Tuesday, April 8, 2014

An Adventure in Pacing...

One of my friends that I met hiking the Grand Canyon is an ultra runner.  In fact, she is the only other person that I know that has ever expressed interest in running Leadville.  I remember when I first mentioned it to her, her eyes lit up. 

Fast forward a few years later and Amy signed up to run her first 100 mile race.  While it was not Leadville, it is still 100 miles and 100 miles is an awfully long way to run.

When she first told me about it, I knew instantly I wanted to be a pacer.  While I have never run an ultra before, I know that it takes a lot of support, just like my Ironman races, so I wanted to help in anyway possible.

When someone asked Amy what a pacer is, she described a pacer as a mother hen, drill seargent, cheerleader.  Now, if that does not describe me to a T, I am not sure what does.  Probably more so the cheerleader and drill seargent.

Kari, Anna, Marsha, me, Kristin, and Amy at the pre-race meeting.

Kristin and Amy both took off at 6:00 am Saturday morning and were scheduled to have pacers overnight on Saturday night. 

I met the crew in Iola, KS around 5:00 pm on Saturday and quickly learned we had a weekend of shennigans ahead of us.  The theme song from the movie Deliverance quickly became our anthem.  Me, being me, I finally asked the girls if they know what happens in the movie and of course had to do my best squeal like a pig impression.

As a side note, Kari told me she was not too sure about me until that moment. That is when she realized that I obviously was cool.  :)  I mean, only the coolest can do a squeal impression.

The fun continued when I learned that there was a guy that would come into the aid station that the other ladies would slap his butt.  He quickly became known as "Butt Guy."  We later learned his name was Rick, but Marsha still only knew him as Butt Guy.

The girls with Butt Guy and Butt Guy's Friend

Kristin and Amy came rolling into the aid station in Iola, and I was the first pacer set to go out with them.  Poor Amy had been vomitting and was not feeling too well.  She and I quickly talked about the strategy and she told me that if she was not doing too well, for me to go on with Kristin who was feeling fabulous.

Me, Kristin, and Amy about ready to take off after mile 51!

Amy decided to stay back, since she was still not feeling great and Kristin and I lead the way.  We ended up running 10 miles to the next manned aid station.  Kristin is quite the talkative person, just like me, but I ended up talking most of the time just so she focus on running.

This was my first time to be running so far so late at night.  We were on the Praire Spirit Trail that used to be railroad tracks, so it was very flat and lined with trees. Two super funny things happened during my first run and that is when Kristin told me if we were stranded out there, she would kill me a bunny for food.  Ha, ha!  The second funny thing was when she sore something was following us and jumped a bit.  I am the biggest chicken in the entire world and had to be the brave one, when in all honestly, I wanted to take off!

We came into the aid station at mile 61 only to learn that Amy had spend miles 51-55 vomitting and dropped from the race.  I know she was bummed, but I know she made the right call. 

Kristin and Mary getting ready to head out!

The rest of us loaded up in the van and made our way to the next aid station.  It was pretty chilly out, so Amy and I stayed in the van while the others waited at the tent for Butt Guy to come into the station. 

Amy and I were discussing nursing school classes (Amy is a doctor) when suddenly Anna came running into the van saying something was out there.  Sure enough, we heard the music from Deliverance and saw a head standing outside the van.  It of course, was Kari.  We about peed our pants it was so funny.

Kristin made it in and Anna took off with her for the next round of pacing.  We ended up getting a little bit of sleep in the van at  the next aid station.  I of course, threw out some cracks about never having slept in a van in a parking lot before.  I also told them this was the weirdest slumber party I have ever attended.

Anna and Kristin made it in and I was quickly up for my second round of pacing duties.  We had nine miles to cover and it was 3:30 am.  I know that may not sound like much fun, but it really was.  Okay, maybe fun for me and not so much for Kristin. 

We made it into the next aid station and could tell that the sun would be rising soon.  Mary took off with Kristin and the rest of us hung out in the van eating Oreos and candy.  It was really tough I tell you.

We did get to see Butt Guy come into the final aid station.  He got his usual slaps on his behind and took off.  Kristin and Anna took off for the final round, which was seven miles.

Sadly, at mile 97 Kristin just could not move anymore.  She had made it so far, but physically and mentally she was done.  Anna called us and we hopped in the van and found her and tried to will her to go on, but she was done.  We all gave gave it a strong effort to get her to continue, mainly because we wanted to make sure she was really not capable of going on. 

She wasn't.  The poor girl had so many blisters on her feet, that she could not even wear the flip flops we brought her. 

She ended up covering 97 miles all on foot, which is more than I have ever covered.  Even though she did not finish the full 100 miles, she fought a hard race and did an amazing job. 

I was so honored to be a part of Kristin and Amy's Crew.  We had so much out there and laughed so much.  To think that everyone but Anna and Amy were strangers to me up until the Friday prior, is hard to believe.  I left the weekend with a few lifelong friends that have vowed to crew and pace again. 

Yes, there is already a next time, as Amy has decided to sign up for a 100 mile race in October. 

Until next time girls!

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