Friday afternoon I headed down 45 to Huntsville, TX. Just three weeks ago I made this same drive down to the Houston Marathon. This time instead of racing, I was crewing and pacing for friends at the Rocky Raccoon 100 miler. I was so excited! Unfortunately these gorgeous clouds held much water that would make the race that much more difficult for the runners.
Huntsville State Park delights you with tall trees, a shimmering lake and plenty of alligators. Yes, beware of alligators!
Setting up camp with the help of Mama C and Fiona. Thank goodness for a thick footprint and a water tight rain fly. It was really tested this weekend! I'll just say that Marmont makes a great quality tent - not a drop of moisture entered my orange tent. We stayed nice and cozy!
Thx to Sare Bear for the pic!
Saturday morning we got up reeeeeeaaaaaallllllly early to see everyone off. It was pouring down rain. Thunder, lightning and inches and inches of rain. But everyone was in good spirits and we hugged, high fived and hollered as they took off for the first 20 mile loop.
We headed to breakfast after making sure all of our runners were on the course. We hoped to wait out much of the rain or at least wait out sunrise! Here I am with my bestie Sare Bear. Her hubs Matt was running his first 100 miler!
We decided to make a trip to Target for some essentials of crewing. I needed glow necklaces and Team K got s'mores supplies. Mmm! Once there we ran into Fiona who was wisely wearing rain boots. Fiona's husband Greg (Ninja) was running HIS first 100 miler. Knowing a great idea when we saw one, we all decided to get rain boots to keep our feet dry. Here is Corina (Mama C) trying on a pair for size.
Target saw quite the spike in the sale of rain boots early Saturday morning.
photo thanks to Mama C!
Team K (Erik and Michelle) brought an easy up and a few tarps. They sure helped keep us out of the wind and rain this weekend. Team K also provided a propane heater that we were very grateful for late Saturday night! Here I am with Tini, my fellow pacer. We had so much fun together! Of course I'm rocking' the boots and shorts look for which I am famous.
Before long, both Ninja and Matt came in after the first loop of 20 miles. The mud was deep and they cleaned up their feet, changed shoes and socks and grabbed a bite to eat as we asked all the appropriate questions. I can't tell you how many times this weekend I asked, "Are you peeing enough?"
No telling what time of day this was taken. Clearly it is still daylight. We stayed huddled under our easy up if we weren't tending to our runners or headed off in search of the bathrooms. Thank goodness for clean park bathrooms because those porta potties were ridonkulous!
Fiona, Mama C and Tini holding down the fort.
Fast forward many, many hours and several loops later. Here we are, Mama C, me, Erik (under the blanket), Michelle and Fiona. This was taken somewhere around 3 am. We were tired. And I still hadn't run my loop yet. Delirious is a good word to describe our state!
Thx for the pic Sare Bear!Okay, so here is how pacing for this race went. You could have a pacer once you got to your 4th loop, or after mile 60. Tini paced Becky for miles 60-80 and I paced her for the last 20 miles. Now, we didn't know Becky until this weekend. She's a Facebook friend from Colorado. We were so excited for the opportunity to run with her but a little nervous since we really didn't know her particular running needs. But we were ready for anything! I had extra batteries, first aid supplies and plenty of candy corn!
They came in a little after 4 am and Tini caught me up on the details. Becky was in incredibly high spirits. I made sure she got something hot to eat and drink, that her bottle was full of fluids and we were off. Her preference was that I ran out in front so that's just what I did. I wore my headlamp but I also carried a flashlight so I could warn her of any obstacles and shine my extra light on them. Last thing this girl needed after running 80 miles in the mud and the rain was to trip on a root.
Here I am with Tini my pacing partner.
We talked, I told stories and asked questions periodically to make sure she was lucid. She was good about taking in proper fluids and grabbing food at the aid stations. The mud was HARD to run through even for me and I had fresh legs. I was so impressed with her positive attitude. Sadly, earlier, two of our runners made the difficult decision to DNF. So I was very excited knowing that as strong as she was running/walking she was definitely going to make 100!
We ran/walked through the night, greeting others as they passed us on the loop, headed back to the finish. Passing an alligator nest we shuddered together. I figured it was too cold for the gators to care to be out but still, scary!
Relived when the sun came out, we hoped that perhaps it would offer some much needed warmth. (it didn't) I just kept telling her over and over, "You are doing this!"
As we neared six hours we came to mile 99. And we still had two hours before the cut off. I turned and told her that even if she crab walked the last mile, she was going to make it. She said, "I'm going to get that belt buckle!" Yes girl, you sure are.
I know she was hurting. She had been moving for over 28 hours and awake for over 30. And on her feet the entire time. (she never sat down once!) I let her walk but I pushed her pace. That's my job to keep her moving. Soon we could hear the hollering from the finish line. I said, "Becky, do you hear that? They are yelling for you! YOU! Because you ran 100 miles!" And then I told her she had to run across the finish line. Screaming her name and pointing, I yelled louder than I ever have. "BECKY! Becky just ran 100 miles! Becky!" And the tears came from both of us. Spectators and volunteers roared. She crossed that finish line and they put that precious buckle in her hands. I hugged her tight, so honored to be there to share that moment with her. What a privilege to run with such greatness.
I am humbled by her strength and her courage. Just showing up for a 100 miler is an incredible feat in itself. I'm so proud of her for her hard work and for having faith in her abilities. She did it. She ran 100 miles!
We got her seated by a fire and fed, took off her shoes and cleaned her feet best we could with baby wipes. She never stopped smiling. Here she is with her hard earned belt buckle. Isn't she just the cutest thing?
Crewing and pacing for an ultra is so much fun but more than that, it is inspiring. We saw people falling, shivering uncontrollably, stumbling, bleary eyed and bleeding from falls and yet they kept going. One foot in front of the other. Nothing could get them down. The human spirit is just incredible. We aren't wired to run 100 miles just on a whim. These athletes trained hard physically and mentally for many months to get to this point.
If you ever have the opportunity to crew or pace and ultra, take it. Just being near these amazing individuals is incredible. Driving home on Sunday, reeking of campfire and running, and completely unable to recall the last time that I ate or brushed my teeth...I also couldn't remember the last time I had this much fun for this long. And I can't wait to do it again!