Tuesday March 9th, 2010
11:00 AM on a plane to Seattle
Make no mistake, this race and this blog is about Norma, not about me. But I am getting a solid dose of my own medicine today. I am traveling to Seattle today and I feel completely out of touch with Norma and the race. I know she is out there in the desert running. It’s not that I can do anything for her anyway, but I do truly feel helpless. I am not enjoying being an observer. I am anxious to get to my hotel and hopefully find that Norma has finished Stage 2 and has written to me. I am worried about her feet. She actually has pretty nice feet for someone that runs the way she does. It would be a shame to have them blistered and bloodied but I am afraid that’s what might happen. It won’t stop her of course.
When I ran the Atacama Crossing a few years ago, I remember two things very clearly. It was hot and dry. Or maybe it was dry and hot. And there was altitude too. Okay that’s three things I remember. And the sand was really pervasive. And the salt marsh was unpredictable. So I remembered five things. Whatever. The point is that the Atacama is a feast for the senses but some of the items on the menu really suck.
And speaking of sucking, I can remember a section of salt marsh where I broke through the crust and the salty muck actually pulled both shoes off of my feet. I had to stop and practically dive in to save my shoes. Losing my only pair of shoes was not an option. So of course today all I can think of is Norma dealing with the same issues.
It’s a weird feeling because I am not worried about her ability or her toughness. She has nothing left to prove in those areas. Instead, I am just anticipating her suffering and I want to be there to tell her it will all be fine. I want to absorb some of the pain for her. Although if I was there, it is more likely that she would just be assuring me that she is fine and I shouldn’t worry.
6:30 PM in my hotel room
Okay, so I just received a note from Norma and she seems great. She had an amazing day and ran very well. Here is part of her note to me (minus the mushy stuff)
“i did really good today, i thought of Karl how hard he has it, moving forward and it was enough for me to go hard. my pack is still over 10 kilos and i burned the bottom of my feet since my shoes are too thin. it hurt a lot but i can take pain and discomfort so i just went. i climbed in ranking but not sure where i am, i notice because i finished among the guys who are better than me, also i was the third to arrive in my tent and yesterday i was the last, there are 7 of us and all guys except for me, cool guys, i have met a couple of them on races before. today was a hard day 42 k long and a lot of people have passed out from the heat, camp looked like a war zone, at areas it has reached 45C, we also run out of water the first leg and ran on sand dunes on the second leg, a great opportunity for blisters to get full of sand. its after 8 hrs since we started and the majority hasn't reach camp.”
I looked at the standings and Norma has moved up about 12 places from yesterday in the overall and she moved up to 4th among the women. More importantly, it seems that she may be getting stronger. That is really the key to these multi day races. Don’t start too fast and really be ready for the 50 mile day. That is where the race is won and lost.
I know the she would love to hear from many of you so send her some encouragement if you have the time. Just go to www.racingtheplanet.com and and go to the Atacama Crossing under Events. Then go to the “Race Coverage” area and scroll down to email a competitor.