THE PATH TO THE DREAM: PART 1
In 2006 I successfully accomplished the Badwater double and this was a wonderful dream come true.
It was difficult when I developed a fever and had to sit out of the official race for a long time in order to feel better and get my act together. :) Once I felt better I was running and walking just as I dreamed I would.
Having to wait a very long time to get the permits to climb Mt. Whitney (the first time) left us to have to start the climb in the early evening which would lead us to climb at night time. The night came and with it came the cold and to me it was bitter cold. My head started to hurt, my body was shaking from the inside out and I just had a bad feeling that I was about to freeze! We were 2 miles from the summit. The choice was made (by me) that I needed to go back down the mountain. Marshall and Mike (crew) were just amazing in helping me down the mountain. The feelings of failure did not last long. I had made the only choice I could for myself and safety is first! Once back down the mountain, my mind was running all over the place with what to do. How can we continue to feel successful and complete this dream! Marshall and Bob (both crew) simply left me with the only choice, the right choice...to climb the mountain again. You can't claim to run the Badwater double and not touch the summit of Mt. Whitney. Those of you who have never climbed Mt. Whitney must know that this is no small undertaking after you have attempted it once and failed. I failed due to feeling extreme cold and my body was just not going to allow me to carry on. We waited another day to get new permits to climb Whitney and the set off again, this time with Marshall, Jacki and George.
It was an also an absolutely perfect beautiful day, God granted us a beautiful day and a beautiful summit of Mt. Whitney. Needless to say I was over the top with emotion...we were half way.
Once we got off Mt. Whitney, about 15 hours later, I wanted to run the 12 miles down the portal road back into Lone Pine to our good friends' Ben and Denise Jones home. (Denise is the blister queen and wonderful at taking care of people and feet.) This is where the crew all were set up and waiting and this is where my confidence was strong that we would be successful and that God would allow me another crossing of Death Valley.
The 2nd part of the Double was just as the first, full of the great the good and the ugly but mentally it was better. I did not feel sick and guess what? I went back faster than I did in the official race, a true negative split. :) The feeling of gratitude for being granted my dream, the $300,000 raised for AIDS orphans, and the many miles with my wonderful crew was a bit overwhelming.
What I learned was this: Life is about Love...LOVE and then LOVE...Give, give, give until it hurts and when it hurts keep on giving. Life is about sharing, caring and life is about simplicity.
All the stuff we have, all the things we have...what does any of this mean without love, simplicity and the simple gratitude of having the gift of life...to get up each morning. To be thankful for all and for everything.
We did it, I did it, we all were successful. I told Chris Kostman the RD of Badwater race, at the end of my race (2006) that if he got an entry form from me in the mail for the 2007 race to tear it up. I told him and I told Marshall that I felt I have learned everything that I needed to learn in Death Valley and that I did not need to run it again...well.......................
THE BIG DREAM BEGINS TO FORM
For 2 months after the completion of the 2006 double I was very emotional. I cried often. I felt elated beyond words and God continued to give me more and more. I spoke to my dear friend Sister Marybeth and told her my next dream and asked her to pray about it for me. She wrote me an email and said, "YES LISA, I have prayed about this next dream for you and you are to do it and you are to start in May of 2008." She also, at the same time, told me that she prayed God would allow me to live to be at least 100 and that my legs would continue to carry me many miles because we have so much work to do! I spoke to my friend Frank McKinney and he said, "In order to raise more money you need to think of doing something bigger than the double," and little did he know I already had a plan. :)
The 2007 Badwater double is not the big dream, but part of the process of getting there. I really yearned for the desert. I yearned to go back to the simple way of life, to feel that love and elation I felt in Death Valley during the 2006 double. I wanted to go back and do the double with only climbing Mt. Whitney once, not twice, and see if I could move faster. My training was very, very different. I felt fitter and faster this year (2007).
THE PATH TO THE DREAM: PART 2
I had a smaller crew and many things lead me to hit the send button to enter the Badwater race again. I use the word "yearn"' because I can't find a better word to describe how I feel about the desert, Badwater, and all that is means to me personally. The truth is, I have not learned all I need to learn and I hope I never do.
