Monthly Archives: March 2009

going to erg chebbi

made it through registration yesterday with no prolem  have my race number on and ready to attack the dunes this morning  hope to finish by pm
 
cant elieve i a, going to say this but i need to run or do something:  feel like the fattened calf:  a week of doing nothing but sleeping and eating and waiting and now ready for the big event:
 
cant believe there is a line for this computer already
 
gotta go
 
okay to pray for dry weather now please
 
namaste

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the race continues

just got back from the briefing:  made it through medical check and they gave me race number and tomorrow we run  this may be my last update not sure:  they do not know what our course will be each day  must play it by ear:   i cant believe i am actually looking forward to running: must go  line for computer
 
namaste

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addition

have a few seconds before the rest of the hotel is up and clammoring for the computer.  typing very slowly cause this is on a french keyboard and i keep making typos.
 
we are in the Sahara DESERT and the rain keeps pouring down just like it did on race day Lake Pllacid.  Everyone is all abuzz:  They have had to put over 850 competitors plus over 850 staff up in hotels:  I am at El Ati Hotel in Erfoud:  I can't imagine what the race officials must be thinking:  i feel very bad that my fundraising campaign was for Abundant Waters in the desert!
 
Rumours are running rampant.  i've heard everything from they are going to make us sleep in the floods to they are cancelling the first stage of the race:  one guy has done the race 16 years in a row and has never had a drop of rain:  people are concerned about getting all their gear wet …  apparently down sleeping bags are not as effective in the rain!
 
yesterday our bus could go no further on the desert road and they stopped so the Moroccan military could send out army trucks to transport us out to the bivouac:  only half the bus coud go at one time; my friends Colleen,  lynne (fellow ny'er) and i couldn't get on the military truck so we had to wait with about 30 others on the bus:  that turned out to be fortunate because the others had a nightmare waiting for them at the flooded camp.  meanwhile most of the other buses were stranded a couple of hours behind us as the roads flooded out and the buses could not cross: 
 
we waited for hours in a town called Erfoud and they would not let us off the bus to stretch or go the bathroom  they were worried about our safety and would not let us do anything until word from the race director.  finally i guess the other coaches got through   about 4 hours later   and they let us off the bus to go the bathroom in  a tiny little local bar/cafe that had certainly never seen the likes of us:  we got to have a little coffee and stretch as the rain kept pouring down:  we all agreed that we were so happy that we did not make it onto the military buses: 
 
i for one and fine with having to spend a couple of nights in a hotel instead of camping in the desert but i will be very sad if i dont get to do the full race:  problem with the floods is the wadis will become difficult to traverse and the dried out salt flats will no longer be dry and we'll be running through rivers  or at least streams.  i am not interested in sleeping in the cold AND wet outdoors but i'm also intent on doing the proper race:  i know a lot of the hard core people are clamorring to be let out into the wet bivouc and willing to sleep there.  i cant imagine why:
 
i have not seen the restof my ny friends yet katie; iwan or emeka because they were on the french flight and i don't know what hotel they went to:
 
got to go; everyone is awake and looking for computer.  keep checking the website http://www.darbaroud.com/index_uk.php for more info.  will write if i can
 
namaste

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Floods in Morocco

Cannot  make this stuff up.  We left our hotel this morning for the five and a half hour ride to the dessert.  Turns out to be the worst rains they have seen in 25 years.  Roads in the desert are flooded out and the buses cannot continue to the desert.  After 9 hours on the bus we land in El Foud where we were finally able to get to a bathrom and coffee:  after 11 hours they rerouted us to a hotel.  can not believe epic rains follow me from Ironman to hotel  more later people waiting for computer.
 
namaste

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Off to the desert

We've had a lovely three days in Ouzazarte Morocco.  Great hotel and I've slept very well which is a miracle in itself.  We leave in the morning for the desert and I probably won't be able to send many updates (apparently the lines are very long).
 
I got in a couple of short but sweet practice runs and my pack is all set and ready to go.  (22 lbs in the end which is heavier than I wanted but I have everything I need.)
 
