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Joshua Tebeau
Proudest Day

24 June 2022 10:59 am (GMT+04:00) Baku, Tbilisi, Yerevan

I woke up and could hardly stand from a mixture of blistering and ankle swelling.

The atmosphere in the shelter (we slept in an abandoned building due to inclement weather) was quite a bit more chaotic than usual because all the races shared one roof. I got a few more hours of sleep so felt moderately fresher and was able to tune out the bustle and get myself prepped early enough to study the scores in the cybertent. I was placed 21st, with 30 minutes on either side of me and 20 and 22. This gave me good benchmarks for people to stay near in order to tread water and not continue dropping. It was the Long March, the longest day, nearly double the other days, and the one where placements shift the most.

I was surprised when everyone started quickly, albeit it made some sense since everyone slept a bit better than other nights. The opening section was several miles of aggressive uphill over trampled grass, on which I could warm up my legs and rip a quick pace without wrecking my legs. I passed racers 20 and 22 on the uphill, at which point, around mile 10, I faced a treacherous downhill. Racer 20 passed me and "Will to Death" by John Frusciante came on. On a whim, I started to stretch my legs a bit to see what I might be capable of. It was here, at mile 12, I realized that I might be able to run that day, and I started sobbing. 

Within minutes I was comfortably at the paces that I had planned before the race, and although my ankle was hurting, the joy of running was more than enough compensation. I felt like a child who had just learned to walk, awkwardly ambling forward feeling shocked and determined.

I caught up to Julie around Mile 18, and she was really chugging along. We ran more or less within sight of each other until mile 27. I am so impressed by here toughness, shuffling at a constant pace, faster everyday. At mile 26, I started to cramp, and she passed me, and I mentioned to her that I might finish in just 11 hours and change if I maintain 17min/mile the rest of the way (a bit of a demoralized statement). She went "I only deal in kilometers" and flew forward at a much quicker pace. I held on behind her until the salt I ate hit my system and I could catch up. Around mile 28, I realized how little I had left, and I resolved to run the entire way in.

I don't think I've ever displayed as much courage as I did during that next stretch. After running 140+ miles over the past seven days and over a marathon that day, I shrugged off total joint swelling and exhaustion to put forth a time that I would be happy with any given weekend in Salt Lake. I dipped into my collection of private and special music that I don't share with others due to its importance to me and sobbed through catharsis and incredible pain. The final sprint was caught on camera by Jeff and I look forward to seeing it. I finished in 10 hours flat. Times are below:

 

1 17

2 16.38

3 16.5

4 15.42

5 15.47

6 19.10

7 18.57

8 16.51

9 18.35

10 17.2

11 16.05

12 17.58

13 15.53

14 13.06

15 14.49

16 14.49

17 14.55

18 13.58

19 13.48

20 12.57

21 15.53

22 17.58

23 20.23

24 18.01

25 21.05

26 15.56

27 17.56

28 16.23

29 15.49

30 13

31 13.17

32 15.5

33 10.34

34 9.48

35 10.16

36 10.13

37 10.36

38 10.39

39 11.17

40 9.40

 

 

Comments: Total (3) comments

anna b

Posted On: 25 Jun 2022 04:20 am

wahoo!

Matthew T

Posted On: 24 Jun 2022 03:26 pm

Great run at the end. Glad you have managed! I know it has been tough with your ankle and knee. We are rooting for you… only a little way now. Enjoy the finale!

Monika Switakowska Tebeau

Posted On: 24 Jun 2022 11:28 am

Josh, your account brutally honest and joyful at the same time. All you need to is relax, enjoy the scenery and local flavors. You did it! Mom
Joshua Tebeau
Mud and Cobblestones

24 June 2022 10:46 am (GMT+04:00) Baku, Tbilisi, Yerevan

Apologies for not posting the past two days-- was a bit more tired than usual and now on the rest day I have a free minute to post. I'll do a post for each of the days I missed.

Day 4 got off to a nightmare start. I woke up and my watch immediately warned me that my sleep had not been adequate and my ankle swelling did not go down. A substantial portion of this had to have been my fault, not taking my compression socks off and giving my legs a rest. 

Dehydrated porridge with blueberries, my favorite breakfast, stopped tasting as good as it had and when the run was set to go and I primed by watch for a workout it blared at me that working out would be unhealthy.

