Tuesday, November 4, 2008

“A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” Lao Tzu

Wow. what intense 10 days. Thanks to my brother Carlos in Mexico who did and amazing job of keeping up with my blog.
I arrived yesterday and the memories of pain and discomfort are already distant, instead memories of the amazing people I met, the fantastic race course, the feeling of pride after finishing the race remain. Just like Simon and Yukako said back at our tent when I called them "idiots" because we where all in pain and trying to settle for the night after the 100k run, they both had run similar race in the past. " unfortunately Norma you too will forget the pain tonight and remember only the fun stuff"

I ended up finishing 46th overall, 6th female and 1st in my age group, i really didn't said much when they gave me my trophy. I really wasn't expecting to win anything, I was more in a survival mode.

So, how tough it really was? It was tough for may reasons, one being the distance itself was daunting, the heat made it very tough as well but to me the hardest part was the isolation. I talked to my kids only once on the phone, the time change and the fact that the areas are so remote and we had no access to phone lines or Internet made it impossible to keep in touch with loved ones. Except for the daily email I sent, I had no way of communicating at all. Food was a major issue as well, dehydrated food isn't exactly a delicacy, everyday we will lay in our tents and talk about food cravings " food porn" as one of the guys used to describe it.
the course itself was hard as well, running on sand was incredibly tiring and everyday we weren't sure what to expect, the race is always different so even the runners who had done it before had no idea of what to expect day to day and even after the morning briefing we found out that an easy leg wasn't easy or a hard one wasn't hard so it was emotionally hard because it made you feel isolated, I remember thinking if this is suppose to be easy and I am struggling, I might no have what it takes?

But at the end all that matters is the amazing way it changed my life. I got to be in one of the most remote and beautiful areas in the world, everyday waking up to a different majestic landscape. I got to spend one week with a select group of individuals that are inspiring and motivating. When I arrived I couldn't wait to meet Dean Karnazes, and it was amazing for sure, he is every bit what I imagine him to be, classy, graceful, positive, amazing but when looked around so where the other 155 runners.I had to honour to talk to some amazing individuals. Ryan and Nina the overall winners where amazing and inspiring to watch, such amazing athletes, others had amazing stories, mothers lost to cancer,husbands that where living with brain injuries, people that wanted to help complete strangers because they felt a duty to make a difference in the world. Looking around I couldn't help to feel blessed to have known this individuals and to have the honour to share a week of my life with them.

the el Faohur oasis

Nina from Germany and I

All I remember now are the laughs in our tent, hugging each other after a tough day, waking up to a beautiful sunset, the first time a saw a majestic sand dune, the village kids that came to our cheer us and ultimately sell pop and chips on our last night in our camp, watching Onoh the blind runner cross the finish line, finishing by the pyramids, my fist bite of pizza after the race, the sensation of water on my firs shower after 7 days in the desert, my first latte' at the airport in Cairo... the list will go on and on.

Tent 7!

Dean and I

Simon and I at the tent

Ono the blind runner and his pacer

John, Lynn and I

the bathrooms

the finish line!

the Canadian team

Ryan from South Africa-the overall winner

Dean and I

I will start training for Brazil Monday, Ray is sending me the training plan for the next couple of weeks. he told me not to excerzise this week and to eat as much as I want to which is good because I am tired and don't feel like going for a run yet and I am starving so it works for me.

“Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.”Ralph Waldo Emerson

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Sahara Race update 6

Well, Norma has made It, at this hour of the morning (I am writing this from Mexico) The Sahara Race is officially over and She did amazingly and in one piece. So She will be at home and posting next week in the meantime I will copypaste what She sent me:

I made it at 2:30am!. It was the longest 18hrs of my life, child labour included, contractions don't come and stay. the course was 100k and sandy, I could have run more than I did but I just simply couldn't do it, I have had enough of gels and powerbars and I didn't really eat much and that made me loose my energy.

I am amazed of the level of dificulty, the race itself is hard with the heat and the sand, on top of that having to run with all your supplies on your back is just simply a test of endurance. I did really well the 3rd day but then on I had a harder time going.

The course was 9 stages with a distance increasing from 7k t 14k. We started at 8am and top 25 racers started two hours later, I felt fantastic the first stage and I got increasingly weaker and weaker. I have run 100k races before so I knew not to get emotional and to run my own race so that it's what I did and I am glad, at the end i had absolutelly nothing left. but I finished and that was my first and most important goal.

I rest today since there are people still on the course, there was the option to sleep around halfway or go all the way, of course I decided to do it on one go. I am not sure why I didn't do better, I think 12:30am would have been possible but I just couldn't run anymore so I walked for most of the course and if you think that is easier, It is not, I was out there in the elements, heat and later the cold with hardly any food and walking on soft sand, what Simon my tent mate described is equal to trying to run on ice. I way Ryan and Dean round check point 3, it was amazing ot see how fast they where running, Nina the top female finisher also passed me around check point 4, she was looking strong as well.

We have only 6K to go tomorrow so this is it, they will load up in a bus at 2am tomorrow to the start line which is by the Giza Pyramids to have friends and family watch the finish of the race.

I received tons of emails from the CNIB. what a wonderful organization, they told me they where proud of me. during the course of the race I never lost sight of why I am here, it has never been about me but about the wonderful organization I came to represent. I am proud that I gave it 100% and sometimes specially last night when walking on soft sand, tired, hungry, cold and with 10 more hours to go it felt like 150%.

I met wonderful people here this week, some are athletes that came to win, some are like me that come to represent a charity and some are just plain nuts, but we all have one thing in common, we came here to give it our best and that is excatly what we did, some won, some finished and some didn't but at the end that didn't matter, we acomplished what we set out to do this week. To me pushing more and more each time I think I can't possible can't give me an insight of what it is to face a challenge like a disability, I would never pretent to understand how tought it really is, it just make me have more respect for kids like my son Karl or any other human facing a disability.

I am also learning about not taking things for granted, I miss having a shower, a nice meal, clean clothes, seeing my loved ones, having a coup of coffee. we have build our life with excesses and conveniences that we forget that all we really need a human beings is the simple things in life.

Salaam Akelam