Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Towpath Marathon Race Report/Oil Creek Race Report

Ok yes, I'm backed up a bit on the blogging. Funny how a little thing like life can get in the way! Things have been busier than expected this month and will get even busier since I'll now be doing the WRTR newsletter - so I'm writing this fast to get it done and will try and remember all the details!

TOWPATH MARATHON: My husband's first marathon!

Can I just say how extremely proud of my husband I am? He has battled through some very personal issues and has completed his first marathon. Yep that's right. 26.2 miles. With a bum knee. He refused to let things stand in his way, he refused to give up, he did not back down from a good fight. What's more - he completed his first marathon in 3 hours and 37 minutes. What can I even say about that? INCREDIBLE! He's my biggest inspiration! I do feel for him though. He did this incredible thing and not one family member on his side asked how it went. This is his life. He says he is used to it. Bullshit. Not one phone call. Not one congratulations. It's a shame really, but I truly thank my dad for calling to see how everything went. It's little things like that - just one phone call that can let someone know that you really care.

Wake up!
Race day came and my husband was looking a little nervous. He had me wake him up super early so he could spend even MORE time being nervous! Our friend Stan was up here from Vancouver, Canada - he woke up, we all got ready and off we went to pick up the INCREDIBLE Jean Toth. 74 years old, running marathon #51 - what more can I say?

We arrived at Boston Mills Ski Resort an hour ahead of time, took the obligatory pics and went about our merry way. My plan was to run with my hubby for the full marathon, carry all his gel, endurolytes, etc. and then turn around and run back for Jean Toth after my guy finished. To make a long story short, and to not talk about me so much - that did not go as planned. I tried to register for the marathon the day before. However - as I was filling out the registration form - the two ladies working that table looked at me and walked away without a word. I turned around and saw one of my runner friends who told me the full marathon was sold out. Hmpf. Well, it's a public trail - so I shouldn't have a problem - that was my manner of thinking. I started with my guy without a problem. Mile 13 - a race official pulled me out. I did not see any "trail closed" signs, but I guess others did. I really wasn't looking for them, honestly. I was just trying to keep up with my super fast husband. The race official then took me to a police officer who checked me out. I tried to explain I was carrying my own fuel, pacing my husband and then a 74 year old woman. Didn't matter. When my info checked out and she saw I was not giving her problems she said she was not going to arrest me. YAY. If I got on back on the trail though - different story. Oh - and getting back to the finish line: I was on my own. How to get back to the finish line: I was on my own. Awesome. I actually did see 3 guys after me get into a squad car. I then considered myself lucky, but really thought people at the Towpath Marathon went too far overboard. I called my son and had him look up all the NERC members names and phone #'s so I could try to call the people who I knew were down at the race. He had looked up a couple people but no cells! I waited for a couple hours for Jean Toth to come by to let her know I was not able to meet her. I then wandered around in tears, wanting to get to the finish to see my husband finish his first marathon. Finally I saw a friend who was on his bike, Stephe - who explained how to get back. Seriously it was only 2/3 miles at most! I ran as fast as I could, but missed my husband's finish by maybe five minutes - something I'll never forgive myself for.

My husband's race

After my incident my husband was left with no fuel. I was carrying all his stuff, so now he had to rely on the aid stations. Hammer gel - something that does not agree with him. He stopped one time to vomit in a port-a-potty. (Just the thought makes me want to vomit!) He saw some friends, one the most awesome Charlie Bolek, whose plan was to run the last 6 miles with him. (Charlie was denied with a big fat D!) My husband saw good friend Mark Anson - and was wondering where the hell I was. In the end he told me he was confused and totally ticked off - he didn't understand what was going on, was having issues and told Mark if he saw me that he really needed me. (Truly he didn't. He was doing awesome all on his own) Mile 24 is when he hit the wall - but he still kept running! My man is unbelievable! Minutes after he crossed the finish line I saw him - and like huge babies we both hugged each other and completely broke out in tears. Not the wimpy tears, but mega tears. People were looking, but neither one of us cared. What an incredible experience for him (and of course now he has the running bug more than ever, with talk of "When's the next....!")

