Thursday, October 30, 2008

Sahara Race update 5

Did you think She was on vacation?. Think twice because She is running 100K in the scorching sand of the Sahara. I think they already have a pill to cure that and make her a good stay at home wife, you know the ones that make buns in the oven and the only time they think of the Sahara is when they watch Brendan Fraser in "The Mummy". While We buy those pills for Norma I am posting what She emailed me yesterday:

Wow, I guess they call it Sahara desert for a reason, after a wonderful day like yesterday I assumed I was climatizing but I guess not. Today it was suppose to be an easy 38K but the temperature raised to 41 celsius, I had trouble coordinating my legs and I felt drunk most of the time. As usual there where 3 stages but this time I had a hard time running from the get go. I know you are suppose to take it one day at a time but all I could think was that tomorrow is 2 and a half longer that any previous day. I am not worried about the distance but on this conditions: hot and on soft sand is definatelly hard to run.

There is a blind competitor and He is my tent mate, he is from Korea, He is running with his pace and He is doing amazing. Everytime I am out there I can't help but to feel inspired, I can't imagine running on this conditions and not being able to see the amazing landscape. Watching the amazing surrondings is what really makes it bearable. He comes not too far behind me and it's always smiling.

Pam Swan form the CNIB in Calgary is also keeping in touch, she said the CNIB is watching my progress, those are the small things that are gold when I feel like I can't go any longer. If you are reading this please call Pam Swan at the Calgary CNIB and donate generously. The work they do is 100 times harder and more important that any race I will ever do.

Other person that is also sending good vibes is Mario Lacerda from Brazil, there are two of his friends running Sahara and we are keeping each other company while talking about Brazil 135 which we are all doing in January.

I will not blog tomorrow, i have my 100k which will test the human limits, send your good vibes from wherever you are after all I know I will not be here if it's not because all of you

ps. Dean Karnazes is sitting behing me blogging, he is such a great guy and very humble, I try and leave him alone, I don't want him to think I am his stalker althoug I am clearly star struck :o)

Salaam Aleykum

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Sahara Race update 4

Well, I think Norma is suffering from delusion because She is thinking on taking a bath when returning home from her last stint: The Sahara Race. I proudly announce you she is very much alive, but no kicking, she's just to tired to do that and looking forward to two more days at the races (sorry the lame pun, used to be a Queen fan), so anyway here is what She emailed me yesterday:

" day 3 and I am still smiling, I loved it. We started an hour earlier to beat the heat and it made such a difference. I run solid for the first two stages then took it easy on the last since it was getting hotter. For scenery, it was flat and boring for the first 4 hrs then we made it to the sand dunes and it was quad burning climb for the last stage but it is so beautiful to see.

I don'tknow how I did for placing today but I was faster that the last two days, the reason being because my pack is getting lighter as we eat out food, I am also learning how much water I need for each stage, too much water is heavy not enough is deadly.

The spirits around camp are high, the last two days have been so hard we all felt demmoralized we still have two hard days coming but as long as we are still here we have a chance to finish.

Salaam Alekem!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Sahara Race update 3

Norma is well into the third day of the run but she made the time yesterday to send us an e-mail. In case you are wondering She's alive and kicking and the spirits are running high. Here's what she wrote:

Today was 38K and Hot, we woke up to "Walking on Sunshine" at least the race directors have a sense of humor.

The course was suppose to be 3 stages with the first one hard and the other two moderate, it turn out to be the other way around. I am taking it one day at a time. Most people found it harder today, I felt better than since for the first time had a full night sleep. I am still not sure how I am going to do 4 more days. the next 3 are suppose to be 100% harder that the first two.

Spirits around me are fading, when we started we where told that if we got bitten by anything we where going to be pulled out immediately, we all slept afraight of scorpions and snakes the first night. Now we are all walking around barefooted and kicking rocks so we can go home with our ego intact.

At the end of the day I most look forward to the emails, so thank you all for writing

akelam salam

Monday, October 27, 2008

Sahara Race update 2

Hi, this is Carlos again and this is what Norma told me to post:

day one

what a day it was, I was excited today when I realized that it was going to be only 36K, I forgot about the heat!.

There where 3 stages and 1 and 2 I found hot but manageable since I was able to run and the running gave a nice breeze. Leg 3 was a nightmare, the sand was to deep to run so I walked almost the last 14K, walking is harder since you still break up a sweat but there is no breeze to cool of.
I still managed to come in 5 hrs and 18 min. for placing I was told it was around to 50, so not bad at all
I hope I manage to sleep tonight, I didn't sleep at all last night, the ground is hard and there are 9 other smelly people on a crowded tent, I hope I am tired enough to fall asleep first.

As right now, I am taking it day by day, results mean nothing since there are a lot of other factors that come to play. Ryan Sandes won stage one at a blistering 3hrs and 5 min, Dean is here as well, I talked to him only once, but he mostly keeps to himself on the tent. One of my tent mates was his roommate back at the hotel and he said he is fantastic but obviously really busy.

Time for me to run to my tent and see is I can fall asleep before everybody

Akelem Salam

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Sahara Race update 1

Hi everybody, I am Carlos the older brother of Norma and fan of her since she was born (she was good at cheating on cards when she was 4, Sorry Norma, enough embarrassment for a day). Anyway, I am commisioned with the task of posting what she is sending me via e-mail because she is currently running the Sahara Race and she is not allowed to blog, only one e-mail a day, so in the next days I will be updating you and copy-pasting her e-mails. My blog, in case you are wondering my credentials as a blogger, is powerpymes. Here is her first post:

Now is the evening before the race and I am ready to go, I have met amazing people and made so many friendships that I am sure will last forever.

