Saturday, January 21, 2012
and monuments. I visited the Acropolis, which is a large rock hill, that is
the site of many ancient temples, and points of historic importance. It is
spectacular both day and night.
On Wednesday, I transferred to Glyfada, a suburb south of Athens, along the
seashore Mediterranean. Besides being a home to the 2004 Olympic Games,
Glyfada is also the host site for the Spartathletes. I checked in to the
Hotel London and met 3 room-mates who also were in the race.
Daniel Ernst, from Holland, a 2 time finisher, Oz Pearlman and Michael
Arnstein both of NYC and first time starters like myself. We made quick
aquaintenances and tried to stuff our gear bags into a room built
comfortable for 2.
Most of the athletes arrived on the same day, and checked in to the host
hotel. We had to wait out the next 2 days, spending time at the beach or in
the city markets.
On Friday, busses collected us all and delivered us to the Acropolis for the
start. We met up with Dan Rose, also from the USA, as well as my friends
Rob&Susie Sargent , and Liz Codding. We took some pictures, and mingled with
the field of International runners.
At 7 we started down the cobbled stone road, and I found one of my other new
friends from Finland, Ari. We ran along the narrow streets, thru traffic
intersections and passed by many beautifully made-up Greek Policewomen. It
became a habit for me to blow them kisses in appreciation of support during
the run out of town, at the morning rush hour. Many horns were blown and
there was a small bit of shouting, either for the runners or for the delays
caused by blocked streets.
The first 10 miles were quick, but not very interesting or appealing. I also
stopped at several service stations along the way, for dihireha . Very
unpleasant and stressful! My concern relieved with a Mylanta, which I took
as a precaution.
Soon the roads cleared of heavy traffic as we continued running
northwesterly towards Elyfsis. The view was Ocean on the left and hillside
community on the right. We passed thru Check Points ( aid stations ) every
few kilometers, There are a total of 79 on the course. They have water, a
Greek sport juice, Pepsi, pretzel ,chips, chocolate, and figs. However the
did not have ice or gels.
The roads were consistent along the coastline, and contained rolling hills
similiar to the one I run on Bryant Road in NE OKC. One thing also that was
consistent was the amount of trash on the roads before the start of the
race. this was a very littered course, at least until we left the check
point for 50 miles, in the City of Corinth.
The course then became more rural and agricultural. We ran thru Vineyard of
Grapes, Olive Groves, acres of Lime trees, and perhaps pistachio trees. The
Check Points were now located in the villages between each large growing
area. Sometimes the CP would be at a village Tavern in the village square.
The spectators cheered, offered us refreshments and sometimes asked for an
autograph in return.
I completed nearly 65 miles as the sun set. The hills got longer and
steeper, but the temperature was cooling for a pleasant evening run. I
picked up Gels and Ibuprofen at a CP bag drop that I prepared in advance. I
felt like a new runner, and made many good running miles until I reached the
village of Cappellini. The distance to this point is 93 miles or so, and I
was feeling really good about my running, despite the truth that I was
running too fast, without the gel support I've relied upon to this point.
The road out of Capellini is very steep 9 km climb of winding switchbacks.
Fatigue and sleepiness battled w me. I was sleepwalking, and dealing with an
internal "committee" session. Also, I vomited several times during this
section. The one good thing about this section is that it leads to the base
camp CP at 159 km. It is a drop bag site that I'd planned for w Gel, pks and
a jacket w hat and gloves. All of the ite s were necessary for the next 2 km
climb which is the hardest, steepest, rockiest, most dangerous section of
It was very well marked, and went straight up the side of Sangas Mountain.
When I started the ascent, a Greek runner joined me and was determined to
lead the way up in a very swift pace. The struggle was over soon. we reached
the top of the pass and CP 48. The gusty winds made it cold and
inhospitable. My Greek comrade and I quickly descended the wider mountain
road leading to CP 49. When I arrived, I was a wreck. My legs needed
recovery and my stomach needed food. I took a 5 min break to raise my feet,
rest my back and eat soup.