Rumor has it that our first stage is going to be over the Merzouga dunes in Erg Chebbi.  These are rumoured to be very hard, VERY…
 
They just posted the tent assignments and I am very lucky to be in a great  with all the people I like from camp and some of the new people I met here.  So that is going to be great news.
 
Nervous but excited.  It has been a nice, calm three days.  Now the hotel is filling up and energy is getting crazy.
 
Wish me luck.  I'm on my way!!!
 
Namaste

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Testing Posting By Email

Apparently I’m allowed to send one email from the desert.  Let’s see if this works.  Sending an email to my posterous.com account which I have configured to update my blog automatically.  I could also update twitter and facebook at the same time.  Apparently it worked!  So with any luck I’ll be updating blog from desert….

Namaste

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3/17/09 Which Way is Up?

Tuesday.  Had a good weekend at training camp in New Paltz.  Can’t say I had any break through performance but I definitely gave my muscles a once over.

My biking is all gone, gone, gone.  Nothing shocking.  I knew that would be the case. I  haven’t been biking in months.  Even my indoor trainer time sorely lacking.  I’m not upset about it, I can’t be all things at once.  I was surprised, however, how my muscles reacted to the biking — they did not rejoice at the reunion.   We did a 3 hour bike ride with one killer hill and then a bunch of time trials.

I did the hill, pulling my butt up by pure determination.  Hill climbing has never been one of my strengths but this hill (Guilford road) would have been really tough even in in my better biking days.

I did try to do the first interval hard (we had 3 to do).  I started to feel the burn in my legs and had to question what the heck was I trying to prove with only two weeks to go to my race.  How stupid would that be to go all out to prove I still had something I never really had and pull a hamstring or something.  It’s all an illusion and as coach Shifu reminded me, there was nothing I was going to do at this point to increase my fitness but there was plenty I could do to wreck it.  I backed off a lot on the second interval and on the third I just soft pedalled.  I could tell my quads and hamstrings were already a little p.o.’d.

We then did a 1:20 run.  I had to walk a lot of it and it was on all flat.  My race shoes were bugging my feet with the new velcro sewn in.  I had 20 pounds on my back but my legs were burning.  Go figure, haven’t done a brick in an age and my legs felt like lumber.  But, in a way I think that was a good thing.  It reminded me of the day I was out with Colleen in Idaho and we were doing a 6 hour workout in Darby Canyon.  The first 4 hours we were just fine but the last 2 hours were a killer.  I reminded her, the first 4 hours were just prepping our muscles for the real workout – -the last 2.  That’s how I felt about my run on Saturday.  The bike was just a prep to burn out my legs so I could get that nice toasted feel of the last hour of climbing a sand dune.  Just keep moving….

Sunday we did a run up Mohonk.  I power-walked per my workout orders.  Power-walk up, run hard down.  I was so close to the top but past the time limit for turning around I made an executive decision that I should keep going because this would be better training for me than the bike.  So I told the coaches I was okay on my own but I wanted to continue on.  Of course, I did think back to last winter when I took off on my own in the woods and found myself lost but I was confident that I could follow the trail markers back to the cars.  Famous last words — “I’m not going to get lost….”

Coming down the mountain I was doing great.  I got warmed up about 1 hour into the climb up and was starting a nice jog as I approached the top.  Coming down I was moving pretty well and felt GREATLY relieved.  I feel such guilt when I can’t run faster than I can walk with my backpack uphill.  But running downhill was going well and I was retracing my steps pretty well.  I came to a fork in the road and saw the base of arrow pointing to the the middle of two paths.  I then saw two parallel stick in one of the paths.  I distinctly remembered those two parallel sticks (really, I swear I remembered them.)  So I took that path.   Shocker of shockers it was the wrong way.

I kept running along the mountain trail passing things that I knew I did not pass on the way up.  (There was no fallen tree on the way up but I think I remember that fallen tree from last year…)  It’s all Blair Witch Project in the woods — every tree looks alike and the river is always on your right….

Finally the path dumped me out on Lenape Lane.  Yeah!! I know Lenape Lane — it goes one direction from the bottom where the farm houses are up to the top.  No problem.   Unfortunately they posted a sign that said to the right was to the farmhouses and to the left was to duckpond road.   Hmm, I know I want to go downhill but maybe I am already south of the aqueduct and I need to go north uphill to get to the car.  Crap shoot. 50/50 shot so I went downhill (path of least resistance.)

