Monday, April 18, 2011

"How you know Timmy?"

Tim and his Dad. Loved meeting these guys!

This is Dani, guest blogger, writing about my experience as "Crew Chief" for Jason. I am ADD so there is no promises that my thoughts will go in any order that make sense.

I LOVE crewing. Not because Jason is my boyfriend and I have to, but because I actually enjoy it. The way I see it, if you are dumb/tough/serious/insane enough to run 100 miles then I will do everything I can to help you. Whether I know you or not really isn't that important. This brings us to Timmy, and the title of my blog post. Timmy (Tim) met Jason around mile 4 of Umstead. He was crewing for himself out of race headquarters and Jason offered my services. His dad was in town but at the hotel watching basketball. He happened to drive up at the exact moment that Tim and Jason came through a pitstop. Tim told him I had his stuff and ran off. He looks at me and says (insert Long Island accent) "How you know Timmy?" Me: "I don't know him" Timmy's dad: "Well why you got all his stuff?" After me explaining myself and him warming up to me he started telling me stories about Tim and his ultra-running career. He started to leave and asked me a million times if I was SURE that I was staying in that EXACT spot. He walked to the car and brought back a target bag. "This is Timmy's turkey sandwich. Make sure he eats it. When are they gonna be done?" I looked at my pace schedule and told him 18:30. He looked at me a little skeptically and said that Tim wanted to break 20 hours. "As long as he sticks with Jason he will do an 18:30" I replied. Still somewhat skeptical he left with plans on being back at 18:30 into the race to watch Tim finish. I feel fairly confident he thought I was strange. I was helping his kid that I had never met before. I thought he was awesome because he barely trusted me with a turkey sandwich. Smart man!!

Around this time our friend Jill's friend Rachel showed up. She rocked. Never met any of us but since she lived in Raleigh she offered to run a lap with Chuck. While they were running a chick came through crying telling us about a homeless man that jumped out of the woods and starting attacking runners. Apparently he got a few punches in the faces of runners before someone held him down. My thought was "Awesome. Jason is out there fighting crime and I get to listen to him complain about how it added to his time." Turns out someone else was the crime stopper. When Rachel and Chuck came back I told her about it. She wasn't surprised telling me that there were several incidents like that. Seriously? That's crazy. I didn't give it much more thought.

Time passed by SO quickly during this race! Having Yvonne, Stephen, and Brett there made a HUGE difference. They so funny and the group dynamics were perfect. Yvonne and Stephen went out with Chuck on a lap which left me and Brett to man the crew area. Two ADD peeps. Good choice. At this point Jason would be headed out on mile 75 when he came through. My "plan" was to run the last 12.5 mile loop with him. But I wasn't sure how he would feel so I decided that I "could" run the last 25 if he needed. When Jason came through I was on the phone and Brett was watching basketball. I told Brett to see if he wanted me to run with him and he told me yes and that he wanted Gatorade. Gatorade?!? That is NOT on the list of typed instructions! Crap! We didn't even HAVE Gatorade! We stole some of Chucks powerade and off we went.

After about 15 miles I realized that it was a BAD idea to commit to the last 25. I have never run 25 miles in training in my life. But whatever. It's slow miles right? After 18 miles Jason wasn't feeling so hot. His stomach was a mess. He tried to eat a gel and immediately got sick. Major sick. He was heaving all over the place when I started to smell cigarette smoke. Now I am typically not someone who is afraid of things, but all I could think about was Rachel telling me about homeless people in the woods. I am eying my man who could normally take out pretty much anyone and he is projectile vomiting. My mind was RACING. I was seriously freaking out. I kept my mouth shut and tried to be as encouraging as possible although I was fairly confident that I was getting ready to be attacked. Woods+darkness+creepy people= not my favorite place to run. Lesson learned, next time I will pace with appropriate weapons.

I kinda tricked Jason a few times with the race time. Honestly I just wanted to get the hell outta the dark creepy woods. My math skills aren't the best but I was roughly thinking that there was a pretty good chance that 18:30 was dead on. I was right! Jason crossed the finish line in 18:29:05 and Timmy? 18:29:54. His dad was thrilled! Chuck rocked it out too coming in a bit later. Kept up his amazing attitude the whole time.

