Nine days after completing the 3000 mile RAAM Bike Race, I found myself at the starting line with 85 of the Worlds most extreme runners for the Worlds Toughest Run!! The 135 mile Badwater in Death Valley!!
How much was I recovered I wasn’t sure. I had not even attempted to run around the block in the 9 days in between races. My walk around legs felt good. But running Badwater would be a whole different story.
My strategy was to go out slow. I was going to power walk the first two miles and then see what was going on with my legs!! The talk before the race was this was going to be a hot year!! When last years race had me in some of the worst pain of my life and was considered a moderate year ( By Death Valley standards), this talk gets your attention!! At the 6am start the temp. hit 99 degrees.
After I power walked the first 2 miles, I started to run. There would be no miracles no miraculous recovery from RAAM. My legs were heavy and they let me know it early. Although my legs were heavy, my mind was strong!!! My Will to Finish would not be denied!! I would do whatever suffering was necessary to finish!!
As the temperature rose into the mid to high 120’s. My all girl crew was working hard Brenda and Sara were soaking me with 2 bottles of water every half an hour. My pace was slow but I just kept moving. One mental thing that worked in our favor was our van thermometer would not go above 114 degrees. So as the temperature soared I kept being told it was only 114 degrees. This went on for 3 or 4 hours till we heard from other racers that the temperature was actually much higher. But my mind for those 3 or 4 hours told my body to be strong!! It is not that hot!!!
When I finally found out the correct temperature at Stove Pipe Wells 40 miles into the race. It is amazing how hot it instantly became. Fact is not to soon after that I became very nauseous and had to drape Ice water soaked towels over my head and shoulders for hours till the nausea went away!! Ahh the power of the mind!!
The first night climbing the 11 mile 5000 foot Towns Pass climb. It was still 110 degrees after 11pm. at night. My pace was getting slower and slower. I slept 2 hrs. and discovered I was already well behind the pace I would need to do to hit the 60 hr. official finish. At 7am. we finally had hit the top of Towns Pass.
I knew to have any chance to hit the 60hr. official race cutoff I would have to run down Towns Pass 11 mile decent and do it briskly. I gritted my teeth and ignored all pain and was averaging 9:30 a mile as I ran the 11 mile decent. I could feel blisters surfacing as I ran but I just pushed the pain out of my mind.
After almost 2 hrs. I reached the bottom, I however had caused some serious damage to my feet. But I had picked up valuable time. The biggest problem with my feet, was my shoes had gotten soaked from all the water being poured on my head. This would turn out to be a major Fopa!! As wet shoes and socks makes you very susceptible to blisters.
I worked on a couple of the worst blisters. But I couldn’t spare the time to fix all the blisters that had formed!! Heck one thing I know, it wouldn’t be Badwater unless there was lots of PAIN involved!! I kept shifting shoes and eventually to sandals trying to relieve the pain from the blisters and the swelling from the heat.
With all the pain my pace was slowing!!! As I got to the second night I was again behind the cutoff time pace I would need. The problem was I wasn’t only in pain from all the blisters but the fatigue from RAAM was really setting in. I knew I needed to put in another running surge during the second night with the temp. now in the mid to high 80’s to have any chance of making cutoff. In addition I could not afford the 2 hrs. of sleep I had the first night. I cut my sleep to 1hr. 15 min. the second night. I sucked it up, reached down as deep as I could and Annie( my pacer) and myself started running between 15 to 18 min. miles. Doesn’t sound that fast but it took incredible effort both mentally and physically to carry this pace. And carry it we would all the way through the night interspersed with short walk breaks to put us back on pace. My daughter Heather worked her butt off in support of this effort!!!
The Day shift again came on and Sara and Brenda were back. The last big obstacle is indeed a big obstacle the legendary 11 mile climb up to the Mt. Whitney 8400 foot Portal. Brenda was pacing me and hitting my back shoulders with cold water as we climbed. She would constantly yell ” Arms” at me to remind me to pump my arms to pick up my pace. Sara would jump out of the van to soak my head every half a mile. Heather and Annie also now joined us. I remember on a real steep pitch a couple miles from the top Heather told me I needed to find my mojo so I could climb it faster!! I told her I had my mojo and that this is so steep if I didn’t have it I would be moon walking in place.
We finally crossed the finish line as a team after the 6hr. climb up Mt. Whitney for a time of 59 hrs. and 11 mins for an official finish. Just 49 mins. ahead of the 60 hr. cutoff. I would be the 75th and last official finisher!! I believe there were 2 unofficial finishers after me. I have a soft spot for them!!! I had managed to finish the Worlds Toughest Run only 9 days after finishing RAAM The Worlds Toughest Bike Race!!!
There would be a major price to pay for this Effort However!! By the time I got back to the hotel my legs started having major spasms. One leg would spasm and Sara who is a sports masseuse would massage it to calm it down. Then the other leg would have a toe curling spasm!!! She kept switching from one leg to the other but couldn’t keep up with the spasms!!! I finally got in a ice bath for around 15 mins. To my surprise the spasms kept going off even in the cold water. I was so exhausted I was falling asleep even in the ice tub only to be awakened by the next spasm!! Sarah gave me some Advil I took 4 pills. But still no let up in the painful spasms. I finally got out of the ice tub laid down on the bed and put my legs up high against the wall to try to drain my legs of whatever was causing these severe spasms. Even this did not work. My legs just kept firing off!! I asked Sara if she had any other ideas as this had been going on for close to an hour at this point. She told me my legs muscles would eventually tire and the painful cramps would stop. You know what she was right after nearly 3 hours and what seemed like an eternity they finally stopped!!! We did make good use of this time as Sara was popping and draining the blisters on my feet!!!
I want to thank my small but mighty crew of only 4 girls Sara, Brenda, Annie and my daughter Heather for there incredible commitment to get me through Badwater!!! Crewing and pacing in Badwater is Brutal!! It is not uncommon to hear stories of crew members passing out from the heat!! For a small crew of only 4 it is doubly brutal!! But you know what I never heard one complaint the whole time I was out there. Brenda the crew chief was nails she paced me for over 50 miles on top of her crew chief duties. Annie stuck with me through my surges at night with the Badwater toughness it takes. Heather on top of her great work ethic has the greatest attitude you could ever want! She always a smile on her face!! Sara after crew chiefing for me in RAAM jumped into Badwater on very short notice and gave me everything she had and definately went well above the call of duty as witnessed by the paragraph above!!! They kiddingly called themselves Bills Angel’s!! Let me tell you they were!!! With out there Huge effort I never would have come close to finishing!!
SHOW UP AND SUFFER!!!
Thanks for your Support,