In July of 2007, I finished what was the most difficult endurance event I had ever entered, the Badwater Ultramarathon. For 135 miles through Death Valley, California in the searing heat--where temperatures crest 120 degrees F--I made my way from the dry lake bed of Badwater to the slopes of Mt. Whitney. I had a good day and finished in 13th place.
Now, four years later, I'm ready to do it again. In two weeks I'll be joining some of the world's best ultrarunners (or, craziest, at least!) as we start another version of the race.
Training has gone very well, minus one small tumble I took a few weeks ago where I banged my knee hard on the pavement. My long runs, heat training, core strength work, and mental preparation have all progressed just about as well I could have hoped.
But Badwater, I've found, isn't just about exceptional physical, and even mental preparation. It's about one's willingness to endure discomfort and pain. It's about one's ability to stay in the moment, even in the darkest hours (literally and figuratively). It's about being able to surrender to the forces of nature--the heat, the wind, the burning sun--and continue to move forward regardless of the challenge. It's about being able to surrender your entire being for a short passage of time--around 30 hours--to achieve the simple of breaking the finish line tape.
Simple, but not easy.
Layer on the fact that I'm adding a brutal challenge to my Badwater goal this year: Three months after Badwater is finished, I'll return to Death Valley for the Furnace Creek 508 bicycle race, a 508-mile test that is considered "The toughest 48 hours in endurance sports." If I am blessed (and lucky) enough to finish both races, I will have completed the Death Valley Cup, an honor reserved for those who do both races in the same calendar year. Seventeen or so folks have done this, and I'm trying to add my name to the list. (More on the new PHEASANT image--designed by my buddy Jason Walton--in a later post...the bird being my animal totem for the FC 508).
At my side during Badwater will be my 3-person support crew: Tracy, Paul, and Jennifer, a dedicated group of individuals who will feed me, ice me down, water me, and yell general nasties in my direction (or do whatever it takes to get my sorry ass down the road!).
Also supporting my race efforts are a number of companies who have offered their money, time, and products...and boy, am I ever grateful for their support!
Greenlayer Sports, a company I'm proud to be associated with, is comprised of a dedicated, smart, and hard-working people who have a simple mission: Offer high-end performance running apparel--comprised of recycled polyester materials--at affordable prices. If you're going to be at the Outdoor Retailer expo in Salt Lake in August, check out their booth at PV305. Or, if you have more questions about the company and its products, just ask me! I'll be wearing the Evolution series shirts at Badwater--the perfect shirt for the tough conditions.
When the heat is 'turned up to eleven' (obligatory Spinal Tap reference), there's not other cap I want on my head than one offered by my friends at Headsweats. I'll be wearing the Long Bill and Protech versions in the heat of the Mojave. Most comfortable hats ever! I forget it's even on my head...that is, until the sun is cranking down and I need life-giving shade!
Foot care isn't just a 'good thing' at Badwater...it's life and death! That's why I'm trusting my feet to Drymax socks. Their technology stands feet and feet above the rest. For Badwater, I'll wear the Maximum Protection Running sock.
Our shirts will be have a special logo this year: As the sole entrant from the great state of Oregon with an all-Oregonian crew, I thought it appropriate to show a little love for the place I love. Over my heart, I'll be wearing the Heart In Oregon logo, a nod to the Beaver (and Duck) state. If you're at the race, look for our crew handing out small Heart In Oregon stickers.
So...here I go. Two weeks from today, and counting. Thank you all very much for your support, thoughts, prayers, good vibes, chants, music, and love.