Jennie Running the Sahara
Sahara Race 2010 Competitor
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Final Thoughts
11-Oct-2010 07:18:04 AM [(GMT+08:00) Beijing, Chongqing, Hong Kong, Urumqi]

Sahara Race (Egypt) 2010
Hi Friends and Family, Just arrived back into Hong Kong from Cairo via Dubai hours ago. Did I really just return from the Sahara? It sort of seems as if it didn't happen at all, save for my feet which keep me moving slowly. I've just re-read the blog posts and comments and truly enjoyed your inspirational words of support, love, and encouragement... your posts were super helpful out there and there were so many times that I thought, "Emily should be here with me... she would love this"... or "if only my Mom was here with me... she's a real trooper", etc. We waited around in the desert for more than 24 hours before being transported into the city for the final section. I think the waiting around was tough because we were all so dirty, tired, and hungry for real food, but as the sun set everyone felt a certain calm or sadness (or maybe that was just me?) that the experience was so quickly coming to an end. The last 2K was pretty much just for a photo finish at the pyramids, and it was somewhat silly because we all knew it was just for the photo and we wanted nothing more than to get back to the hotel after the long day. But, it did make for great photos and an opportunity for friends and family to meet people at the finish line, which was nice. Later that day, many competitors headed straight for the bar to order a cold beer and hamburger... while others enjoyed long showers and getting cleaned up. It was funny because people were actually re-introducing themselves to one another since we had all become used to identifying people based on their racing/camp clothes, hair-styles, etc.. Now back in HK and I am so happy for the adventure and opportunity I had to see the Sahara in such a unique way. People ask me if I will do another race - at the moment, probably not... but I highly recommend it to anyone who is prepared to train properly (including their feet to prevent blisters & injury), and who goes into it with an eye for adventure rather than competition. :-) Love and best wishes, Jennie Peterson
Comments (1)

The Long Day
08-Oct-2010 06:53:48 AM [(GMT+08:00) Beijing, Chongqing, Hong Kong, Urumqi]

Sahara Race (Egypt) 2010
Dear Friends and Family,
First things first:  I have just completed 100K straight.  We all started at 6:30, and I finished the next morning at 9:00am.   I am so glad to try this long day, and to challenge myself again.  I kept you all in my thoughts - and I continued to remember what Paul said about me needing to try my very best, otherwise I would regret it.  He was right (as usual!) and I would have been gutted to give up on this challenge.  Tmrw we have just 2k with photos and pizzas at the end at the pyramids, but the end is really today.  As it stands, I will have completed roughly 225 km, and the other competitors who haven't pulled out yet will have completed 250km.  I'm satisfied with completing that amount and pushing through the days and nights this week in order to accomplish something for myself... although I have officially dropped out of the race.  I don't mind that though, and the organization has been beautifully supportive and understanding.  I think in all, approximately 40 of 160 have dropped out due to medical, injuries, blisters, muscles, etc.
So, about the 100K:  Started at 6:30 with little/no wind and the sun coming on strong early... it was gearing up to be  hot one.  The first 10k were ok, but the 2nd 10K were really getting good as I got a groove on, took some photos, and settled into a good pace.  The 2nd rest stop was at the museum for the Valley of the Whales - and they had running water sinks and toilets!!!!    I took about 10 minutes from the race to wash my face (twice), hands, under my nails, and take a look in the mirror - a nice luxury.  I left the check point in good spirits and followed the path through the valley, which was stunning with large bluffs and had a canyon feel... with whale fossils.  I took a lot of photos, then turned on my I-pod, and connected with the desert in a new way for the 3rd and 4th -10K.  I was on cloud nine, felt complete, and my thoughts were all clear and positive.  The weather was very hot, but I felt OK and just very happy to walk alone and view the scenery.  After 40K, we had to climb  large sand dune to reach the check point.  The sun was getting low in the sky and I changed my socks, popped blisters, and patched myself up before getting started at sunset.  Pops, I thought of you a lot during this time while the rock-face turned red from the sun and it set in the sky.  It was glorious and you would have liked it.  50k was partially in the dark and I wore a red light on my back so the roving trucks would see me from behind and wore a headlight.  It was too intense to walk at night alone  because there was no moon and you could easily get spooked walking another 50k in the dark.  I teamed up with Singapore/Hong Kong Jane Peng for a  difficult 35K in the pitch black, following glow sticks on the desert floor.  We experienced a tough night together in the dark - pushing each other and keeping energy with minimal conversation.  We parted ways at sunrise and I took off ahead for the remaining 15K in order to come in at 9am before the heat of the day.  Now it is done and I do feel large achievement in myself for overcoming certain mental blocks, and forgiving myself for stopped 27K into Day 3 and 21K into Day 4. 
I have decided that there is nothing left unsettled in me and I do not have uncertainties in my mind.  I've had many conversations with myself and I have enjoyed the clarity of so much thinking.  Indah - I am definitely missing your cooking - your lovely dishes - thank you for your emails!  Momma - so much to say - thank you for writing each day.   Paul and Drew - thanks for your involvement and inspirational words.  Kitty - you've been grand!  Emily, Candace, Elizabeth - all the folks who wrote... truly made a difference!
Philip, my love, I cannot wait to be in your arms, look into your eyes, and feel that I am home again.
Love you all,
Comments (5)

