I’m not a numbers girl. Not at all. But this Gobi recap needs a few:
Air miles traveled: 14,000 +
Times I got ripped off in Beijing: 1
Hours in the air: 39
Miles run/walked/hiked/shuffled: 155 +
Little pink flags used to mark the course: 5,000 +
Finish lines crossed: 6
Number of competitors: 159
Nationalities represented: 42
Best address in Camp Cul-de-sac: 13
Number of crazies living in Tent 13: 10
Backpack weight at start: 22 lbs.
Packets of UCAN consumed: 29
Pounds lost: 11
Time the sun set every night: 10:30-ish
Average number of hours slept per night: 4
Showers taken in 7 days: 1
Cell phone bill: $523
Number of times I cried while on the course: 3
Number of times I laughed during the 10 days: A zillion
Yucky people I met along the way: 0
Remarkable people I met along the way: 200 +
My overall place among female finishers: 10
Support raised for the work of Runwell (so far): $7,075
It is just not possible for me to express how much this entire experience meant to me…and always will…let alone wrap it up in a single blog entry. It has been a profoundly important time in my life, and I have learned things and built relationships that will be with me forever. From the first time I had a conversation with Linda Quirk to this very moment, my involvement with Runwell that led to my completing the Gobi March has been the most powerfully positive endeavor I have ever been connected with.
The physical component of this event was by far the hardest and most rewarding thing I have ever attempted, let alone accomplished. The training plan set out for me by Coach Bob Seebohar of Runwell was grueling and crazy and truly a blast! Most importantly, it fully prepared me to tackle this challenge. My goal was to simply complete each stage within the allotted time and earn my medal. I far exceeded that goal when I earned first place in my age group and was the 10th woman to finish, especially considering the stunning talent with whom I was running. No injuries, no illness, completely spent. What a phenomenal feeling!
The course that RTP mapped out for us was truly stunning. As evidenced by the breathtaking pictures, which don’t even do it justice, the landscape and the villages and colors and weather all were as near perfect as I have ever seen. And thank God for the distracting beauty, because some of the terrain we had to cross was ridiculously hard. Worth every step, but hard!
It was an emotional privilege to run through the villages of the Gobi. The people were gracious and welcoming and beautiful, just going about their business as we ran by. And the town and school where our final finish line was located…forget it…words fail me to describe how incredible that whole thing was. The pics will have to tell the story.
Finally, the reason I am forever changed, for the better, is the people I have connected with through this remarkable endeavor. From the relationships I have enjoyed, gained and developed with those of you who have loved and trusted me enough to donate to Runwell, to the incomparable staff of RTP, to the outrageously special men and women with whom I was privileged to share this experience…I am filthy rich with folks who truly mean the world to me. So, thank YOU so much…especially since you’re still reading.
That’s why the 2012 Gobi finish line is not a conclusion…we’ve only just begun, and I am open and eager to see what God has in store next.
Now, my soles, that's another story ;-)
But, despite the blisters who invited thier friends to join my beautifully beat up feet for the infamous Long March, I must humbly admit....I ROCKED IT!
My limited vocabulary is not sufficent to describe my/our experiences during Stage 5 yesterday...I have decided I must make up some new words. :) But, thanks to God's unending grace, the support and love from you all back home, and the power of recovery as displayed in my strong and healthy body, I completed the Long March well ahead of what I anticipated. The big wonderfully fun measurement was finishing before I even needed my headlamp!
I have never felt such pain, emotion and joy at the same time...absolutely life changing and I'd even say miraculous at times. Again, I wish I could reply to each of your emails and comments....please just KNOW that I have laughed and cried and just been filled up as I have read them. (and fyi, I can only receive the emails sent through RTP, I cannot access my personal email or phone until Sat eve or later).
I did treat myself to some ipod music yesterday and it was the most I have ever been moved by my music! Wild actually. And I sort of dubbed this one song my Gobi March anthem when I discovered it a few weeks ago, but wow, it literally propelled me forward a few times yesterday. If you'd like, look up and listen to "One Foot (at a time)" by a band called Building 429. !! :)
I won't even begin to mention some of the extraordinary mates I have gotten to know over the past week....too many fun things to mention for now....but Tom and girls, I can already hear you laughing at me for saying things like "bloody brilliant!" once I get home =D
If only I could remember all of the things I want to blog about...but we all agree, once we sit down at these computers, our minds are mush.
My girlfriends and I also agree, we have never in our lives been so dirty but so "beautiful" :) And that is one of the things that is the most WONDERFUL about this whole experience...being striped down to the very basics....and having to literally carry everything we need on our backs...AS we cover these miles over this spectular and 'horrible' and wonderful terrain....unreal...cleansing!
Ok, I am babbling now, so I will sign off. We have one more day to go, the final Stage 6, which is a 15K to the beautiful finishline in The Old City!
My appreciation and love and gratitude for you, if you've followed me and are still reading this messy blog, is HUGE...thank you from the top of my head to the bottom of my blisters.
