Sunday, February 22, 2009

My so called TCC race report

I have been writing up a race report for The Coastal Challenge for days now. As I mentioned before, I did not keep a daily journal as I had planned. It is really difficult to talk about each day without feeling like I am leaving out important things as each day was filled with so much adventure that I am unable to put it into words. I think what I am going to do is just give you a brief report about what I saw and how I felt. I am going to just be lazy this time. Trying to remember what happened in the order that it did is impossible without notes. Here is a brief bla bla bla.

Day 1: 33.5k The race started in Quepos, as small palm tree lined beach town nestled along the coast. The heat and humidity was staggering. We ran along a hot unpaved road before crossing a very old, rural bridge. We ran through an African date palm plantation and the bugs were so loud that it was hard to hear myself think. Soon the road took off through an overgrown area with lots of roots covered by tall grass and leaves. There was no trail and we climbed and tiptoed through what looked like a snake filled swampy area. I fell into a large body of water as I tried to navigate my way through the jungle. The water was deep and up to my arm pits. I tore my Nathan pack when I fell in. The climbing was very hard and technical, but I loved every minute of it. We eventually crossed the Savegre River on a metal pull cart and enjoyed the rain that fell on us that afternoon. We finished this stage at the Rafiki Jungle Lodge.

Day 2: 39k We woke up early and the rain had stopped. Everything was wet. Actually everything was ALWAYS wet 24-7. Today we ran straight up into the Rain forest looking for pink trail markers to guide our way. The mud was as deep as my knees and several times I lost my shoes. Searching for my socks in the mud is hilarious when you realize that the socks you have been searching for are still on your feet. Digging through the mud for your shoes is comical too. I only found it comical once I looked back on it! At the race briefing every night, Rodrigo the course designer would go over the course. The only words I heard him say every night were DEHYDRATION, ELECTROLYTES, IV FLUIDS, SNAKES, ANTI-VENOM, CROCS, MUD, HILLS, MONKEYS, WATER, HEAT, HUMIDITY, SNAKES, SPIDERS, SNAKES, SNAKES, HEAT, HUMIDITY. I think you get what I am saying. That is all I heard. So during each stage, I tried to remember what he said we would encounter. All I could hear were the above words. I heard them LOUD and CLEAR. The uphills were brutal and the downhills were horrendous, spending hours running around and through sinkholes, mudslides, vines, rocks and who knows what. We finished in Dominical where we camped beside a beautiful ocean beach.

Day 3: 52.2k Today was just a killer day for me. We ran for almost 2 hours along a boulder filled large river where we navigated ourselves from one side to the other trying to make our way as fast as we could. I can't tell you how many times I fell off of slippery rocks and into the water. Finally, I had to jump off of a tall rock ledge and swim as I had navigated myself too high on the rocks and had no other option. A beautiful waterfall met us at the end of this long trek. Today I spent the whole day running alone. The climbs were steep and technical and the beach running was long and strenuous. The Howler monkeys yelled at me as I climbed past there playground and it was on this section that I saw my first snake. It had a small mouth so I figured I was safe. I finished at a remote beach called Ventanas. I had had a long day.

Day 4: 37.5k This day was another difficult day of climbing straight up into the Rain forest. At the top I could see the Talamanca Mountains on one side and the Ocean 3000 ft. below. Jaclyn and I ran together on this day and actually finished together. It was a long day and it was very difficult mentally as well as physically. The race personnel were not allowed to tell us how far we had to go at any point. They were instructed to either say that we were "almost there", or that we had only "3k" to go. Many times after telling us that we were "almost there", we would run for 3-4 more hours. It was brutal and frustrating at times. I think that is why I loved it. I was pushed to the limit everyday and I love that aspect about doing difficult adventures. The down hill took us over an hour to go a half of a mile. Jaclyn and I continually fell and the terrain was brutal and dangerous. The last several miles were very hot and we were so happy to be finished that day. A man in a truck gave several of us a ride to our campsite. We camped next to a river lagoon that was filled with lots of crocodiles.

Day 5: 47.4k We were loaded onto a boat in the wee hours of the morning and brought down the croc infested water to our starting line. This day was suppose to be "all runnable". Yeah right. We started this run up a hill and ran into the Osa Peninsula which is one of the most verdant and desolate places in all of Costa Rica. This area is described by National Geographic as "one of the most biologically intense places on earth". The Osa abounds with plants, mammals, insects and over 350 species of birds. We crossed 30 to 40 water crossings this day and Ligia and I ran together and finished together. This was the hardest day mentally for me. Ligia and I kept each other moving forward and the heat and humidity was very oppressive. We ran past a mangrove forest. Mangrove trees grow in the water I believe, and many snakes and crocodiles live among these trees. We finished at Drakes Bay tired and happy to be done with day 5.

Day 6: 23.7k Today was our last day. We started up a hill (duh), that totally kicked my butt and then descended onto a river which was at least knee high of crystal clear water. We proceeded to climb up a cliff next to a water fall which was wet and slippery. Bill helped me up as I was a little unsteady. After climbing a fixed metal ladder, we made our way up to a road that rims the border of Corcovado National Park. We climbed up and then down and our final descent brought us through the jungle and beach and then to Drakes Bay once again.

What can I say about TCC? It was brutally hard, it was hot and humid and the mountains and terrain were unforgiving. It was the hardest thing I have ever done and the greatest thing I have ever done. I learned a lot about myself and I liked what I saw. Would I do it again? You betcha. The race director, Tim and Rodrigo said it was the hardest race they have ever put on. I believe them. I am so blessed to have experienced this. I finished 3rd woman. The two women who beat me are in their early 30's. I am almost 20 years older than they are. I think I was 9th overall. I feel good about how I did. For the record this is what I did right. I drank water and used Nuun in my hydration pack. I took at least 2 succeed caps per hour. I ate every half hour as I know that calories =energy. I used no nsaids. I got a painful massage every night. I ate well. I kept hydrated and I kept positive. I felt great the whole race!


Leslie said...

WOW!!! Reading your report sounds like a fabulous adventure. Your an awesome woman, both physically and mentally. Congratulations on your life altering achievement.


JohnF said...

Excellent Adventure!

Cynical Mud Babe said...

What a stunning experience! It sounds like such an amazing, indescribable experience! Congrats on doing it!

Hart said...

nice! stoked to read nuun is working for you too.

Drs. Cynthia and David said...

Thanks Kelly. Awesome report and performance. I just can't even imagine it- heat, humidity, spiders, snakes... You got guts girl!

Sounds like you are ready for Barkley now- it would be a piece of cake right?

Why no nsaids? Do you think they cause harm? And what did you eat on the trail- just gels or something special?


olga said...


Anonymous said...

I was just in Drake's Bay and Corcovado for vacation. Where did you guys stay at in Drake's Bay? Drake's Bay was my favorite. Those howler monkeys are amazing. I really admire you guys for trail running there-the trails are soooo slippery and technical. Kudos!

Victoria said...

Thanks so much for such a great report-- what an amazing experience. It was great to be able to virtually experience a little bit of it with you!