The official race this year was going better than ever, I was happy and then the ball dropped. My stomach went at 71 miles.
I was running at a happy pace and never over 135 heart rate. I spent a great deal of time running with my great friend Greg Pressler. Lisa Bliss and I were back and forth for hours on end. She is so darn tough and I am so thrilled for her and her 1st place women in the race!
My stomach. At the top of Father Crowley, I started having to pee every 5-10 min. It was not a little pee. It was a cup at a time. This went on all night and it went on all the way to the finish line. Each time I would start to run I had to pee. This has happened before, but only at night. This continued all day long. I felt drained and my body would not hold onto the calories I was trying to give it. This is still a mystery to me and when Lisa Bliss (Dr. Lisa) gets a few moments I would love to talk to her about it. God bless her crew. They saw my butt one too many times on the course, but promised they did not take any photos. :)
It was my choice to stake out and drive to Lone Pine where we spent 4 hours at the hotel. I took a shower, and just lied flat so my stomach could calm down. Once back on the road I felt great and we were moving fast. Once I hit the portal road and darkness came again so did the non-stop peeing and I could not keep my head up from lack of calories as hard as I tried...7 hours for 12 miles...HA!!! My good friend Marshall Ulrich passed me on the portal road with 2 miles left to go, this was his 20th crossing on Death Valley. Having heard what he had gone through during the first part of his race I was happy to see him and thrilled to watch him power walk like a champ to the finish line. What a joy to have he and his wife Heather be the ones to greet me and my crew for my finish of the race!
Needless to say, I don't wear a watch when I race so I had NO idea what my finish time would be. Chris Kostman (RD) said, 41:52, and I about fell on the ground. I could not believe after all that I had broken 48 hours. My first goal to finish in 60 hours, 2nd 48 hours, 3rd top 5 for the women. The real goal, fun and safety first.
Time to head up Whitney, but not a chance the storms are over the mountain. We had to wait all day. I kept telling myself to be patient that this is God's plan not mine.
Sky clears and we head off at the same time we left last year. (Crew: Scott, Mike, Laurie) I felt great and then night time came, the peeing came again and the extreme cold about 2 miles from the summit! Not again, not again, I thought to myself. I asked my crew if we could rest and get in our sleeping bags, but I was the only one with a sleeping bag. My mind was racing, my head was starting to hurt and that uncontrollable shaking from the cold was about to take over again. I said a silent prayer to myself and I said, "Let's go back down. I am going to freeze and I know that with 2 miles left to go it is going to only get colder and colder, and with this comes ice."
Safety first, not just for me, but for my 3 friends on the mountain with me too. I call this wisdom. I call this taking responsibility and being smart. I cried for about 1 minute to myself knowing it was over and that I was not willing to try again the next day. When I cried, I prayed and said, "I don't want to throw in the towel. I feel too good. My legs don't even hurt for goodness sake." I asked for an answer, in the spirit of the fundraising, how could we continue on. The relay hit me head on, a team relay where my crew of 6 amazing people could have a chance to run parts of the Badwater course and experience what I did and feel the joy.
We got off the mountain and it took me some time to make my mind up 100% that we were not going back up Mt. Whitney. This would have caused us to have to change plane tickets and do everything exactly the way we did it last year. I did not need to do it again this way. I spoke to my chief crew, Marie Boyd (who has already offered to be on my crew for next year :) ) and told her my thought about the relay. Her response was, "OK, let's get the others together and tell them the plan." She was more thrilled about this than I was!
We got the other 5 together and sat by the pool for 30 min. and talked about this. I have to tell you the fire and light in these people's eyes were something I have never seen. It was like they had been given a million dollars each. Within 2 hours George and Scott were running down the portal road back to the hotel and off we went to form the "so not normal relay". I was the crew and driver as long as I could stay awake. I had to help take care of all of them the way they cared for me. It was one of the most amazing journeys of my life.