A little way down the road I see a wide opening and a trail going off to the left.  That kind of looks like the Aqueduct, I’ll go that direction.  I ran for about 5 minutes down that trail and realized that wasn’t right because it shouldn’t take that long to get to the parking lot.  Back up the trail to the main road.

I kept going down Lenape Lane.  It can’t be much further, this road is not that long.  Of course I hit the farm house and think “oh no, I’ve gone too far.”  Now I’m nervous that I’m not going to be back by the time everyone is off their bikes.  I start running back up the hill.

I had to run up the hill (or my version of running up hill).  It’s killed me but I had to get back up there because I had no idea how far up the road I had to go.  I made it to the point where I originally exited the woods and kept going uphill looking for the Aqueduct.  Then I saw three women running down the hill.  I asked them for directions.  They told me I had to go back DOWN the hill about 1/5 mile and PAST the farmhouse.  PAST the farmhouse?  I’m confused but okay.  “You’ll see the big gates on your left for the Aqueduct.”   Gates?  There were gates?  I’m oblivious.   So this is EXACTLY how I get lost wherever I go.

So now I’m running downhill, just trying to get back to my car and find the rest of the team before they send out a search party.  I reach the farmhouse and force myself to keep going.  Oh, yeah, I realize, we do pass the farmhouse, the Aqueduct will be right around the corner.  (Geesh, a half hour later….)  I see the path, I see the cars through the woods.  I’m back.

Of course the entire time this is going on I am totally cracking up and becoming a little delirious thinking that this is just about as funny as it gets.  I can’t get over that given the choice of left or right I will ALWAYS choose the wrong direction.   Even if I try to counter balance my indecision (“I think it is that way so I’ll go the opposite”) it still backfires.   The multitude of times in my life when I have gotten lost flood my memory.  England, France, Italy, Russia, Florida, all the woods of Northern Connecticut, now the woods of New Paltz.  I have gotten lost so many times I can’t even count them.  I’ve gotten lost on foot, on bike, in a car.  It’s so pathetic it is funny.  I realized that this was the Universe’s way of making me do more hill repeats on Lenape lane before I left for the desert.  Ah the wicked, wicked irony….

2 hours and 38 minutes by the time I finally reached my car (we were supposed to be done in 2 hours — whoops.)  I finally made it back and found the rest of the team.   I did a VERY easy 40 minute spin on the bike and declared myself officially done.  I have nothing left to prove.  I’m declaring this the start of taper.  My time will be better served to go home and learn how to use my compass WELL!!!    Apparently in the desert all of the directions on the map are dead on to the compass readings.  My challenge will be to read my compass EXACTLY and to stop approximating.  I can just see me now,  yeah it should be a little to the right of that sand dune and find myself in Algeria.

Yesterday was my physical examination.  I had to get my doctor to sign off on my permission slip and say I’m physically fit enough to go do this race.  The only problem is my doctor is really, really, mean.  She’s tough as nails.  I have a lot of respect for her but she is a no-crap zone type of gal.  She’s all for exercise but thinks the stuff I do is nuts.  I decided I had to have a strategy going in there.  I had to down play the race.

I told her I was going to the Sahara and the trip organizers needed me to get this form signed.  I’m going to doing some walking in  the desert and they want to make sure I was fit enough.  I didn’t mention the word race or marathon, the temperatures or the distance.  I just wanted to sneak that piece of paper under her nose and get out of there.  I casually added “Oh and I think I need one of those EKG print outs too.”  Nodding my head with a big cheesy smile and wide eyes .   I think I’ve been deliciously deceptive.  She takes a look at the paper and looks at me and says  with absolutely no expression on her face “I know who you are.  I watch Showtime, I know exactly what this is, this is not a walk in the desert, this is very dangerous and we have to take this very seriously.”  Oh lo, you have got to be kidding me.  Totally busted right out of the shoot.

