Finally I get a chance to write my race report for Badwater 135. What is Badwater 135? It is considered the World’s Toughest footrace!! You start at Badwater Basin 280′ below sea level and run 135 miles through Death Valley to finish at Mt. Whitney portal 8300′. What that means….is a whole lot of heat and climbs! Pictured is my awesome crew…Brad, Scott, April and Begered.
I’m just going to dive into how the race went…..
Me and my crew left for the big race on Friday morning. My awesome crew chief Brad made a custom rack for the van and we all packed up all the gear and supplies. We stayed in Ridgecrest Friday and Saturday night to get acclimated to the desert heat. Brad had us run each day on the hottest part of the day to get used to running in the lovely heat. It was great that we went and got used to the heat. Because the first run was hot! And we only ran around 3 miles. By the second run though I felt a lot better and less nervous about the heat. Our stay at the Motel 6 was quite an adventure…but only the best for my crew!! During our beautiful stay at the Motel 6 an older woman passed away in her sleep. I thought to myself…what a way to start this journey and was it a sign? We washed our clothes and packed up on Sunday morning and headed for the team meeting in Stovepipe wells.
We checked in and bought gear from the race. Put on the magnets to the van and headed for Furnace Creek to check in and attend another meeting. Shit was getting real! At the meeting were all the great ultra runners. I got a little teary eyed looking around the room. Seeing all these amazing runners. And here I was…small girl from Fresno. No one recognized me. No one knew who I was from the running community. I felt proud and accomplished. I didn’t even finish the race yet, but at the moment I felt proud to be able to sit in the same room with such awesome runners. So after the meeting it was time to relax.
On Monday it was race day. What threw me off was the night start. The race didn’t start until 8:00 P.M. I tried my best to relax and take a nap, but the nerves were getting to me. I was so excited and pumped up to start. We packed up and made our way to the race start. I weighed in and put on my GPS tracker that would track all the runners throughout the race. It was time! I knew I was going to finish…but what I was unsure of was how long it was going to take me. I estimated about 46 hours and cutoff was 48 hours. Then off we went!
For the first 42 miles I couldn’t have a pacer. So I ran with ipod and listened to music. It was super windy and there was so much lightning. They had warned us there were possibly going to be flash floods during the race. I prayed we weren’t going to get rain. It was already humid and hot and to throw in rain would be miserable! While running my crew would stop about every half mile to mile. I didn’t think I was going to need to be sponged off at night…but I was wrong! It was so hot already so my crew had to spray me and wet me with cold water. From the start the first time station was Furnace Creek which is about 17.5 miles into the race. I checked in at 11:15 p.m. and kept running. I knew I still had about 25 miles to Stovepipe Wells so I just kept going and counting down until that time station.
I made it to Stovepipe Wells which is 42 miles into the race at 5:00 a.m. I had been running for 9 hours already and knew I still had a long way to go. The 42 miles weren’t too bad besides the humidity, but it was a nice gradual climb up to that point. I already knew it was about to get worse though. My plan for food was thrown out the window. I had some healthy chips I planned to eat the entire race, but the heat was so bad I couldn’t swallow them!! I had to change plans and eat uncrustables! I changed my socks and shoes and Scott was the first one up to pace me. We took off and started to make our way to Panamint Springs which was 30 miles away and with a tough climb! The sun was starting to rise which is always nice because it gives you a little more energy. Begered jumped out of the van and it was her turn to pace for a few miles. The crew was taking turns about every 4-5 miles to pace me. By this time Oswaldo Lopez…freaking awesome ultra runner…passed me and said hello. He was in first place at that point. Then a few other runners began to pass. It’s nice seeing other runners out there and not being the only one suffering in the heat. I still felt pretty good and my feet weren’t hurting…yet. As we made our way my crew was constantly spraying me and soaking me with ice cold sponges and spray bottles. The humidity and heat was bad, but with the ice cold water I felt pretty good. I never felt like I was running in 120+ weather, that’s how great they did! The sun was out and in full force. I had on white sleeves on my legs and arms and a hat that covered my face and neck. I was making my way to Panamint Springs and knew once I got there I could clean up, eat and change shoes.