A NEW GOAL
They all set time goals for how long it would take to reach Badwater and the person who won would gain a free entry into the Teton 100 which is Sept. 1st! 27 hours! Scott Morgan won and you bet, he will be here to run the 100. In the spirit of the dream, the goal, the fundraising, these 6 people made the dream even grander than I ever knew it was possible to be. They took turns running, they tagged water bottles, they bonded and they gave and gave until we reached the finish line arm and arm just the way I dreamed it.
But the ending was different. This was not about me running 300 miles. This was about giving, sharing, loving, simplicity, teaching and me watching these 6 people learn what I learned last year. I have also learned that I should and never will again climb at night. I am not meant for the cold weather, my body does not enjoy the cold even with all the right clothing on.
This year I set up to raise money for another cause that became close to my heart, the MPD foundation. I knew that in 2008 I would be doing a very large fundraising event for the kids and felt really called to run for the MPD foundation. We may not have raised the amount of money for the goal we have set (yet) but we were able to raise a great deal of awareness about the MPD foundation which is a great feeling. It is not too late to make a donation! http://www.firstgiving.com/badwatermpdlsb
You see, the learning will never stop, the growing will continue. Change is inevitable, but the one thing that will always remain constant is love, true love. In the end, what I learned from my need to go back and do the double again was something I did not truly grasp before, something that I already have right here at home with Jay and my 2 beautiful children. What I learned was this: Life is about Love...LOVE, and then LOVE...Then give, give, give until it hurts and when it hurts keep on giving. Life is about sharing, caring, and life is about simplicity.
All the stuff we have, all the things we have...what does any of this mean without love, simplicity and the simple gratitude of having the gift of life, to get up each morning, to be thankful for all and for everything. We can all have this each and everyday if we just stop, look and listen. Live in the present and in the moment. Clear your mind of negative thoughts and surround yourself with loving people.
I thank both of my crews for both Badwater doubles from the bottom to the top. I would like to thank Nilsa McKinney for coming on board last year and Cathy Cramer for coming on board this year to help crew the 2nd half, what a joy you both are in our life! Thank you to my family for always putting up with me and Colleen Woods for all her support with the blog. Thank you to Shannon who does my web site for her donating her time for the fundraising. Thank you to Barb Batchen who helped look after my children. Without all of you none of this would have been possible.
I would like to thank Chris Kostman, the race director of Badwater 135. This was my 9th time running the race and my 8th official finish. My goal is to run 10 Badwater races, God willing. I thank Chris for all the time, effort and energy that he has put into this race over the years and for putting on one of the best races in the World. This race has come so far and each year it gets better and better and each year the energy surrounding the race becomes more alive!
The Badwater double is not an official race. I do have to say that the past 2 years I feel that I have missed out on a large part of the true meaning of the Badwater race and what it means to me. My doing the BW double left me missing the post race awards, the party, and the socialization with the many other runners, families, crews and friends that I look forward to seeing each year. This year I felt stress around my race and feel that if I ever do the double again it will not be right after the official race or have anything to do with the official race. I sit back and imagine the quiet, the simple desert, alone with a few friends...this is a much different experience than running the race and taking on the full meaning of what the race means to me. I want to see all get their belt buckles and be there next year clapping for each and everyone who has completed the Badwater race...my 9th!
You can go and check out my blog for many wonderful stories and updates on my blog. http://lisasmithbatchen.blogspot.com/
THE NEW DREAM
Before the next "big dream" I have a few races that I will take part in; the Furnace Creek 508 bike race, to do my best to accomplish the Death Valley Cup. To be honest I feel better running 508 miles but I am looking forward to this new challenge. Perhaps a 24 hour race in Nov., RR 100 in Feb., Marathon des Sables in March.
So...what's next? What did Sister Marybeth pray about 1 year ago and say, "YES LISA, YOU ARE TO DO THIS?......RUN ACROSS AMERICA!!!" LET THE JOURNEY BEGIN. Continue to read my blog and and check our website..The RAA/Trans Con :) The team is set, the goals have been made, the course has been confirmed and now...let the training begin!