After having lived in a unique multi-level penthouse tucked in a beautiful countryside with a lake and surrounding thick leafy woods as a view from our little balcony, we were totally devastated to have to leave! We found ourselves to be in an unenviable position of having to browse through hundreds of houses on the property websites and poking our noses into people's homes in our search for a new nest to base ourselves. We went through moments of frustration and disappointment as we simply could not find any place close to our requirements and standards which we are looking for.
|View from our balcony|
Anyway, in this post, I will try to pen down all the emotions I have felt (and am still feeling) and attempt to put in words all the factors which have made my American experience into such a unique one, with plenty of photos, despite the fact that in this race, my wife and ‘’personal photographer’’ was not able to follow me entirely at the event due to logistic difficulties.
|Union Square, SF|
After having some pictures taken, I could not resist the urge to run around the area and started to do so along the many footpaths I encountered there. A vast net of well marked trails with gorgeous views to the ocean took me away for about 2 hours, without me realising how fast time had flown.
We started our night drive to Yosemite a little after 18:00 and reached our lodge a little after 4 hours. Our lodge was located just a few miles outside the entrance of the National Park and we were both so excited at finally being here and to have 3 whole days to explore and see all the highlights!!
FIRST DAY (running/exploring the Valley)
The drive from the lodge to Yosemite Village alone was one of the most unbelievable experiences we have gone through! As soon as we passed a tunnel, we came face-to-face with an unbelievably breathtaking view of the Valley, stretching for a whole 13 km and surrounded by high granite summits such as Half Dome and El Capitan.
|The Valley below|
|The magnificent El Capitan|
On this first day, I went for a 2-hour run, exploring the whole valley and getting orientated with the area. I ran through Mirror Lake, around El Capitan and Yosemite Falls, which were some of the highlights of this unbelievable run. What a total bliss!! We had perfect weather condition and there were no big crowds blocking my paths when I ran, thus giving me this feeling of solitude which I have always been looking for when I am on the mountains.
|Us before the start of the trail|
|Beginning of the trail|
For the first 2 hours, she managed well to cope with the ups and downs of the paths, but soon after, she was so exhausted and sick that she was almost ready to collapse!!
|Amazing views as we hiked|
|Hannis putting on a brave face|
|What a VIEW!!|
I asked her to have some rest under a tree to try to get some sleep, which she did, for about 30 minutes. I was praying hard that she will recover because if she did not, I might have to call for the Rescue Unit to get her down to the Valley again, as we were in the middle of nowhere and still a distance away from the nearest flat terrain.
|Hannis sleeping under a tree|
Thank God she woke up feeling a little bit better. She insisted that she was fine and well enough to continue and she managed to cover another 1 hour of hike before we reached the Nevada Falls. We made another stop for her to eat/drink and sleep, while I walked around taking some photographs and admiring the wonder of nature with the spectacular falls and the amazing mountains surrounding it.
|The technical trail leading to Vernal Falls|
Just about 2 km before the end of our adventure and while Hannis was asking me several times when will the hike ever end, we came face-to-face with a baby Californian bear crossing the path right in front of us! The surprising encounter and the excitement emanated from it were so great that we instantly forgot all our tiredness and unpleasantness of the hike. We were completely regenerated and pleased with our adventure, despite Hannis’ condition.
|The baby bear|
As soon as we arrived at Yosemite Village, we drove back to our lodge for Hannis to get some proper rest. She has had a tough day out on the mountains, but for once again, she proved how mentally strong she can be when things get tough and difficult! “It’s all a mind game”, she said, despite almost collapsing a few times!!! For that, I admire her.
|Dave, Adina, Hannis & Me|
Despite the miserable weather conditions with a lot of rain and fog in the first few days when we were there, Dave was always so enthusiastic in spirits. He took me to different end-sections of the race to introduce me to the terrains. On one of the days, he drove for more than 3 hours trying to find one of the more isolated/remote sections, despite the continuous rain!!
|Dave & me heading out for our training in the rain!!|
When you meet people like Dave and Adina, you realise that the community of runners are made up of many wonderful and amazing people like them, people who are always ready to do anything to help others, without asking anything in return. These people are simply GENEROUS and we feel so blessed to have known them and experienced their kind hospitality.
SQUAW VALLEY – LAKE TAHOE
This will be the start point of my adventure in the next few days. We had 3 days to relax in our wonderful rented apartment and my adrenaline was starting to pump faster as we drew closer to the big day. The organisers found many ways to keep us runners busy by having many pre-race talks/speeches for us to attend.
|Dave & me with his Pacer Bib|
The atmosphere of gathered oraganisers, competitors, pacers and supporters was making me so excited and I was looking forward so much to start running! At the end of the briefing, last year’s first ten runners (male/female) were introduced to all of us and once again, you could see the humility and simplicity of these ‘fast machines’, despite their supernatural performance on the trails!
|Gordy Ainsleigh giving us some tips!!|
|Top Ten Women runners|
|Top Ten Men runners|
|Emerald Bay @ Lake Tahoe|
|And off we went !!|
|Me checking the cause of my pain|
Before crossing the finish line, I lifted my eyes to check my time (for after my Garmin ran out of battery, both of us had not a single clue about our time!!). My time was 21:32’:27’’……..
Before I started this race, I had set myself 3 targets to achieve. Out of these 3, I have achieved only 2, which was to complete my first 100 miler and to get a silver buckle for finishing below 24 hours. My third target was to finish the race below 20 hours, which, unfortunately, I failed to achieve. I was one hour and thirty two minutes late.
Upon this discovery, I began to have mixed feelings. On the one hand, I was very relieved that the pain was not caused by any serious injury which could compromise my performance when I start training again in August. On the other, I was so angry with the product and my silly decision to change from my reliable and tested Bridgdale socks to Drymax!
|My precious silver buckle|
|The end of my adventure...|
I have many exciting ideas and plans for races in the coming year and am very tempted to return to run in the USA again after having fallen in love with her friendly people and beautiful outdoor nature.