During the course briefing we were told that there would be a limited amount of mud and that the weather should be moderately clear. I started in a t-shirt and immediately ran into ankle deep mud that completely sapped all strength and had me walking at about 23min/mile and picking up random debris and pounds of mud. Once we escaped the bog there was a river ford and clearly my head was not where it should have been as I spent about 5 minutes considering how to cross the river without getting wet and completely failed. The sweepers caught up to me and the clouds broke and I fell behind them momentarily as I struggled to get my poncho on.

That could have been the end of my race, but, in one of my better moments during the week, I ate a pack of M&Ms and refocused. I picked up the pace a bit and, while it was only about 19min/mile, I managed to pass some people and put some distance between myself and the cut off time. 

As frustrating as it was to walk the entire day I'm quite proud of my mental perserverance. I vacillated between anger and despondence as my ankle kept blaring at me but managed to hold steady and dig myself out of the holes I was getting in. 

The day ended on a long descent through a canyon on a cobblestone rode. Totally wrecked my legs and I spent quite a bit of time in the medical tent afterwards, after which I went right to sleep to prep for the long march. I went to bed thinking all hope I had of good placement was out the window.

Comments: Total (1) comments

Julia R

Posted On: 24 Jun 2022 12:30 pm

The magical M&Ms!! You are absolutely smashing this. Go JOSH!
Joshua Tebeau
Things in my way

21 June 2022 08:00 pm (GMT+04:00) Baku, Tbilisi, Yerevan

I am writing this as golf ball sized hail comes down at Camp

 

I slept badly due to howling winds and cramping calves. I woke up and made a list of things that were in my way:

-sore knees

-sore ankles

-tight hips

-acid reflux

-complete constipation

-wet clothing

-no sleep

 

Things were looking pretty bleak and another fog descended upon camp so visibility was reduced to only a few meters and temperatures plummeted. I lost my warm hat at some point so i lacerated a quad compression sleeve and wore that instead. 

 

As the course profile was not dissimilar from that of day 1 I decided to take the start slow and make up time on maybe the biggest ascent of the course.

 

I started wearing nearly all my layers and, just after the start, the weather cleared up completely. As I climbed, kept expecting to re-enter a cloud but the weather only became more beautiful. After 1.5 hours I cut my sweaty losses and stripped down to my base layer.

 

The strategy was successful, and although I was a bit behind due to my very slow start I made up like 12 spots between CP1 and CP2. I ate that ascent up at around 16min/mile.

 

After CP2 I did some more passing and crested the pass. To this point I had not run, and my ankle seemed to be doing fine, so I decided to start testing its limits on the downhill. As much as I wanted to preserve my very broken body (not even done with 50% of the race!) I couldn’t resist. Poor decision.

 

Within 2 minutes of running my ankle completely failed. The remainder of the course I hobbled downwards, almost unable to put weight on my left foot. Any dreams of being competitive and racing are gone. At this point my only goal is to finish.

 

From mile 16 onwards (where my ankle gave out) I average 22min/mile, going about 25 min/mile on downhill sections, and somehow going a much faster 19min/mile on uphill (pain is the worst on downhill). 

 

Due to the problems I’m experiencing with my joints my walking patterns is completely out of sync and it’s causing major blistering. I have bandages on both of my soles and half my toes. I typically do not blister.

 

I came into camp more frustrated than tired. My heart rate hardly crossed 105 on the entire hobbling descent as i had no way to get moving purposefully. I feel caged by my legs. All the spots I gained on the climb I lost and more.

 

I found some consolation when at camp I was told that the descent was hard on others as well. Nevertheless there is 80+ miles left and it will hurt a lot.

 

Comments: Total (7) comments

Grandpa T

Posted On: 23 Jun 2022 10:39 pm

We will do aching for you - just keep going.

Ben Clarke

Posted On: 23 Jun 2022 08:13 pm

You’ve got this lad - immensely proud, you’re beasting. Best of luck

Oliver Crane

Posted On: 23 Jun 2022 09:12 am

As long as you’re still moving forward you’re overcoming these challenges. Stay positive going into these final stages — you got this mate.

