Monday, January 14, 2013

Death Valley - Final Thoughts

One of the many interesting formations in Death Valley.
January 14 - Tomorrow we all fly home after six days in the desert. It has been a good time to get to know each other and ourselves better. For me, there aren't too many opportunities to do this kind of thing and I had no idea how it was going to turn out. I was worried about being sick, as the week before I had cold symptoms. I was worried about getting injured and not being able to complete the trek, because I have never done anything quite like this before. This week was my highest mileage week by far (140 miles) and I hadn't really done the training I was hoping to do. Even though there was a lot of walking as we traveled, the longer time on our feet had consequences of its own in foot soreness and exposure to the elements.

What can I say?
I am very thankful for all of the planning that Marvin did. He had it all mapped out and I basically showed up with sneakers on. Even with that planning, we were a little fortuitous to have put in some extra miles the first three days or we might have had a problem getting to the Whitney Portal and back before it got dark. Some things you just have to make up as you go along and go with the flow. Death Valley threw wind and cold at us but I guess it could have been worse.

I am also very thankful to have had Doug along as he was an excellent guide. He has done a lot of geological field work in Death Valley and knew the area and its history well. Every day was an education as we discovered how the valley and mountains were formed and where the fault lines were and many other things. It was clear that he loves the area.

I was privileged to run with Marvin and Jim as they are both tough nuts and the conversation along the way was interesting and funny. Even though both of them were dealing with injuries, I never had any doubt that they were going to finish the trek. As the youngest of the three, I had the advantage of a younger body and youthful exuberance (I can't say that very much anymore) but they put up with me anyway.

Too much technology and only one
outlet at Panamint Springs Resort.
Is there any kind of take away from this? Perhaps. We are all capable of pretty cool things if we put our mind to it and stick with it. I think it is important to continue to challenge ourselves as we go through life (it doesn't have to involve running 140 miles) in order to grow and not be stagnant. Lack of cellular service for most of the run was also a good thing, as far as I'm concerned. It is good to just be in the moment sometimes.

Death Valley is a beautiful and rugged place. When I drove through it three years ago in the summer, my goal was to see it and then get out of it (it was hot). I did not realize how much there is to see and do, however, and I missed out on so much. I only saw what was along the road. I would like to come back and spend some more time here and explore all of the side canyons and dunes.

The information from my GPS each day is below. The scale is different for each graph so it can be deceiving to just look at them without noting the scale. The first day was mostly flat. The other days included significant climbs, the likes of which I don't see in Central Pennsylvania. The pace listed is our moving pace (not including stops) and certainly isn't fast, but it got us to the end.

And to the nuts who run this race every July in less than two days, my hat is truly off to them. I certainly have renewed respect for their accomplishment. They are truly inspiring.

Here is a video I through together of the run:

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