One of the coolest parts of the race was that it was 20 minutes from my dad's house so he came out. As a former Marine and Cop he is NOT easily impressed. He is never one to let anything go to your head and the next day he looked the results up. Best quote ever "Did you see that the winning time was 14:07? Jesus. I thought Jason did good. That's FOUR AND A HALF HOURS! He got his ass kicked!" Gotta love dad!

"In everyone's life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flames by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit." -Albert Schweitzer

Thank you Jason, Chuck, Tim, Eric, Tony and all the other Umstead runners who poured their hearts into the race for your inspiration! My spirit is officially rekindled. I am ready to run!!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

No quit in this body..........mostly.

The Umstead runners Eric, Tony, Chuckles and OB
Umstead 100 mile endurance run is held in Umstead Park just outside Raleigh, NC.  It consists of a twelve and a half mile loop completed 8 times.  Each loop had several out and back section that allowed us to see other runners in front and behind us.  This was a nice bonus since I knew a few other guys doing the race.  Chuck came up from GA and two buddies I met at Bartram 100 last year, Tony and Eric, came down from NY.  The bonus being that when you see people you actually know out there, it is a definite pick me up as you cross paths and exchange "good jobs" and "way to gos" with each other.  The course is mostly hard pack gravel road with zero technical sections, rolling hills and a few short steep climbs on the "sweet" section of the lolly pop. 

The start was a surprise.  Literally.  Chuck and I were standing in the crowd with Dani, Yvonne, Brett and Leeb chatting, laughing and taking pictures when all of a sudden, BANG.  A gun went off.  Instinctively, I reached for my side arm, realized I was unarmed, remembered where I was and began running all within 2.4 seconds.  As far as I know, there was no on your mark, get set, here we go, get your head out of your ass, nothing.  Just BANG.  So we were off.

I started the race with the same plan as the last 100 miler and that was to run all run able sections and walk the significant hills.  Somewhere around mile 3 or 4 I met Tim.  We hooked up and started ticking off the miles together.  He is a school teacher from NY and a lifeguard during the summer.  We swapped some stories for awhile and came to the point in the conversation about who came to see us race, crew, and support us during our journey.  Tim told me his father had come down to see the race but that he wasn't much of a crewing type.  Knowing how much Dani loves to pick up stray racers and crew for them, I told him that it was nonsense to crew himself and when we came back in to end the loop, I told him to grab his stuff and dump it off at my crew area.  This is one of the things I love about ultra distance races.  You meet people, realize they are great folks and help each other achieve their goals in any way possible instead of looking at everyone as the competition and willing to cut throats in order to be one more place up in the finishing stats.  Well this move worked out good for both of us.  He was able to return the favor by being a "racing pacer" with me.  We weren't always the same exact pace as we traded places back and forth a few times for the remainder of the race, but we had a great time running and were able to help push each other through the miles.  We came up with a system to keep ourselves running on the run able sections and not walking too early on the hills.  We picked out spots on the course that would be our walking markers for the hills.  It’s amazing how much of the course you can memorize in just 8 loops.  When we were feeling good the conversation went:  Tim- "OK, where you want to walk this hill at?"  Me- "Uh, see that big fat pine on the right close to the road?  Let’s walk from there." Tim- "Sounds like a plan".  When we were tired, it was more like: Tim- "Where?" Me- "Log on left." Tim- "Cool."  But no matter what, we stuck to the plan and whenever we hit the markers, we walked.  The crest of a hill feels oh so sweet after the climb so that was always the unspoken spot to get the run going again.  Our plan worked great and I still had enough energy to run all the same sections on the last loop that I ran on the first loop. 

 Tim and I coming in from a lap.

At every stop, my crew was asking how I was doing and did I need a pacer yet.  I was still feeling pretty strong physically and mentally and I knew we were going to be short on pacers between Chuck and I by the end of the race if I picked up someone too soon.  I told them don't worry about me and kept going.  I had so many people come out to support me on my first 100, I wanted Chuck to have the same experience for his first and figured I would leave everyone to help him out.  Dani insisted on coming out at the start of the 7th loop which was mile 75.  She tricked me by telling me she was going to just run the first few mile of this loop and then pick me back up for the last loop.  If I was on top of my game, I would've known she was full of it.  But late at night, tired, chilly and not thinking 100% straight, I fell for it.  So being the awesome trooper that she is, she ended up running the last 25 miles with me.  Let the record reflect that I was against this the whole time and did not want her to get injured, but I was also thankful to have her with me and enjoyed every second.  She is such an inspiration to me and has such a positive attitude at just the right times.  I said it in the last race report and will say it again and again.  Best.  Crew.  Chief.  Ever! 