Doreen Hoffman

Posted On: 22 Jun 2022 05:43 pm

Sounds like brutal conditions Joshua and you are still there taking it all in every day. Good for you showing a spirit of perseverance and determination despite the discomfort! Be kind to and patient with yourself during the Long March and enjoy the journey. I am sure you will do well! Doreen

Helena T

Posted On: 22 Jun 2022 04:27 pm

Hopefully better sleep tonight in the shelter!! Sounds like a tough day, so take care of yourself.

bannna b

Posted On: 21 Jun 2022 09:21 pm

YOU GOT THIS!!! ! and re: constipation-- better than the opposite problem :O :)

Matthew T

Posted On: 21 Jun 2022 05:49 pm

Sorry to hear Josh. Keep at it and make sure you enjoy the beauty and wildness of your environment. We are rooting for you.
Joshua Tebeau
Fury Road 29 Miles, ~7:10.

20 June 2022 08:00 pm (GMT+04:00) Baku, Tbilisi, Yerevan

The adjustment came in-- 1 hour for the 1st section of the first day. The decision was fair but really hurt my placement. Given that I started hot and suffered on the second section as a result, a blanket time for everyone added weight to my most pathetic time and nullified substantial exertion, dropping me 7 spots from 13 to 20. 
 
Perhaps another issue is that I approached yesterday's race too much as a positive adventure. Ultimately that is what this race is, however I am too competitive for my own good. I certainly won't make that mistake again and I torched the course.
 
I think I was the highest placing non-pro or non-semi-pro, finishing ahead of people who seemed clearly stronger on day 1. Whereas yesterday my nutrition and hydration was a fiasco, today was executed nigh perfectly, with well space snacks, plenty of salt effervescent tabs and multidextrin at the right moments.
 
The secret sauce was fixating on my drop in rank and becoming very, very angry. I always find that anger is a most effective motivator and I think I had my most focused run to date.
 
I was actually on pace for 6:45 until the mountain after checkpoint three. Miles 23-29 were pain. Another heavy fog descended and with every step further the cloud unfurled more and steeper climbing. (Today's stage was ostensibly 28 miles, which I did in under 7 hrs). 
 
 For the first time in my running career I broke down, standing for minutes at a time on the mountain side, trying to summon some energy. Taking it 'a step at a time' certainly was not working as my knee is not right and, as a result of favoring my right leg, my left extensor tendor in my ankle is now a major source of pain as well. 
 
I never really exited the mental hole (also as a result of the extra mile), and, while I finished with an epic sprint, felt little joy at the finish line (rather it was a reprieve from pain). My result was awesome and I think I made up time lost due to the adjustment but it was not enough and at a large physical toll.
 
The medical team took incredible care of my injuries and tomorrow is another day, a much shorter day (my time through mile 23 was 5:30). This is the most beautiful spot on the course, a mountain pass crowned by clouds overlooking a reservoir.
 
Times by Mile:
 
1 11.26
2. 13.01
3. 12.55
4. 14.13
5. 11.52
6. 13.55
7. 12.56
8. 12.38
9. 11.09
10 13.45
11 18.29
12 15.39
13 13.44
14. 12.34
15. 14.53
16 13.43
17 16.57
18 16.46
19 18.33
20 15.08
21 13.45
22 12.08
23 13.45
24 21.21
25 22.40
26 16.42
27 17.35
28 16.01
29 14.22
 

Comments: Total (11) comments

Miles C

Posted On: 21 Jun 2022 06:23 pm

easy for you, finish the second half strong!!

Patti T

Posted On: 21 Jun 2022 02:57 pm

Go Josh! Enjoy your journey!

Grandma Tebeau

Posted On: 21 Jun 2022 01:38 pm

Wow! Just keep going and going….

Grandma Tebeau

Posted On: 21 Jun 2022 01:38 pm

Wow! Just keep going and going….

beatriz l

Posted On: 21 Jun 2022 01:00 pm

absolutely crushing it!!

Jan Domingo Alsina

Posted On: 21 Jun 2022 11:09 am

LET'S GO BEAST!

Monika Switakowska Tebeau

Posted On: 21 Jun 2022 06:25 am

one step at a time.

Jeff Abrams

Posted On: 21 Jun 2022 04:55 am

Keep crushing it!!

Julia R

Posted On: 21 Jun 2022 12:13 am

You are CRUSHING IT!!! keep killing it josh!!

anna b

Posted On: 20 Jun 2022 08:56 pm

enjoy the journey and the adventure!!!! and the nature!!

