Saturday, September 3, 2011

Burning River 100 miler - a pacer's report

Yes I've been slacking on the blog! Hopefully I can remember all the details of BR, but life has been busy! I ran recently ran my latest 100 miler, my son started cross country and school - so much to do!

My husband's first 100 miler, the BURNING RIVER 100

It hasn't even been two years since my husband started running. I can remember the day when he said enough is enough, and we went out and bought him his first pair of good running shoes. Since then he has worked his way up from 5k to now an amazing 100 miles! He has, as most of us have - become completely obsessed :) A good obsession I'd say, since what we do really doesn't interfere with family time (early a.m. runs) and, well anyway our son runs with us quite a bit as well. (well, not now during cross season - he has ditched us for his XC buds! sheesh!)

The night before the race my husband, son, and I went to the pasta dinner/packet pickup for the race. The meal was prepared by the most awesome Chef Bill Bailey. There we met our friend from Michigan, Marc "Doc" Ott - who stayed the night at our house. Almost immediately when we got home it was lights out, both guys understandably wanted to hit the sack early. I had no complaints as I would be up all day and night as well :)

The alarm sounded off early EARLY in the morning. 2 or 2:30 a.m., I forgot which. We got ready and hit the road. Squire's Castle was bustling with activity very early in the morning - runners standing around looking scared beyond belief, runners peeing in the woods, and some runners running to warm up! (Uh Valmir yes!) We stood around and chatted for a bit, people attempted night time photos, and soon they were off!

My son and I hit every aid station that we were allowed to be at. Hauling stuff that my husband may or may not need to each one, waiting, cheering on friends that were coming in. Early on my son and I spent a lot of time with Sara Wank, Chris Basich, and Chris's brother. It made the day really enjoyable!

My husband was looking good each time we saw him. He had a good pace, didn't start out to fast - was doing really, really well. I don't remember the mileage, but I believe it was around 30? he came in and said he felt he was getting a blister and was going to get it worked on. I wanted to scream NOOOO! DON'T SIT! But, if the man had a blister that was bothering him, can't knock him for that. He sat down at the podiatrist's tent and that's where he stayed for over 25 minutes. BAD BAD BAD. I almost bent down and popped the damn thing with my fingers so I could get him the hell up and get going. Eventually, the deed was done - he got up and was completely cramping all over. From this point forward in the race, it was a whole different ball game. MISERY.

Now I was worried. All I could think of was Tanya Cady's saying..."Beware the Iron Chair!" So true. So very true. My son and I made our way to the next aid station. We arrived at the aid station and our friend Beth, aid station captain told me a runner was lost, and it was someone who most DEFINITELY should have been there by now. I asked who it was, and she told me "Valmir".

My heart sunk. Valmir is an amazing runner, spectacular beyond belief! And not to mention, he was lost and does NOT know English. Waiting and waiting - finally he came in made a quick circular motion with his hands and took off his bib. I have to say, it really seemed like he took it well. An amazing guy all the way around :) Heck, he had another hundo in a month anyway!! Save it for the next one...

My husband soon came in looking a bit hairy, he walked a ton between the dreaded blister aid station and this one we were at. We gave him his stuff, and off he went.

The next aid station we saw him at was the Boston Store. The Boston Store was a point in the race where quite a few runners dropped out. Unfortunately the heat of the day really got to some, and they called it quits. My husband came in, looking completely spent.

Knowing that he would perk up a bit the next time we saw him (due to our friend Charlie pacing him when he would come back around again) we kept reminding him - only xx miles until you can run with Charlie! Off he went.

It was awhile before he came back again, and friends Scott and Bri McGrew showed up. I also saw a few other friends, JP, Richard Cook, James Viggiano, Greg Murray - to name a few. It was really great to see so many people out there :)

Along comes my husband, and finally Charlie was up and out with my man, and I was really relieved. Charlie is SUCH a great guy, and I knew he could lift his spirits. Which he did indeed do. At the next aid station I was taking him the rest of the way, 37 miles - and my son would be going with Charlie to start his volunteer duties at the Merriman Road aid station.

