In Ocean Rescue Run

The Interview

We’ve passed the three week mark on the Ocean Rescue Run! Dave has run for 23 days, completing 1008.35 km / 626.56 miles. Since I primarily write the blog now I know people must miss hearing from Dave as intimately and as much as they used to. So voila!

Why are you doing this run?

To draw attention to Friendly Drifter initiatives. Doing something like this grabs peoples attention and I want to create a buzz about Friendly Drifter, our initiatives, the general state of the oceans health, and more specifically how Raja Ampat, Indonesia is being affected by our use and waste of plastics. We have a lot of plans and ideas for what we envision for Friendly Drifter; it was time for an awareness and fundraising campaign to begin putting our initiatives into action. We have done well up to a point, creating our vision and doing beach cleanups etc., but in order for us to tackle some bigger long term goals we need financial backing and strong community support. Doing a run of this length and intensity is a tangible way to demonstrate my commitment to Friendly Drifter.  I am serious about making this an effective organization; one that has a positive impact on the health and future of our oceans. Friendly Drifter will be a positive community that allows people to get involved in a way that creates powerful and long lasting positive change.  It is important that the health of our oceans is a priority, and that we put conversation plans into action.

You’ve been doing this run for three weeks now. How are you feeling?

Pretty good. (Please note: As everyone who knows Dave knows, he’ll never say anything less than good and this is the typical response I get whenever I ask him this question; I’ll get the odd variation of this such as ‘fine’ but this is his go-to response)

Terrain wise what has been the most difficult for you?

Hills and winding roads for sure. Big Sur and the surrounding areas, which lasted a few days (see blog post: The Wild Coast), were a challenge and probably the hardest for me up to this point. The winding roads are tough because I must run on an angle which rubs my feet on the edge of my shoes; this causes friction and further irritates the bunch of blisters I already have. Angles and inclines are hard on my joints and muscles because it’s difficult to maintain the looseness that I try to keep up most of the time while running. When you cycle, hills are motivating because you know you’ll get to enjoy the downhill after you make it to the top. Unfortunately with running uphill takes a lot of energy, and downhill is tough because I have to brace the whole way down to lessen the impact on my joints.

Weather wise what has been the most difficult for you?

The heat in southern California. When we first started San Diego was experiencing a heat wave.  Not only was I dealing with the start of the run and all that meant, but I also had to navigate some pretty intense heat. We quickly figured out that it was most beneficial to start early in the morning around 6am or so and take a longer lunch break around 1pm when the temperature was at its highest. Staying sufficiently hydrated and fueled, and taking breaks in the cool, dark van helped a lot.

There are obvious physical challenges that come from doing a run of this length and intensity. Have you had any mental struggles along the way yet?

I think that the mental struggles will come later on. I’m still in the early-ish stages of the run and I’ve been able to hold it together pretty well so far. When I did the Tour d’Afrique, I biked the length of Africa in 4-months, and the Ironman in Cabo, I learned how to deal with intense, endurance type physical activities. I’m pretty good at maintaining a level head because I know getting caught up mentally uses up energy that I don’t want to expend.  Ultimately it just isn’t helpful. I have started to see a bit of the exhaustion affect me mentally which is why it has been important for me to pay attention to my body and take breaks when I need to. We’ll see how things go in the coming weeks.

I’m sure you tried to anticipate potential challenges so that you could deal with them better. Have you had any surprises?

It’s really hard to anticipate things in a situation like this because there are only a handful of other people that have taken on something similar and documented it. You can anticipate that your body is going to rebel in the beginning days to the long distance and amount of time spent on your feet but you aren’t exactly sure how. You also don’t want to entertain too many thoughts about what challenges could arise before you start as you don’t want to deter yourself from starting. I went in with the thought that “I’m going to do this and we will figure things out as we go.” I’m pretty in tune with my body, what I’m capable of and my limitations so that’s really helped.

You are vegan. Has that affected your performance on this run?

It’s hard to say because I don’t have anything to compare it to. I haven’t done this same kind of thing on a different diet. I can say that I do feel well nourished, healthy, and strong even with what I am putting my body through right now. Whether or not I would feel different on a different diet I don’t know, but I’m getting all the nutrients I need so I’m happy.

Looking back at the past three weeks would you do anything differently?