Jean Toth

Jean Toth was running a great race! She had 6 hours to finish Towpath, and completed her 51st marathon in a time of 6 hours and 49 seconds. She just made it!! It's truly inspiring to see her cross that finish line. My husband, Stan, and myself were standing near the finish line just staring off into the path - waiting. I was nervous beyond belief, and was really hoping she would finish in time. Eventually - we saw the little pink fireball called Jean come through the woods and into the light! AMAZING! WOOOO! We all screamed, me as much as I could through tears. (yes again) After she crossed we realized that the Towpath people ran out of medals. My husband gave his medal, his very first marathon medal to Jean! He should be getting his in the mail, although he has not received it yet. I made sure she got her first place age group award, since the people she came with last year were in a rush to leave and she never received her award. (I also made sure the Towpath people were going to send her that award from last year too, she deserves it!)

In closing the Towpath Marathon was a pretty good little marathon. Lots of friends gave my husband a tremendous amount of support and it is much appreciated! Thanks to Crystal, Mark, Charlie, Daniel and many others! Thanks all!

Oil Creek 100 Mile - From a Pacer's Point of View

My friend Rachel ran her first 100 miler this weekend (and killed the course by the way!) I paced her for the last 25 miles of her run. I'm so glad I had the opportunity to participate in her incredible run. She was phenomenal every step of the way!

The Drive:

So of course driving out there my directionally challenged self got a little lost. Once I got on the right track and came close to the Oil Creek area I forgot about getting lost and started having mini heart attacks. HILLS! Look at the hills! I was a little nervous about my pacing duties then. (I was already nervous that I would not be able to keep up just because I had run 20 miles on Friday - but now seeing the hills really made me scared!)

I eventually arrived and saw Kathleen Dickson (Mark Anson's pacer)and chatted for a bit. I hung out watching other runners, saw Sandi - Rachel's sister and eventually Chris Wagner came running through the aid station (AS 4 - the middle school). Soon after Rachel appeared and was looking good! I had lots of time to kill before my pacing duties, so I hung out at the 50k finish line hoping to see my friend Daniel Bellinger cross. I sat, and sat, and sat forever!!! And missed him. I don't know how! The only thing I figure is I missed him when I ran to go tell a 50k finsiher she was going the wrong way. He HAD to have slipped by then! I realized he had come through already when I walked into the Middle School to use the bathroom, and there sits Daniel! SHUCKS! My friend produced an excellent time however, and I'm so glad for him! (Still wish I could've seen him cross that line though!)

Again with more time to kill I hung out, talking with Frederick Davis, III who unfortunately had to drop from the race. We chatted for the longest time with an amazing adventure racer - Andrea (didn't catch her last name) who gave me some great tips on cold weather racing. Then - it was go time for Sandi! (Sandi paced Rachel for around 14 miles before me) Rachel came through still looking great and then they were off! I talked with Frederick a few more minutes and then left - I headed straight to Aid Station #2 where I was to meet Rachel for my pacing duties. My plan was to just sit tight until she came through.

Aid Station 2

I soon realized that you get pretty cold when you're not running! I picked up a spot by the fire after a little while and that's where I stayed until Chris Wagner ran through. I started to help him out, gave him batteries - started to get fuel and then heard "Runners PLEASE get out of the pavilion!" I could feel my face getting red - all I could think was this man just ran 75 miles! He needs fuel!! I was about to say something when I looked up and realized we were the only two people in the pavilion. I then heard two words. Fire and petroleum tank. NUFF SAID.

We hurried out of the pavilion - and then BAM!!! A grill sized petroleum tank exploded right by where I had been sitting. I still don't know what happened really - but it was interesting to say the least. Chris then finished getting himself organized and was off to finish his race. I ho-hummed around for a minute, figuring that it would take Rachel a bit longer to get to the Aid Station - but there she was! 5 minutes behind Chris! She ran up and all I said was "WHOA!!!" I grabbed my gear, Rachel got situated and Sandi helped her get all the fuel she needed and we were off. It was a pretty smooth transition. I told her how incredibly close she was to Chris - and that we may be able to catch up with him. We eventually did, I'm not sure what aid station it was but we got him! For a minute :D

Aid Station # ??

