Sunday, March 23, 2008

Calm before the ... fun?

It's hard to believe that a year has passed since I mustered up the courage to commit to a race I've wanted to do for a decade. I remember asking Coach Lisa with trepidation if it was possible for me to train for the race through a Swiss winter -- if I would have to run some "crazy" distances per week -- if she thought I was up to the event. Within an hour of hearing her three yeses, I signed up without further thought, but admittedly with a modicum of healthy fear. A year later and I'm making my final gear checks, scrutinizing daily race food and calorie selections, and preparing to depart in only three days for Ouarzazate, Morocco. As my favorite mug reads ....

On Saturday, I set out on a two hour taper run -- the last training run with my fully-weighted backpack. I passed up a beautiful morning (focusing on the ING Chances for Children project, general gear-sorting tasks, and a smidgen of procrastination) and waited until the skies darkened, the winds swept over the hills, and the snow started ...


Sometimes it's worth setting out into a storm -- an hour in, when I entered one of my favorite forests, the snow paused and the sun pierced the recently covered canopy.

The beauty of trail running and inventing your route on the fly -- I discovered a hidden lake right at sunset.


In other pre-race news, my long-awaited Nuun shipment arrived and we finally got my shoes correctly sewn to handle the sand gaiters. This was a huge relief and hopefully the last stressful pre-race experience -- knock on wood! Now all that's left is making the final choices for what goes into my race pack. My only luxury items are my iPod Nano and an ultra-light solar charger. I'm tempted to sacrifice them both for the weight savings, but music can be such a powerful motivator that I think the tunes could prove very helpful when the going gets tough. Maybe I'll just take the iPod instead of the anti-venom pump -- would much rather listen to Mahler's Fifth Symphony or some hot jazz in the moments after a scorpion string than fuss about with an anti-venom pump! Maybe I should give this one some further thought -- for some reason, the anti-venom pump is listed as mandatory equipment. Perhaps it's best used in conjunction with the iPod.

I have just two runs and one gym session to complete before I hop a train to Geneva, flight to Casablanca, and flight to Ouarzazate on Wednesday. I'll also be logging more time in the sauna -- an experience that bores me to tears, but that I trust is introducing my body to the heat-inspired fun it will have to endure ... I mean get to enjoy ... soon. I've also begun to regularly apologize to my feet for what is about to happen to them - I think they're pretty clueless about the gravity of their upcoming mission.

I wanted to close today's post by offering my heartfelt gratitude to you for your great words of encouragement during the past months. You have no idea how inspiring and helpful your notes are to me — when it’s cold, dark, and rainy/snowy and I’m running alone, I draw on your energy and thoughtfulness. I'm also very appreciative of your quick support of the ING Chances for Children/UNICEF fundraising project. Thank you, thank you, thank you very much.

My next posting will include details on receiving race updates and even sending messages to me in the desert.

All the best from Easter morning in Z├╝rich,
Jeff

4 comments:

Janet Yanosko Elkins said...

Hi Jeff...it's Janet (Yanosko) Elkins.

Have you given any thought to the notion that you might be clinically insane? :D

Happy Easter, and best of wishes with your race. I hope you have decided to take the venom pump....Mahler's symphonies are so long that you won't be able to hear much of the fifth unless you take care of the scorpion sting first.

peter/rene said...

Hi Jeff,

After tormenting your body for a year now, to be ready is your biggest victory !!

The eace lasts only 7 days !!

Go on and do it !!

Hart said...

glad you are taking nuun with you! it's a necessity for any hit desert adventure!

i8chocolate said...

You've gotten most of the hard work behind you now! I say it'll be smooth sailing from here on...across the sands. We're with you in spirit whispering..."Go Jeff, you're doing it, great job, you've made it possible, there's chocolate at the end!" Looking forward to hearing the great stories and memories you're making for yourself!