Monday, April 07, 2008

Welcome Home MDS: Class of 2008!

Many of the Dreamchaser MDS athletes start to return to their homes today. Needless to say, we'd love to hear from you. And thanks to those who have already checked in! It is so great to hear from you and I know it will take time to put many experiences into words...if ever. Sometimes the magic escapes words!

One note...many of the Blog readers have admired the photographs that have accompanied the last weeks' worth of Blog posts. A few have been from the darbaroud website (you'll notice the tag on these photos) and many were from two 2007 MDS competitors - ELAD BENJAMIN and LESLIE MARTIN (Leslie is featured in the photo with a camel). We are so grateful to Elad and Leslie for sharing the beauty and colors of the MDS.

2008 MDS Alumni...use the comments field on this post to share your thoughts, or just to say hi when you have a moment to check in.


Anonymous said...

Dear Lisa,

I just typed in a whole message and lost it in the ether.

But a short recap - THANKS for your coaching and encouragement.

Beyond the satisfaction of finishing this challenging event, it was a joyous thing to meet and go through it with the folks in tent 74. So to Toby, Ed, Terry, Laurie, Aaron, Jeff and Jay - I am so happy that we had this MdS together.

I wish I had the writing chops of Marianne to really describe how I feel. I will never forget it.


AnthonyP said...

Congrats to all the MDS participants. Welcome back.

cathy said...

Welcome back to the MDS runners!!

My favorite workout is a long trail run with Bonnie....5 hours or more... looping around and across the valley.

What I like to eat depends on what time of day I start my workout and the intensity level. If it is early and/or a really hard workout I like only Gu. Later, for a long workout, peanut butter on toast. Sharkies and HEED during, but I can't drink HEED when I run. Fruit smoothie with soy, or pasta, veggies and tomato sauce after.

Michele Jensen said...

I'm back home and back at work - but absolutely estatic about my experience at MDS. Everyone there pushed through all obstacles to reach their ultimate potential, and it was truly inspiring. To quote M, this is really 'bad-ass' :-) I had an incredible experience, and would like to thank Lisa for her constant support and inspiration. I couldn't have done it without you Lisa, and I hope you know how much that means to me. I can honestly say that it has impacted all aspects of my life. I had someone write me during the race and tell me she just completed her very first 5k and I was her inpiration to finish. This touched me so deeply, and Lisa does this same thing for so many people.
I hope to see all of my fellow competitors at MDS again in the near future, you are all tough, supportive and great people. Rock on!

Anonymous said...

Hi, Lisa!
Another incredible journey is about to end but the memories will last forever. I finished the final stage yesterday in 2 hr 11 mins and ran the entire way. Although I had a cold and bronchitis the entire week and was coughing day and night, I refused to let that get in my way. I followed your race plan like a good soldier and what a surprise - it worked beautifully. I really do not care what position I finished in because in my heart I know I did the best I could. I could have pushed no harder. What is it about this experience that makes it so special? It occurs in a couple different areas. It is competing in the toughest footrace in the world and finishing it. It is about finding the mental and physical limits and then pushing beyond them - which sets new limits.It is about courage and strength being drawn from within when you are at your lowest (during the last 10 miles of the long stage I was nausious, had the runs, felt like crap, did not want to eat anymore, was tired, did not want to drink anymore, my headlamp batteries were running low but I was too tired to change them - it was then that Terry Madl willed be thru it). It is about having others such as Terry there to provide support and encouragement when it is needed most. Camradarie, that was my biggest gift. Spending 7 days together in a dingy tent with 7 others who I have become extremely close to. We have laughed, suffered and recovered together. A lifetime bond has been formed. This is so much more than just a race.
Thank you Lisa for your unending support, guidance and encouragement coupled with a perfect training and race plan. You have taken me to a new level. I look forward to the future challenges.
Your dearest friend and student,

jorjep said...

from tent 71 all the training the plans all came together-never had a doubt we would not make it-it was hard just incredible the beauty how we had to dig deep and all the emotions we shared and sweat the highs and the lows how me and my friend and friends helped each other out- i will be back to do this again and will update on how we laughed,struggled,cried but finished- g velasco

Jeff Grant said...

