Wednesday, December 20, 2006
With Christmas only days away and ski passes ready to go, many of us in Canada have been discussing the lack of snow. A green and ski-less Christmas may not be the
norm for us but for Ray, Kevin and Charlie it will certainly be far from “normal”. While snow may be flying around here (optimism!) it will be sand in Niger. For the last few days the team has been dealing with some crazy head winds. “Wild” as Ray described it! Winds have a magical way of making the sand come alive so in addition to the challenge of running into the wind comes that of the sand getting into everything! A day in the life of a man running across the Sahara!
Another interesting challenge has been the maps. For those of you with a sporting background that involves maps you’ll appreciate the impact of out of scale maps. Ray says we’d all be incredibly surprised at how out of scale they can really be.
With the team well inside Niger and about 3300 Km’s down, the next stop is Agadez. Check out the website for the latest update from the crew posted from day 42.
Stay tuned, more to come! If you'd like to send Christmas Greetings to Ray he will get them, please go ahead and send them via email (email@example.com)!
Saturday, December 16, 2006
With lots of communication from Ray over the past week, thanks to the good old satellite phone, we have lots of info for you!
The team is now consistently running down 70 to 80 km’s a day, still without a single rest day. By the time you read this the team will have passed over the Niger border, leaving Mali behind and pressing on toward the half way mark. In recent days they have mostly been on sand and at times it’s been very deep. Despite the associated challenges it’s been invigorating for Ray to be in his element. The hundreds of kilometers on the Trans Sahara highway were tough.
In his last conversation with his brother John, Ray talked about coming across a strange kind of grass that has tiny needle like barbs that work their way through the runners’ shoes. When they stop to take their shoes off they are stuck to their feet by thousands of these needles.
While talking to Ray this week, it’s obvious the team is keeping positive and is becoming more energized as they go. As Kathy said after her last talk with Ray, he sounds normal, just like himself. It’s rather hard to tell he’s running 80K a day. The team is excited to be on tract (a little ahead of schedule even) and nearing the half way mark which falls in the middle of Niger. Ray is thrilled to have Niger, Libya and Egypt ahead, all countries he's run across before. He's happy to be in a part of the world he’s so passionate about, and as you know this expedition is about more than running 80K a day. There’s purpose and passion behind it, trying to make a difference in a world where every 15 seconds a child dies due to unclean water.
A few things to take note of:
* In the first 31 days of running together, Ray, Charlie and Kevin ran the equivalent of 50 marathons!
* Also on the website is info about the route, check it out, it’s interested to read about where they are right now!
Keep those emails of encouragement coming to Ray. They are a source of energy for him! Thank-you!
Monday, December 11, 2006
It’s not often I write for Ray’s blog…but I thought this would be a good opportunity to say “thank you” to my husband for providing me with an amazing training program for my first Ultramarathon!
I ran my first Ultra 3 weeks ago in Maryland (JFK50 Miler) – it was great! Ray’s training program was perfect for me! Prior to July of this year I had never tried trail running, only ran a couple of marathons on the road. Plagued by injuries from high mileage on asphalt, Ray suggested I try trail running with him, somewhat unwilling I agreed. Wow – what a difference! So much softer under foot, but I found the terrain challenging at first (lots of hills and some technical sections). I also noticed I couldn’t keep the same pace I was used to running on the road which was frustrating in the beginning!
Ray’s first suggestion to me was to stop worrying about my pace and just run based on time…and enjoy it! So every Sunday I would tag along with Ray for an hour or so and I actually started to enjoy myself…and even started to think I’d like to try a trail race! A friend of ours suggested I try the JFK 50 Miler. With encouragement from Ray, I figured I would give it a shot. Now let me put this in perspective for everyone, when you live with one of the best Ultrarunners in the world and whose typical races are in the 250km+ category, 80km does not seem so far or unrealistic! So I set that as my goal and asked Ray to train me for it. Lucky for me, our friend Brian (who also had never ran an Ultra before) somehow let me twist his arm to run the race too! Just like any other client Ray works with we chatted about my goal, the amount of time I could actually commit to training, etc., and Brian followed the same procedure. We had 2 ½ months before race day so Brian and I made sure we followed Ray’s training program diligently!
