Scatter my ashes here...

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

Sunday, February 20, 2011

No reservations...let the adventure begin!

The past two days have been a whirlwind of reservations, a statement which sounds paradoxical to me.

I've spent the past 30 hours or so working on Badwater business. Entry fee & paperwork sent via priority mail, hotel reservations, rental van reservations, airline tickets, figuring out how many Mt. Whitney permits and for which dates. Steph and I have talked on the phone a half dozen times.

Hammering out details for the return trip. Still waiting on a few last minute crew travel arrangements. A few little changes we've made to our plans for when we get there, like spending the first night in Las Vegas rather than Furnace Creek, so we can do our major shopping in the morning in Vegas.

Identifying the still-to-be-solved mysteries, like how we're going to get our coolers home at the end.

True, it is going to be a whirlwind, maybe we'll have a dust devil or two, but one thing is for sure... I have NO reservations! I can hardly wait to set foot in Death Valley again!

I can't count how many times in the past two days I've been doing something else and suddenly I'm running Badwater again, and I get this big smile on my face, and I get lost somewhere out there on the highway, overlooking Devil's Cornfield, with the Panamint Dunes in the background, feeling my searing skin and the sun blasting down on my head, seeing the heat blur a band of waves across the asphalt.

One of my favorite, but most difficult, places on the whole course is here, around 35 miles in, before you head downhill toward Stovepipe Wells. It's late afternoon and the hottest part of the day. It's at this point that the race is about to begin, because you've nearly survived the hottest part of the race and you're about to face a 5000 foot climb on hot asphalt as the sun is setting.

And then the stars at night. Under the black sky with silhouettes of the mountains, shadows of the rocks and sparse little plants, it almost looks like you're on the moon.

Let the adventure begin!

Photo credits: All photos by Nathan Nitzky

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Leaping from the edge of my seat

This morning I had had the best start to my day, an e-mail from Badwater to let me know my entry was accepted for this year's race! I've been waiting on the edge of my seat for the past 24 hours to hear.

I was planning to meet the running club group at the trailhead to run Horsetooth at 7:30 am, but I had to let Steph, my crew chief know, so I made a few phone calls to get a hold of her, and then I arrived at the trailhead just as they were all leaving. But that's okay, I needed to warm up first before running up the big hill by the stadium.

I had a great run on the hills this morning. Ran about a minute per mile faster than last week's run on the same course. I've been limiting myself to about 10 miles a day this week. After Florida I'll be able to really start training.

After my run this morning, I stopped by the post office to mail my paperwork and entry fee for Badwater, priority mail. It has to be there by next Friday and there's no mail on Monday because it's a holiday.

I got more great news this past week, I heard from Phil Rosenstein, another running buddy I know from Badwater and Across the Years, he is going to be in Florida next week visiting family, and he offered to come down to the lake and help Bob crew me! So I'll have two awesome crew members! Plus I'll be set in the mashed potato department. Phil is the inspiration for my mashed potato addiction.

I sure hope gators don't like mashed potatoes.

Now I have to pack for Florida and get really organized, because I only have a few more weeks to get all the little details of life cleared out of the way before my life becomes run, sauna, sleep.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

14 to 16 foot gators?

Just heard from my running friends Mike and Bob today. I'll be staying with Bob and his wife Suzanne in Fort Lauderdale in a couple of weeks when I head down to Florida for the LOST 118. Bob is the race director of the Keys 100 and numerous other ultras in south Florida. I met Bob 3 years ago when I ran my first Badwater, he was also running the race. He's an amazing runner in his 60s, he has completed numerous ultras, started running late in life, is a prostate cancer survivor, and is a kind, generous soul. Bob is going to crew for me at LOST.

The LOST 118 is a 118 mile race counterclockwise around Lake Okeechobee in southern Florida, which is the headwaters of the Everglades. It's on a dirt two-track road and asphalt bike trail. LOST is for Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail. Mike is the race director. The race is held this year on February 26 and 27th.

