Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Death Valley Running Retreat "All we do is Run?"

I promised Luis Escobar I would write a review of his and Sarah Spelt running retreat I experienced last weekend minus any debauchery or lascivious acts. It didn't really feel like it would  fit here and I thought about starting a new blog and calling "Pat's Happy Wholesome Thought's about Running" but I got way too many F'n blogs  so without further a do here you go
Last wednesday I got this message from the Coyote (Luis)
"Come to Death Valley this Friday - Sunday - run with us - I may be able to get you a ride - interested?"
My Response
"I'm too gimpy and too poor"
 (But that never stopped me before and I freaking love Death Valley)
Luis made good on his offer and got me a ride.
So Friday afternoon I found myself in car driving up to Death Valley with my new best buddy Sachin.  
 He turned out to be a pretty sweet dude and learned all kinds of interesting facts about Indian Culture.
Did you know than Indian's refer to almonds and walnuts as dry fruits?
We arrived in the early evening and Luis greeted me with delicious IPA Cola.
Because Sachin and I had arrived a little late we had just missed Luis's  demonstration on why you should not Hacky Sack a watermelon before cutting your toenails but we got the point.
After a nice salad for dinner which Included a  non alcoholic Arrogant Bastard
 We were off to the running from the Furnace creek Resort  to the Famous Death Valley Sand dunes
I hung back Sachin and my fellow mas Loco Chris Rios
The dunes were amazing. 
We ran up and down like a bunch of barefoot  wild animals.
The dunes are a pretty magical place where anything can happen.
This is a totally wholesome running retreat nobody decided to run around  au natural.
Why are my shorts in my hand you ask?
Because I thought we going golfing and I wore two pairs just in case I got "A hole in one."
We just sat around
Who knew?
Yes the Sand dunes Vibrate!
No devil worshipping here. It felt like I was running with perfect group of Angels.  Luis called this type of lighting "spooky lighting" and said it should never be used in photography.
Obviously it was my idea to take this picture
Up at the crack of dawn the next morning we off to go run Titus Canyon before the sun got too hot
Although most of us had only known each other for less than a day bond was forming quickly.
It turns out this is the same place that the Death Valley Marathon is held in January
Out of the 13 of us 5 were Luna Sandals wearers.  This dude reminds reminds me of younger cooler, good looking version of myself.
The Human petroglyphs were amazing
This was a running retreat so here's picture of someone running
Why are we running?
That lizard was 8 ft long and breathed fire.
After the Run Luis grilled us up some breakfast right there at the trailhead. The Carnivores of the group had pancakes and Bacon
I had a pita with peppers and Avocado. which suited me just fine.
Tarantula hawk
This little guy joined us for a meal and landed on me twice. (probably because I'm so sweet?) It's not a very aggressive bug but if agitated it's known to have one of the most painful stings of any insect. It's also known to lay eggs inside a tarantula  so that it's babies feast on it's living organs when they hatch.
"Wait a second did I have that lump on my abdomen before lunch?"
We had another visitor  as well
Just like the Brochure says
After a great lunch and great run it was time basque in the desert heat at the pool
Since I was a late addition to the party I didn't get the the memo about black bottoms and Striped bikini tops.  
(boy was that embarrassing)

The highlight of the event was having the privilege to see
 Luis Escobars presentation.
Luis is an amazing photographer and just an all around good dude. The presentation was very powerful and fun to watch in such a small intimate setting with bunch of great people. I was with Luis this year down in Mexico and seeing his pictures made me feel like I back down in Urique, a place I hold very dear to my heart.

After the presentation  Luis decided to give us some running lessons out on the Badwater Course
We were all very thirsty and decided to each partake in a "soda" before each 1/4 mile lesson
(that sounds kind of like a beer mile)
"You see kids you're supposed to flail your arm way out to side like so in case you have a desire to twirl around a corner, you can use it to harness your momentum."
"Need's way more flailing if you're ever gonna win the H.U.R.T. 100"
(I think Luis won that race back in the late 60's)
No those aren't bellies full of beer.
We ate dinner at the secret Death Valley Sizzler
"I sure do love me that steak and all you can eat shrimp?"
And no this is not the creepy but super cool raven necklace I got for winning the Beer mile that didn't happen ( this is a wholesome event don't you know). And no I did not finish in a time of 4:47 on a course that may have been a little short. And no I did not stop for a few seconds before deciding on a 5th beer and fifth lap in under 6:30.
Obviously this girl did not win the women's divisions in an event that did not happen
And Obviously none of us were having any fun what so ever 
For some reason or another the bar across the street decided to buy us all a drink.
Everybody was in great is great mood.
I love hanging out with such good people!
We were starting to act like a family.
 There I gave an "inspiring" speech about gender equality and my quest for the nobel prize instead of the presidency.
It was a really fun evening and after about 3 and a 1/2 hours of sleep it was time to go have so more fun
The next morning we drove out to Badwater to Go running before sunrise
Almost instantly it felt like we were another planet.
Each one of got our very own Luis Escobar Glamour shot.
If can make this dork look good imagine what he could do with a real runner.?
I even got one of Luis
Although the Badwater basin is spectacularly beautiful it was a pretty tough place to run. 
After a while a few of the ladies plus Sachin were ready to turn back.  I decided to join them because well?  I like Ladies and Sachen ain't so bad either. (lol).  I had dropped one of my bottles spilling all of it's liquids and I didn't want to get into trouble under a scorching desert sun.  
Wanna hear more excuses?
Also since we were going off into uncharted territory and really didn't want to get attacked by Polar bears?
Later dudes
On the way back  we decided to take a detour to see wha running on the Badwater 135 course is actually like.
 Sarah ran so magically  in her La Sportiva's.  I'm gonna run out at go by 5 pairs and probably never wear my Luna Sandals again?
"Hey Luis what took you guys so long?  Is that blood on your shirt?"
" Dude you should've seen the size of that F'n Polar Bear"
"Woah!" and I thought I was just making up excuses?

After the others got back we headed up to the Furnace Creek pool for a quick dip. headed back to our hotel hotel to check out and were off.
(sorry for the brief ending I'm bored with this post and I didn't take any other pictures)

All in all It was a really cool event to be a part of.  Thank you to Luis and and Sarah for inviting me. I feel like I made friends that will last a lifetime and I very much look forward to seeing you guys again real soon.
 Every event I have been to that Luis Escobar has put on has been amazing and my favorite one is right corner.
See you guys May 18th in Los Olivos

If you want to find out about future running retreats please go here


  1. Ah, Patrick... Where to begin... What a great report of much of what did and didn't happen! Thank you so much for covering it all - or at least covering the tip of the DVRR iceberg, if such a thing exists. As you know, I'll never eschew my Sportivas for Lunas completely, but once the Mono is back in stock, I'm gettin' me a pair. I will never, however, cut watermelon in them. See you soon!

  2. Patrick!
    I just came across this blog (again) and had to say thanks!
    Such great memories!