Friday, July 20, 2007

2 Days

2 Days until the race...and the last pre-event blog post.

Nervousness/anxiousness has been replaced by frantic packing, repacking, unpacking, and repacking. The "chassis" as my friend Jason referred to my body, is feeling good, confirmed with a couple of strides this morning for the Oregonian photographer. Yesterday's interview with the paper's sports reporter went well, and reminded me that a good interviewer should always be well-prepared before the sit-down. Mr. Schmidt had done his homework.

Tomorrow, it's wheels up at 10:50am, landing in Sin City around 4:30pm, then picking up dry ice, food, and other supplies.

I need IT tech support over here, NOW, to fix my printer, which is on the fritz. Not good when I have many pages to print out before the trip.

There's not much else to say, other than one word: Thanks. Of course, that six-letter word can't possibly do justice to the gratitude I feel to everyone who has sent me a note of "good luck." Those who I've run with, eaten with, lived with. Those who have given me advice, tips, opinions on how best to approach this animal that is Badwater. My heart overflows. "Love" isn't a word that I use loosely, but that's what I'm feeling right now.

There's an old saying I haven't used in a while, but it means a lot to me: Remember to love the ones you love. There's some power in that, when you really consider every word.



Thursday, July 19, 2007

3 Days

3's getting very real now.

Did the interview w/ KATU (Portland CBS affiliate) yesterday. The interview went very well, conducted by two really nice guys--Craig (the station's newest sports reporter) and Mike, a 31-year veteran of camera work. Their questions didn't just focus on the "who's the nut job running through the desert" angle. They had insightful inquiries about my preparation, the "why?" question, and other interesting things. I just fear that (especially with editing) that I'll come off as being a bit too serious or aloof in the piece. I didn't feel like I had my usual lighthearted attitude turned on when Craig was asking me questions. And the biggest fear I have is that Soles4Souls will be under-represented or not mentioned. Broadcast airs Sunday night, 7/22, at 5:30 and/or 6:30 pm Pacific time.

The Oregonian interview is today, and that's a sit-down at a coffee shop. Of course, with my recent weaning from caffeine, we could just as well conduct it on the back porch of a butcher shop. And I'm not sure why I just typed that. I think I'm really, really losing my mind now.

Did my last medium-distance run last night with neighbor Jim, who makes the perfect running companion. He listens (errr....puts up with) my boring stories and is amenable to just about any weird route. You can't overestimate the value of good neighbors, that's for sure.

Back to finishing up the week's work and packing for the journey.

I thank you again for your support and plead with you to visit my friends at Soles4Souls to see how you can make a difference in our world. If you're wondering how to best support my effort at Badwater, visit Soles4Souls! Send a pair (or ten!) of new or gently used adult or children's shoes, or better yet, make a cash donation to help Soles4Souls make a huge impact on the lives of people who need our help.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

4 Days

4 Days...and the packing continues in earnest today.

More rain for Portland, which is now definitely a distraction. I'm earnestly trying to stay focused on the heat, which is much easier when the sun is shining. The gray skies make it palpably more challenging to transplant my mind to the desert temperatures.

A run last night confirmed that I am indeed a bit taper nutty. I felt aggressive...almost nothing in particular. I'm interpreting that as a sign of physical strength, perhaps even a surge of testosterone that is laying in wait. And while a race such as Badwater is as far removed from the Y-chromosome-fueled sprints of the track as can be, I still like the feeling of physical power and strength--my body's way of letting me know that it's rested and ready.

A minor annoyance is the sauna at my health club (and by the way, why is it called a "health" club? Many of the customers are anything but the picture of "health." "Fitness club" or "workout facility" or "exercise den" might be more appropriate monikers). But I digress. The sauna has been on the fritz, notoriously inconsistent in its ability to maintain and hold a high temperature. Sometimes it will dip as low as 145 degrees F, while other times it will cook at 175. Various opinions from my fellow sweaters point to the probable culprit: The exercise den customers who pour entire bottles of water over the rocks of this dry sauna heating unit. The water has fried the elements/sensors/internal workings of the heater, and the little R2D2 isn't able to process commands from its woefully overloaded thermostat. We need to get Han Solo's crack mechanics on top of this issue, stat.

Speaking of the sauna, one of the benefits I have in cooking each day is the mini-Berlitz language lesson that I passively participate in. One day it will be Korean, the next, Spanish, and just the other day, Arabic. Yesterday, as one guy was leaving the sauna, he yelled in French to a friend who was walking by. English is only occasionally spoken. It's fun to listen to the different tongues, trying to pick up a word or phrase here or there. The world is small and getting smaller, no?

Today is the interview w/ the local t.v. station. Should be fun.

I thank you again for your support and plead with you to visit my friends at Soles4Souls to see how you can make a difference in our world. If you're wondering how to best support my effort at Badwater, visit Soles4Souls! Send a pair (or ten!) of new or gently used adult or children's shoes, or better yet, make a cash donation to help Soles4Souls make a huge impact on the lives of people who need our help.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

5 Days

5 days...and the preparations continue.

