The virtual race began on Saturday, April 3rd, 2021, and went through the 18th. This was a very hard virtual race. 267 miles is the sum of the three races that make up the Badwater Ultra Cup (Cape Fear, Salton Sea, 135). I had 16 days to complete this, all outdoors, and within the actual three race events’ cutoff times. That meant that I had to complete Cape Fear (51.4 mi) in 14 hours, Salton Sea (81 mi) in 28 hours, and 135 in 48 hours. I averaged 17 miles per day and finished in 15 days.
All of my miles were kept to local town sidewalks, country roads and trails. The majority of my runs were solo, but I had several where I needed to push the jogger. One of the toughest runs was a 10 miler with the jogger. My husband joined me on a few runs, as well.
Getting in an average of 17 miles per day was what I goaled myself to make sure that I never fell behind in mileage and motivated me to possibly finish a day early (rest would come sooner). To make this happen, some days meant running at night, typically on days that I met with clients (worked). Later in the race, I dreaded night runs because I just wanted to be in my nice cozy home, getting ready for bed.
On day 3, run number 8, I completed virtual Badwater Cape Fear. Gun time: 10:34:22. Pace: 12:04 min/mi. Elevation gain: 4,364 ft. Overall progress: 19.7% complete (let’s not think about that). Overall place: 106/183. Onto Salton Sea!
Day 5, runs 12, 13 and 14, about 17 miles total for the day. I logged 87.54 miles since the beginning of the race and was in 131/189 place. Elevation gain was 6,985 ft. I had a flip ton of elevation gain compared to most participants because they were competing. I was feeling very happy and grateful for the grueling event and ability to hang with an incredible group of runners. And I needed to buy a new bottle of sunscreen.
Smiling at mile 104.34 because I always wanted to run 100 miles in a week. Here it was in 6 days 🙂
On day 7, run 18, I began experiencing “lows” and aches. – very similar to what you’d experience during a real ultramarathon (this wasn’t an ultra).
On day 8, I did three different runs, a jogger run and two trail runs. Virtual Salton Sea flew by! I was at mile 132.41, the start line of virtual Badwater 135. Basically halfway through finishing the insane virtual race. I was remaining strong and focused. It wasn’t easy, I was enjoying the journey, and already looking forward to my Badwater swag and buckle arriving in the mail.
Day 9. I was virtually at the Furnace Creek checkpoint of Badwater 135. 58% finished. Mile 154.94. Pace: 12:41 min/mi. Elevation gain: 12,513 ft. Having a great time!
Day 10, I was upset by all the litter I had been seeing while running through the Zelienople Sportsman’s Club. I caught a kid throwing an empty can of root beer onto the trail as I was approaching. I stopped and picked it up, took it back to him, and asked him why he littered. The boy didn’t have an answer. I asked him to not litter, and then asked him if I needed to throw it away for him. He shook his head “no.” Adults were just over an embankment fishing… later I discovered that their whole group littered the bank of the lake. Feeling pissed, I ended up returning to the spot to remove their cans.
Another section of trail is littered heavily, created by a man who has Autism, I later learned by asking questions on the Nextdoor Neighborhood app. It is his “fort,” which makes him feel safe since the pandemic hit. There is a shelter of trash, wood and umbrellas stacked to create a ceiling. There is also a parameter of strings and ropes, like a tangled spiderweb, reaching about 20 feet up into the trees and all around bushes and brush, so that it is difficult to get to the shelter. It used to be frightening, well, it’s actually still frightening to go by, my husband and I avoided this section of trail for a few months because we weren’t sure if it was safe to go past. WHY THE HECK DO PEOPLE LITTER?!?! 😡
On day 11, I lost track of how many days and runs I had completed. I was running 2-3 times per day, still totaling 17-ish miles per day. Thinking that it would be nice to finish. 70-something left to go. I was feeling pretty good 90% of the time, feeling just running aches and tightness. My body was used to this level of activity per day at this point. I ran some smaller hills, but kept playing smart and hiking bigger ones. I was holding onto an average pace of 12:00 min/mi. I was learning a lot doing this, and decided that I’d do things (running and outside of running) differently after the event ended.
Day 12 was another 17 plus miles closer to an epic accomplishment. I pushed my little one in the jogger 10 miles (6 miler and later on 4 miler), which was the furthest we’ve ever done together. Unfortunately, the time of day we were out was when traffic was terrible. My daughter and I were at a crosswalk with a blinky pedestrian light trying to cross the road. No one was stopping and speeding by as they usually do, so being my tired, Mama Bear self, I screamed at the vehicles zooming past, dropped an f-bomb, and waved my arms like a maniac. It worked. Traffic stopped both ways when they hear and saw. I wasn’t proud, but that was how we were going to get across. Oh, and I did yell “Thank you!” as we crossed.
My wonky ankle was put back in alignment by my chiropractor. – The ankle went out over one of my weekend trail runs when I stepped on something and it slightly rolled.
I was still a happy runner, but felt like crying from being tired. It was a similar feeling that I get while attempting 100 milers. That feeling when you know it’s about to be the worst part of the night. Luckily, I could sit down, eat, and enjoy a beer. That helped me be “ready” for more running.
Another night run needed to happen, but it was only 2 miles because my headlamp died and I needed to dig out a charger when I returned home.
Day 13, run 30-something? RELENTLESS FORWARD PROGRESS and reflecting on what has been on my heart.
Coming into the home stretch on day 14! 240 miles. There might have been a possible injury creeping in, making it my worst run of the whole race. My legs burned and felt weak. The right leg was hurting just above my calf muscle. The weather was 40 degrees F. I kept the running smart and didn’t push the jogger (I don’t like taking my daughter out when it’s that cold, anyway.), I just did a million out-and-backs on the three flattest sections of road near my house. Mostly running, but with some walking. My right leg was getting worse, mostly the back of it, but not all in one place. Back of knee, hamstring, calf, and Achilles. I was sticking to this plan of flat out-and-backs and walking if I needed to until I figured out what was going on. I wasn’t hobbling, I focused on form and not compensating. I was pushing gently as I approached the end of the race.
After possible injury pop-ups during that previous run, I took an Epsom salt bath and used the massager on my legs. I refueled and drank half a beer. I didn’t feel like I needed to refuel, but I took great care. My daughter finished her nap and hung out with me while my husband went on a run. Afterwards, I returned outside and followed my plan of less demanding running. The pain was there a few times in my calf and hamstring, not frequent. Tears began to fill my eyes (three times), I was feeling happy and sad. Happy and grateful that I was feeling good, I was able to enjoy the race, and that I was still moving well. Sad that all of the running would come to an end. It drizzled rain and was cold.
Around 250 miles, day 15, 04/17/21. Update from Badwater, Chris Kostman, 9:25 AM on 04/16/21: 22 runners have finished. 28 have dropped out or didn’t start. 151 runners still going.
The possible injury… I figured it out. It was my legs reacting to compression socks.
My last run started our rough. It was hard to get my legs moving for the initial two to three miles. My husand and daughter joined me for a few and then went home before it got too cold. The temperature was in the 50’s. When they left, I turned on heavy rock and picked up the pace (or think I ran faster). Counted down the miles. At .3 miles left, I was basically sprinting, SO HAPPY! I glanced at my watch and my short, partially dead legs were clocking a 7:18 minute per mile.
I did three 7 mile runs = a slightly early finish of Badwater 267 VR Elite!!!
Video of my Badwater buckle and swag arriving in the mail at the end of the article!
267 miles. Gun time: 55:29:16. Pace: 12:28 min/mi. Elevation gain 20,738 ft (Female with the most elevation gain). Overall: 98/190.