Ramblings from an Ultra Pacer……
Well hello there. I am the other half of ultra runner Joe. We are been working hard, nailing down the logistical aspects of pulling off Joe’s 100 mile ultra marathon. Time is really flying by now, a little less than six weeks until the gun goes off down in Virgin, UT. With race stuff on the brain all morning, I thought I’d just pop on here and hammer out a little post from the perspective of race coordinator/pacer.
First off, just to get this outta the way, I gotta say…when Joe first told me he wanted to run an ultra marathon, I didn’t really know what to think. Of course you could understand my initial reaction.”Uggghh, are you having a midlife crisis? Do we have to do this right now? You are only 38.” To be honest, I just thought that he would sleep on it, that the ember would fizzle for a bit, then shrink up and die out. That we would look back over the years and chuckle lightly, nodding our heads, laughing “at that one time, he got the crazy notion to run 100 miles.”
Well folks, we all know now, that is not what happened. The days went by, his resolve got stronger. He was serious. He wanted something so big, it would life changing. He wanted out of his comfort zone. He wanted growth. So here we are, getting sooo close to Zion, we can almost taste the red rock and sandstone all the way from Oregon. And we are EXCITED!
In a nutshell:
10 days, 5 states, two kids, a dog and a camping trailer. That is our ship, and it is setting sail on Monday, April, 4th.
DAY 1: The haul is on. Southbound and down. Hoping to make it past North Plains before one of the kid’s says they have to go to the bathroom.
DAY 2: California Dreaming! 625 miles in and we are going to post up at the Ponderosa RV Park in Lotus, CA. Right outside of Yosemite.
DAY 3: YOSEMITE. Going to rest a bit, explore the park in the morning and make sure the boys don’t try to push each other off of the top Sentinel Rock. Then, it’s back on the road. Onward! To the Silver State.
Day 4: Viva Las Vegas! At this point, we will have just pulled an overnight-er at a campground on the strip. Surely, seeing Sin City will be a wonderful cultural experience for the children. Almost to Utah now, had to skip through the northern corner of Arizona. But by now, we will have made it to Zion and will go check in for the race.
Day 5/6 Whohoh! GO TIME. RACE DAY. 0600 Start. The race loop for the 100 miler makes a continuous circle, 4 times around. This race is no joke. Crossing rivers, running up mountains, through the night, on into the next day. We have a whole crew assembled to support Joe. Uncle Rori and niece Kirra, Joe’s good buddy and co-warrior, Tim Wambach and his friend, Tom, from Colorado. And Tom’s wife, Rose.
They say that in a 100 mile ultra marathon, you run the first 50 miles with your legs, and the last 50 miles with everything else you’ve got. I think anyone with athletic experience, no matter the sport, can relate to this. Joe will be in pain, chances are, in several places, at the same time. And he will have to find the resolve deep down, mind over matter, to ignore the pain and push through. Tim and I are Joe’s official pacers. We are allowed to join at mile 50. I will be tying in with Joe between the Goose bump and the Grafton Mesa Aid stations, somewhere around about 5pm. From there, he will have my company to support, pull and push him onto Mile 75.
I read a great quote on ultra pacing the other day. It said “The greatest attribute of a pacer is the ability to look you square in the eye and lie with conviction.” And hey man, in this case, I think that theory sounds about right. The Pacers and Crew have important jobs. We gotta live that quote. At mile 70, when Joe’s toenails are falling off, when his ankles and knees are begging for mercy, when he is hurting everywhere and hurting bad…when all I will really want to do is drag him off the course and into the nearest med tent…I have to look my dear husband square in the eye and tell him, “Man up. YOU ARE A SPARTAN. This is your WAR. Get on with it. One foot in front of the other. GO.” Our entire support team will be carrying this mentality for Joe and with Joe, to see him to the finish. Because he has worked so hard for this. There is not room in an ultra for sympathy, empathy or even an ounce of negativity if you want to see your runner finish. It is such a mental game by that point, that our whole crew will simply be telling him that he CAN do this and he WILL do this.
So anywhoo. Tim of course will then jump into pace from Mile 75 on. He will run with Joe for the rest of the night and into dawn. I couldn’t think of a better friend for Joe to have with him for those last grueling miles than Tim. Joe and Tim met last year at “The Crucible.” A warrior conference put on by Simon Smart and they been fast and furious friends ever since. I know that Tim is going to have Joe’s back, boosting him all the way to the finish.
After I hand off to Tim, I am going to hop back down the mountain to go scoop up our boys, Bruce and Tommy. They will be with me and the crew at the checkpoints up through Mile 50, but will be taking a rest break while I run with Joe. As Joe closes in on the finish, Bruce will be loaded in the jog stroller, Tommy will have his running gear on and we will be waiting at Mile 99, along with the rest of the crew, to see Joe through the “Glory Mile.” Joe wants his boys there. He wants them to feel the excitement, the fervor, to see the fatigue, the hard work, and the thrill of crossing the finish.
So that’s the plan for the race. As we all know, plans don’t always work out, it will be adjusted accordingly. But hey, we got a plan.
Day 7: DUNZO. Driving day! Something tells me that Joe is going to be curled up in the fetal position in the backseat, so I’m assuming that I will be towing the trailer down I-15. Warning to anyone traveling in that general vicinity right now. We will be gunning for Salt Lake City.
Day 8: Welcome to Idaho. We have left the trip on the way back a bit more unplanned, not sure how much driving in the a day the kiddos will be able to handle by this point. Hopefully, we will land somewhere around Twin Falls.
Day 9/10. And bringing it on in full circle. Oregon love. Home again. I gotta be back to work by that Thursday, sooo come hell or high water, we gotta hightail it back. I think we will be fine. Ya’ just gotta have a little faith sometimes and go for it, right?
My brother Abe laughed as he asked me one time, “Wait, Did you just call that a journey? When you start to call something “a journey” you know you are feeling it.”
Yep. We are feeling it around here. Excited for the journey.
Whew. Alright. I think I’m done. Thanks for reading!