Stage 4
06-Oct-2010 12:44:04 PM [(GMT+08:00) Beijing, Chongqing, Hong Kong, Urumqi]

Sahara Race (Egypt) 2010
Hi Everyone,
Thank you all for the messages - Indah, Emily, Paul, Drew, Momma, Jeanette,Mel-I so appreciate your loving words & support. 
I did make another attempt today and was OK for 22K - then it was time to call it a day,and I am happy with that effort and decision.  Went back to camp for a snack, medicine, and rest.Feeling better now, but not sure about tmrw -the 100K day.  I will talk to the organizers about what the options are... definitely want to do at least 20... more if possible.  Some people  say this is all mental... which might be true to a point.  these long stretches are tough because one can see for miles and miles (like all the way down route 29) but still there is not a rest/check point in sight.  that is the tough part because once you get to the check point, you know there is a huge expanse yet to cover, and if you are not feeling fit or well, it can be dangerous.  In that sense, it is mental.  Physically, obviously we are all torn up by now - many people have injuries and have not pulled out.  I can understand, they are motivated in a different way than I am. 
Today's terrain was beautiful for the first 10K - largerock formations, canyon-like, and bluffs.  Then, undulating sand dunes gave way to a very large 10K flat sand/rock bottomed valley which was psychologically challenging, moreso than physically.  The third and fourth 10k were pretty plain and flat - long stretches and not  an entirely gorgeous course today, apart from the breath-taking first 10K.  I have been taking photos and truly enjoying myself  :-)
Philip - you are so sweet and i love reading your comments... and Indah, and Mom - thank you all.  I look forward to telling you all about it when I see you soon xxoooxx   Love you more than all the rocks ans and in the Sahara!!
Comments (8)

Stage 3
05-Oct-2010 12:12:19 PM [(GMT+08:00) Beijing, Chongqing, Hong Kong, Urumqi]

Sahara Race (Egypt) 2010
A rough, but beautiful day!  Hello loved ones, today I tapped out of the race after 27kilometers - total distance today was 42kilometers and i just couldn't get through it in full.  I was going slower today than previous first 2 days, but still felt positive.  After stage 3, I saw a jeep coming and did not wave it down, despite the horrible pain shooting from my backup thru my neck.  I instantly regretted not stopping the jeep, and moments later another jeep was soon in view and I knew it was my time to call it a day.  I spent several hours at a beautiful check point situated on a cliff/bluff overlooking a canyon... stunning.  Before stopping on the race, however, there was a spring at check point three that I went in (after the doctors went in) and soaked for 15 minutes or so to let myself cool down - that was beautiful.
So, the scenery today was surely the most beautiful so far.  We climbed many sand dunes today, and it was supposed to be the toughest day- apart from the 100k day.  I am enjoying myself very much, despite a back/shoulder ache and 7 foot blisters.  The feet are sore, but the back pain put the blister pain out of my mind completely. nAnother competitor offered me vicodin.... but i opted for a strong, but slightly less strong pain reliever and now I am feeling pretty groovey  :)
I will start again tomorrow and see how it goes - will quit when it gets too tough to handle... although I would like to finish the day.  I do feel disappointed with myself for quitting early today, but I am enjoying being here and the 27k I did do today... and I think enjoying being out here is the entire point.  When I start to cry on the trail, it is my time to stop and try again tomorrow... although a lot of people still keep going and push thru pain, etc.  Most people here will  not stop for anything, and their drive and fortitude is inspiring - I thought that would be me.  Instead, I have learned about myself that I am fine with giving in and giving up in tough times - and I guess that isn't the worse thing ever... especially if you're on holiday and doing something just for fun.  So, I'm not too upset with myself...even though i won't get a medal (sorry Ava). 
Momma - thanks for emailing me!!!   I love to read your comments... you  keep me going and I love your joke.  I'm happy you're making progress on the house and the flooring.  We will be there soon - home sweet home!!!  Thank you Elizabeth for your comment, too! 
Love you all xoxoxo
Comments (7)