On race day I thought about all the things Ray taught me over the last few months…stay hydrated, tips on how to stay relaxed while running uphill, and the power of positive thinking! He was certainly my motivation for the race – I kept telling myself “I just have to run 80km for one day, Ray is running 80km for 90 days…go!” Turns out both Brian and I had a great race! Brian finished in a time 7:58 and placed 69th out of over 1000 runners, and I ran 9:04 and was the 13th woman overall and 2nd in my age category. We were both quite pleased considering it was our first Ultra! We give Ray credit for providing a great training program (and I also want to say thanks to my Dad for coming to cheer us on)!
Ray called me from the Sahara Desert the following evening and I told him our results and how much we enjoyed the race – he was so proud of us! It was amazing to hear the excitement and satisfaction in his voice. Ray truly takes pride in seeing his clients do well and knowing his clients are pleased with their performance.
For anyone who wants a motivational, knowledgeable coach to help them achieve their goals – Ray is the BEST (honestly, bias aside!)! Check out Ray’s website for information on his training packages: www.rayzahab.com
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Ray called from satellite phone yesterday, from the Sahara Desert. They have arrived in Mali, and have put down around 2000km of running so far. The first big chunk of mileage had to be done on roads, but recently they have been able to get more off-road, which has been a relief, but it also has its challenges (sand in shoes, etc.). Everyday is physically and mentally tough – but the team is doing amazing at keeping pace of between 70 and 80k per day. The official website www.runningthesahara.com has some updated photos on the photo gallery link, and Ray anticipates that the website will be further updated on December 4th. A notable highlight for Ray and his teammates was when Matt Damon called them the other day – to check on how they were doing.
I would also like to extend my congratulations to Kathy Adams, Ray’s wife, who just completed her first Ultramarathon – the JFK 50 Miler in Maryland. Kathy finished 2nd in her age group, and 195th overall. Joining Kathy was Ray’s good friend Brian Henderson, who finished an amazing 69th overall out of a total of 1017 runners. Both Kathy and Brian enjoyed training under the guidance of Ray’s coaching.
Thursday, November 16, 2006
Here's another message from Ray! He is indeed reading your emails as time allows and wanted to pass on his thanks for all your support! If you need to get in touch on any speaking engagement, ball class, or coaching questions please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or reply to this email. Hope you all are doing very well!
Holding the fort down @ "Team Ray" HQ,
Well, we are now up to 1000kms of running - averaging 70-75kms per day. We have taken no rest days - and it has been very tough but rewarding. It is so cool running through these small towns and having sometimes up to 100 kids at a time chasing us, laughing and singing as they run with us! Awesome.
The heat has been intense, and the terrain the last few days mostly road. We have run in sand a lot, but due to these crazy sandspurs and necessity to cover a lot of ground quickly we are on the road! It sure is tough running 70-75kms per day on the road. I have never been a road runner - and this is tough. I will be happy to get back onto trails as we near Mali.
Our support has been incredible - with Don and Mohammed selecting routes - the doc and Chuck taking care of us with all other aspects.
Friday, November 10, 2006
We are here now in Mauritania after running through a small part of Senagal!
We have so far run over 500 kms with daily runs in the 70 km range. The running has definitely been tough, but rewarding. It is super hot- sometimes reaching the high 40's. We have been shooting for around 50 kms in the morning- and then another 20 to 25 after lunch.
We have seen many cool things already- such as camels, small desert towns, scorpions, and even a camel spider!
The people out here are amazing as usual- and the terrain as well, incredible.
Sandy trak for the most part so far- and sandy valleys a plenty!
We are now heading for the border of Mali! I will keep you updated. Mauritania is our biggest country to run across- so getting to Mali is a huge goal.
Sunday, October 29, 2006
Kevin, Charlie and I leave tomorrow for Dakar where we will commence our run! We will attempt to run 80 kms per day for roughly 90 days- that's over 6500 kms- through 6 countries-spanning the Sahara Desert.
To follow us-
I will try to stay in touch with blogs, so keep reading!
I will miss all of you!
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
It’s almost time to go! I can hardly believe it! This week-end I will be leaving to do something very special with friends who are very special to me! Kevin Lin, Charlie Engle and I will attempt to run over 6500 kms across the Sahara commencing in just a few days. In this incredible expedition we will run an average of 80 kms every day for 80 days straight. This IS NOT a relay. We will be running every mile- every inch together! The journey will take us through 6 countries and 9 ecosystems along the way and will no doubt be an insane experience! Sand dunes, sand storms, mountains, vast valleys, extreme temperatures...all the stuff Charlie, Kev and I love. This will be the Ultra of Ultra runs for us! Interacting and meeting with the people of the desert will no doubt be a highlight of our expedition.