My plan was to try and get some sleep at the aid station before my pacing duties, but there were just so many people, awesome people, to chat with that it was impossible-but I didn't mind one bit :) Really, I don't think I could've slept anyway, there was just too much excitement! Then, the man arrived! WOOO HOO! Time to go! Off we went through a run in the woods. In a few hours, it would be midnight. And on midnight, our anniversary. Running through the woods, in the dark - we never did get a honeymoon, so this was the next best thing!

I don't recall the aid station name, but it is the location of "No Frills Just Hills". I will just rename that section - BAT CITY. There were so many bats, it was unreal! Also if anyone was running and heard someone scream, sorry my bad - that would be me as a bat flew into my headlamp. Yep. After that I pointed my headlamp straight at the ground in the hopes of no more encounters. My husband's mood perked up considerably on the second loop - and he was moving at a pretty good clip.

Another aid station. We got to the next aid station, and were in and out. (This was the rule of thumb for the day.) No hanging out, no sitting down (except the dreaded blister time), no dawdling at the aid station. Get yer butt in, get out. Just keep on moving, keep on truckin', one foot in front of the other. About 2 miles after we left the aid station we came across a lady who was in such bad shape. She was weaving in and out, had a glazed look over her eyes, and had NO fuel. If I would have been the one racing, I would have stopped, stayed with her until she got to the next aid station - that's how she looked. But I wasn't, I was pacing - and had to take care of the man. Instead, I gave her all of my homemade energy bars. I could survive without them. She had done SO much more and needed them in the worst way. I worried about her the rest of the way. (SO SO happy to report though that she did cross the finish line about 1/2 hour after my husband!! Congrats stranger!!)

And onward...
I was hurting. The horrible blister that I had for weeks, that had not healed - was excruciating. Also, I had started swelling (as my whole summer has gone) and my feet were just getting too big for my shoes. This caused even more blisters. 5 on the bottom of EACH foot. Still though, this was NOT my race and I absolutely did NOT tell my husband. Just bit my lip, kept on going. I WAS seeing him through the end of this no matter want. I did not even make so much as a grunt - I didn't want him to know, and didn't want to ruin his race. NO WAY.

We got to the towpath, and MY GOD. That seemed like the longest stretch ever. The never ending towpath. We were looking forward to seeing my son and our friends at the Merriman Road aid station though, so one foot in front of the other. Soon we got to Merriman and that perked my husband back up. Everyone was great, gave him a boost - and off we went! Again. And back on the towpath! @%^* !!!!

Knowing that the end was in sight really did make the last stretch of the towpath better though. Not too much longer we were in the woods again, making good time. We had heard about a nasty set of stairs, and soon we saw it. After 97, 98 miles you don't really want to see stairs! But there they were, and off he went. When he got to the top of the stairs there he sighed a huge sigh of relief. HOWEVER, a cute old man who was walking through the woods was also at the top and said "Oh your not done yet! Wait till ya see the next set of steps!" While he was indeed a cute old man I didn't think so when he told my husband that!

Finally we got to the steps, finished - and were again relieved. Soon we would see Charlie and my son and my husband would get to run the last mile with all of us. Going, going...and there they were!! It was off to the finish line, all of us! My husband's team - Charlie, my son, and me - going, going - It was amazing to see and I was completely proud of all my husband had done. And then, there it was. The finish. The BEAUTIFUL finish! Across the line he went, looking great. My husband got his well deserved medal, and sat by the fountain. Not too long after Tanya came over and helped us out - more tips (Tanya is an amazing runner who is always so willing to help with tips, suggestions, etc - and incredible person!). She helped us out with my husband, told him to get his feet in the fountain right away! Which he did. I have to say, I was pretty impressed (and pretty embarrassed) his feet looked WAY better than mine.

I couldn't have been more proud of my husband than at that very moment. There are knee issues that he's had to battle with since high school that he pushes through, silently. But yet, he ran his 100. Not even 2 years after beginning to run. An amazing accomplishment! His finishing time, 28 hours and 32 minutes!!

A special thanks now to an amazing friend, Charlie Bolek - for spending so much time out there with us. Charlie is a wonderful pacer and great guy, and I'm so thankful he was out there with my dude. Also a big thanks to all the volunteers for being SO incredible. Each aid station was amazing beyond belief - an event like this wouldn't be able to take place without all the people who stay up all day and night to help smelly, sweaty, and at times delusional runners. Thanks everyone, for being so amazing!!

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