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

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