Pura Vida (latin for Costa Rican motto ‘Pure Life’) become Pure Fatigue as we dragged ourselves through the remaining kilometres of this 235km eco adventure! Keeping mindful of of what this race represented and the cause we were supporting (Mindful Charity) kept us moving forward knowing we were also supporting a better future for children’s mental health.
Missed Stage 1-3 Recap? View HERE
Pre-Race Review: The level of excitement and uncertainty we had going into this race was crazy…although ultimately our enthusiasm had began to decline with the demands of the race. It was on this trip that I had truly realized that Bryce was just as crazy as I was. All it took was a ‘Hey Bryce…I have a great event for us to do….’ and his answer was ‘Send me the dates and I’m game!’. At first I didn’t know how serious he was but I soon realized that when Bryce says he’s game…there’s no turning back! Perhaps the most interesting part of all of this is that Bryce had a pre-condition that would question the decision to run long distance, particularly with steep declines….something that most people would leverage as an excuse. In fact, as I became to fully understand, he had a small meniscal tear that was susceptible to further and possibly permanent damage going into this race. This was confirmed pre-race when we visited an exceptional doctor in San Jose just days prior to our race start. This doctor was generously courteous with his time and commitment to ensuring that Bryce received some cutting-edge treatment and a word of caution prior to embarking on this eco-challenge. Funny enough we just ‘happened’ to run into this clinic on one of our training runs in San Jose literally a day prior to the race. After the physician’s diagnosis and a secondary clinical ultrasound at the San Jose Hospital – it was confirmed that Bryce was going into this run with this pre-existing condition, should only do so ‘at his own risk’ and should take great care in his approach. The plan afterwards was to seek PRP Therapy to assist with healing of current and possible subsequent damage. Did this damper or halt our game plan in anyway…absolutely not…the race approach was carried out as planned but intelligent awareness on health, our supporting cause in Mindful Charity and the overall experience being most important.
On came Stage 4 – a gruelling 38km day that presented all extreme race circumstances you can think of; from 90+ degree humid temperatures, hours of unobstructed sun exposure, running out of water supply and finishing with the most challenging downhill terrain imaginable! I had no quads left, my ankle stability was compromised from the steep uneven slopes and multiple near-roll overs on both ankles. As challenging and endless as this seemed at the time, there was something that kept me going, some exhilarating force that drew me closer to the finish line. You could conjure up several mystical ideas of what that force was; God, the Costa Rican Jungle Spirit, or the fear of what might be chasing me. As true as all of these ideas may be, upon reflection I realized that gravity was just as important. The last several kilometres were so steep that I really could not stop!
Despite all this…I occasionally remembered to stop and smell the flowers along the way…(seconds after this pic a large hornet flew out of the flower and almost landed in my mouth!)
I came in on Stage 4 at the top of the pack after having to leave my injured teammate at the second-to-last check point; a solid start for Bryce had come to a halt when the terrain made a drastic change to extreme downhill (previous knee conditions – he made the tough choice of either painfully going down and having permanent damage or saving his knee to continue the next day and beyond…saving the knee was the best choice). I was extremely impressed how fast Bryce was on the uphills, literally blowing past many of the best runners…this guy is part mountain goat! This stage definitely presented the most technically challenging terrain I had been faced with. I love to run downhill and normally I just let myself coast at a fast pace but the concentration and control required on this stage really challenged me physically and mentally – I was so glad when I reached the finish.
Later that evening:
Not sure what I caught but something had come over me – fever, chills and the onset of diarrhea…not a good combination consider tomorrow was a near 50km day.
Stage 5: This morning was very challenging, my condition was worse and I found myself having to pop Advil to keep my fever down. Bryce was good to go. As usual, we packed up our tent and grabbed breakfast (which was tough to eat) around 4am so that we were ready to start this stage of the race. Today we would begin at Sierpe River and end up at Drake Bay Beach. An interesting terrain on this day would take us uphill about 1.5km in the beginning then into some traversing hills, a large drop and into a long stretch of trail that was laced with mangroves on one side contrasting with the dense jungle on the other side. Like all stages, there were sections of this route where you wanted to take pictures. At one point I stopped to watch a group of howler monkeys jump from tree to tree in the jungle canopy above me – amazing! I believe it was moments like this that kept me going. This stage ended with a stretch along the beach in the exposed sun…I was so thankful to be finished this day. My condition had taken its toll and after relaxing and rehydrating I was straight to the tent to sleep, the thought of dinner was not appealing and I was having difficulty getting warm – strange considering it was above 90 degrees outside. Prior to passing out for the night Bryce and I tried to come up with some sort of diagnosis of what I was experiencing and some solution to limit the length of time it stayed with me. I ensured that I was rehydrating regularly (lost a lot of fluids during that route!) and ramped up my probiotics and some other Bryce-approved natural remedies in hopes that I would wake up to conquer the final day in fine form.
Stage 6: This was the last day of the entire race and in comparison, the easiest day due to its shorter distance (around 25km) and less dramatic inclines. I woke up that morning truly second guessing on whether I could even get out of bed – I felt horrible. After speaking to the camp doctor and reminding myself that I had come this far – there was no way I would let myself live it down if I didn’t continue. Bryce and I took off at a decent pace, however; I soon had to slow down. What was technically the easiest day (route and distance-wise) was actually the hardest day for me – it took everything in me to fight through the fever, chills and bathroom stops ever couple of kilometres. Once again the route was so beautiful and provided so much variety that it kept the mind alert and stimulated right to the finish line. Leaving Drakes Bay Beach the route took us into kilometres of river running, yes we actually traversed back and forth along the length of a river which took us deeper into the Corcovado Rainforest. It was visually stunning, mentally stimulating and physically refreshing. This day was a large loop that took us from the beach into the jungle and back to where we began at Drakes Bay. Towards the end of this route (the beach portion), I was really dragging myself to finish. Bryce’s knee and calf injury had really started to take their toll on his ability to run despite feeling good. Despite all of this we both finished what we started. When I saw that finish line in the distance a second surge of energy came over me which lasted long enough to get me past that finish line (and right to the washroom!). Mission accomplished!
We succumbed to exhaustion after finishing a long stretch of beach running (I should say crawling) in the blazing sun!
All in all, this was hands down one of the hardest but most rewarding event experiences I have ever had. We were so thankful for the experience (and thankful it was over). If you would have asked me during or right after this race if I would do it again…I would have said ‘Hell No!’ Now that it is completed and I have had the time to reflect, I realize how much I have learned from the experience in terms of preparation, hydration (provided by Alete), pain management (provided by Delivra) and where you can take yourself mentally and physically if you put your mind to it. Having a goal that takes you right out of your comfort zone is crucial for growth and it is the experience you gain that is most important. Today if you asked me the same question I would say ‘Absolutely!’ In fact, the week I got back from this trip, I immediately began researching for my next Big Challenge – any ideas?
Stay tuned as I will be providing a full video recap as I work through the final stages of editing footage I took throughout the entire race!
Once again if you are able to contribute in anyway to the charity we are supporting we would be very grateful. You can do so by clicking on the logo below. Thank you in advance!