I arrived at time station 3 in Panamint Springs at 1:34 P.M. on Tuesday, which is 72 miles into the race. I was now a little over 17 hours into running. I laid down to get stretched out, when a race official tells me there is a room we could use to stretch out so I’m not on the hot pavement. At this time my crew is getting ice, so me and Brad decide to use the room, but my shoes are off. So, I jump on Brad’s back and he carries me to the room. Once we get there, the people in the room say its only for medical emergencies. So I jump on Brad’s back again and we carries me to another room…that’s up a flight of stairs. We get into the room and its for runners who need to rest or want to sleep. So I sit so Brad can stretch me. By this time Scott and Begered are there to help with some chaffing I had. All the water I had been putting on myself to keep cool caused chaffing on my chest, back and inner thighs. It hurt so bad!!!! Any water that hit those chaffed areas made me scream! So were all freaking out because the chaffing was so red and raw. What do we do?! Put liquid bandage. Brad starts putting it on my chest and it stings and burns like freaking hell!!!!! Imagine putting salt on an open wound….that’s how it felt! So I’m trying not to scream because runners are sleeping. Then Begered decides she wants to get in on some of this action. So she starts putting it on my lower back and it burns!!! They ask if I want it on my inner thighs and I say hell no!!!! So I just wipe Vaseline all over my inner thighs. I put new socks and shoes on and make my way back to the van. As I sit to eat a little bit and drink a sparkling water, tears are just rolling down my face. Runners coming into the time station and looking at me crying and probably thought I was hurt or in pain from something….but probably didn’t guess it was chaffing lol I was hurting….bad! My inner thighs were on fire and I knew any drop of water or sweat was going to kill me. So I asked my crew if they had buffs or sweatbands. Luckily April and Scott had one each. So with their permission I put one on each thigh and rolled it up. It worked!! It felt so much better!!! I was so happy but knew I had a tough climb coming up to Darwin. Darwin time station was 18 miles away, but the climb is horrible. So it was Brad’s turn and we took off.
By this point my feet are starting to hurt. And they are hurting bad! Not from blisters or broken bones. Just pain in the bottom of my feet from the many hours of running/power walking. The way I describe it is when you go to an amusement park and walk all day. by the end of the day your feet are throbbing and tired. It feels like that times 10!! Every step starts hurting. I know in my head there is nothing wrong with them, but it just freaking hurts! Oh it sucks so bad! So freaking bad! So as we make our way up this damn climb, my pacers are taking turns watching me cry and complain. Father Crowley is 80 miles into the race and I knew that was end of the horrible climb. There was still a small incline after, but I knew the worst of that climb would be over. So while making my way up, I’m balling my eyes out. While running with Begered I asked her if I could take a nap when I got up to Father Crowley. She said maybe but we would have to talk to Brad. I finally make it to Father Crowley and my crew is parked waiting for me. I’m crying and tell Brad I need my legs massaged. So he lays a blanket out and they start working on my legs and feet. While laying there I’m crying and hurting. I ask Brad if I can take a nap and he says no….I start whining and crying more! I’m in pain! I’m hurting and in my head thinking I need a damn nap! But he tells me at mile 90 or 100 I can take a nap. Me and my sister can read each others minds. At this point shes looking at me in pain. As I look at her I can tell in her eyes she’s ready to yell at someone to let me take a nap. But she looks me in the eyes and she knows….she knows I’m okay and I can keep going. We give that look like we understand each other and it’s time to get going. I tell my crew I want April to run with me. So she gets ready and I use the restroom and off we go!!
The sun is starting to set and I was going to be running at night again. As we make our way to time station 4 my feet are just in so much pain. I pass time station 4 at 9:27 P.M. which is 90 miles into the race and I have been running for 25 hours and 27 minutes. Around mile 90 I decide to put on my chanclas (sandals). My crew is kind of looking at me crazy and I tell them shoes aren’t working I need my chanclas!! So I put on my chanclas and start running with April. I noticed while putting on my sandals, my crew chief Brad was not around. I asked my crew where he was and they said he was taking a nap! I kept running and couldn’t believe it!!!! I’m not going to lie….I was pissed! Pissed off!! I have ran almost 100 miles and over 25 hours. I deserve a nap! I want a nap! But then I remembered how old Brad is and how distraught he was from the passing of the older lady at the Motel 6….So I gave him a pass…lol For the next 10 miles I was thinking about the nap Brad said I could take at mile 100. April ran quite a ways with me because I was laughing and singing along to music with her. There was even a point, when Brad decided to wake up, where they didn’t know we passed them because we were giggling and they thought that couldn’t have been me because I was just crying like a baby earlier. So then the pain in my feet comes back….and it freaking hurts! So as mile 100 was getting closer, each time I stopped for water or a change of shoes I told them how excited I was for a nap. I knew Brad wanted me to keep going. And he probably thought I was going to forget about it. While running with April I told her “I am taking a fucking nap!” No one was going to tell me no. I had made up my mind and was sticking to it. If it meant having to just jump in the van and ignore my crew, I was “taking a fucking nap!” So as I approached the van I told Brad I’m ready for a nap. And April let them know my exact words. So Brad agreed and got the van ready for me. I was so tired I fell asleep while he massaged my legs out. When the van was ready I laid down to take a 20-30 minute nap. I couldn’t fall asleep!!! This whole time I waited and I couldn’t fall asleep! My legs and feet were throbbing and in so much pain I couldn’t sleep. So i just tried to rest. So after about an hour it was time to get moving. It was windy and dark but I had to get going. My crew filled up my water bottle with cold brew and off I went again. I knew I had 22 miles until Lone Pine.