How ever I am tired of traveling, I feel like on the movie "planes, trains and automobiles". Egypt is a lot rockier that I ever imagine, in my mind the sandunes where a lot smoother but in reality there is a variety of landscape. Because of recent events of the kidnapings, we endured so many check points just to make the 258K to the middle of nowhere to then run around and run back where we started.

The race is actually longer than 250K between 258 and 268 I am told, but i guess after your feet are hamburger it doens really matter.

I miss being home, is not what I expected, I have been at home working and looking after my kids for so long I assume I was just going to jump into this new life adn love it, but this as amazing and exotic is not home.

My tent mates are fantastic, there are two canadians, Jhons is a phisiotheraoist and Lynn is an artist from Canmore, there is also Kumiko from Japan and I had a great chance to talk to her. Most important, the Korean blind runner and the Korean tv crew is also in my tent, is hard for me to watch him struggle, I guess deep down I am still not OK with what's happening to Karl, I am sure that as the race progresses I will be able to look at him and talk, right now is still hard.

Well, I better go back to my tent and sleep, tomorrow's stage isn't long only 38K, I am looking forward to move again after sitting on trucks and busses for the last 4 days.
Good night

Salam alekum


Saturday, October 11, 2008

“Freedom means the opportunity to be what we never thought we would be.”Daniel J. Boorstin

I have less than 2 weeks before Sahara and so much has changed. I quit my job last week to focus on running and bringing awareness to the blind and visually impaired. This idea came two weeks ago when I met Ray Zahab, I had email him to see if he could coach me. I had my doubts I could afford him, but I would never know if I didn't try. He was in Calgary giving a talk so he agreed to meet on a Friday evening, after I told him my story and how I had the dream of running 7 of the toughest ultras in the world he just looked at me and said " how come I have never heard of you!" and offered to train me and the position of athletic ambassador for impossible2possible. I immediately feel dizzy, Ray is my ultrarunning hero, my kids laughed when I try and play it cool when he called me to confirmed our meeting, I screamed after hanging up and my kids high-fived me.

Now here I was sitting across Ray and he was asking me to join him, to be part of the team. A team so elite Matt Damon was making personal calls to them when they where on their record setting journey of crossing the Sahara in 111 days to raise awareness of the water situation on Africa. The Running the Sahara expedition is chronicled in a documentary film, narrated and executive produced by Matt Damon and directed by Oscar™-winner James Moll.

The choice was never so easy. I have been preparing for Sahara but it was to late for any training from Ray. My real training will start when I came back.

At this point I just need to make sure my gear is ready and to keep the level of my fitness. Training for warm weather has been a challenge, is very cold in Calgary so I try to run indoors with lots of layers as much as I can. I have also received almost every shot there is. I assumed that because I was born in Mexico I was immune to anything but no such luck.
After a few rounds of shots, I can pretty much wrestle rabid dogs, step on sharp objects and be OK. The doctor also gave me a bunch of pills in case I get " travelers diarrhea" " I want you to take this pills and withdraw from your race if you have any of the following symptoms" she said " Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea,cramping, chills, or you feel your gut is rotten" I couldn't help but smile when I told her "That's how I feel on every race, how will I know if its E-coli or just and other day at the office?" She looked paled for a second, she stuttered and asked " how about fever? do you get that as well" I just nodded. " well, she said, if they all come at once and you don't feel better after a while, then you'll know" I couldn't help thinking when I left the office that I hadn't sold her on ultrarunning.

I decided to run for Operation Eyesight Universal next year, the choice of charity is very difficult decition,there are may amazing organizations such as Foundation Fighting Blindness that has funded dozens of research discoveries to identify the causes of genetic forms of blindness. Operation Eyesight Universal focus on preventable blindness due to the lack of clean water in developing countries. My son has a genetic condition, I do wish a cure with all my heart but as a mother I can't ignore that there are kids and people all over the world going blind when they don't have to.

“The joy of giving sight to the blind is one of the most beautiful gifts a human being can give to another. So keep up the joy of giving — for gifts of love are gifts of peace.” Mother Teresa

I feel an enormous gratitude to have the opportunity to devote myself to a cause so important to me. I hope my kids will learn that kindness will transcend languages and boundaries. The tough part now is that as I go along to bring awareness I must become the face of the cause. The Calgary Herald ran an article that made me feel like a rock star. for 30 seconds I forgot the last 2 years, the long sleepless nights. Now I have to set the alarm to wake up because my days are full. I feel some duty to reach out. To all those parents or kids that feel no hope. I look around me and can't help but to feel fortunate, my kids are doing great, there are some great advances in gene therapy and the cure for blindness really seems close, I am dating the most amazing man,my family and my best friend Nadia are there for me and my kids when I need them. Quite a difference from a few years ago, I will never forget when my kid's school call me to offer me a food hamper, I had slipped so fast that it was obvious I was having trouble making ends meet.

People always asked me why I decided to run ultras, my response always confuses them, I dislike statistics the odds of kids of a single parent being successfully in life are very small, now the odds of a kid of a single parent with disability being successful are a lot smaller, luckily for me I was never good at statistics. Ultrarunning was a way for me to make changes to my life. To teach my kids that the moutains ahead of us weren't obstacles but a wonderful oportunities to get closer to the sky.
“Man can live about forty days without food, about three days without water, about eight minutes without air, but only for one second without hope”Unknown