We arrived at the next aid station and while Rachel was getting everything she needed I went to the bathroom. Before I went I told her to start without me, that I would catch up if I wasn't out before she was done. She left and I came out - it wasn't that long at all - and I went to the aid station to make sure Rachel really did leave. She did, and I ran as fast as I could to catch her. She got so far in such a tiny amount of time that I thought I lost her!! Eventually I started calling her name and saw her going up a pretty nasty hill. I caught her, but was so out of breath. I'm still amazed she went so far so stinking fast! Chris wound up catching us as well. What was at that aid station anyway?!

Pacing duties
Before the race I researched as much as I could about pacing. (Really there's not much out there, you just run - you know!) Anyway I did find some tips - carrying extra batteries for you runner (headlamp), ask if they would like you to run in front of or behind them, etc., etc. So I did all of the above. I also stuffed some energy bars and gels in my pack for the both of us. I seriously felt like an overprotective mother as my pack was stuffed! (Think Christmas Story!) Throughout the run I just tried to be 100% positive. I've heard of pacers being tough with their runners, trying to lay the smack down on them so they'd finish - but I don't really agree with that method. I mean, personally - if I had just ran 75 miles I really wouldn't want someone talking down to me, telling me to suck it up. So - positivity was the name of the game for the rest of the run. I almost blew it when I saw what appeared to be a large pool of blood on the trail, however I caught myself before I opened my mouth thank goodness! I really wasn't sure how seeing something like that would go so I just put my head down and kept quiet.

An amazing runner
I think I really had an easy pacing job. I mean, Rachel was amazing! She didn't complain - I could tell things were hurting (well obviously!) because when she would run she made the same noises I was making at North Coast (lol!) But she never said a word. I kept wondering - when she was going to say how much she was in pain, how horrible it was - but she never did. It was so impressive - I can't even say enough. The only thing that we really talked negatively about was the sound of that STUPID well. Earlier on Rachel had mentioned it was pretty annoying, and she wasn't lying. By the end of the race I wanted to take a bulldozer to that well.

Rachel's Finish
We were on the home stretch and Rachel was still in first place. We got turned around unfortunately. There was someone stationed there but we didn't get stopped and told we were going the wrong way. We wound up doing an extra loop around the well and within that time frame a runner (female) wound up going the correct direction and came across the finish line first. Rachel crossed the finish line and we celebrated with her sister and Chris. We then walked into the school and my heart sank. There was this incredible woman sitting there, celebrating her finish. She had chased Rachel all day. In the end - she turned out to be even more incredible than anyone could have ever imagined. She heard what happened, and gave the win to Rachel. Neither one of them wanted to accept first - but this is how it went. Both women are fantastic runners who fought hard all day and night. (Rachel fought so hard it even earned her a trip to the ER, which wound up being an overnight stay at the hospital!) In my opinion both ladies should have been allowed to tie for first, but the RD said NO DICE. I'm not sure why really, but that's how it went. He did admit that he'll have to work on marking the course for next year. The end of the course was not the only problem spot on the course, but hopefully next year will be better. (If only they could use Mohican's excellent course markings for an example!)

Other notable Oil Creek happenings:

Chris Wagner passed out after his race - and I almost dropped him on his head!!

Shaun Pope dropped a little ways into his race - he had been sick the last couple weeks and not feeling well. After a bit he decided to give it another go, picked up where he left off earlier. HOW INCREDIBLE! Unfortunately the sickness was too much - but this was definitely an inspiring act!

Mark Anson finished his 100k in 15 hours and 49 minutes

Daniel Bellinger finished the 50k in 5 hours and 59 minutes

Lloyd Thomas finished the 50k in 5 hours and 3 minutes

Lee Conner, third overall female finished the 50k in 5 hours and 43 minutes

Gale Conner finished the 50k in 10 hours and 27 minutes

Kimberly Boner finished 1st female for the 100k, 13 hours and 02 minutes

Terri Lemke finished the 100 miler in 29 hours and 16 minutes

Brian Musick finished the 100 miler in 31 hours and 35 minutes

Bob Baldwin finished the 100k in 15 hours and 48 minutes

Roy Heger finished the 100k in 15 hours and 20 minutes

Congratulations to Rachel and all Oil Creek runners who ran an excellent race - the weather was good and Oil Creek is a beautiful area. Rest up, heal well - and get ready to run it again next year!

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