"Only those who risk failing greatly can ever succeed greatly." –RFK
Monday, July 20, 2009
Badwater Ultramarathon 2009
(pic: about 5:30 am at Badwater. Kim, Jeff and Tim dance on the salt flats 282 feet below sea level.)
(pic: Thalia Kostman sang the National Anthem and sent chills up the spines of the runners waiting in the heat to start. Her voice is gorgeous.)
(pic: 10 am starters)
This was my 8th consecutive year at Badwater. I crewed and paced Steven Silver in 2002, headed up the first sort of organized medical team in 2003. Ran in 2004. Headed up medical in 2005 and 2006, ran in 2007, and back to medical these past 2 years. Wow. No wonder I feel like I'm going to my Badwater Family Reunion every year. I love these people.
This year we had 10 people on the medical team. If I may brag, I would say we are a great team. We have skill and experience and the all-important sense of humor to help us get along as we work straight into day 3 of the race.
(pic: Steve Teal, George Miller, Tim Englund, me, Jeff Lynn, Kim Keeley, Mary Kashurba. Not pictured: Alene Nitzky, Dave Heckman, Woofie Humpage.)
We treat minor and major problems from mild to severe dehydration to overhydration to heat exhaustion to stomach and kidney and muscle problems. We see and treat it all.
(pic: how to avoid dehydration in Death Valley)
(pic: one of our belly-bustin' outings on the third day of the race. Corey and Jay try to scare me straight at the pizza place where we ate dinner at 10 pm.)
It was a fabulous experience once again, and adventure etched into my memories forever. * * *
Two days before the race, Tim and I ditched our plane tickets to Vegas and decided to drive. It was the best decision ever! It was a casual unhurried road trip and we took a full 2 days to do it.
We stopped whenever and wherever we wanted for short or long breaks. One of our favorite stops was in Austin, a cute historic mining town with a cool trail to an old castle. Even better, as we went for a run and explored the trail, a storm started to roll in. Very exciting indeed!
(pic: Stokes Castle 1897)
We got to Furnace Creek (near Badwater - the location of the race start) on Saturday night. It was 110 degrees as we drove through Beatty, promising a hot race for Monday.
(pic: Furnace Creek before the pre-race meeting)
We took a little time Sunday morning before the pre-race meeting to run down the road to Badwater, and at noon, it was all work for the next 3 days straight (with of course, the usual spatterings of decompensated humor and laughs).
We slept very little, about 10 hours total over 3 nights. Despite that, we scored passes for Mt. Whitney and made the summit on Thursday. This was my 4th (maybe 5th?) summit and Tim's second. Words cannot describe how exotic that mountain is! We kept tradition by smoking a cigar at the summit. Instead of trying to put it into words, I'll post a few pictures instead.
(pic: destination Mt. Whitney summit)
(pic: Whitney portal)
(pic: see the tree line far below)
(pic: 14,500 feet)
(pic: it got a little chilly on the descent as we got off to a late start in the morning, ended up finishing just after dark.)
The drive home was just as easy and relaxed. We stopped at Mammoth Lake to spend $300 at a t-shirt shop (!!!!) and eat a New York salt bagel (they don't have those here in WA).
(pic: Mineret Vista)
It was tough to shift gears and get back into work today, but I am now caught up. I'm already planning the next adventure!
I am an ultra runner, physician and have been medical director of some of the toughest ultras. I tend to be a mover and a shaker and louder than my size suggests. However, my Gemini twin is gentler and contemplative, an artist, a writer, and a poet. I am a dog lover, a believer in souls, and have a special affinity for those who struggle because I have been there.
This is my crazy lovable huggable Weimaraner, Steely Dan. I call him Steely. He left us in January of this year at only 6 years from lymphoma that did not respond to chemotherapy treatments. Steely was a total goof. He loved trail running, road running, treadmill running, new experiences, making eye contact, sleeping on his back, me, kids, and liver treats. He was Zappa's best friend. We miss him dearly.
This is Stella. A rescue from the shelter. She's about 6 months old and a Border Collie. She is a joyous bundle of energy and curiosity and now also Zappa best friend. She will make a nice running partner when she grows up.
This is the now the big brother of my family - a rescued Greyhound. His name is Frank Zappa. I call him Zappa. He's 7 years old and has learned all about life beyond the track and crate from Steely when he was with us. It was very rewarding to watch his personality bloom as he settled into the family. And yes, he runs like the wind!
This is Natasha, my dearest friend. She was with me through college, medical school, residency, and she moved with me from Chicago to Spokane several years ago. She was my best running partner for 10 years. My sweet Natasha died from bone cancer in 2006. I miss her still. I hung a windchimes over the deck outside. When it chimes, I smile and think she has finally -- wherever she is now -- caught a squirrel!