Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Road to Badwater Part IV

By Gregg Geerdes

Start to Furnace Creek (0 – 17): The start
When the race started I quickly fell into an easy pace of about 8:30-9:00 min/mile, a very comfortable running pace for me that I have trained myself to maintain for a long time. I watched as over half the field took off, the leaders going as fast as 7:30 min/mile.
I actually started to feel better as I ran. I was well hydrated, having plenty of water in my system to run comfortably for quite a while. I almost felt like I was going for easy run in Tucson, well maybe it was a little hotter than Tucson.

My crew went to work right away meeting me about every 5 – 10 minutes, all of them jumping out of the van seeing if I needed anything, just like a well trained assault team or possibly the keystone cops as they chased after me asking if I needed anything. Even though for this first section I didn’t feel I needed them as often I knew it was necessary for them to use this time to get the system down that they would be using for the next 135 miles.
badwater_4Photo: Crew in Action
The system I had laid out for my crew to follow was pretty basic:
  • I needed to drink at least two full hand bottles (20 oz each) of electrolyte fluid every hour. I was using Ultra a product made by Karl King, which is easy on my stomach.
  • One succeed tab (sodium and potassium) every 20 minutes.
  • Change my neck wrap (a gym sock full of ice) about every 30 minutes. I had tested this out in Tucson and found it to be amazing. You may laugh at the idea of a gym sock around your neck, but that was probably the best piece of advice I have for anyone running Badwater. The upside is the ice on your carotid arteries and the constant flow of water down your body. The downside is that I had problems with water flowing into my shoes.
  • Change my North Face safari hat (pocket for ice) as needed. Although this wasn’t nearly as useful as the sock, sometimes just having ice on your head made you feel better. Interesting fact is that most of the time I couldn’t even feel the ice on my head until it ran out and my head heated up.
  • Twin Lab Amino Fuel with water every two hours. I had used this as a post-exercise replenishment in training, but decided to use it during the race to minimize tissue breakdown. I try not to experiment during a race, this time though it worked.
  • Finally, they needed to try to get me to periodically eat something, although with the heat I wasn’t quite sure what I would be hungry for.
In general for most of these 17 miles, I just enjoyed the amazing scenery of desert and mountains and tried to stay relaxed, there were many more miles to run that day.

  • Lesson: Don’t get overly caught up in emotion in the beginning and burn out
  • Lesson: Give your team space to operate
  • Lesson: Ice around your neck is awesome, but even the most beneficial things can have a downside.
  • Lesson: Know what works beforehand and try to save experimentation for training when you can

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