A rainstorm hit Portland overnight. I almost wrote "freak" rainstorm, but in the Pacific Northwest, we're serious about our rain. It can happen at any time, on any day. So no rain in the PNW is really "freakish," is it? In the past as I've prepared for long-distance events through torrential PNW rains, I've joked that if it rains on race day, I'm going to win. While there's not much of a chance of that happening anytime this millennium, I'm glad to say that the rains have been rare during the past 3 months of heavy-duty training. Still, it's nice to get a bit of a change in the weather, especially during my taper time--when my training mileage is low and my thoughts are focused on packing and getting to the starting line.

The kitchen remodel that I've referred to continues. My hands and forearms have recovered from last week's demolition job, and now the task is in the hands of the professionals. Door and wall framing commenced yesterday, with electrical and plumbing soon to follow. Distraction or diversion? I'm not sure yet. Ask me after the race.

Haircut in one hour. I wrestled with the idea of going to Badwater with my usual longer-length hair, but decided that I'll take every advantage when it comes to cooling my body. So short hair it is. And as a bonus, I get to visit with my coiffeur of choice, my cousin Natasha.

I assembled my foot-care kit yesterday, which might be suitable for use in a M.A.S.H. unit. I'm submitting the content list to the Pentagon later today for approval. I'll keep you posted on their response.

It sounds a bit strange, but due to the intense heat radiating off the roads of Death Valley, many/most of the competitors at Badwater wear long pants during the daylight hours. I struggled with finding the right know, lightweight, breathable, and WHITE. A solution came by way of my friends Jay and Lisa Smith-Batchen (Lisa's blog is a MUST read), who suggested I try Patagonia's Capilene 1 "long underwear" pants. When it comes to anything related to ultrarunning, if it comes from Jay and Lisa, I'll at LEAST give it strong consideration. In this instance, I took their advice and acquired a pair. A test run (in the middle of the night, on a back road, with camo face paint used to conceal my identity) proved that the pants are just the ticket. Thanks, guys!

For what it's worth, or "FWIW" for the under-30 set, Lisa is making another attempt at a Badwater DOUBLE. That's right--she will be doing two consecutive crossings of the 135-mile course--once on her own and once during the race itself. Astounding, any way you look at it. But those of you who know Lisa know that this is a woman who has achieved many remarkable things in her life, and something like the Badwater double is easily within her grasp. How can I be so sure? She did it LAST YEAR!

I thank you again for your support and plead with you to visit my friends at Soles4Souls to see how you can make a difference in our world. If you're wondering how to best support my effort at Badwater, visit Soles4Souls! Send a pair (or ten!) of new or gently used adult or children's shoes, or better yet, make a cash donation to help Soles4Souls make a huge impact on the lives of people who need our help.

Monday, July 16, 2007

6 Days

6 Days until my dance with the destiny of the desert.

Details are falling nicely into place. I'm thankful that I didn't leave too much planning until the last minute. I put my newfound sewing machine (thanks, Nancy) skills to the test last night and fashioned a desert hat. I had an OR desert hat, but wanted white. I simply added a neck/face shield that I cut from an old Coolmax singlet. I think it came out pretty well.

I've noticed that my body is craving a lot of rest right now, which seems a bit odd for me since I'm smack dab in the middle of my taper. It might be related to our kitchen remodel (did two hard days labor of demolition on Thursday and Friday)...a training regimen that I would not highly endorse for endurance athletes--that is, unless you want some really good heat training.

And speaking of heat training, mine is progressing well. Nightly visits to the sauna (160 to 175 degrees) have done wonders for my temperature regulation. I've taken to wearing sweatshirts on most days when short-sleeve t-shirts are de rigueur. My complaints to Mrs. Desert Fish about the meat cooler environment that we've been living in have been heeded...she reminded me yesterday that she turned off the A/C at night to give me some relief. Thank heavens--I thought that icicles were going to start forming on the ceilings of our house.

I've had many questions about the race itself, so I'd direct you all again to the links on the right side of this page, particularly THIS ONE, which gives a number of bullet points about Badwater.

Media hits and interest are continuing to rise. In addition to the CBS news piece that I'll film this week, the Oregonian has informed me of their intent to run a feature story on my race prep. Anything to help Soles4Souls!

I don't plan on making any blog entries once I depart on Saturday, 7/21. I could cart the laptop with me, but I'd rather focus on preparing my mind and body for the task at hand, and I fear that the computer would be an unnecessary distraction. Look for my final pre-race entry on Friday, 7/20.

Finally, a nod to a friend who is making a valiant attempt at something that makes Badwater seem a bit whimpy: Ronda Sundermeier is one of a handful of ultrarunners who each summer shoot for what is called the "Grand Slam" of ultrarunning. That is, successfully finishing four of the most legendary 100-mile races in the United States: The Western States 100, Vermont 100, Leadville 100, and Wasatch 100. To finish any ONE of these four is a remarkable achievement. To finish any two of them in one year would be something to tell the grandkids. But to complete the "slam" is another thing altogether. The sheer logistics alone are daunting enough, to say nothing of what a turned ankle, missed time cutoff, or succumbing to altitude sickness can do to your best laid plans.

Perhaps 10 or 15 talented and incredibly strong-willed individuals will attempt and complete the task each year, and knowing Ronda, I'm more than confident she can do it. Read about her training and racing HERE, and please join me in wishing her success.