Thursday, July 5, 2012

Western States Recap - Part 2 - The Best Pacer. Ever.

Part 2 - 10:30PM

Read Part 1

After the 30 mile slog fest of Safety Patrol I went to my moms to take a shower and mentally prepare myself for pacing duties. I hit a low. I tried napping with no success because I was stressed about making sure I would get Florida Dave, and myself, to the finish line in under 24 hours. I had chafing on my back from my sports bra and dirt embedded into my skin and underneath my toenails.

My runner had to be in worse shape than me since he would have 50 more miles on his legs but I couldn't convince myself that I was going to keep up with him. I envisioned him pushing me more than me pushing him. Around 5pm my mom pumped me full of red sauced noodles and parm and I was revived (I'm noticing a trend here...) I was spunky to the point that I was already talking about pacing Florida Dave for his 4th and final 100 miler for the season, the Wasatch 100 (Florida Dave is nuts. He's going for the Grand Slam this year. Four 100 milers within a month of each other. Did I mention he was nuts?)

By the time I was shuttled to the Green Gate walking entrance, I thought I had about 20 minutes or so until my runner and his first pacer, TJ, would arrive. I was wrong. 

I waited...and waited... He was due at the river crossing at 9:30 (excellent time for a sub 24). The river crossing, once through the waist high, cold river, is about 1.5 from the Green Gate so when it approached 10:15 I decided to mosey on down to the river. I hadn't done this yet because I was reluctant to add another 3 miles to my total of 50 for the day. But I was cold and I needed to see what the heck was going on down there. I was genuinely starting to get worried for him. As I approached the bottom of the hill I spotted the Dave and TJ. "Dave!" I shouted excitedly. I got a high five which was followed by a "WALK A LITTLE FASTER, TJ!". We were power walking up this hill and Dave was crackin the whip on TJ. I saw his agitation immediately and all too quickly assumed that the next 4-5 hours of my life were going to be hell. Dave seemed like a nice guy when we were running that trainer together...maybe he turns into a barking beast when he's in game face mode. Whatever. This was his day and I was in for the bludgeoning verbal abuse if that's what was in store for me. 

Me: I have your duffle at the top
Dave: Oh good, I need a Boost. TJ, is there a Boost in the duffle? 
TJ: Tyler, is there a Boost in the duffle? Did you grab one from the cooler?
Me: Err.. you just told me to grab the duffle, TJ... 
Dave: TJ, is there a boost in the duffle?
TJ: I don't know, Dave
Dave: Why don't you know, TJ? 

It went on like this for a few minutes. They reminded me of 2 siblings having a go at each other because they've been sitting in a car for too long together. 

We reached Green Gate, changed headlamp batteries, stocked up and headed out. There was about 1/4 of warmish Boost left in the duffle and like any good sport, Dave took what fate had given him and was OK with that. I saw him snacking on a few things at aid and was happy that I wouldn't have to be watching his caloric intake too much at this point. He still seemed to be stomaching things OK.

From here on Dave and I fell into a nice groove real quick. I stayed in front and ran on the descents, flats and short climbs and power walked the long hills. We got into a mode of reaching a climb, 5 second walk, run again. He would say "Okay, walk" or "Okay, run". The last 10 miles these audible "Okays" turned into grunts and moans. He never once cried or whined and I'm proud of him for that. 

Mile 10 - 15 or somewhere thereabouts was rough for me. We were both quiet and just getting through it. We reached part of the Quarry Road and I felt myself starting to fall asleep (yes, while running). I've read about this happening to people before. You just start to zone out. We were still keeping good pace though. I knew if I could keep us under 15 minute miles we'd be well under 24 hours and we were pushing typically a 11-13 minute pace (unless we were power hiking a hill). 

We reached HWY 49 at I have no idea what time but TJ was there, with Boost, and really excitable: "You guys keep gaining time on the 24 hour mark! You're doing great!" I've ran this section of HWY 49 to no hands bridge at least half a dozen times and I was really looking forward to the descent (that you have to climb to get to). As soon as we toed down the descent I couldn't really see that well. My light was starting to dim already and my footing wasn't great; Dave took the lead and bounded down that hill like a gazelle. He called back to make sure I was fine and I was. I just couldn't see too well so I took it easy on that hill and told myself I'd catch up with him at that aid station. But I didn't see him there. I ran straight past aid yelling, "I LOST MY RUNNER" and I was running as fast as I could to catch him. I passed about 3 or 4 other runners telling me "You go get 'em!" like I was the runner... I didn't correct them. 

Right past No Hands I looked off to the right and saw 2 eyes peering directly at me. Shit. I immediately stopped in my tracks. I knew there were 2 runners about 40 feet behind me. I don't know why this put me at ease. I guess knowing that people would at least witness my being mauled by a mountain lion made me calm. I looked again to the right and tried to make it out. Just a deer. Run.

I ran as fast as my eyes would let me. My vision got really funky. I got this "tunnel vision" going on where there was just a black outlined circle directly in front of my face and everything else was dark. I'm still not sure if this had to do with my headlamp going dim or having not slept for about 26 hours. I would never forgive myself if Dave was able to actually get so far ahead of me that I couldn't catch him. Finally I looked up and saw someone, alone, up ahead. 