After 5 min I left the CP with only a few minutes ahead of the cutoffs. I
forced my self to run on, in fear of missing a CP , and again vomited the
food. I wasted many minutes on the side of the road, but finally started a
slow walk towards mile 103. I reached the CP, but made a bad decision to sit
down and eat. I gave into the desire for rest for a few minutes, until the
CP Captain told me the station was closing and asked if I was forfeiting. I
said NO, and I returned to the course, walking slowly ahead as the sun rose
over the eastern mountains. Without food and water I knew I could not
continue. A race official drove past so I flagged him to stop. I did not
know how I would get back to Sparta without the race being open, so I
declared my intention to stop at the next site of a CP a few more km ahead.
When I arrived, the station volunteers were disassembling the area, but took
my bib and timing chip and made arrangements for me to have a bus ride from
Tegea to Sparta. I did not know that runners often continue thru a closed
CP, and make up time before reaching the subsequent CP. This is very
valuable information for runners, if they are willing to continue forward
toward the finish line. So that was the end of my competition. I got on a
bus a rode to Sparta. A few stops along the road the same bus collected
Michael. He completed 180 km before retiring due to slow pace and soreness
in the feet.
We checked into the hotel, and found Oz there also. He had dropped at 124 km
from violent vomiting and dehydration. Soon we showered, and made our way to
the finish line to celebrate with the runners and supports that were still
running. Many of our new friends were completing the course with cheers, and
My feelings were mixed with disappointment for myself and joy for the other
Saturday, May 30, 2009
Monday, July 21, 2008
Arriving at the start at 5:30, I found a quiet place to settle and wait for the opening announcements and photos. I saw Luis Escobar in photographic gear instead of running gear. He does both very well, so I suggested he join me for a pace later in the day. There was a tremendous amount of enthusiasm on the boardwalk in front of the salt flats of Badwater, especially by the French crew of Grizzard, donning blue uniforms, Don Henley afros and a stuffed chicken, which I suppose is the French National Mascot.
After a few group photos, all of the early runners lined up , honored 'ol Glory with the playing of the Star Spangled Banner. Inside myself, I gave thanks for this moment and for all of our combined blessing. Moments later, this first wave made a dash for Furnace Creek, 17 miles ahead.
This first leg of the race was for settling in, making some new friends, and trying to take in the enormity of the arena surrounding us. I fell in with Reiner Shubert and Dan Jensen for most of the first section, chewing gum and thinking how tight my shoes felt after only a few miles.
Being cautious, I elected to size up a full size and found the comfort I needed. From then on I had a perfect fit. Eating and drinking small amounts every 20 minutes became habit, switching between water, Coke and v8 or CapriSun juice. I ate small amounts of Chex mix, white cheese, and gold fish and chewed gum between.
After passing Furnace Creek, bleekness invaded for the next several hours, toward Stove Pipe Wells at mile 41. The tempeture climbed upward, although much of the course was still at or near "sea level". I changed into the long sleeve,long panted Sunsuit trying to prevent much of the sun's burning effects. Also, I found Muscle Rub analgesic to be very welcomed here, refreshing my legs and giving me a cooler perspective. Must be careful where it ends up though....
The closer I got to Stove Pipe the slower I moved forward. Chris was soaking cold towels, and placing these on my back with baggies of ice inside my hat. Taylor was providing ice cold sponges every mile also to keep my core temp down. It was nearing 115 degrees as I finally made the pass thru the center of "town" and met the crew for a brief rest just outside of "city center". ( haha )
This is when the frontrunners from the 10 am wave started to pass me. Lisa Smith, then Jorge Pacheco, then Dean Karnazes all ran with speed and grace. Somehow I missed seeing Akos go past, but I know he did nonetheless. Also I saw Carilyn Johnson pacing, and had a brief reunion since meeting this champion at Ultracentric in November. Seeing her was an encouraging moment but I sensed that a low spot was headed my way soon.
The climb from Stove Pipe to Townes pass is 17 miles, most of which I walked, watched the race between Jamie Donaldson and Pam Reed, and ate, and held in wonder the rarity of a brief rainstorm and full rainbow. The temps dropped 30 degrees to 86 in an instant, but the climb continued. Darkness overtook me on the pass, and nausea also settled in for the next several hours. Although there is a downside to Townes Pass, I made a very slow going of it until finally putting on the breaks 3 miles short of Panamint Springs for an extended break of 90 minutes. Uncomfortably as I lay across the seat of the van, I could not shake the fears of not completeing the race, and again "shook to" in a panic. Quickly, I gather myself and gear and Chris and I set out marching for the time station ahead,....the half way point nearby.