Matthew T

Posted On: 20 Jun 2022 06:42 pm

Sounds like you were focused Josh. Let the first day go and take it one step at a time. Hope you can manage with your knee. Enjoy the beautiful scenery. We are pulling for you!
Joshua Tebeau
Hurly Burly

19 June 2022 03:18 pm (GMT+04:00) Baku, Tbilisi, Yerevan

26.37 miles, approx 8:30 (3 miles lost approx)

As I prepared my freeze dried porridge with strawberries the sun would fleetingly break through a desceding fog and catch the puddles that sat upon the mud of the running trail causing it to darkly bulge as a varicose vein upon the goregous and muscular hills that stretched before.

By the race briefing the fog swallowed those hills and visibility was reduce to 30 meters optimistically. I started quick, trying to take advantage of the miles where my knee was most function and caught the rear of the top 10, mixing downhill running and uphill trekking. We passed multiple mobs of barking herding dogs and in the distance I saw shepherds three, as Macbeth's witches transplanted from the heath unto the Georgian fescue.

Minutes later, around mile 4, I caught up to one of the race leaders, a most alarming sign. They were lost, the pink flags that lined the trail having completely disappeared. In that fog and filthy air, distant voices called "DO YOU SEE A FLAG" and we would respond "NO" until we stopped hearing questions and our own shouts into the cloud were left unanswered. Stumbling from tire tread to tire tread we ran into 8 more runners, all top tenners. We called the emergency line and retraced our steps, were we met the sweepers, working their way up the course at the race's cut off time. As the news circulated that the flags had been taken (by local shephers perhaps?), we waited for word, until we were led along GPS line to a point where we spotted a flag that was lost in the fog. I continued running, but, conservatively, lost 1.5 hours. More alarming, of the 43 runners that started the race, 32 were missing-- enshrouded in freezing fog.

I torched the next section to a tune of 9 minute miles until we reached camp 1 through a mulchy old-growth forest. Thinking I could maintain pace through the next section, tagged "moderately uphill" in my pre-race research, I added a minimal amount of water to my supplies and continued. Huge mistake!

The next section averaged out to "moderately uphill", meaing that it was a combination of extremely steepdownhill and diabolical uphill. My training is geared towards hills, having sprinted them with Italy's second fastest hurdler and going up Utah's Wasatch mountains in a weight vest. I estimate that I can take on a difficult hill at approximately 20min/mile. On these, I was moving at around 28 min/mile and exerting myself at 190 BPM. The "rasputitsa" mud sapped all downward force made all motions treacherous. Many of the inclines could only be handled with fistful of dirt. 

My water ran out 2 miles into this section and with an unclear distance covered in the starting fog I had no concept of distance. Paranoid thoughts creeped in. Could have the volunteers at Camp 2 abandoned post to go join a rescue effort? I started recording a selfie video to collect my thoughts, slammed some peanut M&Ms, and right as I began to panic, I reached camp 2.

I electrolyte bombed my system and chugged to catch up. As terryfing and challenging as the previous section was, it was epic and with my stores replenished I ripped to camp 3 at 15min/mile pace and to camp 4 at 17 min/mile pace.

I finished 13th. A couple of racers were not lost so they gained 1.5 hours on me. Many of the most lost marathoners arrived at camp 1 2 hours after me. There is discussion to "starting" the race at camp 1, negating the time gained due to the flag situation. Unclear the impact this would have on my placement. I imagine I would gain a spot or two against some people who had not been lost, but almost certainly will lose some given the energy I burned by coming out really hot. 

My knee took a beating during the second section, so i'm afraid that I will not be able to run tomorrow, but, regardless, I look forward to reporting 

when the hurly burlys done,

when the battles lost and won.

 

 

Comments: Total (7) comments

Austin The Goat

Posted On: 20 Jun 2022 04:19 am

Can’t wait to see that 1st place trophy!!! #becometheG.O.A.T

alicia l

Posted On: 20 Jun 2022 01:38 am

what an absolutely wild day. good luck tomorrow !! 🎉

Narayan Bharadwaj

Posted On: 19 Jun 2022 07:57 pm

Boy, that was rough! I did this last year and remember Stage 1 very clearly! It rained the night before and Algeti National Park was super slippery with the leaf cover, we had to walk in 45 degree slopes! Once you crossed the Park, I know exactly what you are talking about the "Moderate" section. At the end of stage 1, we were joking about how it should have read "Extremely difficult". You almost have to scramble through those rocks, forget uphill running. A setback in Stage 1 especially a weather-related scenario like fog and cold can be very intimidating, but so glad you all got out safely. Please know (and I speak from experience of having done this last year!), that the rest of the stages are not that bad. The climb to the Abuli Fortress in the long march will be long, but gradual, so if you are strategic about your effort, you can execute it well. When you reach the fortress, you have to scramble through some boulders, but that's about it. The other stages are relatively easy when compared to Stage 1, so you definitely got through the toughest one of them all. You should definitely be proud of yourself! Stay safe and injury free. This is a great course and enjoy yourself! Good luck!