Up to date tracking of our expedition can be seen at www.runningthesahara.com. Check back on this blog on a regular basis as well. I’ll be sending updates home on as regular a basis as the desert will allow!
As you can imagine I’ve been very busy training these last few months, running 4 to 5 hours a day! I’m tapering now but am busy getting all my gear and food ready. I have a couple of mountains of food ready to go. Dehydrated, pre-packaged, bars, bags...it's all there!
This will probably be the last post before I leave so let me take the opportunity to say a big huge THANK-YOU to everyone for all the support and encouragement, couldn’t do it without you!!
Stay tuned! Posts from the desert to come!
Tuesday, July 04, 2006
The race itself is going to be an extraordinary event. One of a kind., and truly a Northern Canadian experience. The premiere event will be the Diamond 300 (300 km stage race) through the “other desert” of the Northwest Territories. Vast, snowy and ‘scenic unique’, racers will get to witness Aurora Borealis (northern kights), rock and ice covered wilderness, among lots of other natural wonders of the North. As the name of the event indicates, first place winner will receive a $ 5000 Canadian Cut Diamond. You read that right ! More about the race and other stages/events in later posts.
In NWT I gave a series of talks on my race expeiences (150 photos)- thankfully nobody was caught napping ! Just kidding. The talks all were well received and I was amazed at the participation of the Functional Running clinics I gave also. We covered Core Strength and it’s role in preventing injury, improving performance, and program construction.
Aside from the talks I was able to train for Running The Sahara on some of the most beautiful trails I have ever been on. Yellowknife was such a cool place. A jewel in the Canadian wilderness of the north. So much seemed to be going on while I was there. The people were very athletic- and the 24 hours of more or less daylight helped to run around the clock !!!
More tomorrow…I’m getting windy as usual.
We laughed every day and I think I actually only had my MP3 blasting for 2 hours the whole race. The coolest part of the race for me had to be traversing these huge sand dunes that were encapsulated in a sand/wind storm. We topped out on this super huge dune and it was like being on top of some snowy mountain. The wind was whipping up sand and it was hard to see. We ran down the dune into a camp that was a community of ‘yurts’ or traditonal Mongolian huts. The camp was unable to erect the tents because of the high winds- so we got to spend the night in these awesome shelters. The stage itself had to be cut short- a relief when in a storm ! But for Kev, Charlie and I , the long stage is usually our time to fly ! Not to worry- there would be a second longish stage that had an incredible slot canyon section and river crossings. We tied the top solos for this stage win- and from here it would only be on more short stage to the finish. Hats off once again to RacingThePlanet for putting on such a unique event. We really had an awesome time- and once again got to see a part of the world and it’s peoples in a very unique way ! Thanks to GOJI JUICE for complementing my training completely. This stuff is amazing- it really is. Also, I would not have been so fortunate to have 3 wins in a row without Altipower to help prepare me for high altitude running. Injinji- no blisters in this race- AGAIN ! MAGO for keeping me burn free the first time ever, and CW-X. We all wore the gear and could not believe how many people are running in this stuff now.
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
Another 40 or so kms today of rocky, hilly terrain. No super heat- but it was super beautiful ! The scenery was a mix of local culture, beautiful people (their cheeks were so rosey and healthy looking), incredible mountains and awesome valleys.
Pat was strong as usual and even though I was having an awesome time with Charlie and Kev I looked so forward to seeing him at the end of each stage.
Pat and I have had many crazy adventures together and this was one to add to the list ! Picture a dude with legs like tree trunks and the power to go with them. Crazy blonde hair is his trademark. That’s Pat !
Team ChungHwa/MAGO solidified our lead in the team category and we were in hot pursuit of the solo runners now !
We got in and cooked up our dehydrated food and got into the ‘camp groove’- visiting and eating!
Thankfully I didn’t have any blisters to treat, so I spent a lot of time stretching to loosen things up. I always do a long stretch after each stage. I find it really helps to recover for the next day.
Everybody in our tent was running strong and coming in looking in pretty good shape. Thierry and Howard were running close, and were both very strong every day. Jack and Becks always looked so clean when they came in. Amazing. I think about racing and I look filthy !
Rolf, the course designer had so far designed an incredible race course. Rumors about stage 3 milled about camp.