As the sun came on my second day, Nancy restocked the supply of Coca Cola, and even brought a tall cold glass of milk for me. I sipped it thru a straw and thought of all of the "got milk" commercials I've seen. I'm pretty sure I would have been disqualified from making a commercial based on my smell and appearance, but it is Best glass of milk I ever drank ! Slowly climbing toward Father Crowley's Ridge, Luis appeared again and offered some snacks. I spotted 3 twizzlers and he happily passed them over. what a JOY ! 3 twizzlers !!
The next section of 10 miles passed slowly as the temps rose quickly. Mostly fast walking, watching my crew ahead in the distance playing frisbee and collecting "cool lookin" rocks that lay on the desert floor. Suddenly, a Fighter Jet streaked above, coursing the length of the road ahead of me, blasting his jets and returning for an addtional pass in the opposite direction. Do I need to describe how cool this was ?? I don't think so either, but as the pilot flew past, he dipped his wings in a salute and punched the thrusters hard to escape the Valley floor.
Nearing the 90 mile time station, I could feel myself nearing another low point, but I looked overhead to see clouds forming. Although I really wanted to "break for 30 min" I commited to make hay while the sun shines, errr, uhh,....run while the clouds cover the course and provide shade. So, at 90 miles, I picked up the pace and took on a full gallop. The road gradually turns downhill also for the next 10 miles. Then the clouds gave way to moderate showers for the next 5 miles. I felt such a closeness of HIS prescence during this section. I could not have designed a better set of circumstances, and my crew was delighted to see me in refreshed, running fashion.
Quickly, I made 100 miles then 110, then I really came back to life ! I felt like I was running a 10 k race, passing other crews and runners in astonishment. As I made the final turn leading into Lone Pine, Nancy and Taylor stood and cheered, screaming like we were at the rodeo! I can't explain it but I felt so good that nothing at all hurt ! No foot pains, no soreness in my legs, nothing of the drudgery that I dealt with only 60 miles earlier. How long could this last ?? At least to the base of The Portal Road.
This is the final stretch. 13 miles of steep 2 lane road, in darkness, and thankfully with the crew ahead and Chris alongside for a nice long chat. My goal was simple. I wanted to climb upward in 4:30. We made it in 4:26. There isn't much to describe of this section except that it was dark and weary and steep. So a welcomed moment finally to hear the sound of generators in the near distance and the glow of the Finish Line lights. I can't imagine Paris shines any brighter than the finish at Badwater.
I buckled at Badwater with a time of 43:21:26 in HIS grip and with the help of a fantastic rookie crew that learned as quickly as necessary and inspired me to let it all hang out. I finished the race set out before me ,on that day. Encouraged for the continuing race that unfolds each day, knowing within that we are made for this. I'm excited about my plans for the future, that include returning to Badwater, first as a pacer, then later....perhaps as a racer again.
My gratitude goes out to my family for their encouragement and support, my many hometown friends and heros that called, emailed, wrote cards and PRAYED for me. So few words cannot express the appreciation I have for y'all. Julee prayed and sent her love, Susie made me a sport jersey, Barbie sent me tatoos, Lori sent a movie clip from Chariots of Fire, my dad lent me his sun-cap from his 1995 race. Sarah built me a sunsuit. Wanda Vincent provided thermal protection, Nancy spoon fed me, Taylor gave me "sponge" bathes, Chris led the way up Whitney, and I got a bazillion words of support and encouragement from so many more.
Congratulations to Jamie and Jorge for finishing before the rest of us, and to each champion that made the long difficult journey to Whitney.
I better close now, before I get "ver klempth", but ...stay tuned,
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Friday, July 11, 2008
Monday, June 30, 2008
- Run with your heart, but listen to your head -anon
- Run on your toes - Ian T
- Run as slow as you possibly can now, later you can pick it up - Kirk A
- When things go bad, run heel-to-toe until they turn around - Jock Semple via Ellen M.
