only one car over the whole two days who tried to veer toward me and honked aggressively like they were going to run me off the road. In general, the roads were pretty quiet. Not much traffic at all, but quite a few tour busses went by.

The day went well. I averaged 4 miles an hour including two 15 minute breaks and all of the short but awkward crewing stops every 1/2 to 3/4 mile along the course. During the race crewing will be much easier with two or three crew members, and I won't have to stop moving forward, they can crew me as I go. With just one crew member it's not as efficient, but Nathan did an amazing job and my stop time was only 15 to 30 seconds each time.

Nathan has an unbelievable ability to multi-task. At one point toward the end of the day I asked him if he got a chance to take any photos because he was so busy crewing me. He said, "About 300 so far."

Multi-tasking must be another thing in the Nitzky genes because I decided early in the day that I was going to take notes and write things down as I was walking along the course so Nathan wouldn't have to worry about taking notes on top of everything he had to do; getting ice for my hat, bottle, and neck, spraying me with water, getting me food, sunscreen, assessing my general well-being, figuring out how far to drive before the next stop, and so on.

At one point another tourist stopped to ask me if I was all right. I was walking along the road scribbling notes and she asked me twice if I was really okay. Maybe she thought I was writing a suicide note?

I took a 15 minute break at Furnace Creek to re-sunscreen myself and get in the shade, but I never got off my feet. Nathan got more ice and did errands, and I took off with two full bottles once I re-iced my hat and neck bandana. He met me about a mile down the road.

Along the road I was looking at the scenery, in awe of the size of the landscape and the colors. The different shades of brown dirt and black rocks, the shades of lavender and pink and orange in the vegetation, the deep blue sky, the tan and pink sand dunes, and the red and bronze mountains. I could feel the spirit of all the other runners who have traveled along this road for Badwater. And I wanted to paint. I wanted to break out my pastels and spend the rest of my life painting scenes from this desert.

The only glitch in the entire first day was somewhere around 26 miles. I asked Nathan for a Slim Fast. I drank one earlier in the day and had no problem. As I drank the second one, it was the hottest part of the day and I didn't think about it as I slurped it down. We were laughing about something and I was almost spitting the Slim Fast out because I was doubled over laughing. About 5 minutes later I felt REALLY NAUSEOUS.

I thought, I am going to barf this up. I kept moving but I slowed way down. I asked Nathan if he thought it was the heat, if I looked like I was too hot, or if he thought it was the Slim Fast. I thought since it came on so suddenly and I'd been doing great up to that point, it had to be the Slim Fast.

Just then a truck stopped near our crew vehicle and two men and a woman jumped out with cameras and microphones. I had no idea what they were up to and I didn't care, I was feeling like puking. Then they leapfrogged us a few times, each time with cameras set up as I went by. Finally I felt less nauseous and I asked them, what are you taking pictures of? They didn't answer except for the woman who said, "runners".

They talked to Nathan, I was still moving forward as fast as I could while still having waves of nausea. I was wishing that Slim Fast would come up and was thinking about trying to make myself puke so I could get it over with, when suddenly Nathan appeared again.

He told me it was an Austrian film crew making a documentary about the hottest places in the world and they wanted to know what I was doing and if they could ask me some questions. They couldn't have done this at a better time...

Suddenly Ben Jones came to mind, with his barfing classification. I think this would qualify as "Barfolalia" which means, "Alert the Media" and I started laughing.

By then I was feeling better and the Slim Fast had stayed down, so I told Nathan they could talk to me but I wasn't going to stop. The woman caught me soon after that. First she asked me what I was doing. I said, "Training for Badwater."

Then they took off and met us another half mile down the road. This time she asked me, "Why do you do this? Do you feel compelled to do this?" I started laughing. I wanted to say "The voices told me to do it, I forgot my Haldol today". But I think I said, "I've always wanted to do Badwater and I love Death Valley." That seemed to make her happy. That was last we saw of them.

I was no longer nauseous but I'd been out 7 hours without getting off my feet and I decided it would be a good time to take a break. I stopped at the Beatty turnoff sign and I got in the car and we turned on the AC and drove around for 15 minutes until we got back to the spot where I stopped. I got out and started going again from the Beatty sign.

The descent into Stovepipe Wells was the best. I love the Devil's Cornfield. When I saw it I got so excited, I took off running and forgot my water bottle! Nathan had to catch up to me and bring it to me. I ran most of the last 5 miles into Stovepipe Wells.

We got to Stovepipe Wells after 10 hours and 46 minutes, including stops. Not bad at all, that's 42 miles. The air temperature hit a high of 103 but Nathan recorded it as 123 on the asphalt. The whole day I was very much aware of the 25 degree caveat. It might be 103 out here and I'm feeling great going at a relaxed four mile per hour pace, but on race day, it could be 128 degrees and that changes everything.

We checked into the room. My feet didn't look bad, some heat rash, no blisters. My legs were heat rashed though. I showered and then we got dinner. The restaurant there isn't quite so good as Furnace Creek, but it's okay. We woke up early and got another 8:00 start on the way to Panamint.

I made it to Townes Pass summit in 4 hours, 27 minutes. Before the top I had a Slim Fast but drank it slowly. No problems this time. Then at the top I took a 10 minute break and ate some jello.

I strted the descent into Panamint and told Nathan I wanted to run as much of it as I could. It's 13 miles from the pass to the resort and it's all downhill until you hit the east edge of the dry lake bed about 4 miles out from Panamint Springs resort.

About 2 miles down the pass you get your first glimpse of the snowcapped Sierra Nevada range with Mt. Whitney. That's where you can first start imagining the finish.

I ran almost the entire 9 mile downhill stretch and then quite a bit of the way to the resort. The view looking back across the lake bed and up to the road you just descended is one of the classic Badwater photo shots. It's really amazing when you see the tiny runners against this backdrop of these huge mountains and valley.

I reached the Panamint Springs resort, 30.3 miles from Stovepipe Wells, in 7 hours and 19 minutes. Just before the resort is the general store, which had a sign outside. They have ice, groceries, and Ensure.

They were ready for me.

I took off my shoes and washed off my feet and we hit the road for Lone Pine. My feet didn't look too bad. Some heat rash, but no blisters. I did have a few friction spots on my heels and under my left foot. I ate more jello and some baby food before we hit the road for Lone Pine. Ensure didn't sound too good.

We were to call Ben Jones when we got into Lone Pine for a quick visit. We drove the course to about the 120 mile mark when I called Ben just outside Lone Pine. He said he'd meet us at the intersection in town and drive up to Whitney Portal with us. We parked and waited for Ben for just a minute before he showed up, and we drove up the last 13 miles of the course. We caught up on Badwater gossip and trivia, and Nathan and Ben hit it off with their mutual love for techno-gadgetry. We stopped at Whitney Portal and took pictures then I went over and touched the tree at the finish line.

We drove back to town and Ben joined us for a burger at a restaurant there before we took off back to Stovepipe Wells. It was great to see Ben, it's been five years. He looks fantastic. At 75, he's still staying busy with running events like the Wild West 50K and Badwater-related activities, and still doing coroner's cases on a regular basis.

Ben provided me with the original inspiration to do Badwater. I'll be seeing him at Badwater in a few weeks, when I embark on my journey. He truly is an ambassador for running in Death Valley and that whole area of eastern California, along with being Mayor of Badwater.

On the drive back we stopped for several photo opportunities in the evening light, and I noticed how much of a descent there is on the course between 90 and about 110 miles. We saw two gigantic, monstrous snakes out on the road on the drive back. Ugh!
It was good to see the parts of the course in daylight that I'll be running at night during the race.

We left the coolers in the room in Stovepipe Wells along with the extra bottles of gatorade and water and Slimfast that we never used, figuring some employee at the park might be able to use them. Sunday morning we drove back to Las Vegas, stopping for some photographs, and in Furnace Creek at the general store for a few gifts. I saw some smiley face earrings and I couldn't resist.

When we got to the airport we had some time before our flights, so we reviewed the pictures on Nathan's camera.

The trip back was uneventful, my flight got in a half hour early, which was nice. On the flight I sat next to someone from Windsor, so we talked about tornadoes, mountain biking, and Death Valley during the flight. I used the drive back to Fort Collins as a heat training opportunity in the car. I arrived home to Dennis and the Buffaloes around 6:15, sleep deprived, sweaty and smiling earring to earring.

6 weeks to go! TOWANDA!

(all photos this post by Nathan Nitzky)