Hello Friends and Family!
04-Oct-2010 12:08:01 PM [(GMT+08:00) Beijing, Chongqing, Hong Kong, Urumqi]

Sahara Race (Egypt) 2010
Day two down, day three to go.  Thank you Momma for your emails - I love getting your comments.  Thank you Emily, Elizabeth, Paulie & Ava, Kitty, Philip, Mel, Drew, Denvy, Candace, and Miss J.  After a long day, checking the comments and coming into this tent is truly a wonderful feeling.    There are still people coming into the camp now at 7:15pm.  I came in at 1:30, whereas yesterday I came in at 2:45.  My strategy was to get thru it as fast as possible (while enjoying the views of course).   I was solid for the first 20K, then we hit a huge plateau which was, of course, up, then flat, then down.  The flat part was nearly 10K of grey rock, which was firm footing, but the heat was intense --> trekking on that tabletop from about 10:30-11:45.  I stayed at check point 3 for 30 minutes in the shade getting water spritzed on me, feet elevated, and really cooling down before continuing on for another 5.5 Kilometers or so.  The last part was tough, but I was moving slowly with a nice UK guy from my tent.  In general, people here walk different parts with different people - talking sometimes, silence at other times, all the while trying to keep one another moving forward. 
Arriving at camp, I was completely beat and took pleasure in removing my shoes & socks and putting my feet up on my bag inside my tent.  The distance is not an issue, and neither is the pack because I have lightened the load with food consumed and throwing out some unnecessary items, but the heat is the real problem.  My feet were sore during the day, but I didn't think too much about them until arriving back and taking off my socks.  My toes are not doing well - I have large blisters under 3 of my toes which I have had to puncture again to drain the fluids.  Two of the toe nails are floating and getting ready to fall off.  The lovely doctor Laurie patched me up and wants to chat with me in the morning about my status.  For now, my plan is to start the day and do the best I can.  I try to keep dark thoughts from my mind during those tough parts, but I am feeling very aware of the dangers and  risks involved and I am not pushing it beyond my abilities. 
I was good with water today and enjoyed the course quite a lot.  Tomorrow is expected to be longer and harder than today... about 40K, whereas today was 35K.  We'll see how it goes and I'll certainly do my very, very best.  I tell you what, there are some incredible people here with amazing levels of fitness and endurance from all over the world.  It's impressive and inspiring. I'm not sure how much I am suited to this level of competition, but being here and experiencing it - learning from these amazing individuals is an awesome, eye-opening experience. 
A quick note that zero local men were on the course today - that does not seem to be an issue any longer.  Mom, I am thinking of you and Dad very often and truly looking forward to our visit together.  This has been an opportunity to think a lot about things which are important - so coming to the US straight on the heels of this will be a treat.  Philip, you are in my thoughts.  Thank you for helping out with Dino and talking to Jake.  He seems like a great dog and we're saving him.  I miss our puppies, too... and of course I miss you like crazy.  I will dream of you tonight.
Love to you all - please keep sending me messages!  Hey Paulie, they give a medal to everyone who finishes!  Here is hoping... I'm trying my best buddy!  xoxoxoxoxo
Comments (7)

Still in it
03-Oct-2010 01:13:43 AM [(GMT+08:00) Beijing, Chongqing, Hong Kong, Urumqi]

Sahara Race (Egypt) 2010
Hello Friends and Family
So, we arrived into camp last niht at sunset -which was stunning because the sun was a brihtred orb coming down over the flattest horizon - the softest lookin sand and a gentle breeze ... camp consists of about 15-20 old-style canvas tents , includin medical, cybertent, and 11 competitor tents.  went to sleep around 11pm - far later than i should have, but the enery in the camp was exhilerating.  the air was hot all night and i lay on-top of my sleeping ba in shortts and t-shirt... tryin to sleep as best i could.  It was difficult to sleep, and awake at 5:30 to be on te startingline by 7.  tmrw we start at 6am, which will be muc better fir the heat.
my ba weighed 7.7kg at te hotel yesterday, and my front pack was 0.5 - total carrying 8.2kg plus water. nboy did that feel very heavy during today's trek.  it is so shoulders are splitting and  neck feels like it's made of rocks!  The pain in my shoulders is so intense that i almost cried today under the pressure.  the first 20kilometers was ok... then it got very hot around 11-1130 and i found myself battling the shoulder pain, foot pain (i have a blood blister under one toe-nail, and a regular blister under another toe nail - both which has been drained from a needle being drilled from the nail down to the blister.  the last 17kilometers were so tough... and i didn't seem to have enough water b'c i shared with 3 people who didn't have any.  in the shade, it was 95 and in te sun it was 49 degrees.  I felt dizzy and weak and incredibly tempted to quit... they do have jeeps circulating frequently incase people are sick or want to opt out.  evryone is sayin today is arder than normal and very challengin.  tmrw is sand dunes and will be evn harder.  i don't want to quit - really feel like i sould keep oin, but if i feel as bad or worse tmrw as i did today, i miht stop. i talked to te medic andnsaid, "evry person needs to know their own limit" and tmrw i will do my best but if i reach my limit, then that is it.  My Pops always says "1. do what you know is riht, 2. know when to quit, 3. don't get caught."  so, just one step at a time, forward and doing my best.
Te scenery today was beautiful, next to a lake te whole time.  strong, strong winds in our faces and to our backs as we circled two huge lakes.  i saw wils horses, cows, and a surprisin number of local men on motor bikes and on foot. the oranganizers, volunteers, and course makers are all amazing people - evryone i have  met is fantastic.  love camp.
thinkin of you all - especially Philip, Mom, Dad, Drew and Paulie.  love you honey bear - you're my partner and my love always - thinkin of your face and smile in the hard parts - you are in my heart.  mom - you're my ero always for doing a bicycle safari in kenya..
love you xoxoxo 
Comments (11)

