My Thoughts

Australia

We did it…

May 24, 2012

​It wasn't a knockout blow, maybe it only lasted for a moment and maybe it was a mirage, but today we brought this place to its knees and it wasn't asking for more.  

After spending over 3 grueling hours in the Maze to cover 10k and in 40th position it looked like another killer day.  Especially when the two diagonal pins in the wrist bent outward almost protruding the surface of the skin sending shooting pains and forcing the cast to come off animal style.  But there was no time for pain.  We got to the road and for the first time all week had the opportunity to open it up.  So we did.  But we were methodical.  We were persistent.  Marking em off one-by-one.  By the end of the 16-hour monster we caught all but 11 including 2 of the top 6.  We were not to be stopped today.  Now way.  Now how.

A myriad of items failed to survive the week.  Body parts, sanity, shoes, electronics, equipment, etc, etc, etc. But the one thing that never broke or wavered slightly was the collective spirit of everyone here supporting something so much bigger than the sum of its individual parts.  In my 29 years of life I've never seen anything like it, let alone have the privilege to experience it firsthand.  Thank you everyone SO much for writing and sharing stories and sending motivation.  I will never forget those that have been here so we could share this experience together.  We've accomplished a lot for Luci and all the other beautiful MAGIC children.  But we still have a long ways to go.  Can't wait to meet everyone out in Chicago in a few short months!!!!

Time for rest and another awful dehydrated meal.  Quick question though.  So who actually won the 100k challenge???

What an experience…

May 02, 2010

​The long day concluded Friday night with the final competitor making it across the finish line just after the sun had set at approximately 6:00pm!  That's right.  36 hours after the start of the stage.  Talk about grit and determination.  Talk about a hero.  Talk about refusing to quit.  For a day and a half straight he had been out there fighting the elements, fighthing his body and fighting his mind as he crossed the moutains, river beds, plains and a dusty road that seemed to go on for eternity.  Yet he managed to somehow get past the pain and reach a higher level.  When he took that final step across the line he simply had nothing left.  But the standing ovation he received at camp from his fellow competitors, the staff and the volunteers I'm sure made it worth the pain and suffering.  His effort inspired us all.  

People continually ask why would you do this to yourself?  Are you insane/suicidal?  Why wouldn't you rather just relax on the beach for vacation?  But until you experience a journey like this firsthand and then take a step back to let it sink in then it's impossible to really understand.  The highlight of the week again for me was the people I met, the remote territory we explored and the relationships I built.  And if I'm proud of one thing...it's the fact that our entire tent finished the race and all eight of us received medals.  We were the only tent to accomplish that and it wasn't just a coincidence.  In fact there were several tents down to only one or two competitors by week's end.  But we nursed each other through the tough times.  When I was sick and delirious in the bush...when Paul was unconscious and unresponsive and very sick...when Ash was urinating blood...when Joey got massive sun poisioning and heat rash...when Tony was so blistered that he couldn't walk...we were there for each other.  Supporting as much as we could but most importantly staying positive and encouraging and keeping an open ear.  Each of us hit our individual breaking points this week, then we hit them again, then we hit them again, then we hit them again.  Walking away would've been easy.  But nothing great it easy.  So we faught.  And in the end I think we learned a little from one another.  I know I learned a bunch from my brothers in tent #16.  Limits are self-imposed and made to be broken.  They're thrown around in conversation by people comfortable with the status quo, people who do what other people expect and people who are afraid of striving for more.  They are not for people that attempt these races.  They weren't for tent #16.  

Saturday was a picture perfect ending to the race.  The top guys who had locked up their positions decided to casually run it in so the rest of us had a chance to win the 5k sprint to the finish.  I gave it everything I had.  Went out running flat out and tried to hold it.  Gasping for air from the third minute in I held the lead for about 2.25 miles.  That's where Joel and Mehmet passed me.  So as we approached the finish line I was in third.  But like the great friend he is...Mehmet waited for me 100 yards out so we could come across the finish line together and hug it out after another awesome week of racing.  So many people at the finish line going nuts and to run it flat out and leave zero in the tank after crossing made for a euphoric ending and an adrenaline rush that still hasn't worn off yet.  We had a joyous awards cermenony last night with plenty of food, booze, pics, videos and laughs.  And then we all parted ways.

Over the course of the week you're dreaming about anything you can to get your mind off the pain.  Sleep, shower, lack of ticks, lack of ants, lack of pain, air condition, fresh wipes, MP3's, McDonald's, Papa Gino's, Coors Light, water cooler than your core body temperature, etc.  But after finishing you realize those are all luxuries and aren't what matter most.  It's those people that are there for you when you need it most.  And that's what each of you were.  So once again I want to sincerely thank you.  I did a lot of talking about MAGIC and Luci and all the families out there and myself and the Endurance Trust guys have some really cool ideas going forward to continuing to spread the message.  Look forward to sharing them in July!!!

