Fast Forward to July 2, 2012- 6am…..
Expected temperature- 97°. As the sun comes up, the temperature will rise above 120° quickly, the road surface will be twice that. By the time I get to Furnace Creek, I will have climbed out of the “Badwater hole” that’s 282 feet below sea level and covered 17.4 miles. Hopefully, it will only have taken me 6 hours. The next milestone is Stovepipe Wells at mile 42, which I should hit after the sun has gone down on my first day of running. A number of runners don’t make it this far, withdrawing because of the heat, ignoring small problems until they become big problems, or simply not paying attention. I will be relying on myself and my crew to not make those same mistakes. A short rest there will hopefully get me ready for what’s in store: A 5000 foot climb over 17 miles, followed by a 3300 foot descent over the next 10 miles, and finally into the halfway point at Panamint Springs. That’s the first 24-30 hours sorted out…
So again, why am I doing this? Aren’t there easier ways to raise awareness of what these great kids can accomplish if given the chance? Possibly, but as I thought about how I could not only make a difference for them, but also experience, in some small measure, the barriers they have to overcome simply to draw even with other kids, I realized this test was what I wanted to put myself through.
Running is both a physical and mental challenge. No matter what shape you’re in or what distance you run, if you can’t overcome the mental aspects (boredom being the most common), you’re not going to be successful. As distance increases, so does the importance of the mental side. You have to pay a lot more attention to little things (how fast you’re going, salt and electrolyte levels). At shorter distances, not paying attention to them could result in inconveniences (cramps, sore legs, etc.), but the longer you go, the greater the chance the small things add up and become real problems. I think that’s where I really connect with our kids. Studies have shown that it’s the little things we take for granted like social and emotional skills that can determine how successful a child is in school and beyond. If these skills aren’t developed early in a child’s life, it can create a permanent disadvantage that they may never recover from.
That’s why we’ll both rely on the help and support of our “crew”- to look after us and make sure the small issues don’t turn into big problems later on. My crew has been to Badwater before, knows what signs to look for, and how to address issues. The “crew” the kids will rely on to nurture, educate and inspire them are the group of well trained, loving people we have at SouthSide, dedicated to breaking down barriers and opening up a great future for the kids.
So, we’re on this path together. The difference is I’m here by choice, trying to give them a chance that they otherwise wouldn’t have, and my struggle is only going to last a few days. Hopefully theirs won’t last long either.
Filed under: About my training, About the children | Tagged: Badwater, barriers, children, Death Valley, education, health, mental, mental-health, panamint springs, run, SouthSide, stovepipe wells | Leave a comment »