Mike was my sole crew person at the Keys 100 last year. He's an ultrarunner with impressive credentials, has kept a running streak of never missing a day for years and years, has completed numerous multiday ultras including a run across the state of Florida solo at the Ragnar Relays last year, and he also has a race timing business on the side, among other things.

I am so blessed by knowing these two inspirational men. I know the trip will be a fun one and it's always so great to see these guys! I'm looking forward to Florida, especially on this day when it's been snowing and the temperature is in the single digits.

Today Mike posted to the ultrarunning discussion list I subscribe to, describing his recent run around Lake Okeechobee, where he previewed the course before the race, checking on things...he described seeing lots of birds, and other wildlife, including lots of gators...

most notably some 14-16 foot gators sunning themselves!!!!

Last year at the Keys 100 I remember seeing the "Crocodile Crossing" signs, but never saw any. I did step on a piece of shredded tire during the night and jumped extra high because I thought I'd stepped on one of these critters.

I haven't been sprinting much in my training. I hope the gators aren't too hungry!

Friday, February 4, 2011

A Watched Pot...

Patience, grasshopper.

It's been a long week, and it's not over yet. I have been sick since last Sunday with this nasty sore throat/cold/viral crud. I really haven't felt terrible, but I have been tired, more tired than usual. My afternoon naps have become a necessity and have been stretching to 2 1/2 or 3 hours, and I'm sleeping at night too. The only problem is I have been waking up in the middle of the night with these bad coughing fits. Then I feel like crap all morning until I get my afternoon nap.

It's been a semi-productive week even though I haven't been feeling so great. I managed to paint twice, I sent in my Badwater application, and I caught up on some reading. I called in sick for work on Wednesday, knowing that I had chemo class on Thursday from 8 to 5 and I couldn't miss that. Besides, patients just love it when their nurse is sick and coughing all over them. I also knew I'd have to work back to back 12 hour shifts this weekend and I needed to give myself a fighting chance to get some energy back and get better.

I got my labs back from getting everything drawn including thyroid, and I'm perfect. Everything within normal limits. I was wondering about the fatigue. I am tending a little toward the hyperthyroid end of things so I need to adjust that a bit before this summer. I don't want to go into Badwater hyperthyroid because it will reduce my ability to tolerate the heat. I have a plan, and I'll get things checked around April so I can make any adjustments in time for Death Valley.

Today I did feel somewhat better from my sore throat but the air has been so dry and my throat gets sore, especially after I've been sleeping or not drinking hot liquids. I finally figured it out, after sitting in that dry, cramped, hospital basement classroom all day Thursday, my throat hurt like hell! I just need some humidity to make my throat feel better. We used to have a humidifier but I couldn't find it, Dennis didn't know where it was, so I went out to look for one, thinking they'd be inexpensive.

Wrong. Walgreens had several different models starting at $30. I really didn't feel like spending any precious Badwater money on a stupid piece of plastic when I could easily boil water in my kitchen and humidify the air in our small house.

I'm getting to be quite cheap these days, I quit coloring my hair to save money for Badwater, too! Yes, it's going to be an expensive race this summer but I'm not going to let that stop me. I'll make it work. Even if I have to swallow my vanity to show my gray! Gray should be cooler than brown in the Death Valley heat, right?

The most frustrating part of being sick has been my inability to train. It's probably a good thing, it's keeping me from overdoing it when I have another long run coming up in a few weeks, which I am plenty prepared for. Plus it's been outrageously cold! It was 15 below the other morning!

Today I did feel a lot better and I took the girls out for a walk, cautiously, since the temperature was near 40 and the ice was melting again. After just a few steps out the door, I started off in a slow jog, and the girls went with it, and we ended up running 6 miles, with plenty of sniff breaks and goose poop diving.

Tomorrow it's back to work for the weekend before my next chance to nap. I need to wait patiently, I won't get word about Badwater until close to the end of the month, and I need to move forward and go about my business. Things will take care of themselves, and I have help...

the girls are watching for me.