- Turtle by Day, Rabbit by Night - Jack
- Deal with It, - Jack
- Row, Row, Row your boat gently down the stream- Gary S ( useful climbing Hope Pass )
- When you can't run anymore, walk. When you can't walk anymore, try running -Mick J
- Keep Smiling - Matt
- Can't you visualize Monica? -anon
- Don't take your eyes off of the finish line - Dad
- You're better than you think you are, you can do more than you think you can - Ken
- You can always quit, so WHY quit now ? Rob
- easy does it,but do it - Bill
I know there are more, but that's enough for now. If you have some you would like to add, PLEASE do so by leaving a comment ,
Sunday, June 29, 2008
My crew is ready also: Nancy, Chris and Taylor are all first timers, but so am I, and so was I the first time I crewed this race. I know I'll be in good hands with these three close-by.
The crew will be on the course with me at all times, generally staying a couple of miles ahead, preparing for my frequent need for cold fluids, food, encouragement, prayer and eventually pacing me on foot for moderate stretches to the finish line. They are essential !!
Last week, I had the pleasure of running to The Green People run with Matt Clay. We started from his house in Norman, ran north to Lake Hefner and finished at the bluff creek trail, only 1 hour ahead of the GP start time. This gave us an extra pre-run loop that eventually would add up to a total of +50 for the day, plus entitled us to extra playing cards for a poker hand for prizes. We both had "flush" , receiving GP sun-visors for the effort. Thanks to Katherine Cranwell, David Wood, and OTRA for another fine, fun event, that also sought to raise conciousness for our global impact on the summer solstice.
On a fund-raising note, if you would like to donate to The United Way on my behalf, you can do so online, by following the link to the left of this post. Please leave a note in the comment box so I can be made aware of your gift. If you prefer to write a check, I welcome that also. Please mail it to me at 2817 Shady Tree Lane, Edmond, OK 73013. In either case, I appreciate all of your gifts.
Monday, June 16, 2008
I'm a long way from my fundraising goal, but the finish line is still 29 days away.
Next Sat, Matt Clay and I are planning on a run, then an event that is hosted by Katharine Cranwell at Bluff Creek, " The Green People Run ". I hope to see y'all there.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
The month of May is nearly over, and my anxiety and excitement builds as the countdown is now in the less than 50 day range for the Badwater start on July 14th. In discussing this race with people , many are surprised that race organizers would schedule the event in the hottest place in the USA, during the hottest months. The most difficult conditions possible? Well, why not start on MONDAY morning also ? Yes, the race does start on MONDAY.
I'm just glad I don't have to tie one hand behind my back!
I just finished reading Jon Vonhoff's book Fixing Your Feet, and I recommend this to all interested in preparing the feet for long distance events. I made Jon's aquaintence after the 2003 Western States 100. My feet were in a real mess, with large blisters on the heels and balls of both feet. Jon quickly went to work with tape, bandages, and scissors which allowed me to walk as a normal person homeward thru the airports and to bed. I'm ever grateful for his time and skill.
I can't accurately account for my miles last month, but I enjoyed 2 runs over 40 miles, during the days' heat, and a 33 mile run from Edmond to El Reno. One conclusion I'll post here is that the further away from a large town/city I run, the more considerate and friendly the drivers are to me. On highways that have the widest shoulder, drivers still pull way over to give me plenty of room, whereas in Norman, OKLA City, the motorists are more concerned with cell phone conversations and "beating" a light. ....just stating the facts....
The United Way Campaign for 2008 is LIVE UNITED. Last week I was invited , along with a couple of co workers on the commitee to participate in a photo shoot for the Media Campaign. This was a lot of fun, but very nerve racking ! It required me to STAND STILL which left me totally uncomfortable, but laughing at myself nonetheless.
Brooks Running deserves my applause for their contribution of a "sun suit" for my daytime protection. Sarah Solseng and her team of Product Developers came up with a very light weight and very functional running suit that I 'll wear to prevent sun burn. It is a perfect fit and I'm very proud to wear it. I have been training and racing in Brooks Trance shoes for the last three years. The shoes provide incredible comfort and fit and 1 pair will last me a long time. I still have my first pair from 2006.
During Sat's training, I also ran the Andy Payne Marathon in OKC. I had a great day despite the recorded time of 4:48. I'm so glad that this event continues through the 31st year. The field of runners has been sparse some years, but JR Cook and U.N.I.T.Y. continue to put on a great event with lots of aide stations and great volunteers, as well as Don Garrett's Race Productions. Saturdays' race was won by Dave Emerson, a friend and ultrarunner from TX. Congrats to all the runners, including the 10k and 5k events.
