Fuck Yes! The Journey to Badwater

The best thing you can possibly do with your life is to tackle the motherfucking shit out of it.
— Cheryl Strayed
Larry and me at Badwater (~mile 132), 2014.

Larry and me at Badwater (~mile 132), 2014.

I call it the “fuck yes moment,” the moment after everything finally comes together, the moment you realize “that just happened!” We all have these moments: sometimes they follow a perfect first date, a perfect race performance, a job offer you’ve been waiting for (or leaving a job you hated), sometimes one good run after two weeks of staleness, and sometimes after something we’ve secretly (or not so secretly) wished for comes true. It’s the moment when hope is restored and we revel in feelings of possibility. In 2014, my “fuck yes moment” was the day after the Western States lottery. It was a Sunday and, like most Sundays, I spent it running trail with a friend. I will forever remember that run not because we went anywhere out of the ordinary or because anything eventful happened; I’ll remember it because of the way I felt when everything finally came to fruition. That empty placeholder on my race schedule, the one that had, for years, just read “the dream,” was finally going to be filled.

My “fuck yes moment” this year came after receiving an invitation to run the 2016 Badwater 135. My journey to Badwater started three years ago when, during an average Saturday run with my friend Larry, I mentioned that I wanted to run Badwater someday: “But not until I run Western States,” I said. That had to come first. I knew my road ahead was long and I was nowhere near ready. I needed to qualify, I needed more experience volunteering and supporting, and I needed more race experience. Larry revealed that he was submitting his application to Badwater for the following year, and I offered my support if he got in. That following summer, I found myself running behind him along a stretch of pavement in Death Valley, completely in awe by his strength and fortitude.

After Larry’s journey through Death Valley and his incredible finish, we sat on the patio of a small restaurant, eating pizza as we watched runners begin the final 13-mile ascent to Whitney Portal. Larry looked at me and asked: “So, do you still want to run it?” “Now more than ever,” I replied. He smiled the smile he always has when he knows I’ve resolved to do something, the smile that tells me he knows I’ll succeed.

Last December, almost two years after that run when I told Larry I wanted to run Badwater, he sent me a text: “Everything from this point forward is about Badwater,” and so it was. We both took a leap of faith and started training and planning, hoping the stars would align for us. I was sure they would for him, but I wasn’t sure they would for me. There are so many people more experienced and more qualified to run a race like Badwater; I knew the odds were against me, and I told myself if I didn’t get in, I would continue to build my resume and apply again. In the meantime, there would be other races. Still, I had to try. I submitted my application materials the day the application opened, and then I waited, mostly impatiently. On Monday this week, I didn’t sleep. I was too nervous for the email I knew I’d receive the next day, the one that would either make my year or bring disappointment. On Tuesday, I anxiously sat on the edge of my seat at work, waiting, until, finally, I received a message from AdventureCORPS that began with “We regret to inform you…” My stomach dropped and I was overcome with more disappointment than I anticipated. Then I read on: “that you have been accepted to compete in the 2016 STYR Labs Badwater 135…” My hands started to shake. My stomach filled with butterflies. I instantly texted Larry. And, then, “fuck yes!” Fuck yes, I qualified. Fuck yes, I gained the experience I needed. Fuck yes, this goal is coming to fruition. Fuck yes, I'm running Badwater!