I’m very happy to be back home – also, in an odd way I’m longing to be back in the desert! MDS is in many ways surreal and magical, and the MDS-back-to-real-life transition seems to be a tough one - perhaps not as tough as transitioning from the rest day to the marathon stage though!

You are a phenomenal coach Lisa! You pushed me and made me believe that I was capable of reaching a level far, far beyond what I had accepted as my maximum potential. A year ago I thought that an MDS Finish was out of reach and two weeks ago I thought that Top 100 was way beyond my ability. You encouraged me to push my limits and push them hard. I followed your race plan exactly and while it was never easy, it worked to perfection. I went on an epic personal journey on the long day - one that I'll remember and cherish for the rest of my life. Sure, it hurt a little and it challenged my mind in ways like never before, but that one day created a glorious moment in time that I still can't believe could happen to a former fat guy and decade-long middle of the packer. The joy is only compounded by sharing in the victories, hardships, laughs, cries, and final exuberance of my new friends - I'd give up race positions, times, medals, and finisher t-shirts any day if I had to choose between these symbols and the irreplaceable and very special camaraderie of the MDS.

Happy recovery to all my new Dreamchaser MDS friends and thanks to all for the great support! Jeff G.

Anonymous said...


Thank you so much for your support over the past year and a half as well as during the race. I never would have been able to complete MDS without your invaluable coaching and encouragement. MDS had been on my "to do" list for a long time and I feel a sense of relief that I've finally accomplished my goal. At this point I feel as though I need time to refocus on my career and get reconnected with my life in New York. I don't, however, want to leave the world of ultra running completely. At some point in the future (maybe late this year or next year) I think it would be great to attend one of your camps and prephas at that time set a new goal. Thanks again.


Lara Zaitzeff

Andrea lynn Sloan said...

It was an amazing experience...any idea of what to challenge myself with next?
Big thanks to all the Dreamchasers for their cheers and for being an endless source of information about everything under the sun (blisters being the most important subjuct for me!)
To "MdS Daddy", Jay thanks for all the extra bits of work that you put in each day and Lisa, your emails were perfect, thanks for all the encouragement
Remember everyone, you set your own limits, why not push them alittle bit wider today ;-)

Ted Archer said...

The MDS was both one of the most amazing and one of the most painful/miserable experiences of my life. It was more grueling than I had thought it would be: A week later my body still doesn't feel right.

Some other folks have commented on the comaradery in the tents and at camp, and that was obviously what kept us all going. With no entertainment or ammenities, it was great to have friends to commiserate with.

I was trained very well: Thanks, Lisa. Of course, it was still quite painful.

For anyone thinking of running the MDS, it will consume a great deal of your life; in return, you'll have one of the most memorable experiences imaginable. Sweat, effort, pain, and tears don't even begin to explain it. The terrain was other-worldly (multi-hundred-foot dunes, crusty salt flats, black rock gardens, mountain ranges, and an occassional oasis), and we ran through it in 110-degree heat (or hotter, depending on which sources you talk to).

Absolutely brutal; absolutely wonderful.

- Ted

Michele Jensen said...

Ted, did you get your cheeseburger? Adam (my boyfriend) had one waiting for me when i returned....much better than flowers :-)
For everyone not in tent #77, cheeseburgers were mentioned at least 10 times per day....

Michele (#500)

leigh said...

the last of tent #71 has finally made it home. George and i were stuck in NY compliments of American Airlines but we got to spend the most wonderful day and night with the Tom Triumph family. couldn't have turned out better!

i am so thankful to be back home and how grateful i am to be an American and to live in this great land. i am sure that my new Canadian friends understand how i feel and are feeling much the same way too.

Morocco was everything i dreamed it could be and i am so very glad that i went on this amazing journey. Lisa, thank you for putting the idea into my head and George, thank you for the big push into the un-known. i could not have done it without you! and mostly for my husband for so wonderfully putting up with my absence.

tent #71 was a place of great sportsmanship. how wonderful it was to have people pulling for me to finish each stage. thank you George, Greg, Kira, Steven, Christo, Martin and Patrick. for 7 days we were a family in a strange sort of way. only those who have traveled these steps would understand.

and to all my MDS friends, i left with a lasting memory. thank you so much!

Anonymous said...

