‘It’s the repetition of affirmations that leads to belief. And once that belief becomes a deep conviction, things begin to happen.” – Muhammad Ali
The affirmation for the long march from Lance with a little addition: “You can do anything today and you will. I am a champion.”
Low and behold, I recited that affirmation probably a couple thousand times and at 5:12pm, I crossed the finish line in 2ndoverall for male and female for the day for the 49.9 mile journey. This took me from 9th overall to 6th! The latest results have me as the female champion now by over 12 hours! I am still in shock.
The past 30 hours have been a wild roller coaster of up’s and downs…
So let’s begin with the long march. The morning was clear and beautiful and we knew it would be a hot day ahead. I spent a lot of the evening tossing a bit with nerves. I had confidence that I could be a warrior in the heat but it was going to be a new level that I hadn’t experienced while running 50 miles. We were lucky to get an early start time of 7am to assist. My sleeping pad also kept deflating during the night due to a thorn puncturing it the night before. Not so fun. To prepare for the big day, I woke up at 5am to my normal routine of muscle milk, oatmeal and nuts. Then I prepped many bags of various snacks from my little pantry so I had fun options to choose from all day. My snacks included roasted and salted almonds, marcona almonds, Honey Stinger waffles, Honey Stinger gel, Honey Stinger protein energy chews, Dang coconut chips and gummy bears. As heat increases, your appetite will lesson so I made a rule to dip into my snacks every 30 minutes no matter what. Next is the importance of salt and electrolytes. This is the most essential. Here I made a rule to have a stick of drip drop in each bottle at each check point. That is 14 sticks. Salt was one an hour, 10 tabs. Then there is sunscreen application and lip balm application. So the system looked like this from the start to finish.
45min in, begin food intake every 30 minutes
1 hour in, begin having a salt tab every hour on the hour
1:50 in, begin applying lip sunscreen every hour on the 50 and full sunscreen at checkpoint 5.
Then there is keeping yourself cool in 51deg Celsius. Mary said it was one of the top 5 hottest days in 4 Deserts history! It was so hot that the screen on my watch cracked. For me, it is all about mental and physical strategies to stay cool. I have an Avalon 7 mesh bandana that is one key staple to this. Every checkpoint, I would get this bandana and my desert running hat drenched and wear the hat and then use the bandana to keep wiping my arms, legs, neck and face with it to keep cool. They would dry quite quickly, but it was all in your head too to have these systems to cool off. Then checkpoint 5-7 I also filled up my 1liter platypus bladder and had more water to drink, plus I could use it to pour on myself as I ran and to keep getting my bandana wet.
The race was so exciting, difficult and tiring all at once. It started smooth and steady as I coasted along in 6th or so place. My heart rate rule was to stick between 135 and 145 which is zone 1. It felt easy and comfortable and I zoomed through check points. All of the sudden at checkpoint 3, I was in 5th. Then at checkpoint 4 I was in 4th and then I saw Tommy and passed into 3rd. I was in shock but knew I was in control and still running “my” race. At checkpoint 5, I slid into 2nd. I thought for sure Zeng would stick with me, but all of the sudden at about 20 minutes in, I was all alone again chasing down to the finish. Everything was clicking along, minus a moment of getting dizzy. I was on track for a nice clip even, and then checkpoint 6-7 began and I had to slow my roll. It was rough. The heat was so rough that even just walking my heart rate was at 138bpm. With checkpoint 7 in sight and nobody in my rear view, I decided to sit down for 15 minutes. This allowed my heart rate to get in control and to cool down for the last 4.5 miles. A distance that seems so short but in the conditions seemed so long. I popped back on the course and was able to run and walk for the last 1:09 to the finish. When I saw the banner I was in complete shock that I was 2nd. It was such an amazing feeling. I am stoked beyond words. I took the challenges of the day and took them on like a champ. Folks here keep saying that I am a machine =) My body is happily in one piece + 4 blisters (two on my foot beds). Ouch!!
Post-race another adventure began. Arriving at 5pm with a sunset at 9:40pm meant hot tents and a hot day still continuing. We sat at the finishing tent for 4 hours just staying cool and recovering. Then, the wind began to pick up and tents were hanging on for dear life. I finally went to bed around 11pm as sand blew into the tent and all over us. Then the tent collapsed. Folks came to fix it and I luckily stuffed my bags and moved to the other side of the tent in a corner. I tossed and turned trying to sleep. Finally, I decided to get up and get more water. I went and grabbed some and in the 5 minutes of my absence the tent had blown down and my sleeping bag and sleeping pad had blown into the abyss and my shoes were nowhere to be found. Total bummer which when exhausted seems much worse. Then a few more began to collapse so a bunch of us took shelter behind a sand formation and camped out there. We had a few moments of sleep in and out. Luckily, my tent mate found my shoes so I don’t have to run the last stage in flip flops. The sleeping bag and mat have not been recovered so I am sleeping on just the back mat of my backpack now. Then around 6am we woke to a full evacuation set in place. Total organized chaos in the midst of a huge sand storm. We have been evacuated to a museum a few miles away to spend our rest day. We are still in the tail end of the sad storm right now but at least we have shelter. We are mostly all outside still in the wind and sand due to the museum being hot.
So we sit, rest, eat our scraps and think of what we will eat and drink tomorrow and I am going to type up a champion speech. Wow! I can’t believe tomorrow I will be the Gobi March 2016 female champion! And I am pushing hard all of the way to the finish.
I hear we will still run to the finish, it is just a matter of where we will start. What a rush!
As always, I am running the quest to try to be the first woman in the world to complete the 4 Deserts Grand Slam Plus in honor of Lyme Disease through the LymeLight Foundation. Please join me by donating via my auxiliary fundraising link at my blog post titled “Day 0.”
With love and light,