setting the pace

December 26, 2013 at 3:46 pm 5 comments

a couple months back, the dillo worked his way up the waiting list and got accepted into ancient oaks 100 mile ultra! given we don’t run together a ton i was a bit surprised when he asked me to be his primary pacer. but when we do run we work well together and apparently i have a reputation of being firm but sympathetic ~ something he felt he needed on course.

so this past saturday i headed over to titusville. race start was 7 a.m. saturday but the wingman (who was pacing another mutual friend) and i didn’t head that way until early afternoon. the plan was for the dillo to run solo until mile 50 before i joined in for somewhere around 25 night time miles so i let myself sleep in and take the morning easy.

ancient oaks is comprised of 29 loops of just under 3.5 miles. not my idea of a perfect ultra but helpful for those who want lots of aid and crew support. i spent the first couple hours assessing the scene and keeping tabs on the dillo as he came in after each loop. as it started nearing sunset i figured it a good idea for me to do one loop in daylight to familiarize myself with the course not to mention to scope out how the dillo was feeling. i could tell the unexpected and unseasonably high heat was already starting to take a toll but he was holding strong and steady. given how bad heat zaps me i didn’t want to waste what i knew he would need later so after that one loop i turned over pacing duties to another and waited for the sun to go down.

as the dillo came in from loop 13 he beckoned for me to join him and tift jumped in for a loop as well. i knew it was a bit earlier than planned but i felt great and was ready to get in some miles. but partway into that loop i realized that i really wasn’t ready. if this was it. my actual start for long mileage i certainly wasn’t prepared. i hadn’t vaselined the feet. or slathered up in body glide. i hadn’t thought to fill my camelbak or even bring a handheld on course. one or two loops is one thing, but if i was in it for the long haul i needed to readjust. i could already feel a hot spot on my heel and wanted to damage control best i could so i asked tift if he could take the next one solo so i could regroup.

i don’t know what happened on that loop but when the guys came in, dillo was in rough shape. stumbling. unfocused. i knew he hadn’t been eating enough in spite of the gentle nudging we’d been giving him to do so.”nothing sounds appetizing” he threw out yet again. and at that point gentle went out the window … dude, this ain’t about being a foodie! i don’t care if it sounds good or event tastes good as long as it’s calories going in and it’s not going to make you puke! eat! now!

ramen soup became his go to. every loop a half cup or so. and in between his wife, turner and i force fed. french fries. bananas. five hour energy drinks shoved in my pocket and in his face mid loop. as we ran into the late night hours there were good loops and bad. it’s amazing the extreme highs and lows ultra runners can go to from one mile to the next. sometimes we talked. stories of this or that. other times i could tell he needed silence. his 23rd loop quickly got deemed the cussing loop as the only phrase he could mangage was “fuck you fucker” as he tried desperately to pull himself together during an exceptionally dark time. we laughed at our back and forth flatulence. doesn’t matter how old you are. farts are funny! and in long distance running there is no place for holding back any and all needed bodily functions. we hallucinated with the shadowy darkness. beady eyes reflecting back were clearly from a rabbit but there was no convincing him it was anything other than a monkey. and the duck i watched waddle across our path ~ feathers fluffing and all ~ vanished into thin air. we found a little mantra ~ boardwalk. boardwalk. mahoney. check check. ~ course milestones that signified the nearing end of each loop.

before i knew it i had surpassed my anticipated 25. except for a nasty blister on my heel, i felt good. real good. and i knew the dillo needed me more than i needed to rest. besides how could i admit to exhaustion when he had 40-plus miles on me! so i stayed. one more loop i’d say. and then i’d do another and another. and as we started what was my 10th loop i realized i was close enough to taste it and i wanted at least 40. but loop 11 i started fading. i’d been running all night. hadn’t behaved well with nutrition and i was sustaining on random sugar highs followed by brutal crashes. i got through 11 and forced myself out for 12 but not without making sure there was a replacement in the wings. part of me wanted to go to the end and probably could have fought for it. but i was there to be the strong one. to motivate. and when half way through loop 12 the racer had to start worrying about the pacer i knew i needed to be done.

a sink bath and a change of clothes felt like heaven. and as the sun came up i watched runner after runner cross the finish line. tavi ~ a friend and occasional running partner ~ took second female with an un-frickin-believable time of 24:39:25 and the dillo finished strong and almost perfectly at his 27 and a half hour goal with a 27:25:46.

i have to admit that going in i was a little worried. i’ve never really paced anyone and the one time someone paced me, i got so annoyed with his “motivational tactics” that i wanted to deck the shit out of him. i wondered if i’d be able to keep the dillo going through the difficult times and if i could help him relish in the good. and i selfishly worried if i would feel let down that there would be no lime light, no race success, for me. but watching the dillo ~ and tavi and even chori who ended up with a dnf ~ was an absolutely amazing experience. being on course, learning to read the needs of another runner pushing his body and mind to extremes, was intense. i was happy to sit in the wings. 42 miles of them.

but my biggest fear of all ~ the one i knew i’d be lucky to avoid ~ came to fruition … i caught the itch.

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Entry filed under: running, ultra marathon. Tags: , , , , .

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5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Miss Mile High  |  December 26, 2013 at 7:52 pm

    Wow, that was so exciting to read! Even if Dillo kept translating automatically to dildo in my ridiculous head. I’m sorry.

    Truth is – you have to go for it now! And I can’t wait to read about it when you do!

    Reply
    • 2. becelisa  |  December 27, 2013 at 8:41 am

      lmao! i can understand how your brain reads it that way. almost surprised mine doesn’t too 😉 it’s short for armadillo (long story behind it) so i guess i automatically see it that way.

      i love that you actually enjoy my race reports given i know you aren’t always a fan of running blogs. it means a lot to me! and yes, i’m going to have to go for it. i’ve seriously got to start hanging with a different crowd! i’m thinking crack addicts might be better for me. lol

      Reply
  • 3. 100 percent nuts | becelisa  |  July 11, 2014 at 11:01 am

    […] back in december i paced the dillo at ancient oaks ~ his first hundred. i was 50k training and had a pretty solid base of mileage so i was able to run 42 miles with him. i could have done more. physically. but mentally i was wavering and given i was there to provide support not require it, i bowed out. but i was surprised at how easily i did 42 ~ my second longest run ever. […]

    Reply
  • 4. kitkat1126  |  July 11, 2014 at 11:11 am

    oh my God. I am incredibly proud and in awe of you… even if part of me wants to say your bat $hit crazy lady!!! But I think this is the most amazing challenge you have – mentally and physically – and while I have no doubt you will kill it, I can’t wait to read all through your training, the ups and downs, the learning moments and most of all, the recap when you finish 🙂

    Reply
    • 5. kitkat1126  |  July 11, 2014 at 11:13 am

      Umm i swear this was posted on your 100% nuts most recent post I have no idea how I got here!… copying and pasting now… 😉

      Reply

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the best of times

5k pr ~ 24:23
10k pr ~ 52:49
half marathon pr ~ 1:55:10
marathon pr ~ 4:10:41
half ironman pr ~ 5:57:50
50k pr ~ 5:33:23
50-mile pr ~ 11:32:39

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