Linda Quirk, Runwell has been a JOY to represent this week and the conversations I have had concerning our mission, and you, and all connected with Runwell, have been nothing less than remarkable!
Oh, it is so late that I only have a few moments to write...but I did read my emails and blog comments and you all blow my mind! Thank you and big love and prayers back to you!
Quickly, about today...
We all here agree, the tributes in the Hunger Games had it easier than we did today! :)
You know you're in trouble when at the morning briefing, they give you a 9 pm cutoff for a marathon that starts at 8 am!
Seriously, today I accomplished the hardest thing I have ever done...physically...hands down!
More later, and I do have some amazing and fun pics!!
I wish I had been a bit faster, but I am absolutely THRILLED to have completed this effort today!
So, there is so much more to tell and share and I have no more time here...but again, please know how much I appreciate all of your love, prayers, support and friendship. I am learning more here than I can ever express.
Now, I still feel strong, but I finally earned two big blisters....the main doc, Mark, is fantastic and treated them for me....but tomorrow's Long March, 50+ miles is daunting to say the least. I am so grateful to have made it this far, but I will need those prayers thur and fri....we actually have 30 hours to complete the 50 mi, so that tells you something....YIKES! :)
Tom, Abby, Rachel and Sophia, Biggest love to you. I miss home :) xoxoxo
Love to you all,
p.s. I wish I could reply to each email and comment. But this will do for now. Enjoy and take care wherever you are as you read this.
Day 3 is complete. I now know why this is called the gobi march and not the gobi run. Today was extraordinary in so many ways…beautiful running through the village for the first 5 miles or so…and then, the climbing began….100% UP today…except for the cliffs we ‘ran’ down! Harder than any run I have ever completed (until tomorrow, which will be much harder) but also the most satisfying and incredible...again, I can’t think of enough proper words to describe this. Physically this is the hardest thing I have ever done, but I am so filled with gratitude that the pain is muted!
A few quick things as again, many people are waiting to use these computers;
*the emails and comments are off the charts wonderful….seriously, they are a lifeline for me and beyond precious. THANK YOU!
*as hard as this is, my body is performing beautifully….i wish I could go faster, but I have no soreness, no swelling, no blisters, my ucan is working perfectly and I am even sleeping relatively well. I think about how thankful I am for my strength and health a lot, especially when I am hurting and/or doubting.
*I also think of and meditate on phil 4 and isaiah 40…thank you to those who gave me verses and/or passages!
*I splurged and listened to a few songs on my ipod today…jungleland (cried during clarences solo), one foot in front of the other, oxygen, my kinda rain, etc…)
*tom, abby, rachel and sophia, I love and miss you all deeply….you are with me and I thank you for your love and support
*linda quirk, I am more grateful than I can express for this opportunity, and for my work with runwell….and I am even more in awe of you that you did all 4 of these desert races in one year….unreal…no matter what happens here, I look forward to whatever the future has in store.
*again, I am scared to death about tomorrow…but we all are, so it’s actually thrilling and sweet! It is a very difficult day of many climbs and decents, but we know it’s doable!
I want to write/share more but I don’t have time….thank you all again….you are all with me and I am filthy rich!
Again, way too much to share, way too little time so here's some highlights:
First, if you are reading this, THANK YOU for even caring :) I completely feel the wonderful support, thoughts, prayers, vibes and love!
* Ok, today was unforgettable in so many ways...STUNNINGLY beautiful course...INCREDIBLY hard! I has a blast for the first 5 or so miles and then started falling apart in the middle...so much climbing and I was really struggling and doubting my ability...fell, ripped my pants, etc., but long story short, I worked through it eventually, and rocked the last 4 miles or so and finished strong. :) At one point I just had to tell myself that today was a training run for the Speedgoat 50K....trust me, the climbs and decents were comparable!
* Linda, get Hoka on the phone because I even beat every lovely member of the Australian Team who are actually sponsored by Hoka! They are really great folks but it was such a kick to pass them in my Hokas!
* Now, to those of you that have emailed and /or commented on my last blog...I simply cannot thank you enough...I read them earlier and was so emotional that I had to take a break and just come back now to blog...wow I loved every word. And one of my favorites was an email from Nancy, whom I JUST met last Tuesday in the security line at Dulles airport! Nancy actually looked up Runwell and is following me...that is just beyond special and one of those times I say I'm glad I'm not 'in charge' of everything :)
* And along those lines, the people I have been allowed to share this experience with are more interesting (and some truly wonderful) than I can even describe here. For now I'll just say what I have said many times, there may be a lot of bad stuff in this world, but there is even more good...we just need to look for it and share it!
* And speaking of sharing, I just had the amazing privilege of being interviewed by Agnes (Linda you will know who that is) with Racing The Panet. We ended up connecting way beyond what she was interviewing me about and it was a true gift.
* I won't get personal here in this blog, but those of you whom I love...please know I can't describe how much I miss you all and TREASURE your support.
* My "Tent 13" home is simply the best there is...so much more to tell about that some other time.