The Walking Wounded…

April 30, 2010

​6:00pm local time on Friday and the final competitor just crossed the finish line of the long stage!  What an amazing effort.  He had been out there plodding, grinding, getting knocked down and getting back up for 36 straight hours through the Maze, over the flats, across multiple rivers and along a dusty road that seemed to go on for eternity.  Talk about determination and refusing to quit.  He was just welcomed home to a huge round of applause by a group of competitors that simply have nothing left in the tank.  Of the 186 runners who attempted this feat only a little better than half made it.  3 were rushed to the hospital for different emergencies and one had to be flown to Darwin for serious infection.  Point being this course humbled us.  It showed us how little control we have over certain things.  We all hit our individual breaking points this week, then we hit them again, then we hit them again.  But it also taught us to dig deeper than many of us ever thought possible.  It taught us that certain limitations in life are self-imposed and made to be broken.  And most importantly...it forced us to rely on each other.  I wouldn't have made it without the help of so many. Plain and simple.  And we now know later that one runner is alive today b/c of the help he received from his competitors on the course after he cracked his head open on the waterfall and was losing liters of blood rapidly.  This was a total team effort and according to many of the runners the hardest week of their life.  I have no argument there.

So tomorrow the celebration begins!  After a week of dreaming of sleep, shower, no ticks, no ants, no humidity, no weight on the shoulders, Big Mac's, Papa Gino's and Coors Light we have a nice 5k to finish it out in the morning.  Think everyone's going to take it relatively easy.  Unfortunately the nearest competitor to me is 9 minutes ahead so I highly doubt I will!  Running it hard to the finish is the only way I know.  Thanks again everyone...so excited to return home and celebrate soon!

FYI - The generator's been down so I haven’t received any comments in the last two days in case I didn’t answer anything directly.   

Bring on the Beast

April 28, 2010

​Wow!!!  Thanks everyone for the awesome sports updates.  Much needed.  Go Pens!  Go Montreal!  And thanks everyone for continuing to send strength this way.  Not sure who BCEAGLE1 is officially (b/c I think there are at least ten people stealing that password) but that's what Im talking about!  My moneys on pops.

Today was as expected.  Extremely difficult. Very technical and very vertical.  So much rock.  Every single step we took was on rock, whether it be up the mountain, down the mountain, through the gorge or through the river.  But we had some cloud cover in the morning which made a huge difference.  Felt very strong today after a good nights rest.  Wouldve liked to make up more spots but I couldnt physically go any faster on this terrain without risking injury so I didnt.

Tonights camp is tucked away in the middle of the Maze.  So remote.  Absolutely gorgeous.  You couldnt find this place if you tried.  Whole camp is having a blast hanging, swimming in the rivers and soaking in the scenery.  Proud to say that our tent is the only one yet to lose a competitor (and over 50 have already pulled out).  That shows how tight we all our.  Really meet some amazing people in these races that will become lifelong friends having shared something this painful yet so rewarding.

So tomorrows 100k starts with a 400m swim.  Then another seven miles out of the Maze.  Not happy about that at all.  Every step you take in this place is painful and a potential broken ankle.  But then it is supposed to open up for the final 85k. My plan is to go out hard and hold on.  Could be a disaster but I can move up a bunch with a special day.  Did it in October...why not again?  Hopefully make up some time in the morning...recharge a little midday then sprint to the finish when the sun goes down.  Either way Im going to throw every single ounce of strength at it.  No regrets.  And hopefully live to write about it on Friday.  Thanks again everyone...send another update when I return from the dark side.

I need a Fosters…

April 27, 2010

​First off thanks so much everyone for the continued support.  The stories you've shared are nothing short of moving and it means so much to hear from the people you care about most when you're on the other side of the world absolutely killing yourself.  Partridge - Im officially going on the record and I promise the next vacation I take (which I know wont be for awhile!) will not be an extreme ultra 15000 miles from home.  Pool bar sounds like a better idea.

So today was another brutal day.  Managed to keep working my way up the leaderboard but my body is really breaking down and the heat is sapping all the strength I have left.  Whats been so hard about this race is that its been so technical and we really havent had much room to run at all.  Its just been up and down up and down extremely thick brush.  And you cant see the loose rocky footing underneath it so you have to go very slow.  And thats frustrating and demoralizing in this heat. Thought the 20 mile training runs at Blue Hills would condition me properly.  Way off base.  Not even close.

Took two really bad falls today...one when I slipped at the waterfall cracking my wrist on the stone and another one when I rolled my ankle and fell into a tree trunk. As for my feet I've now lost four toenails and have more blisters than I can count.  Also have substantial chaffing on the neck, back and groin area.  Down at least five and maybe ten pounds already.  Also broke ipod #1 and my camera.  Other than that things are fantastic!

The Good News:  Outside of the top 10 runners I believe I'm as fast as anyone here. Maybe thats a stretch.  But we havent had a flat out race yet to prove it. The 100k long stage will take place mostly on the flats and hours can be made up with ease.  Pumped for that.  So my plan - survive the "Maze" tomorrow.  Im staring at it in the distance from camp.  Intimidating.  Two large mountains with a very narrow rocky passage in the middle.  Extremely technical with all the climbing and scavenging.  Camp will be airlifted in with no auto access.  They are calling it the hardest leg ever for an RTP event and its only 11 miles.  And my right wrist is pretty much useless so I need to be careful not to hurt myself going through there so I can live to sprint it out on Thursday.

