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RacingThePlanet: Sri Lanka 2016 Blogs

Last Day (Almost)
19-Feb-2016 09:33:15 AM [(GMT+08:00) Beijing, Chongqing, Hong Kong, Urumqi]

So today was our last substantial day – 52+K (32 miles) to the beaches of Sri Lanka.  The format for this one was very different, as we were only timed for the first 19 miles.  After that, we entered the park and stayed in packs of 7-10.

 

So the day started back on the really, really, really hot road.  Going into the day I had a big gap before and after me, so my only missions were do not get in trouble with heat and do not get lost. The first 19 miles went by quickly enough, as we weaved around little Sri Lankan villages.  The locals all seemed like they were out to watch us run and cheer us on.   I finished the timed section in 2ndagain, no too far back from Joe.

 

At this point, they handed us each a banana to help us on the last section.  Did I mention I hate bananas?  I figured the family wold get a kick out of that being my ‘bonus’ food.  The first 7 of us grouped up, and started our casual 13 mile last stretch followed by a vehicle.  I guess we are the first people they let go on foot through the park, so that was really cool. 

 

Our group took things really easy- so easy in fact that the group that left behind us may have caught up.  It was just a really fun stretch to just talk with the other racers and enjoy the day.  The 13 miles ended along the coast, up on a white sand beach.  We immediately all jumped in the water, which was incredible.  Now we are just hanging out on the beach relaxing until our final 2K finish line run tomorrow.

 

I’m so happy with how this race ended up going.  I really wasn’t expecting much considering I wasn’t even coming to this race 5 weeks ago.  The body definitely took a beating, but I was happy with all of my creative problem solving this week.  It should make for some really entertaining photos as well. I’m off to bed before our white sand beach 2K finish tomorrow.  I’m hoping for some good food at the finish line. Thnks again for all of the support this week!

Stage 5: Running in the Rain
18-Feb-2016 01:45:51 AM [(GMT+08:00) Beijing, Chongqing, Hong Kong, Urumqi]

The rain that showed up at the end of stage 4 continued off and on throughout the night.  It was a pretty rough night sleeping, as we ended up a bit flooded in tent 6.  Today was only 18.6 miles, which was awesome to have an easier day after a long night.  It was tough getting pulled together, as all of our gear was soaked still.  It’s so humid here that there is very little hope of things drying out (including blisters).  It didn’t matter much, as we were in a crazy downpour for the entire first checkpoint.

We actually ended up backtracking the latter sections on yesterday’s course, which was nice as they were pretty cool sections.  I wanted to go out quicker today while there was some good cloud cover and rain showers.  I could just see Joe off in the distance pretty much the whole way.  I tried to just keep up with the pace he was doing to keep me moving/ get an early finish to the day.  I arrived at the entrance to Yala Park just a few minutes behind Joe. 

Tomorrow is our last real day with 32+ miles through the park and onto the beach.  The first 18 miles are timed, while the last 14ish will be in groups through the park with safety vehicles following (think animal safari on foot).  Hopefully we get some good Sri Lankan wildlife out there.  Things are fairly spread out, so it should be a pretty casual day tomorrow. 

Thanks Mom and Dad for rescuing my house!  Also, thanks everyone again for all of the comments and emails.  They have been incredibly entertaining throughout.  We have an early start tomorrow, so it’s time to go pass out. 

Stage 4- Another Day in the Tropics
17-Feb-2016 02:39:23 AM [(GMT+08:00) Beijing, Chongqing, Hong Kong, Urumqi]

So I finally got an decent night’s sleep last night, as our campsite was awesome last night.  Looks like everyone saw photos of it, complete with tent 6 attempting to spell out Sri Lanka.

So I did work on the shoes this morning – I’ve officially built sky-lights for my big toes.  This definitely helped, but I think I may need to expand them a bit.  I’ve never had my feet expand like this during the race, and am definitely coming up with crafty ways of dealing with it.

Today started with us running down dirt trails in a sugar cane farm.  It was ridiculously hot, and I was struggling from very early on.  After checkpoint 1, I went into super conservative mode as the heat and humidity were ridiculous.  We had some pretty epic views of Sri Lanka on this stretch, but all I could think about was the river crossing at Checkpoint 2.  As soon as we hit the waist deep river, I just dunked myself completely under (backpack and all).  Can’t say I was thinking to straight at this point, but it was worth it.

After the river I immediately had issues with my shorts rubbing against the sides of my legs. I attempted to rip little holes in the shorts to stop the rubbing, but ended up ripping the entire bottom part of my shorts.  So now my shorts have become a running skirt (only pair I have out here).  So I am now running in ripped up skirt/ shorts, with cut up sock puppets on my hands, and holes on the tops of my shoes.  The locals are very entertained.

