The Beatdown has Begun
March 07, 2011
So today’s leg was eerily similar to my golf game. Wild off the tee coupled with a shaky putter and numerous mental mistakes…but a few clutch up and downs down the stretch. The first big mistake happened only a couple miles into the day. The stage started with us descending into the slot canyons where we had to face atleast ten river crossings over a couple mile stretch. Trying to avoid the cold water, and thinking that I actually had legs like the 6’7”Dave Gardner, I attempted to jump across the first one. While I managed to clear it my right foot landed directly on a slick rock and both my legs flew straight up in the air. I crashed harshly back into the river soaking my pack and narrowly missing cracking my head open on another rock. Obviously I was pissed. And my pack was pounds heavier now. Mental mistake number one. Fortunately the electronics survived as I now water proof them (for obvious reasons). After making it out of the canyons I got into a nice groove courteous of Dan Caso’s disco club grooves (mix #97). Unfortunately the beats were so intense that I lost my bearings and blew past the markers as the course took a 90 degree turn right. By the time I realized and turned around I had run half a mile. So this bonehead move ended up costing me ten minutes. Thanks Caso. Haha.
After getting through the canyons we embarked on an extended climb for the next hour. Very steep - most of us paced ourselves on the way up. The views from the top were spectacular overlooking lush valley and mountain tops in all directions. At this moment I forgot we were actually in a race and I took it all in absorbing the scenery and snapping pics with fellow competitors. By the time we got to the summit we realized there was only one way down – dropping off the edge of a cliff into a gulley and running straight down a massive sand dune to the valley - almost the same way you would descend into a double black diamond. There’s no way words could explain the thrill and exhilaration of running straight down a steep dune flat out for about 800 yards. Had to be going something b/t 15 and 20mph screaming at the top of my lungs. Completely out of control. Definitely worthy of the term animal style. If I would’ve lost my footing I’d be pickings sand out of places I don’t exist for the next two weeks.
After that incredible experience we reached CP2 and it was back to business. Put the game face on…avoided Caso’s tunes and went back to the 80’s classics and ran incredibly strong the last 13 miles home despite severe cramping and pain in my left foot. Managed to finish behind Anders by only 8 minutes and 3rd place for the second consecutive day. Still can’t believe I’m hanging with him. But now everything hurts. The legs are gone after doing 50 miles in two days. The blisters are back. So are the neck gashes. Legs have cuts everywhere and every step hurts. The MT 101’s have taken a beating so far. But so far so good. They’ve performed brilliantly and the minimus construction has kept me very light on my feet. Thanks to Whitney Carroll and all the support at New Balance!
We’ve reached the point of the race that I love most. All the long runs, all the training marathons, all the mile repeats, all the 15X15’s, all the 400’s, all the hill climbs, all the strength training, all the pilates (by the way shameless plug but Jenn Phelan is the most amazing pilates instructor in Boston and probably east of the Mississippi, I’d call her if you’ve ever considered it) mean nothing now. At this point we’re all hurting and it’s a battle to see who can endure the most pain and keep asking for more. I feel very blessed to have the opportunity to be here and live this experience. Many children (specifically those supported by the MAGIC Foundation and the Endurance Trust) deal with so much more than I could ever imagine on a daily basis. It’s the strength in those children that will help get me to the finish line. They’ve kept me strong and healthy so far. I promise I will be leaving every ounce of energy and muscle fiber in the Atacama in hopes of a miracle finish.
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