To Wear or Not To Wear?

I asked Jess to tell us about what's involved in getting ready for Badwater.  Here are some of her thoughts:

Reflecting back on the past 5 months training, planning and preparing for Badwater I am amazed at how much time has been dedicated (and at how much more still needs to done!).  When I first considered this race, I was attracted to the difficulty and the uniqueness of it.  I knew it would require a different type of training and more planning than a ‘normal’ ultra and that sounded fun (yes, my definition of ‘fun’ is different than some folks).  Don’t get me wrong – I have loved every minute of it, I just didn’t realize that I would be thinking about, worrying about, studying about Badwater most every day for 5+ months.  Literally.

Initially there was the hotel reservations, as they book up very fast.  How many rooms do I need?  What night will I get into town before the race?  Should I get a room for the first night (during) of the race for the crew to potentially sleep/nap?  How many nights after the race and how many rooms?  This was a bit overwhelming to think about at 10:30pm on a Friday night in February regarding rooms for a race in July! I was informed of my acceptance late Friday night and the rooms needed to be booked first thing Saturday morning, before they filled up.  Then there was selecting a crew – how many and who?  Once the crew was determined, we needed to figure out when everyone would fly in, coordinate the rental cars and minivan.

Next was research – reading books, blog reports, watching videos, emailing friends, and having dinner with friends with past experience at Badwater.  Online searches for heat gear/clothing.  It’s rather hard to find appropriate white shorts!  Once clothing was found, ordered and received, it had to be tested out.  Some items returned, new options ordered.  Shoes were another consideration.  Trying out Hoka’s – as they have more foam between the bottom of your foot and the ground (see photo above) – with the hope that heat would not transfer to my feet as quickly as other running shoes.  Adjusting to new shoes that are very different (Hoka’s have no support, they require your feet to be more mobile, which can be very fatiguing at first) require incremental increases in mileage.  Then the decision was made that they wouldn’t work.  Back to my normal road shoes – I just need to bring many pairs in case they start to melt.

There was the first meeting with the crew to plan (our next meeting is after my training weekend in Death Valley).  What strategy do we want to have?  They will follow me one mile at a time and each mile switch out ice bandanas, water bottles, food and spray me down (but not get my feet wet!  Wet + heat = blisters).  We will need many ice coolers (that has been one of the biggest puzzles – how many coolers and how much ice to start with).  We will need first-aid for blisters, nausea, sunburns, indigestion, etc.  We will need supplies for preparing and storing food, water, other beverages, gear.  Other random considerations such as remembering to leave the windows down in the minivan during the race so there’s no chance of locking us out of the car during a transition.  I’ve spent many hours in the sauna.  I could go on (I’m sure you think I’ve already gone on too far!) but I’ll stop.  All I can say is that for me, Badwater is something that requires time, organization, planning and careful consideration.  I hope that all this will pay off during the race.  At this point, the race is less than 4 weeks away and I cannot wait to get started.  I am past being afraid and overwhelmed.  I know that I will suffer and it will be the most memorable experience of my life.

Here is a great article that was written up about Jess and getting to run in Badwater: