In January, after Gundy raced the Brazil 135 Ultramarathon, I gave him my commitment to be a pacer and crew member for the 2021 Badwater 135. I was nervous, yet excited, and knew I had some work to do. I contacted my coach Jeff Browning, another Injinji athlete, and told him there was a new plan for me after my 100k in February. His famous words back to me - “Let’s Giddyup!”
I am a nerd when it comes to races and ultramarathons, like this one. I love to research the history, the course, past and current records, weather, blogs, runners, and documentaries, such as Above and Beyond Badwater or the 2018 Badwater 135 Race Documentary. I learned this from my first ultra coach, Nickademus de la Rosa (also known as Nickademus Hollon, and still the youngest person to finish Badwater at the age of 19). Nick taught me that preparing for a race is not just the physical and mental aspects, but you need to know the race itself.
In February I ran the Black Canyon 100k, my first 100k, and had an amazing race! I decided that after this race, I would take some time off from distance, and work more on strength, speed, and footwork. My workouts mostly consisted of time in the gym, boxing for footwork, and runs that were no longer than 3 hours. I ran a couple of trail half marathons and started to run more during the day at hotter temperatures, rather than in the mornings. In late May is when I really started with the heat training. With Jeff’s coaching, I started to slowly incorporate more heat into my runs safely to avoid heat exhaustion, heatstroke, or being rescued from a helicopter in the middle of a trail somewhere.
Since I have a flexible work schedule, I am lucky to be able to run in the middle of the day. I chose trails near me with no shade cover, known to be hot, and bundled up as much as I could because running in the middle of the day when it is in the 80s/90s isn’t bad enough. It took a lot of mental grit to put on long pants, tall socks, long sleeve shirts, or jackets to get out there and run. For safety reasons, I always had a buddy with me, you know, in case I needed CPR. I also always carried extra water, electrolytes, and ice in my bladder, and a cooler with ice-cold water and soda in my car for when I finished.
Was it easy? No.
Was I uncomfortable? Yes.
Did I get it done? You know it!