Music I've really enjoyed this month on my IPOD :
Raising Sand, Robert Plant & Alison Krauss,
On an Island, David Gilmour ,
also NPR podcasts of Fresh Air and Car Talk found on itunes.
All for now, stay tuned...
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Monday, I made a new friend,....well actually I was attacked by a dog that lurched upward and took a bite out of my sleeve. Not to worry, because the dog didn't get a hold of my arm and only minimal tear in the jacket. Her owner was genuinely upset and ready to buy a replacement for me although I really don't think it's necessary.
After giving the whole thing some deep thought I've concluded the following:
- I'm glad I was wearing the jacket, which probably prevented a flesh bite.
- The experience will likely prevent the dog from ever acting out that way again, after the owner disciplined his dog.
- I'm glad it happened to me and not some small kid.
I love dogs and have only had a few instances that concerned me for my safety when a dog barked or chased me, so this situation didn't "scare" me.
Tuesday, I put some serious thought into ideas to increase endurance and increase heat tolerance. I made a stop at Brigadoon's Army surplus store where Tom fitted me for a flak-jacket. It's slightly bulky, snuggly fitting, and weighs about 10 pounds. It is also camoflage incase I ever want to go deer hunting. ( not likely )
I ran 6 miles through the paved hills of the Lake Arcadia dam with it on...under a hoodie, because I was slightly embarrassed to be seen with it on. I didn't want to be mistaken for a paint-ball warrior in full flight.
I'm undecided how well this may help, but hey...if it's good enough for Bo Jackson, it might work for me too.
anyway, all for now but stay tuned....
Monday, May 12, 2008
The first is the physical preparation. Up til now, and beginning training in earnest around the end of Feb. , I've recorded 2 - 50 mile runs, 1 - 33 mile run and a couple in the 20's, besides weekly mileage of 50 or so. I'm the worst at tracking my runs using a running log, so I rely on the planning of the runs ahead rather than what's behind. I'm preparing to run the Andy Payne Marathon on May 24th, with a prerace warmup and cooldown that will net about 55 miles for the day and I'll have at least 2 good weekend runs in June, that will combine for another 150 miles. In between I shoot for 8-12 miles per run, now with the added discomfort of an insulated jacket and running pants that hold my tempture at a much higher than comfortable range. I receive lots of strange looks from motorists that see a thin man, bundled up like a sleeping bag, shufflin down the roads.
This is sorta how I look when I'm running down Hefner road in my winter gear
I've added 4 servings of fresh fruits and vegetables to my normal daily diet which is comprised of breads, meat and too much coffee. Also,stretching my legs after my runs. I hope all of this discipline to details is not too late !!
The second part of the preparation for the race is in the travel, lodging and rentals. This portion of the preparation is nearly complete, although I'm still shopping for good flights thru Las Vegas that seem reasonable. I know that everyone is affected by rising fuel prices and airfare, but the trip to Vegas seems higher than normal. As has become the "tag-line" of the last few seasons in business,...." it is what it is ".
The hotels filled up fast along the route, but my crew will have beds to sleep in, and warm water to bathe in if they want it. Interesting , the water from the cold lines feels hotter than in the hot lines in Panamint Valley which is 71 miles into the race. I know my crew will experience many other oddities of desert life that only an event like this can present.
The third facet of my preparation is the fundraising part. It is the part that I have the least experience in but feel the need for equal efforts to present a winning outcome. I've designated the United Way of Central Oklahoma as the charity that I wanted to raise money for. In doing so, I've already had the pleasure of meeting and now working with Natalie and Erin of the United Way . With their help, I now have this blog, and other tools that can help in heightening awareness of the services and concerns that the United Way provides.
Erin B and me,... without my ipod
I hope this blog will serve to inform my friends and keep them up to date on the preparaton process and encourage anyone who reads this to follow the links to The United Way web site for complete information. Because of the United way , over 350,000 people from this area are provided help and services.
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
As the title suggests May 1st is past and The Badwater Ultramarathon has posted the Start times and Racer bib numbers for the 2008 Race on July 14.
I will be wearing # 94 , which is also the year that I first crewed for my Dad during the Badwater ultramarathon. I think it is fitting also, that I ran my first ultramarathon in the same year, 1994, inspired to return to Death Valley.
...more to follow, so please stay tuned...