Self-Transcendence 6 Day 2007 – Race Report – Juli Aistars

Posted on the Ultralist:
Subject:Re: Self-Transcendence 6-day Race Report
From: Juli Aistars
Date: Fri, 11 May 2007 16:15:50 -0500

Hello!

Nice reports from Andy, Pete and Mark on the 6 day. I don’t usually write race reports but this event was so memorable, I feel the need. If you have no interest, you know what to do . . .First, thanks to everyone on the list, and I will thank you personally if I haven’t already, for sending emails to me in NY and for all the support and advice before the event and since. Thanks Karen Riddle for sending your friend Eustatia to check on me at the event. Thanks Karl King for the advice you gave me this morning. I love this list!

The Self-T 6 day was the experience of a lifetime. The highlight–the people I met there from all over the world. Every single person I met was special is some way. There was a feeling of love and protection like I have never experienced at any event before. In one of the lady’s portajohns there was a package of wipes with a first name on it–where else can you leave something with your name on it and know that everyone will respect that? There was an extreme feeling of trust. The medical team were mostly Europeans who extended their vacation to volunteer their time at the event. I got scolded on the second day for not coming to the medical tent sooner. They did everything they possibly could for you and more, all with warmth and love.
They used homeopathic medicine and treatments like cabbage for shin splints and aloe from the plant–I am a cancer nurse with a great interest in natural treatments so I was absolutely loving this and learning from it. My son asked why everyone had lettuce wrapped on their legs. Laugh if you will, but it worked. Every time the runners passed the counting table, their was cheering, and bells for reaching a hundred-mile mark, and lots of encouragement from spectators, handlers, other runners. The 3 RDs, Sahishnu, Rupantar and Bipin who ran the event like clockwork and cheered as well.
They were tireless and devoted and always looked happy despite the task of handling the largest field ever at this event. Aaron from NZ put in a lot of time draining water from the path and emptying the garbage cans. Bipin drove our boys to the airport midweek, Hayden took us back to our hotel at the end. Any need you had was met at this event–every runner was treated like royalty. Andy Cable, Pete Stringer, and I, with the generous guidance of Mark Dorion, plotted together to make this event a reality. One morning, Pete was hobbled by the shin splints, but this didn’t stop him. He took the opportunity to walk backwards while reading the newspaper, just as cool as you please. Andy Cable was out to set the world record for longest time without sleep–he is tough as nails. John Geesler, gentlemen that he is, was a joy to watch and fun to talk to. One night I encouraged him to get some sleep and he said he tried but there was a loud fight in the tent next door. How embarassing to find out later that it was my two sons who woke up John! My husband and I apologized–his response was, “Don’t give it another thought.” At one point, when he was struggling, he said, “I suck!” with a smile on his face. Now, we all know that John is one of the best among us, but it was comforting to see that even heros bleed sometimes.

Some of the remarkable participants: Glen Turner, a very nice guy with incredible
rejuvenating powers; Shishaldin, a 26 year old New Yorker who was always happy said when the thunderstorms started, “The more uncomfortable, the better”; Serge, another perfect gentleman; Harita, the 32 year old smiling, relentless New Zealander who kept me going when I would have collapsed, but I couldn’t let her catch me; several European runners who spoke little to no English; Kate Condon who hurt her knee jumping out of the path of a bicycle, put on a brace and moved on, a very strong walker; Ieva, from Latvia, who sometimes walked beside me while I was running, conversing in Latvian which I learned since my husband, Val, is Latvian; Dipali, a classy lady and a true champion, who shared advice freely. I learned from her wisdom as well as from watching her. She has this event down to a science. The words I
remember the most which saved me often, “Listen to your body, it will tell you what you need,” and “This is supposed to be a comfortable race.” David Luljak, the nicest man you would ever want to meet, pushed on with shin splints, never giving up although he knew he would end up short of his usual fine multiday performance. Petr who bounced a ball while he ran–is that considered a pacer? Pratishruti from Russia, the oldest woman there, running 10 days, much of it in the “ultra lean” stopping every so often to get straightened out by the chiropractor. I learned “Dobre utra” so I could
greet her in her language in the morning. She spoke very little English but enough to compliment my running when I was in awe of her. Roman whose trademark is the radio he carries–can’t miss the baseball game. A runner sleeping in the fork of a tree–didn’t catch his #, Gary Cross sleeping in the dugout with part of his body on the path so that he had to be marked off with cones so no one would “step on his toes.” And then there was Tim from Oregon, 21 years old running 315 miles in his second 6 day event–he enjoyed the status of being the youngest runner present. I was so impressed by the strength and fortitude of every runner out there–I have never seen anything
like it and I felt honored to be among them. The event is appropriately named, “Self-Transcendence.” Congratulations to all.

