Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Need a pacer? Don't hire me...

I was thinking I was 0 for 3 until Vale kindly reminded me that I did successfully pace her at Zumbro 100K last year. Though I did have help from John and also managed to lose her on one of the loops – that was quite amusing – to come into the AS without my runner!

The less successful adventures include...

- Eric at Sawtooth 100M last year... things weren’t going so well in the unusually hot conditions so I ran with him from mile 42 rather than later on. But at 50M he decided to call it a day (but he will be back to complete the endeavor next month!)

- Karen at Kettle Moraine 100M this summer... I am not sure if it’s a reflection on me or not but Karen dropped before I even saw her that day :)

- And now Alicia at Headlands 100M this past weekend... I knew Alicia went into the race with some shin issues and was also battling a head cold. She seemed to be in good form for the first loop though later I realized she was already suffering from the constant steep climbs and descents. By midway through the second loop I could tell she wasn’t having a lot of fun out there so I decided to run from mile 50 instead of 75 (it’s a 4 loop course – washing machine style). After a 10 minute warm-up in the car we started out with just under 11 hours on the clock. At the first AS 4 miles into the loop we took a few minutes so that Alicia might be able to get in food that would settle her stomach – but to no avail. Soon after I realized she was in quite a bit of pain and as we talked about it over the next few miles I began to think continuing on probably wasn’t a smart idea. No one wants to drop from a 100 mile race, especially when you know you have the ability to finish, and when you have traveled across the country to run the race. I have no problem pushing people through mental issues and stomach issues (I’m a little gentler here). But the potential for serious injury outweighs the need to finish a 100 miler in my mind. I knew that covering another 42 miles was going to end up doing a lot more damage than good so when Alicia sat down at the Muir Beach AS at mile 58 and said she was done I didn’t argue.

On a positive note, we did still have a fun weekend in the Bay Area. Hanging out Friday night, finding a neat market by our hotel and then a coffee shop that would open at 5:30 Saturday morning - yay! And then when things didn't go to plan on Saturday night we had the chance to enjoy a few hours around the Embarcadero area on Sunday morning - polishing off a breakfast worthy of champions (forgetting about the minor detail of not finishing the race) and then spending a few dollars at the markets.

Before the race prep started in earnest, I had flown out Thursday afternoon to hang out with friends in Berkeley. That evening I had a nice run by Lake Anza in Tilden Park. Then Friday morning, I drove about 30 minutes east to Mt. Diablo State Park. With help from Tony K who put me in touch with a few runners from the area, I started out at the Macedo Ranch trail head, navigated past the cows, and had one of the most glorious runs ever to the summit at 3,849ft. It was just over 10K to the top, on a mix of fire roads followed by relatively smooth singletrack. To be honest, there was probably more hiking than running but I am pretty sure my average heart rate was above what it normally is for a speed workout!

It’s been an incredible few weeks of running since getting back on my feet after the foot surgery. And when I haven’t been running, the volunteering / crewing has been just as much fun. Without a doubt I enjoyed Afton and Voyageur this year every bit as much as previous years. I have said it before and will say it again, if you run races, you simply have to volunteer at one. Give it a try, you won’t be disappointed. And remember, you don’t have to wait until you are injured :)