Dixie Madsen: Badwater 2000 Story
"Life is Either an Adventure of Nothing at All"
My story of Badwater started with you, Ben and Denise, and listening to you tell everyone that it was very beneficial to attend the training clinics in May and July. I went to this first clinic knowing that in every one of my 100 mile races that my downfall and slower times during the races would be in the heat of the day, not to mention that I do not like desert or sand. During these clinics, I ran just as I planned on running during the race, with the utmost respect for the first day from Badwater to Stovepipe Wells. These clinics, by the end of the second one, had changed my life and attitude toward all three: the heat, the desert, and the sand. At the July clinic, on the second day from Stovepipe to Panamint Springs, I took time to look around me. I had a very spiritual moment and fell completely in love with the surroundings around me ... the colors in the mountain, the cool breeze, and a moment with God.
I came to Badwater on the day before the race, well trained, mind set to have a good race with a good crew, loving husband, lots of faith in my abilities, and left the rest in God's hands. My crew was great. I only have one thing to add: I would suggest that a person has a couple of people on his/her crew who are not runners, who can set their minds on some photo-taking in addition to keeping the crew vehicle well organized. My crew became very tired because they had never been to Badwater and did not want to take the scheduled rest breaks that I had put into my plan for them. They just didn't want to miss a moment of the event and didn't realize that those rest breaks of 3-4 hours were very much needed—to make them more alert and to take care of my needs during the last stage of the race. They stayed with me all the way and were very tired. I'm sure short they were short of patience with each other at the end. I never had any difficulty until going off Townes Pass early Friday morning. Then I lost it completely at both ends (vomiting and diarrhea). I was forced to stop and change clothes completely on the side of the road in the dark.
(I'm sure glad that no one came along—that would have been quite a picture for the Internet). From this point on I had to regroup my stomach, which I did, by switching to Slim-Fast and solid food and lots of water, into Panamint Springs.
At 60 miles I had changed shoes four times (one half-size at a time) thus ending up in a men's size 10 shoe at this point. One big mistake on my part was that I had not told any of my crew that if I went into this last pair of shoes that they would need to take my Spenco Inserts out of my size 9.5 men's shoes and put them into these shoes. So I ran from 60 miles on with no inserts or padding in my shoes, thus causing extreme soreness in my feet for days after the race. I might mention at this point that I had absolutely NO SORENESS of muscles after the race nor have I had any muscle soreness since. My only soreness was in my feet.
Out of Panamint Springs, one of our crew vehicles broke down, had to be towed into Lone Pine, fixed and returned 3 hours later, HERE IS ANOTHER RULE OF CHRIS' THAT WAS GREAT: "YOU MUST HAVE AT LEAST TWO CREW VEHICLES." Boy, did we realize the value of this rule. My crew had to cram as much as they could into the one vehicle at this point. And this is where the FAMILY OF BADWATER came into effect for us. There were other crews whose runners had dropped out, who came along to see how I was doing and immediately volunteered to take things from our broken down vehicle up to us to help us out. Robert Thurber's crew was great. The Highway Patrol officer took our people into Lone Pine and back and checked on me off and on all through the race. He also brought us water, ice, supplies, etc., from our broken down vehicle. Karen Hamilton came along to check on me and brought my cot up to me at the top of Panamint Springs so that I could take my much needed 40-minute nap (which was only time that I really rested during the whole race).
I was running (actually running) along through Keeler, and for the first time I realized that I could make the 48-hour time frame for the buckle. My plans got a little screwed up after this point going into Lone Pine, thus causing me to have a very full stomach and unable to take in anything from Lone Pine to the top except water. On the way up Whitney Portal Road we took a wrong turn and ended up into a campground and had to turn around and go back to main road. At this time I was fighting terrible pain in my leg and back caused from a slipped disc that I found out I had in February, but I was determined that it would not change my plans for this year. This caused me not to pay that much attention to the fact that we had taking a wrong turn in the road. (My pacer at this point had never been up Whitney Portal Road. She felt terrible about this. As I was waiting for her to check this out, she came back running toward me along the campground road. When I saw her light, I tried to go to her, and this is where it got really spooky, THERE WERE A FLOCK OF LONG-NECKED BIRDS in my path, that wouldn't let me go to her, until she got right up to me. Now this was a real hallucination. But let's talk about hallucinations. I had read about these in previous Badwater races. I was with Jim Hamilton last year when he had a few but never really believed in them, but, for me they came true. As I started up Whitney Portal Road, the road was covered with the most beautiful design of GRAY ELEPHANTS, BROWN & WHITE RABBITS, GRAY MICE, all interwoven with pink candy cane. Whenever the flash light showed these figures, they persisted clear to the top of Whitney Portal Road and into the finish line. I can still see this pattern in my mind and would so much like for someone else to have seen it besides me, as it would make a beautiful design for a child's room. It also helped with my pain to the finish. I will end with that, thanks to everyone involved, from Ben and Denise (wrapping feet before the race), to Chris and Dana's excellent organization of this race (it being their first year—what a great job), and the love and care all of these four people gave to all of us, to my sponsors Brooks and Kool 'N Fit, and to my crew, and to all of the many people who helped us when our vehicle broke down, I say THANK YOU—my race was a success. This was truly a great adventure, and as I said in the beginning, TO ME, LIFE IS EITHER AN ADVENTURE OR NOTHING AT ALL. Be it a trial given to me to accept and overcome or an event like Badwater, my life is better for every one of them that has come my way.