Me: Dave is that YOU?
Me: You think I'm gonna let you get away from me when you've ran 50 more miles than me today?! 

Just after I caught up to him we saw the lights start creeping up from Robie Point. The coolest thing about this race is the support. Volunteers drag generators to the middle of nowhere (namely aid station somewhere around mile 88) and blast music and have a plethora of Christmas lights inviting you in (only to shove you out 3 minutes later). Robie Point is mile 98.8 or so. I looked at my watch. "Dave! You have 25 minutes to run 1 mile to be sub 23!!"

Right about here we see TJ and run the final mile. This is Dave's first time doing Western States AND his first time running a sub 23 100 miler. Not too shabby. 
                  Here is Dave looking more spry than his 2 pacers

Monday, July 2, 2012

Western States Recap - Part 1 - Safety Patrol

Saturday, June 23rd, 2012                          Above: Me and my fearless driver/dog watching mom

Part 1 - 1:00AM

We woke at 1am after about 2 hours of solid sleep (due to my crazy chihuahua~this is the wrath I deal with living downtown and having 6lbs of fury who doesn't like the drunkards walking past the house on Friday/Saturday nights). Everything was packed the night before from a list I had delicately laid out days ahead. I would never be this organized had I not agreed to pace a new friend the last 20 miles of WS100. Apparently when I have someone relying on me I am capable of taking it to the next level. A quick stop to pick up my mom who agreed to be crew/dog watcher/driver and we headed up the hill to Squaw for our pacing duties (the first 30 miles of WS course). 

The way to Squaw it started storming. The heavy kind of rain where you have to slow down because you can't see 10 feet ahead of you. It must have been my lack of sleep that made me so blasé about the whole thing. Meanwhile, Kevin is in the back seat stressing out about finding garbage bags to cover himself with/making it there in time to get our safety patrol items/heart rate spikes/etc. etc. Such is normal before an event and I've come to appreciate it as it makes me appear the calm and calculated half. 

We made it to Squaw around 4:20am and picked up our plastic baggy of gauze, ointment, band-aids and an extra large red SAFETY PATROL t-shirt (hey just my size!) My mom made an 80's knot on the backside for a snug fit.    

                                  Here we are! Ready to save lives! 26 minutes to start!


We started climbing up the hill with 2 other safety patrolers to get a head start on the runners. It was dark and the higher we got up the mountain the windier it got. WS starts with a nice little climb of 2,200+ feet up to Emigrant Pass within the first 3.75 miles of the start. By the time we reached the first aid station around 4 miles or so it was starting to hail and gusts of wind were coming at speeds liable to knock someone my size right over. I buried my head down and kept on climbing. Thoughts were something like "I want my mom, I miss my dogs, why the hell did I get out of bed for this..." Upon reaching the summit Kevin wanted to empty the debris from his shoes and take a photo. Normally I'd be OK with this but when I'm sucking wind and keeping my legs a good 4 feet wide so that I don't become a rescuee, this idea wasn't all too pleasing, "HURRY UP". I couldn't feel my fingers and the glory of running the first 30 miles as safety patrol was starting to turn into a slog already at mile 5. 

Feeling Fresh Again with Glenn Misono!
By the time we made it to Red Star (mile 15 and some 4+ hours later **yes, I said 4 HOURS for 15 MILES**) I was shivering and the volunteer must have noticed I wasn't doing all to well because he guided me directly to the hot chicken broth. This changed my life. I was ready to go out and save someone again. It was at this point one fellow from Sweden was dropping. We had a good chat up to the aid station and he was a veteran of the race. He'd flown all the way from Sweden and dropped at 15 miles because his "head just wasn't in it today".... 

Looking around I could see I was one of very few people somewhat dressed for this kind of weather. Most people were in shorts and little shirts, no gloves and no water proof gear. Little clothing is typically what weather calls for in this race. I heard several times that this was first time it was hailing. They were these little pellet size hail that even my hat couldn't keep from smacking me. It felt like someone throwing ice cold gravel in your face. Those manning the aid station at Devil's Thumb said they had so much left over ice they had to throw it out! As rough as this weather was it eventually led to the male and female record being crushed! 

Another 3 hours and we were heading up the final 4 miles up to Robinson Flat. This was so beautiful but I was dead tired. I was going on that delirium where something not so funny makes you laugh like a drunk at his own jokes. This is great for Kevin because he becomes a comedian when I approach this inebriated state. Looking around I was starting to feel like Alice in Wonderland, no really. 

We came in with the back of the packers, as planned, about 30 minutes before cutoff at Robinson Flat. We had been on our feet for over 8 hours ensuring safety. The only thing we came across was a dude taking a pee in the bushes who had left his bottle out for someone to wait for him. Thankfully, no rescuing was needed. Runners are tough, especially runners that embark on 100 miles. Typically if something is going wrong, mentally or physically, they know what the ailment and cure is. Beyond 30 miles though its a bit trickier as runners tend to forget who they are and why the hell they are running the middle of the night. More on that in Part 2.