Things were a very slow slog until checkpoint 4.  I am pretty sure I walked everything from 2 to 4. The rain showed up at checkpoint 4 and this saved me.  I had a strong run in from checkpoint 4 along a little canal, and made up a little of the time I had lost.

The course was really beautiful today, but the best part is definitely our camp.  There are a few temples and Buddha statues that are pretty incredible.  I was one of the few willing to make the 1 mile-ish walk to the good stuff, and it was well worth it.  I’m now headed to go get a blessing by a monk in the little temple, so I need to sign off.  Thank you again to everyone sending emails and writing blog posts.  They’ve kept me very entertained.  Two more days until we hit the beach and get some food! 

Stage 3
16-Feb-2016 01:52:34 AM [(GMT+08:00) Beijing, Chongqing, Hong Kong, Urumqi]

So I (very briefly) got to hold the yellow jersey for the day, just a few minutes ahead of the guys in 2nd and 3rd.  It was a very painful morning, as we had more long downhills and my big toenails are barely hanging on.  After some up and downs on the road, we made our way back into the jungle.  This part was awesome, as we were pretty much bush-wacking in the middle of nowhere.  I was running with Ben (the 2nd place guy right now) and all of the sudden we ran up on a bunch of military guys shooting fireworks. They were trying to scare an elephant off the course.  So we had a brief stretch where the two of us were running with a group of 5 locals as they were shooting the fireworks off to our right side through shoulder high grass.  It definitely added a Jurassic Park feel to the morning.

After that, we ended up going through some rice patties, across some other farms, and then back into the thick brush.  At this point, the sun started coming on strong so I had to put operation sock puppet into motion.  We ended up exiting the thick forest, right up to giant Buddha carvings on the side of a rock wall.   We ended up then following a long sandy road, which is where things started getting really rough for me.  I was pretty dehydrated, and the heat was brutal.  I took this part very slowly, and was able to pull myself back together a bit for the last stretch.  Checkpoint 3 to camp was on a long, brutally hot road.  The road came to an end at this awesome lake, and by far our best campsite of the week. 

I ended up finishing 4th, quite a bit behind the leaders.  Once again, it was a very long ‘short’ day.  My only mission for this trip was to enjoy an epic Sri Lanka adventure, so I feel like today qualified.  I had both of my big toenails drilled and drained, so hopefully they will be in better shape tomorrow.  I’m contemplating cutting off part of the front of my shoes to relieve the pressure on my toes.  I’ll make that decision in the AM based on how the feet feel.

Alight, time for bed.  Thanks everyone who sent emails/ blog posts. I’m hoping for another fun day of suffering tomorrow.

Special sections for my super helpful family!  I am in a bit of a panic, as it sounds like things are very cold back home (-20 F??).  I’m not sure if Holden Discount Oil refilled my tank or not (I left a message trying to get in touch with them before we started), but if they didn’t I’m not sure the new home will survive too many freezing days.  If anyone is in the area, could they check to see if my house is about to freeze/ pipes burst.  I’ve owned it for 3 weeks and I’m already going to ruin it…

Day 2: Down off the Mountain
15-Feb-2016 03:05:42 AM [(GMT+08:00) Beijing, Chongqing, Hong Kong, Urumqi]

Last night was another tough sleeping night last night, as going lightweight without a sleeping pad is not paying off.  Tonight we are on some grass, so hopefully that means a good night sleep tonight.

Today started with a big downhill followed by a decent sized climb.  The downhill was pretty technical, as the road was built out of rocks – any wrong step and you would face plant, roll an ankle or worse.  I started out pretty quickly in an effort to make up some of the time from yesterday.  We went through a couple little villages with some incredibly friendly people.  Most were very confused as to what this crazy person was doing running through their village.

After checkpoint 1, we passed a massive waterfall.  Once again, it was a massive downhill, followed by our biggest climb of the day (about 1,500 feet). I’m losing both of my big toe nails right now, so the downhills were really tough.  I actually was more excited for the uphills after a certain point.  The views were awesome if you could take your eyes off the road for a second.  At the tail end of 2ndstretch we went through a tea plantation.  This was probably the highlight of the day for me.

The sun came out in full force after checkpoint 2.  I covered myself in sun block twice today, and I’m still fried.  My hands have taken the biggest beating, so you may see me wearing socks on my hands as sun protection tomorrow.  It was a lot of downhill to checkpoint 3, so I was just hoping my knees/ toes/ toenails held together.  I can’t believe how much warmer things have gotten as we get further down the mountain.

I thought the last stretch to camp was going to be all downhill, when in fact it was mostly uphill (course note reading failure).  We continued through a number of villages, and finally into camp.  I ended up finishing first today, and might have put myself in the overall lead only a few minutes ahead of some other guys. It’s always nice when you don’t have any extra adventures on the course.  I’m still nervous about my body holding up as the week goes on, especially as the heat builds.  Here’s to hoping for another good day tomorrow.

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