Dani and Yvonne working hard.  Brett took the pic.  Leeb?  MIA.
A dear friend, who came out to the Guts Reactor 100 miler and paced me, came up with this motivational saying "No quit in this body, No quit in this mind."  She told me that she got inspiration from the fact that during her pacing duties, she realized that I had a continuous drive to keep moving forward no matter what the conditions or circumstances.  I am very proud of this fact and glad that I could inspire her to push through those tough times in her training on her quest to fulfill her dreams.  So I had this little piece of motivation in the back of my mind and was saving it for just the right time.  Well, I had to pull it from the back of my mind to the forefront at mile 4ish on the last lap.  I was starting to feel bloated and had the nagging suspicion that my stomach was mounting a revolution against me.  It materialized about 5 seconds after eating my last gel pack.  I don't recall ever vomiting so violently that I actually had a hard time catching my breath in between blahs.  The worst part about it was I was on the early section of a hill that lasted about 1.5 miles.  So I threw up, walked forward, threw up again, walked forward some more, ect, ect.  That is when Jill's ditty came in handy, with a slight modification.  "Ok so my stomach just quit on me, but there is no quit in my mind".  This kept me moving forward and when I finally stopped emptying the remainder of the liquid contents of my stomach, I was further up the hill and actually feeling better.  The dark place lasted less than two minutes.  Not too shabby.  I had just caught up to and passed Chuck a few miles back after exchanging a few ata-boys and keep it ups.  This was something else that kept me moving. If I slowed too much, Chuck might catch back up to me.  This wasn't out of competition that I was fearful of him catching me.  It was actually because I knew he had one more loop to complete and I was worried that if he saw me having a tough time on my last loop, it might work its way into his mind and cause him some doubt.  He was well on track of beating his goal time, but this deep into the race it comes down to more mental strength than physical ability.  So I was relieved when I crested the hill at a jog and felt increasingly better as we worked our way through the back section of the course.  The remainder of the loop was tough since I was now running on fumes and my stomach still didn't want to accept anything worthwhile.  Dani played more tricks on me with the possible finish times in order to push me as fast as I could go, although at that point there were really only two speeds.  Go or stop.  So go it was and I finished the last loop with a pretty decent pace and even had the energy to run the last short hill to the finish line.  I was so excited I forgot to tell the time keeper my number like I had done at 15 other points in the race.  She yelled at me.  I didn't care.  I was DONE!
My kind of bling bling baby.
All in all, everyone had a great race.  Tim had a tough time between lap 7 and 8 with some stomach issues of his own, but I was happy to see him a few minutes after I finished telling me he was only 50 seconds behind me.  He must have really killed the last lap because he dropped the volunteer pacer he had picked up!  Chuck ended up breaking his 24 hour goal by an hour and got to receive the "100 Miles One Day" belt buckle.  I'm so proud of Chuck for finishing his first 100 in style and smiling the whole time.  Eric did great by setting a new PR by 3 hours.  Tony just came off a huge journey that took him over 350 miles of running on the Caminho Da Fe in Brazil and was still only 4 minutes off his time from last year.  I managed to hit 18 hours 29 minutes, which was an hour and a half faster than my goal.  Even going through a rough patch, I am very happy I was still able to come out with such a great result.  Huge thanks as always to my crew chief Dani and crew Yvonne, Brett and Leeb.  Also I have to mention my new friend Iman.  This guy is just over flowing with a positive energy force and I enjoyed seeing his happy smiling face every time I passed his area.  It was like getting an extra little electrical charge.  If you stop and think about the fact that these guys spend a whole weekend out in the woods, sitting around bored, waiting to see us for two minutes every two and a half hours while they fill bottles and shove food and pills down our throat and go run with us in the middle of the night all to help us fulfill our dreams, you might realize they are just as crazy as we are.  So the least we could do was have a shirt made for them, right?

"There may be people who have more talent than you, but there is no excuse for anyone to work harder than you!"