No. Getting malaria in Indonesia wasn’t part of the plan and had some detrimental affects on my training. Instead of being able to begin training in November I was sick for almost a month in December and then had to start training from square one in January.

How did malaria affect your training?

I think at first I didn’t realize all of the effects that malaria had had on my body; at the time I was just happy to be alive and that was enough for me. I was in a place where I was contemplating if I was going to do the Ocean Rescue Run now or postpone it. When I decided firmly I was going to do it now and started training again, that’s when I started to notice the extent to which malaria had affected me. My first run was less than a km; I was out of breath like crazy. I had lost a lot of weight, most of it muscle mass, and so I had to rebuild that from scratch; I’m still rebuilding it today. As much as the malaria was frustrating to recover from, I really found a new appreciation for just how important my health is. I’m used to being a pretty strong guy and being able to perform at a high level so it was humbling for me. I really had to listen to my body more than before and work within some new boundaries.

What advice would you give to others looking to do something similar to what you are doing?

Just to get out there and do it. Make a plan, commit to it, and go. You can over think something and talk about it but it doesn’t mean anything if you don’t put those plans into action. You can have a lot of regrets and give in to your fear of failure or you can commit and give it your all and see what happens. I know this is probably over said, but enjoying the ride is a huge part of it. If you don’t enjoy the hard work something like this takes while being able to have a little fun at the same time, it’s really hard to see it through to the end. I think a lot of people underestimate what they are capable of both physically and mentally. When you try something new and challenging, your body adapts and your mind grows stronger.

What do you think about when you are on the road for 10 hours a day?

Not a lot to be honest. It’s tough being out there for that long every day over and over again. I zone out a lot of the time. The scenery is beautiful so that helps and there is a lot to look at whether it be natural beauty when in the country or along the coast or architecture and people when in the city. A lot of times I focus on my stride and breathing; I pay attention to my body to make sure I’m doing what I need to be doing in order to be as efficient as I can be. That being said, the whole idea for the Ocean Rescue Run came to me while I was on a run.

Are you happy with how things have gone up until this point?

I am. We had some physical challenges to deal with up front but we knew those were coming. I have to say that things have smoothed out quite nicely since then.  Aside from the expected aches and pains of being on my feet for 10 plus hours a day, I feel good. We quickly realized that 65 km / 40 miles a day just wasn’t feasible and that to push myself to do it wouldn’t be beneficial in the long term so anything over 50 km / 31 miles is a good day. It is important to learn to be flexible in an endeavour like this. Overall I’m happy with where we are at and am curious to see how my body responds as we continue on.

The past three days brought a lot of reflection for the both of us. Passing the three week / 1000 km mark was a huge milestone for Dave to achieve and we are both so happy, and me so proud to be celebrating it! It dawned on us (more loudly on me I believe) how important self-care along this journey is. We are both so focused on the goal that sometimes we forget to stop and remember that it is a long haul. We both realized how important it is to take breaks and to make time for ourselves/each other along this trek in order to make sure we both stay healthy physically and mentally. We had a really nice rest day in Petaluma which is a sweet city and Dave is back at it today re-energized and ready to tackle more distance!

May 9th, 2016 (Day 22), May 10th, 2016 (Day 23) and May 11th, 2016 (Day 24- rest day)
total distance completed: 83.72 km / 52.02 miles

start: South San Francisco, CA
stop: Petaluma, CA
ran by: Daly City, San Francisco!, over the Golden Gate Bridge, Sausalito, and Novato

total distance achieved to date: 1008.35 km / 626.56 miles

To raise awareness on the effects of plastic waste in our oceans and funds for management solutions in Raja Ampat, Friendly Drifter Co-Founder David Pennington began the Ocean Rescue Run on April 18th, 2016 at the US/Mexican border and will end in Vancouver, Canada. The route for the run along the Pacific Coast Highway was chosen to connect ocean coasts, remove international boundaries and bring attention to this global issue.  “Some of our western technologies, plastic culture and production have had serious negative impacts on the environment, all over the world.  I feel we have a responsibility to create solutions for areas ill-equipped to deal with the waste issues.” states David.

The Ocean Rescue Run is approximately 2700 km / 1740 miles. If you have the means and wish to participate please visit the Go Fund Me website.  Additional details and more information on our program can be located on our Home and Participate pages.  News and articles can be found on the Media link.

Thank you!

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