I am up six pounds since my last physical.  We talk about menopause and how it’s just a fact of life that my metabolism is slowing down and that when my trainers are talking about calorie requirements they are not talking about a 50 year old woman.  “You can’t look at what a 30 year old male athlete is eating and think you can eat the same thing.  Your metabolism is just slower.”  Then she said the  worst words I have ever heard “Simply put you do need to reduce the number of calories you think you need.  You have to eat less as you get older.”  Okay can I just lie down and die now.  Eat less?  I’m already eating less.  I’ve been watching my calories for months.  I keep gaining.  I’m well within in the maintenance ranges.  There is something else wrong.  I’m sure of it.  “Nope, of course we’ll test your Thyroid but bottom line is AT YOUR AGE you have to cut back more.”  Shoot me.  Just shoot me.  I am not 50 yet!!  I have six more months!!!!

Then we have to do the easy part of the exam, I need my blood pressure and heart rate.  No worries there.  I have always had the same blood pressure every time I have gone in 115/70 and my heart rate is always in the 40’s at office visit.  I’m so close to having my permission slip signed and this whole terrible experience will be over with.

She pumps up my arm.   I wait to hear the “very good” like she always says.  “Let’s do that again.”  She pumps my arm up again.  “Hmmmm. It’s high.”  High?  It’s high?  What do you mean it’s high?  First you tell me that I have to starve to lose weight AND I have high blood pressure?   “We’ll continue the exam and take it again in a few minutes.”   So now I’m freaking out.

She takes it again.  She tries my other arm.  She’s not happy.  It’s 135/70.   That’s 20 points higher than my norm.  “They are going to take a look at this number and have some concerns.  I have some concerns.”   WHAT?!?!?!  WHAT?!?!?  I’m as healthy as a horse.  I’ve never been healthier.  I got one cold this entire winter and knocked it out in 3 days flat.   3 days!!!   Everyone else sick all winter, not me.  I eat so healthily (albeit apparently too much).  I exercise every day.  What the heck?!??!

After some investigation into my weekend we determine that maybe my sodium intake has been too high.  I was drinking my Infinit formula that I will be using in the desert and it had a very high sodium level.  I also drank a large diet coke and had some Indian food for dinner.  She thinks it is sodium.  She won’t sign my permission slip. WHAT?!?!  You HAVE to sign it!!!  If you don’t sign it I can’t go to Morocco.

“You’ll come back on Thursday.  For the next three days you won’t eat anything processed.  Cook all your own meals.  No frozen dinners, no canned soups or canned anything, no soy sauce.   Drink lots of water.”   Thursday you’ll come back in I’ll have the form all filled out and we’ll retake your blood pressure and you’ll be good to go, or not.

You have got to be freakin kidding me.  My EKG turned out fine.  She said it looked even better than it did 2 years ago and that the little blip was almost undetectable.

So of course I came home very upset and sad.  After all this I’m going to be stopped because I drank too much salt over the weekend?  Was it those damn potato chips?!?!  I was practicing for the desert — really, it was research!!  And now I have to be anxious for 3 days waiting for my blood pressure to drop?  I took my blood pressure on my home machine.  Yep 134/80.  80??  Where did the 80 come from?  Darn it!!!  I looked at my blood pressure log 113/70 – 118/70 was my range.  Never even once over 120 and never an 80.  Today?!?!  Why today?!?!?  Oh Universe you have a sick, sick sense of humor.

So I cried a little and then went out to Juice Generation and got a wheat grass drink — my cure for everything that ails you.  Ginger, apple, pear, pineapple, wheat grass and mint.  I made brown rice and steamed broccoli and tofu for dinner.  I drank a bottle of water.  Un-freakin-believable.

I got up this morning, took my blood pressure again and it said “ERROR.”  Ha, ha, ha.  NO KIDDING!!!

Namaste

I’m rereading the Bhagavad Gita for some words to meditate on.

The contacts of the senses with the sense objects give rise to the feelings of heat and cold, and pain and pleasure. They are transitory and impermanent. Therefore, (learn to) endure them.

Because the calm person, who is not afflicted by these feelings and is steady in pain and pleasure, becomes fit for immortality.”  (or to cross the desert.)

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