Badwater: They Said it Could Not Be Done!
By Lisa Smith
I have to say that at Badwater everyone is a hero. Runner or crew you are heroes. Getting to the starting line is a journey in itself. But this year so many new ones were born!! Scott Weber, who has inspired me and has coached me for several races, went out and did a double. This was a last minute choice. I don't know how many of us could just decide to go out and do it again the next day!!! Chris Moon, you ROCK!! Never have I met anyone like you. Adam Bookspan, what a great thing you did!! Art Webb, I will be back to chase you down. You are such a delight!! Rick (Nawrocki)!!! What can we say, but God has his ways and you showed him your way, right to the finish line! You will forever be my inspiration. Steve (Silver), next time things will be different. So many of you have touched my life in so many ways. I feel blessed to have all of you.
I looked at the resumes of all the women in the race this year. What a beautiful group we had along with a lot of talent. So many of the women have done so many ultras. This Badwater was my 14th ultra. I realized that I have a lot to learn and a lot of miles to cover. Congratulations to all of you. So many people told Jay (Batchen) and me that this race could not be done together. With the new rules and having separate crews we thought this would be difficult. We were never more than five feet apart and we got to the finish line. This race is hard enough to do on your own, but we found it is even more difficult to do with someone you love. We worried about each other, but the energy we gained from each other was awesome. I had stomach problems for the first 70 miles. We spent the first half of our race pulled over on the side of the road going to the bathroom. What a test of patience. Just when I thought I was ready to start running without pit stops, the ash (from forest fires) started flying through the air. Then my asthma kicked in. We were slowed down to a crawling pace. In the end, we were all going to the same destination with or without troubles. Finishing this race became a job for me and I did the job. Jay and I set aside personal desires when needed and raced together representing a team effort. Team Happy Feet.
We watched each other suffer. We shared compassion and support, but we didn't carry each other. This would have robbed us of our strength and self-respect. The race was a series of small steps, taken one at a time, to reach our goal. And the goal kept changing. We learned about patience and trust and have the highest respect for each other. We became true equals and we motivated each other. We did not compete against each other. Every journey begins with a single step, but you also have to take a second and a third, and as many as needed to reach your destination. Together we focused on the same journey. Every worthwhile goal demands effort, risk and sacrifice.The desert brings a mystical vision to ones eyes and soul. Jay and I shared
this experience along with our amazing crews in away that was very new to me. When Jay felt bad I felt great. When I felt bad, Jay felt great, and this was most of the time. The heat was perfect this year. This is what we prayed for, the hotter the better!! The only bad part was the newly tarred road. This section was almost intolerable for me. My feet never recovered from the burning feeling, and I was very over-heated. One of our crew- members made me a bet during this section. I won the bet! Our enthusiasm set the pace, but persistence got us to the finish line. The
treasure isn't only at the end of the journey. The process itself is its own reward. I kept telling myself to embrace the moments, put one foot in front of the other and handle what's in front of me. Don't let your mind slip or your body will follow. Some runner's claim that those of us in the front went out way to fast. For us, it was the slowest I had ever gotten to Stovepipe in five years. I feel we ran a smart race. You have to make a plan and go with it and keep adjusting it. We all know in this race that anything can change at any time and you must run your own race. The positives of running together are endless. We developed a lot more faith in each other. Faith is one of the greatest leaps you can take, even more so as a couple. You always hear,"take the leap of faith." Well, all we had to go on was faith. We saw every difficulty as a test. We saw many lessons to be learned and opportunities in every challenge. We were so blessed with the people on our crews. We picked them very carefully and the result was that they had a blast together. Jay and I learned so much about working together as one, not two runners, but one runner. Our connection became so deep that only one being was there, not two. This was a magical experience. You have to be able to surrender yourself with open arms. This involves getting out of your own way and being there for each other. We never felt any pressure. Our goals changed several times, but this race brings lots of surprises. Running a perfect race is hard to do, you can only plan and hope for the best. More than ever, I learned that you have to adjust to situations. You have to feel your heart and listen to your higher self. Then you know what to do. This also gives you courage built around love. This keeps you moving. I saw no negatives running together. We both came out better people. We could have gone faster as individuals, but this was not even a thought. We were there this year to do this together, to learn and to grow. This was not about us. This was for all the starving children who suffer everyday. The least we could do to help raise money for these kids. We are all fortunate. We are so thankful that we have raised thousands of dollars. Next time Jay and I will run separate races. He needs to burn up the course. Yes, I have plans for this course.
Next month I become a master's runner. This brings with it a new spirit for so many things to do! . I'm a very ordinary women but I expect extraordinary things from myself. This makes the world infinitely sweeter, more intense, beautiful, humorous, and peaceful. Badwater is beyond the extraordinary. This race brings peace to the soul and gives one a real sense of purpose. Badwater also helps all of us reach higher levels and helps bring goodness to others. This is what its all about!! This and spending one hour at the bottom of the Portal Road eating pizza with our crews. They said it could not be done. We not only did it, we found grace together and we found true peace. Our souls developed wisdom together and our hearts shared the same spirit. With Jay and our crews, I felt that even when the sky was dark and full of ash, the sun was still shining because we were surrounded by love.