The food provided by the generous and talented Shushovita was the best I have ever tasted–all vegetarian, so searching for and eliminating the meat was not necessary at this event. The runner’s kitchen was located just off the course–you could go in one door and out the other, with everything you could think of laid out for you. If for no other reason, you must come to this event to enjoy the food.

The wildlife–Mark already told you about that. The comments from people walking by: A little boy asks, “But Mommy, if there is a race, where are the runners?” (the ones passing him at that time were walking). I answered, “We are right here!” People in the park who happened to pass by and didn’t know about the event stopping and staring as a runner crossed the start/finish and the counters called “That is 294 miles for Igor.” “294–is that miles?”

Let’s not forget the counters who returned day after day in shifts to count our laps, the familiar hand up (I see you) and lots of cheering, always using our names which it is so good to hear in those familiar and intriguing accents, in sun, dark of night, rain, thunder and lightning–more reliable than the mailman but no fear of dogs. Thank you, thank you for being there and giving all of yourself.

Thanks to the handlers (Euro for crew) who are selfless and tireless but not thanked often enough, who went without sleep, helped others besides their own runners, who did whatever was required and much more. Thank you to my husband, Val, who has proven that there is nothing he wouldn’t do for me and that he has the kindest heart and most joyful spirit, as evidenced by his ever-present smile and willingness to help anyone and everyone who needs him.

My own personal experience in a nutshell–I had two small blisters, my feet held up great with the “special foot cream” courtesy of Julie Berg, cutting out the toes of the shoes, and using running sandals for a short while. The stopping was the hard part–sleeping on the ground with my knees, pelvic bones and shins aching was hard, but then I got myself going again, somehow, and the ecstasy was back. No dehydration, but on the brink on a couple of the hotter days, no stomach issues, no muscle cramps, minimal muscle soreness.
The most significant obstacle was what I thought were shin splints, the left starting on day 3, held off with cabbage until day 4, then the right starting on day 5. This past week, I haven’t been able to sleep for more than 30 minutes at a time, I have had severe bilateral leg swelling all the way to the top of my legs which is now improving and very tender lower legs with difficulty walking. “How can Pete already run 5 miles,” I wonder. I have been eating and drinking mass quantities trying to put the weight I lost back on. I have also been working long hours as a nurse, but my co-workers were nice enough to give me some office time, so I could be off my feet. After deciding that perhaps this was not normal recovery, I visited the orthopaedic today and found out by exam and x-ray that I have stress fractures in both lower tibial bones and he believes that what I was feeling was the fractures and I never had shin splints at all. How would I know? I never had a shin splint. So now I am in two big boots, with my feet elevated and some forced vacation time next week. Somehow, I feel like a failure that I didn’t make it through my first 6 day event in one piece. I apparently pushed myself beyond my personal abilities. My running agenda has been wiped out for a few months, but the important thing is that I will run again–ULTRA stands for: U Live To Run Again.

On that note, good luck to those running Ice Age and other events this weekend. Please pay me back by submitting your race reports!

Juli


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