Stage 3 will be interesting !
Sunday, June 18, 2006
We were totally stoked to be racing as a team together. The first time for all of us ! After gear checks at the hotel, we boarded buses for the race camp. Anticipating a fun race we were totally exicted to get started ! We met up with eveyone we were sharing our tent with and instantly liked everybody ! More about our tent companions later.
The Gobi March is a 250km, self-sufficient 6-stage race across the Gobi Desert in China. It is called the 'race of no return'- and it was a toughy !
RacingThePlanet races are always exceptional events, and we were not to be dissappointed wit this one. Course design was a perfect blend of mental and physical toughness and beauty. Mountains, sand dunes, valleys, villages. So much to see.
So much challenge too. 9 500 foot mountain passes, salt/mud flats, and even a major storm !
Approx. 35 kms
Team ChungWha/Mago has left the start line ! After 200 meters or so we headed upo our first mountain pass. A small but steep scramble and then it was down to the salt flats. Basically an area stretching several kms of salt covered mud ! Charlie lost his shoes several times in the deep mud. He even sank at one point past his knees ! Several of the runners had a hard time keeping their shoes on, and ended up with muddy feet re-inserted into their socks and shoes. We got across and then it was into 'up and down' very steep rocky hills. Charlie was an animal in this stuff. He has so much experience in mountainous terrain. He kept Kev and I motivated and we moved together at a pretty good pace, just getting used to running together. It seemed right away like a great fit together.
Kev was chomping at the bit for some gravelly flats and I was pumped for some sand and dunes !
We would get all of the above in the coming stages !
We finished up the first day with muddy feet- and headed back to our tent to eat, sort our gear out and strategize for the next day. All of our tent mates made it in quickly. Pat, Howard, Becks, Thierry, Jack and Coolito 2 all joined us one after another and we crashed for the night.
Tomorrow stage 2...
Sunday, June 04, 2006
I know Ray, Kevin, and Charlie are extremely happy with their performance, wining every stage of the race! There are some awesome photos of the terrain and the team on the aforementioned website!
For anyone wishing to sponsor Ray for his next big ultra race in July (Atamcama Crossing, 250km footrace, Chile) there is a link on his website www.rayzahab.com
or email him directly at email@example.com Ray also offers fantastic motivational speaking to a variety of audiences as well as on-line coaching!
Ray returns late Monday night, I know he'll be anxious to update you all on the race details! Please stay tuned!!
Thursday, June 01, 2006
The race website has some awesome photos and daily updates - check it out at: http://www.racingtheplanet.com/gobimarch/live/2006/index.asp
Ray, Charlie and Kevin have all won a Racing The Planet race (Ray: Sahara Race, Charlie: Gobi March, and Kevin: Atacama Crosssing) Be sure to stay tunned to see if they can take a "team" win at the Gobi March this year.....just 2 more Stages to go!!
Wednesday, May 31, 2006
It's hot during the day and the terrain is tough, especially the salt flats....your feet sink with every step! There are a couple of photos of Ray's Team on the race website. Cut and paste this website to your internet browser to check them out!! http://www.racingtheplanet.com/gobimarch/live/2006/index.asp
I'll continue to update as the race contiues!
Saturday, May 20, 2006
My taper started this past week...so I have not been running as much. I've got all of my food choices packed (mainly a combination of gels, dehydrated food, electrolyte powder and bars). I like to take extra food so I don't go hungry, and I am willing to carry extra weight as a result. I have around 17 500 calories on board-about 500 more than I took to Sahara Race last October.
My gator system is ready to go too, and we glued the silk to my shoes today. I got the sewing shop in Ottawa to whip up a pair of the gators that I use for Charlie as well.
More to come tomorrow !
Friday, April 28, 2006
Thursday, April 27, 2006
Friday, April 21, 2006
Conditioning your body to ultra races requires a good training program and lots of rest !!!
Actually, the rest is of extreme imortance.
After I do a long run on the weekend I follow a regular protocal. First I run 40 or 50 k on trail with my race gear, then immediately following my run I eat a higher glycemic carb so that I can start my recovery for tomorrows run ! That means I usually take a gel while I am cruising back to my place. Then its stretching for 10 minutes and then I have a shake which is a mix of protein, omega fats , greens and l-glutamine.
After that I sometimes ice my legs and then get in a hot shower. Then it's nappy time for 30 minutes or so.