This was my second chance to compete at the MDS, and I'd have to say that the experience was at least as powerful for me as the first. I was a little more ready for the challenges that would come, and I had quite a few friends running along with me, ready to lend support. Nonetheless, when we each stage got under way, I would still find myself quite alone with my thoughts-still alone to find enough physical and emotional stamina to make it to the finish line. So I guess I tried to face the race overall, and each step along the way in small, bite-sized pieces. After a while each day, I'd settle into a sort of zone and pretty much stay right there until the finish of the stage. But it's a simple statement of fact that every day in the desert is different. Some days I felt stronger than others. Some days I was faster than others. And on the last stage I was so physically sick that I was barely able to complete it even at a walking pace. But in the end, crossing the finish line was again one of the most extraordinary feelings I've ever had. And I suspect each of the other runners felt much the same as I did.

The MDS is one of the most unique experiences I've ever had the good fortune to be involved in, and I really hope I'll be able to go back to the Sahara in the future to compete again.
Thank you Lisa and Jay.

Anonymous said...

Arrived safely in NE. PA. as expected after touching down in JFK on time Monday! I'm still in awe of MDS. It will take time to understand the whole thing. Many thanks to Jay and Mike for being on 'point' for us all and a hearty 'hello' to fellow members of 'Tent 71'. Lisa, your training for MDS was phenomenal. Steve Wolk

Anonymous said...

hy Lisa
I was that pleased that you wrote me , and I really hope you'll be back once in this magnificant desert. we had so much fun this year, no pression at all, just having a good sight-seeing run. we were lucky this year, no storm and not too much heat, and a very funny group of Luxemburgian people.
how is it going, your little family, send me some photos, I don't remember your daughter's name, ..sorry..but so beautiful
big hug from luxembourg

M DeMarco said...

I've only just returned from Morocco last night and reality gave me a few good bitch-slaps to welcome me home, so I am only just now commenting.

I haven't dared let myself think about our time out there for fear I start getting all teary-eyed and wobbly-lipped. And filling out my tax-returns is no time to weaken in the fortitude department. (Can you write off kitty-litter? Maybe under "dependents"?)

So I haven't spent a great amount of time reflecting on MdS except to email Patrick Bauer to demand a refund because I did not lose one friggin' pound running this thing. Not one. Ted lost the equivalent of an entire Olsen twin, but no, not me. I didn't shed an ounce.

I do know this- I am not exaggerating to say I could not have completed this event without both Lisa and Jay. There are other people I couldn't have done this without as well, but Lisa and Jay are paramount on that list. Lisa's unflagging optimism works so perfectly in conjunction with Jay's methodical deliberation (and wisecracks); it really is a frighteningly effective combination for making people achieve ...well, almost anything.

I have to try and write down all the hilarious/ridiculous/well-it-was-funny-at-the-time stories before I forget them all, and of course I'll let every poor fool with an email address know when I do. But to all the Dreamchasers folks-- thanks for helping me actually go through with doing MdS.

Oh, and Tent #76 was *obviously* the best tent. Note I did not say best smelling.

Anonymous said...

MDS - moved by something extraordinary that I am still processing . . .
what I know - I saw grace and grit up close; I experienced challenges and comraderie like I never have before in my life; I was emersed in a landscape that is gorgeous and harsh, inviting and unyielding; I experienced humor till my sides hurt and humility that was inspiring.

I KNOW that it is Lisa's guidance, support, knowledge and willingness and ability to share that knowledge, as well as, her belief in all that is good, that got me from the start line to the finish line. It is Jay's ability to handle so many things on his plate AND run AND be hilarious that made us all have a great experience.

Two shining gifts came home with me. First, the knowledge that courage to continue - above all else - is success and character defining (so many amazing examples of this). Second, for the first time in my life I knew I was not alone - I was supported by friends and family, Dreamchasers, my community back home, fellow runners and my tentmates.

grateful and forever changed,

Lisa Smith-Batchen said...

Thank you all for the wonderful thoughts about your adventure!
It has been a great joy to work with you all. The memories of MDS will last the rest of your life and you are never alone miss Laurie!
"alone we can do so little, together we can do so much"
can't wait to spend many great moments with you this summer on and off the trails.