The sun started rising….again….and I was making my way across the never ending desert. My feet were in pain and I felt so close but so far. As we made our way I could see Lone Pine and the horrible climb to get to Mt. Whitney Portal. I just wanted to get to Lone Pine. As soon as I could make it there I knew it would only be 13 more miles to the finish. A long, long 13 miles but it sounds so good to say only 13 more miles. So I take a seat and my crew helps me change my socks and shoes and Brad puts on Hammer balm on my feet. I pop some Ibuprofen, I know its bad, and start running. All of a sudden I get a burst of energy! My pain disappears and I start sprinting. Brad even gets surprised how fast I’m going. I’m running 8:30-9:30 minute miles and just hauling ass. I see runners and decide to just start passing them. Each time I pass one I set a goal and see another one and decide to catch up and pass. I do this for at least 5 miles or more. Other crews are even cheering and wondering how the hell I am running that fast after 110 miles. I just had my sights set on Lone Pine.
I finally make it to Lone Pine at 8:49 A.M. at mile 122 which is 36 hours and 49 minutes of running. I get there and the pain comes back. My feet are throbbing! I take a seat and start preparing for the climb to Mt. Whitney portal. It is already hot and I knew it was going to be a long, long way up. My crew gets some ice cold water in a bucket to put my feet in. While getting ready and gearing up to make the hot climb there was a live webcam setup for the race. Everyone back home was watching, and my co worker got a picture of my crew doing the Wascally pose! Then my crew gets me ready and off we go!
As we start power walking….because that’s all I could do at this point because it is so damn steep…my back starts hurting. I stop my crew and let them know I need it rubbed out. So we get a picnic table and Brad rubs my back out. He says “Alright no more stops until the finish.” Yeah right…..lol Lets try this again, we start power walking again. It is so hot! I thought it was suppose to be cooler going up to Mt. Whitney, but I was wrong. It was hot and only getting hotter! I start getting really lightheaded and dizzy. I start freaking out and hoping I’m not getting dehydrated. I just try and keep moving. I tell my crew I’m getting lightheaded so they give me a Popsicle and a coke. While drinking and eating I come across Juan and Runak…runners and friends from Fresno and the media staff for the race. I stop for a few minutes in the shade with them and try to compose myself. I start power walking and start feeling better. But my feet are still in so much pain! If only that could go away! 13 miles usually takes me under 2 hours to do, but on this steep climb it is going to take me 5 hours!! That’s how steep it is! While making the climb, I am cussing…non stop…I even threw a rock at one point. Not at anyone but at the mountain lol My crew is awesome and put up with my crap. I cried non stop up to Mt. Whitney portal. It just hurt so much!! But I knew I was going to finish. It was hurting but I knew I was almost there and I was going to finish. As I reached the last 4 miles I was in a ton of pain!! I ran to the van and cried out to my crew that I needed something done! I don’t know what but I need something! Brad grabs a bucket and pours the ice cold water into it. I put my feet in and usually I can’t keep them in long, but I left them in there! It felt so good! I put my socks and shoes on and keep going. The next 2 miles felt so good! my feet felt no pain! Then…the pain starts slowly coming. So I tell them at the last mile to let me ice them one more time so I can enjoy coming into the finish and not be in unbearable pain. So we ice them…and while we do that I decide…why not fix my hair?! My hair was a mess!! Almost two days without doing my crazy hair! How come no one told me it was a mess!? lol So I brush my hair back, put my shoes on….and this was it! I was going to finish! I was so excited! All the training, all the hard work, all the miles leading up to this. I was going to be a Badwater 135 finisher!
As we make our way to the finish we run in as a team carrying the American flag. We did it!!!!!! 42 hours and 8 minutes later I was a Badwater 135 official finisher. I ran the toughest race in the world!!!! This small Fresno girl did it! Some may have doubted I could do it….but I did it! I was so happy I cried at the finish. Happy tears! The pain disappeared for that moment. I cried and gave each crew member a big hug. I was awarded my belt buckle, t shirt and commemorative coin by the race director. We then drank our celebratory beers from Fresno of course! It was so awesome! It was a long journey and the toughest race I will probably ever do in my life…..but I did it. I still can’t believe it, but as I wear my belt buckle….which I have been wearing everyday….even to work…I am so freaking proud. First female in Fresno to finish this race. I am no elite runner. I am just an average runner and I just love running. And its like I always say….if I can do it anyone can do it. You just have to put your mind to it and train. I have a full time job where I work crazy hours and all day. I have an awesome family and sometimes put off training to spend time with them. I have a baby on the way with my wonderful fiancee who has always supported me. So I do not have tons of time to train. So anything is possible!!……….Now time to get a Badwater 135 tattoo!!
Thank you to Juan for the great pictures! Thank you to Runak for being out there and cheering me on. And thank you to my crew for being so awesome! Without you guys I would not have finished this race!! I also want to thank everyone who donated and supported me throughout this journey. Thank you to Sierra Express!! Thank youto all the Wascally Runners!! Thank you Joanna!!! Thank you everyone!!! I really do appreciate it!!