When nap time is done I then eat, eat, eat !
So, it sounds like alot of stuff to do- but it works for me !
Let me know what you do !
Friday, April 14, 2006
Had to tell you about some of the latest news from my clients- watch for updated postings on my website soon. For now...
Mike Scherman of Saskatchewan won 1st Place at this year's Yukon Arctic Ultra ! I won this race in 2004 and I can promise you it is insanely tough !
Lorne Webernuk of Ontario completed his first ultra- the AR50 in California a few weeks ago. He ran the 80 kms in 11:38- in mud and steep hills !
JF Carrey is currently in the icefields getting prepped to attempt a summit of Everest. Go JF !
Mimi Anderson of the UK- she was fast and now is getting even faster- watch out Ultra World !!!
Mark Babinski of Quebec- incredible finishes all year nordic ski racing - and heading into marathon season primed up.
David Leenen- 1st Place last week at Gloucester Spring Skate figure skating competition.
........keep watching !......:0)
Since Libya I have beentraining pretty much non-stop. I was fortunate to have a fast recovery- I was running within days of finishing. I was really happy with this as I ran almost 200 kms in super duper tough terrain and barely had any swelling and no blisters. Some of the credit has to go to the Goji Juice for sure.
The plan for Gobi so far has been to train as I did for Sahara Race. It was awesome to get those base miles in Libya.
Training for Gobi will/has included speed work, hill repeats and the ever present 'tire dragging'! Running with Kevin and Charlie means running really fast- and Gobi is a stage race so it is going to be super tough and super fast !
Where Libya involved more or less non-stop running for 32 or so hours, Gobi will be over a course of several days with the long stage (minimum 80 kms) peeking out on day 4 or 5.
I am always asked - which is tougher- stage racing or non-stop ? I think for me it is stage racing. So fast and not enough time to recover between stages. RacingThePlanet races are incredible experiences- legendary for their course design and ability to test your limits- I am sure Gobi this year will carry on that tradition ! Stay tuned - more to come !
Sunday, April 02, 2006
Thursday, March 02, 2006
He was calling from a sateillite phone so we weren't able to chat for long. He said it was an extremely tough race.....and mentioned something about getting lost.......and that he's a little tired!
He'll be updating this blog when he gets home on Sunday night so stay tuned for the full details!!
Congratulations to Ray on an amazing win!!!
Wednesday, March 01, 2006
Well, this is my one opportunity to give you a glimpse as to what goes on ‘behind the scenes" as Ray is prepping for his races!
Wow, I really wish I had a picture of our livingroom the week before the race…..there was food (i.e. bars/gels/dehydrated meals) and gear everywhere!! Ray checks to make sure he has all the items on the mandatory "gear list". Next he starts cutting excess packaging and removing tags….even from his clothing! Then out comes the scale and every item is weighed and logged on a spreadsheet. While this may seem a little fanatical, I’ve learned that every gram counts! And understandable so, as he does have to carry all this stuff on his back during the race!
Ray trains very consistently (6 days a week) year-round! In the last 2 years, I think I’ve only ever heard him say "I don’t feel like running today" once…..and then he laced up his running shoes and off he went! I have never met anyone so passionate about what they do - he never loses motivation. He works day and night training clients and giving motivational talks, and still fits in his training….which sometimes means running some 15K home from his client’s house at 8pm. His drive to excel amazes me each and every day!
I’m sure he’s bursting with excitement to fill you all in on the details of his race in Libya! He return on Sunday…..I can’t wait!
Sunday, February 19, 2006
Still getting gear together. Everything together so far weighs in at under 8 pounds. Not bad considering I have 8000 calories plus sleeping bag, mandatory gear and clothing, medical kit, etc.
Have to glue my shoes together to keep the sand out. I have a system that works really well- I used it in Sahara Race and Trans 333. Once I figure out how to get photos up here I will post it so you can see. I am using the same pack and configuration of gear I used in the Sahara Race- but each race I learn how to make stuff lighter- which is good because I'm really not that large framed!
Training fro me for this one has included some really, really long runs in cold Canada winter conditions. Great heat training !
Most notable run was a 50 km long run in Newfoundland a few weeks ago. My fiancee lives in Harbour Grace and she gave me a route to run along the ocean. Insanely hilly, freezing rain and a full pack- loads of fun !
Trying to keep up the good nutrition and doing lots of altitude training as well. I'll talk more about that tomorrow.
After I run !