Gabby L

Posted On: 19 Jun 2022 07:41 pm

That’s wild Josh! Hopefully youll be presented with more favorable conditions soon. You’ve done amazing so far!

beatriz l

Posted On: 19 Jun 2022 07:32 pm

grateful you made it to camp 4! these are victories to be celebrated please take care of your knee

Matthew Tebeau

Posted On: 19 Jun 2022 02:37 pm

Thanks for shedding some insight on the what happened on the course today. Sounds rough. Great that you are in the spirit of quoting Macbeth after all that! Unfortunately you met Rasputitsa... I thought it was only slowing down Russian tanks. Hang in there and hope your knee is alright.

Monika Switakowska Tebeau

Posted On: 19 Jun 2022 02:30 pm

Trzymaj sie! Stay strong! Thinking of you! Mama
Joshua Tebeau
Losing Weight

18 June 2022 12:58 pm (GMT+04:00) Baku, Tbilisi, Yerevan

Hi All,

Writing this blog post on the geometrically patterned floor of the Courtyard Marriott Tbilisi, sitting with my back propped against a loose frond pot with the leaves dangling above my head (preparing for blogging in the Caucusus I suppose).

The race begins tomorrow and we are about to depart for "camp 1". I'm dressed in my race clothing which I will not take off save for maybe switching into another pair of underwear at night. My calves and thighs are compressed and I have a patellar strap to attempt to ward off inevitable knee troubles and a hip strap to deal with the pressure of the pack upon my lower back.

I came to Tbilisi with a bag overflowing with calories and bags full of random optional pieces caribinered onto the thin straps of the exterior of the pack. It weighed in around 16 kilos, double that of the most experienced competitors.

I spent the last two hotel days losing weight, first cutting about thousands of extra calories from my "gel bag" (about 2kg worth) and heavy protein bars in favor of peanut m&ms and potato chips. I'm still around 20,000 kg, about 6,000 above the minimum alotment (although in the moment I am ballparking burning about 42,000 cal while running).

I took all my freeze dried Expedition Foods out of their packs and poured into ziplocks (about half a kilo?). Threw out my lightweight bowl, half-emptied my too large sunscreen and alcohol gel, ditched my extra shoes and inflatable pillow and sleep pad, and removed all stuff sacks. Final weight about 10.5 kg. Hopefully not too much for the right knee. 

Everyone I meet is profoundly legit. World record holders, unreal athletes. Another runner who I had a few meals with while in Tbilisi has been to Georgia before while cycling from Rotterdam to Dubai. I asked why he passed through Georgia --- "in 2014, going through Syria wasn't an option". My roommate in the hotel has run 18 RtP ultras. Professional ultra coaches and runners who are doing the 4Deserts Grand Slam for real reasons. 95% of the reason I was able to shed so much weight is due to their advise and example.

The race starts tomorrow. I look forward to reporting further.

Comments: Total (8) comments

Jada R

Posted On: 22 Jun 2022 04:42 pm

You got this Josh; you’re doing so well! Keep pushing forward - Lettss Gooooo!

anna b

Posted On: 18 Jun 2022 07:11 pm

wahoo!!!!!! 🤠

Grandma and grandpa Tebeau

Posted On: 18 Jun 2022 05:38 pm

Good luck and have fun!

Monika Switakowska Tebeau

Posted On: 18 Jun 2022 12:53 pm

Powodzenia synku!

beatriz l

Posted On: 18 Jun 2022 12:16 pm

good luck!! cheering you on from deerfield ma!!

Patti Tebeau

Posted On: 18 Jun 2022 11:43 am

Good luck Josh! Looking forward to future reports.w

Helena Tebeau

Posted On: 18 Jun 2022 10:16 am

Cool post! Can’t wait to follow along on your journey!!

Matthew Tebeau

Posted On: 18 Jun 2022 09:15 am

Good luck son !!