Tomorrow is my last day at home before heading to Death Valley early Friday morning. I'm leaving Spokane with fellow Badwater runner Dave Remington and we are meeting Dave Heckman and Nattu Natraj there. Helen is coming with Dave R, so we'll have plenty of support and stability around us! We should get to run a bit on Friday, and if so, we will have a full 5 days of training in the heat and on the roads for our official race in July.
I have sooo much to do before I leave that I decided to procrastinate a little longer and write a little here instead.
Aside from the ever-pressing presentation prep for the ACSM conference, I have some work to do and I have to pack for both 5 days of desert running (bringing all the things I want to test for game day) and 4 days of "business" in New Orleans. Of course, "business" attire at this wonderful sports medicine conference consists of nice shorts and a t-shirt, but it's still more "business" than my sweaty running shorts, shoes, and Solumbra shirt. I also have to bring my darn computer despite not having internet access in Furnace Creek for 5 days. I will be working on the presentation every night after our 20 +/- mile jaunts through the desert. I sure hope the darn thing doesn't overheat....or maybe I should hope that it does!
The topic is "Clinical Medicine and Research from the Toughest Ultramarathons." My focus is on Western States, whereas Jeff Lynn, PhD will open with an overview and Joe Chorley, MD will focus on Badwater. These guys are my awesome research buddies. They've been with me at Badwater several times, at Western States, at many marathon finish line medical tents, and of course, at the ACSM.
So, here's a peek at one of the pictures in my presentation. Greg Soderlund, the race director of Western States, gave me this picture of the Michigan Bluff aid station at mile 55 on the course. It's from last year when the temps soared to 105 degrees F. It was a very tough race for everybody, and it was also one of the highest drop-out years ever. We treated runners until after the aid station closed officially at 9:30 pm. It was a long and exciting day at Michigan Bluff.
Jeff Lynn is in the green hat and is helping with the blood draw for electrolyte testing. I am waiting for results on the iSTAT machine, which is in my hands. Andy Jacobson, MD is in the back left and he was so good here as a rookie at Michigan Bluff, I begged him to come to work at Badwater the very next month in July. And he did! And guess what? He's coming back to Badwater again this year!
This is one of my favorite Western States aid station pictures. Unfortunately, I do NOT have time to include it in my presentation, but if I did, I certainly would! I love it! I can't give credit to the photographer because I don't know where I got it. ... So, if it's your picture, please let me know and I'll credit you.
Ok, so I'm off to the desert. Have I mentioned that it's my favorite place on Earth? What I like about it is its vastness, its seeming barreness. Life is never more alive than in the desert.
There is no greater feeling of humility than when you are on the road from Badwater and it winds on and on and gets smaller and smaller on into the distance and over the horizon. On the road, there is nothing but ME between HERE and THERE.
True, indeed, nothing at all but me. Immensely humbling. Very real.
There is also no greater experience than laying on your back atop the Earth's sheets, gazing up into the vast canopy of starts at night. The darkness is tangible and you can wrap it around you and snuggle up in it while billions of angels sparkle over you....
There is no greater gift than the serenity that the desert offers to the willing. There is no hostility there unless it is in you. I don't understand why some do not like it, why some think it is lifeless and oppressive. To me, there is nothing more grand than the miles and miles of expanse, an altar from which I give thanks for all things living.
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