The Lost Coast
Yea, Yea, you’re just here for the video. It’s here, just skip all the words and scan to the bottom if you are impatient. Let me know in the comments if you liked it, or any feedback you have. I’m always interested.
I came to the Lost Coast to do something hard. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy and when people asked if I was going to run alone I said yes. There is really a short list of people that I have done endurance stuff with. Most of it was done when I was coached by Steve since he was into training that way. Since I started with Chuckie the training is not ultra in nature, it’s just relentless.
Chuckie never asks you to do anything too too hard, he just has you do a LOT of not too hard stuff OFTEN. It’s more of a training by raindrops method rather than by flash flood. And it works, if anyone witnessed what happened to me last year, you will know that the Chuckie way is the right way.
Mom and dad in Garberville. The last cell coverage for several days.
I know I can get through an Ironman and several years ago I didn’t know that I could. The ultra training that I did then taught me a lot about my resolve and I admit that I yearn for those types of experiences every once in awhile. This was one of those yearnings. I wanted to get out and do something HARD, gnarley, Grrr.
I wondered if it would break me.
I’m all about safety, I’m a very happy mom, and a very proud wife and I would never want to leave Troy and Annie without the constant entertainment that I seem to provide to them.
Having mom and dad along on this trip was great for that. They were my safety check. I knew my dad would call out the calvary if he even remotely thought I was stuck in a tight spot. Mom would keep Annie happy, and would keep dad from pacing too much while I was out there. My dad is where I get my adventurous spirit, he’s climbed a ton of super remote peaks in the Andes and Nepal, but I’m still his little girl. He’s been at every one of my Ironmans, but after this trip I think even he now realizes I’m made of “tough stuff”.
I took off that morning in pouring rain. I was happy and excited. This run is a point to point run with zero access inbetween. There are no roads, no jeep roads, and the trails on the map are hardly more recognizable than a deer trail. There is a lot of pot grown in this region so poking around too much can likely get you into some dangerous situations.
My route was very clear. Stay on the beach, don’t climb up the super steep cliffs, don’t get dragged out to sea, and just keep running until you see civilization. The map said 24 miles, but I had heard it was more in the 26 range. My parents and I agreed that they would wait an hour before leaving in case I bailed and turned around. They had 4 hours of windy twisty driving to get to where I popped out in Shelter Cove…with a 5 year old.
I thought about turning around the entire first 30 minutes. From about 2 minutes in the wind was in my face really strong, like 40mph strong. I couldn’t beleive how bad it was. In the first 30 minutes I almost was blown over backwards twice. At that point you are thinking…how will I make 26 miles of this? I was thinking “turn, don’t turn, turn, don’t turn” and I looked down and saw 40 minutes had passed. Well…that’s solves that. I’m committed.
The conditions were very intense and about 3 miles in I was already feeling quite hailed. But rather than get frustrated I simply pulled out my headphones, popped them in and got some relief from the sound of the wind.
My heart rate was 170 in the first hour and I made it 3 miles. Painfully slow. The Punta Gorda lighthouse was a welcome site. My parents and I had agreed that if for some reason the SPOT didn’t work, then 8pm (11.5 hours) was when they should call out the search and rescue. I had no way of knowing if the SPOT was working but I was totally doing the math. I figured at that rate it would take 10 hours.
Things got a little better at the lighthouse. I found a little single track deer trail and ran on that for a ways a little bit off the ocean. If there was a plateau next to the ocean I could usually find a little trail on it. If the cliff went straight into the beach, I was stuck running in the sand and rocks. I would say there was about 25% “trail” running and 75% beach.
I encountered my first “stream crossing”. Um, wow. I was immediately thankful I was alone. I’m looking at this raging river that is dumping out of a narrow canyon and into the ocean. No bridge, no rock bridge, no log bridge. If I fell crossing the stream I was going to get dragged directly into the ocean. The ocean here is not a “nice ocean”. It’s 15 foot waves crashing onto rocks, rip tide, cold cold cold kind of ocean.
I hunted around for a big driftwood stick and I used that to help me with my balance across the river. Whew.
There were probably 5 rivers I had to cross throughout the day that were thigh deep. Another 10 I crossed were shin deep. The one thing I was very thankful for was that the tide was low (I planned the trip that way) and therefore the large rivers got a little more of a chance to “fan out” before hitting the ocean. If I had to cross at high tide I may not have made it.