* Finally, I need to confess that I am 'worried'....I am feeling great and encouraged about how today turned out, but we have a very hard day ahead of us tomorrow and of course another and then the Long March....I am humbled by how hard this is, but still beyond thankful and THRILLED to be here! Linda, there is little to no chance that I will follow in your spectacular footsteps and come in anywhere near top 5 females, but I WILL keep putting one foot in front of the other!
I could be transported home right this minute and still have had the experience of a LIFETIME…but, unless I am dreaming, I will be continuing this ‘adventure on steroids’ for the next several days. And actually, I am certain this adventure and all that goes with it will be with me for a lifetime!
Many are waiting for the cybertent so just a few highlights for now:
Last night at camp was amazing…primitive, dirty, surreal, beautiful, hilarious and comfortable…all at the same time! My tent mates are truly excellent…and Tom you would laugh so hard if you were here…the Brit humor is brilliant and abundant and I am already picking up on the language…I hear you laughing! :D
The excitement this morning as we all readied to start was amazing…and everyone just helped everyone else…I was stunned and thrilled.
I had a wonderful, beautiful day of running, hiking, walking, jumping over water crossings and moving forward on some very rocky terrain. I don’t know my time or place yet, am very happy with how I felt, and especially how much fun I had with my many partners along the way!
My biggest mishaps so far have been a huge gash in my right foot, which happened last night when I encountered a large rock while trudging to the ‘”bathroom” at 2 am… ;-) Sheesh! Then…about 1 mile into the race, my bag becomes unzipped…yep…you guessed it, as packed full as that thing is, things went flying! Food packets everywhere! So, what’s a runner girl to do?
Stop and chase down all that crap and try to fit it all back in…during a stampeade!
Ok, SO much more to share but I must sign off for now…But, I want to THANK YOU ALL who have emailed me already. I just read the ones available this afternoon (it’s Sun at 5 pm as I write this). What a gift to read your words!
God has blessed me richly with this experience, and no matter what the outcome, I want to just be where He has planted me.
And again, I have to say that Runwell is such a fun, interesting and positive thing to share about…so may stories already!
My love and gratitude,
I decided to send a short blog this first night, so I am also copying this to a few of you to let you know it's there! I don't know when you'll actually receive or when it will be posted but probably within 24 hours. Wow...I can't even beleive I am sitting here typing this!
It is 8 pm and the sun is shinning like its 2 pm here in the stunning Gobi Desert at the opening of the 2012 Gobi March!
Words fail me...and I bet they will continue to...but I will do my best to jot down a few things to illustrate this outrageous experience.
So far, everything has exceeded expectations to a stunning degreee...but what stands out the most, is the people I have met...already!
This day has been extremely long, but worth every minute! We started with an all-call briefing that was extremely informative but hilarious too....it really was the first experience of all of us bonding....hard to explain, but very powerful. For the most part, everyone is a perfect mess of exhilaration and fear! :)
The bag check in and inspection was an incredible experience alone!...more on that later, but I came through with flying colors, thanks to my Gobi Mentor, Linda Quirk! But....my bag needs a diet as it came in at 22 lbs.!
My tent is pretty homey already...and I know it's early, but I cannot imagine better tentmates. My girls, Lisa from NC and Emily from the UK living in Hong Kong, are wonderful. It's almost weird how comfortable everyone is. I could not be more grateful for that....for everything, so far! I think one of the reasons we bonded so fast though was because of the harrowing bus ride here from Kashgar...think of one of those movies where vans careen around cliffs and through desolate mountain terrain....and then you'll be close, but our ride was wilder ;-) But SO BEAUTIFUL!
Then...oh, I can't describe in this short time I have....but arriving at camp and the welcome by the locals was simply brilliant! I am taking pics, of course and will elaborate more later.
I must sign off for now....but please know these things:
> I love and miss you all.....some more than others ;-)
> I am off the charts grateful to be here
> Being a Runwell Ambassador is absolutely delightful! ...so many people have just ASKED me about it and already, I have had some extraordinary conversations!
I will post again tomorrow after completing the first stage! I am smiling at you!
BIG hugs and kisses to my family...I am here because of you. xoxox
One, two, one two, ...is this thing on? Here's my test blog. I am a communicator. Many would say an over communicator. I talk and gesture and talk and tweet and post and email and call and message and talk and post. But I have never blogged a word. Until now. I just set up my official Racing the Planet Gobi March 2012 competitor blog. This is it, in fact. So I am typing and testing the waters because I need to communicate this way while I am traveling and running and competing and surviving. I leave for China, from DC, 2 weeks from today, June 5. I'll stay in Kashi, China until the race begins June 9-10 and goes through June 16. The task at hand for now is Preparation, with a capital P! I am wildly excited that my training has been going so well, and because of the training and everyday-nutrition plan set before me by Runwell Coach Bob Seebohar, I am stronger and fitter at 50 years old than I have ever been, by far. So now the preparation includes maintaining and staying healthy and packing and planning and re-packing. That's all for today. Because as I typed that, I realized I haven't even showered from my 12 miles this evening and need to get to eat and sleep! Runwell :)