...And the journey begins!
02-Oct-2010 11:17:52 AM [(GMT+08:00) Beijing, Chongqing, Hong Kong, Urumqi]

Sahara Race (Egypt) 2010
Hello Folks,

Woke up this morning in our plush hotel feeling like it was Christmas morning - excitement in the air!  The sun was bright and high at just 6:30am and it was time to be up.  Breakfast al fresco!  Everyone is trying to eat a ton of food, and no one is exercising much, so we're all kind of moping around feeling lazy and bloated... just waiting for the race to begin, I think.  

We all have a meeting at 9am, and another meeting at either 10, 11, or 12 --> lunch and departing on the bus at 2:00.  We all have to bring a dinner with us... and a lot of people are ordering pizzas, room service, etc to eat at the camp tonight.  I haven't figured out my plan, but I can't imagine eating a pizza before hitting the sun and heat tmrw - yikes.  I'll probably bring a banana, 2 apples, and a sandwhich or something predictable. 

Better get moving - I still need to google "trekking poles" and figure out how the heck to use them.  I bought them and still haven't trained with them - not the brightest idea ever :)  

Looking forward to the journey - love to you all.  
Comments (4)

01-Oct-2010 11:04:27 AM [(GMT+08:00) Beijing, Chongqing, Hong Kong, Urumqi]

Sahara Race (Egypt) 2010

Hello Friends and Family!

Firstly, thank you for all the wonderful comments and emails.  You guys are going to be with me all along the trail.  And - thank you Emily for your pep talk just now.  You're a great friend!

All is well here in Cairo - though the city is not at all what I imagined so far.  Granted, I haven't ventured far from the hotel since the Dusit Thandi is located far from the city center - on the outskirts of any commercial district, but from what I have experienced, it is kind of like mainland China 7-10 years ago.  Lots of half-completed buildings & homes, dust, roads without rules and traffic signals, and a small, very basic airport.  The Egyptians I've seen so far are stunningly handsome, tall, and soft-spoken with a casual and friendly disposition.  Again... I've only been here 24 hours....  

I spent the day eating lots of local food dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner - all delicious - made with a lot of beans, mild peppers, eggplant, yogurts, and herbs - nothing is spicey so far, which surprised me.  Inbetween all the eating, I managed to get a heavenly 2.5 hr body & foot massage... bliss!  My IT bands and calves were in knots and hopefully the treatment helped with a bit of preventive care.  The spa building itself was located as a free-standing room without air conditioning, which led to a sort of intense detoxification/sweat lodge experience, leaving me dizzy, soft, and with a huge red mark across my forehead for 2 hours.  : )  I have been drinking TONS of water ever since.    

My back pack has been packed, and repacked... and I keep taking more items out in order to lighten the load.  It's tormenting trying to decide what stays and what gets the ax - the perfume definitely didn't make the cut, and I'm still on the fence about a tiny journal and pen I bought at the airport Muji.  The weigh-in is tomorrow and I'm just hoping I'm under 8kg.  

By the way, everyone I've met so far has been amazing - sensational folks here with fantastically diverse backgrounds - all super nice and positive.  It's going to be a wonderful experience.  We set out tomorrow - thinking of you all.


Comments (2)

Rochester, Illinois USA - Currently living in Hong Kong
PhD Research Student in Fashion and Textile Business - Hong Kong Polytechnic University. In my spare time, I enjoy consulting in Hong Kong at "Be. Image, Fitness, and Lifestyle Consulting"
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