Great job everyone with the fundraising efforts!!!  So exciting.  Its an amazing feeling to do something you love and help so many wonderful families at the same time.  Feel very blessed. Please pass along any Pens/Magic/Lions/BC updates if you have them. Dying for a sports fix prior to the long stage. 

Redemption

April 26, 2010

​Wow.  What a difference a day makes.  After yesterday's beatdown and on the verge of having to pull out...I somehow managed to dig deep, pull a complete 180 and finish in 13th for the second leg.  Mind boggling.  Especially if you would've seen how I looked when sitting in the med tent last night.   Honestly looked like a scene from M.A.S.H...guys getting bandaged up, vomiting profusely, IV's everywhere.  Might have even seen a glimmer of Merril Pyes face in the distance.  I want to thank the Lord and each of you for having my back and sending strength my way.  Couldn't have turned it around without you.  I'm sitting here in awe of the human body and the way it can respond when you have absolute conviction in what you're doing.

So based on yesterday's dismal performance I've been forced to modify many goals for the week.  It's very disappointing, especially when you put so much of yourself into something for so long.  But that's life and things often don't work out the way you'd like them to.  So new goal - setting an RTP record for biggest move up the leaderboard after day 1.  It seems like a stretch but I'm still gunning for the top 25 after finishing 164th day 1.  And if I can manage to do that...I'll be hoping to return home and see the dollars raised for MAGIC above 100k!  Deal?  Actually considering the long stage on Thursday is exactly 100k in distance perhaps we'll see who can get there first.  We'll call it the 100K challenge and this is one I actually hope to lose!

Day 2 was the breathtaking landscape we all expected when we signed up for the race.  Expansive river crossings, sprawling rock formations and abundant wildlife.  We had two monster climbs in the bungle bungles overlooking the lush valley.  Hope the pictures online do it justice.  Also saw a few dingoes (no roos yet though).  And we finally had some open flats to stretch the legs.  Back at camp about an hour after finishing a vicious storm blew through soaking all our stuff and blowing many tents over.  Much needed shower to remove the god-awful stench from the sleeping quarters.  All-in-all today was a day I'll never forget.  

Interactive Discussion Thread

March 30, 2010

​I will be continuing my quest to support Luci Horvath and the thousands of families and children supported by the MAGIC Foundation on April 25th when I embark on this 155-mile adventure through the Kimberley region of Northwest Australia.  Last year's race in Egypt was successful because it brought so many people from so many different walks of life together in support of a common cause.  I'm optimistic we can create that level of excitement again, and in the process, increase awareness for these serious growth-related disorders and raise over 100k for the MAGIC Foundation.  I encourage you to share your stories, thoughts, questions or whatever else is on your mind on this thread.  If there's anything I can do please feel free to reach out to me directly.  Thank you. 

Back in the Saddle

March 30, 2010

​So here we go...three weeks and counting till departure date.  Can't believe this thing is right around the corner.  Can't believe the Sahara Race was almost six months ago.  Where on earth did the first quarter go?  Who cares...I'm boiling with excitement for this adventure.

Q1 Update:  After getting off to a strong and disciplined strart in January I proceeded to fully tear the SL ligament in my right wrist on January 12th requiring major reconstructive surgery.  Ironically enough this injury occured in a charity dodgeball game and is the same exact injury I endured on my left wrist three years ago that got me into running in the first place (guess you could say that's the luck of the Slovaks).  This time my doctor performed the Brunelli procedure, whereby he cut out a portion of the tendon in my forearm and ran it through the Scaphoid and Lunate bones to stabalize the wrist.  Then four pins were inserted to secure everything.  While this was a major setback right at my peak training time and everyone advised me to drop out of the race I was having none of that and chose to run through it.  After all we only get one chance to play the game of life right?  And while I had to eliminate many of the long runs due to the pain for about a month or so I changed my routine focusing more on shorter speed workouts and developing explosive power.  Jump forward to today - I'm now back on schedule, extremely hungry and gearing up hard for this race.  I'll be having a second surgery on April 15th to remove the pins and therefore will be able to run the race with a custom-made removable cast.

Training Update

March 30, 2010

​Training Update:  Only four days post surgery and cleary still feeling the effects of the anesthesia/pain killers I ran the Hyannis marathon in a sluggish yet respectable .  While the time wasn't great the confidence it provided me that I could overcome the injury was.  Then spent the next month focusing on shorter track workouts and running the steps at the Bunker Hill  monument as the wrist healed.  As the pain has lessened, I slowly started ramping up the mileage.  This week...I've decided to really challenge myself by attempting to run 7 consecutive 20-milers with 20lbs in my backpack.  So far so good as I'm consistently breaking 3 hours averaging  minute miles.  Tonight's run will be in the monsoon conditions that have become the northeast in the last month.  The easy move would be to just hit the treadmill but that's simply not an option.  Long way to go but the fire is burning.  Taper???  No chance.

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