Onwards I ran. Sometimes the rain would stop, sometimes the rain would dump buckets on me. I was soaked from about 1 mile into the run so the stream crossings didn’t really matter in that regard.
Sometimes the wind would even die down a little. It seemed to depend where I was in proximity to end of each of the little coves. Often I would get around a point only to be faced with nearly impassible wind. A few times I would be running and realize that I was only making it a few inches per step.
So what’s going on in my head during this? Well. For awhile it was worry. I was worried that my slower pace would put me in a dangerous tidal position. So I was constantly doing the math in my head. By about 10 miles in the worry started to release. I realized I was keeping about 4 miles per hour which would get it done.
I never really got concerned personally. Like I never felt personally in danger, I just knew the most important thing I could do for myself was to keep moving forward. I did not stop once the entire day except to tie my shoe laces and to pee. I was on a mission. It wasn’t really until I got through the third section of tide restricted area that I felt the weight lift off my shoulders.
There were actually some “structures” out there in the middle of nowhere. I don’t know how the owners get to them, as there is zero access other than foot…maybe horse, helicopter, airplane. I ran across one really crazy house thing that is in my video. You’ll get a kick out of that section so I won’t ruin it.
The last 6-7 miles were probably the worst wind and rain wise. I caught up to a few lonely backpackers in the section and stopped and talked to each on of them. They were soaked to the bone (so was I, but I was running so I was warm) and each of them looked totally miserable. I asked if they needed anything, and made some small talk (in the raging wind) and then ran along. Sometimes I wasn’t going much faster than they were walking.
I also ran into 4 surfers out there. One surprised me while I was taking some video. If you listen closely in the video he even says “Surprise”. It wasn’t in a creepy way or anything, he was clearly out there with the same love and appreciation as I was. He thought I was crazy for running all that way, I thought he was crazy for hiking 9 miles with his surfboard to surf some waves that were surely going to kill him.
As I pulled into Shelter Cove I was stoked, and relieved. It was a harrowing day, but also not that bad. It’s almost like I could have gotten through anything that day because I was prepared not just physically, but emotionally to go though an ordeal.
The “store” in Shelter Cove had Justin’s Nut Butter! Middle of nowhere!
As I talked about in my previous post I learned quite a bit. As I continue to process the adventure I learn even more. With Ironman, you have so much support out there. There is no real “danger”. Maybe most of us would perform better if there was a real threat. It reminded me that you need to prepare for the threat as if it’s there. Self sufficiency…not in gear…but in MIND. Especially in Kona. Yes, you can always sit down on the ground and wait for medical, but if you expect to rise to the occasion, you need to prepare to do it on your own. You need to be strong in the mind.
I was also reminded that you always have a choice in life. Always. Conditions can be miserable, but you have the choice to be miserable with them. The more you actively make the choice to be positive, the easier it is. It was crazy out there, and I was wet, and slow, and it was hard. None of you would have faulted me if this was a post about what a miserable horrible time I had out there. But this post is not about that, it’s about how happy and appreciative I was.
I think I was able to be that way because I make that choice on a daily basis. When faced with adversity in life, even the little stuff like parking tickets, I try to utilize it as a trigger to respond in the complete opposite way as is expected. Smile and shrug at the parking ticket. Laugh and open your mouth to the rain. Sing in the wind. Anything to reverse the natural response to a situation, and before you know it, you will naturally respond with less stress and more appreciation to what life hands you.
The co-op in Garberville had Justin’s Nut Butter Peanut Butter Cups. So remote. We can’t even keep these in stock in Boulder. Mom and I bought 8 packages and I didn’t get a single one.
That’s what I was reminded of out there. I want to get out and test myself, test my resolve, but it’s all the little choices every day that really builds your foundation of resolve. Respond well daily, and when the big tests come, you’ll fly through them.
If anything the adverse elements added to my experience out there. When you get down to it, and you’re out in it, it’s really not that bad. It may be hard physically, but that’s a good thing. One step at a time applies to Ironman, to the Lost Coast, or to just getting through a hectic day. Always endeavor to just begin. Once you have begun, the hard part is out of the way. Enduring is easier than beginning.
My darling daughter, happy as a clam the entire trip. This girl has the adventure gene and I couldn’t be happier.
I put together a video of my day. There is no music in this one. As the blog gains more popularity I really shouldn’t be putting music that I don’t own the rights to in my movies. So you will have to be content to deal with the wind, as I dealt with it during my run. I hope you like the video.