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RR 100 Miler (Part II)

Posted February 5th, 2013 at 11:06 AM by Black Spurs

Loop 2 for my brother brought him in at 4:30 PM, which was 10 hours and 28 minutes. He was averaging about 15:40 per mile. That is a good average for the overall race, but I wanted to see it closer to 14 minute miles at this point. I wanted a little more time built in for the eventual slow down towards the end. I had some concerns about him slowing more and not being where he needed to be. I figured the last two loops would be 6 hours and 6.5 hours, putting us in at 29 hours. Loop 3 would be important. He was not on pace to be back to me at 10:30, and I figured we would be pushing it even more than I expected if he was reduced to a walk.

I was still working the aid station at 10:27 when I looked up and saw him come in. It was around this time of the night that I started seeing people crying, huddled in blankets, dropping from the race, etc. It looked like some sort of trauma center. I got him situated, and we crossed the line out for 10:30 PM on the dot. We rolled pretty well, running slowly and walking quickly. He still had plenty of run in him at mile 60, and we never walked a full mile on the loop. Right after the Nature Center AS, we started catching people. I heard some owls in the distance, and as always, I answered them with some very good owl hoots of my own. I did that mostly to get his mind on something else, but also, an owl hoot is about the only sound I can stay on key with. They answered me back. I am sure the folks up ahead and behind us thought I was crazy.

I kept checking my watch and we were going to make up some time on this loop. We rolled through ****ation on the way out quickly, and we were rewarded with some beautiful coyote howling. I love the sounds of the woods at night. Nathan was in good spirits until we hit the dam. At that point, I noticed him slipping into a bad place mentally. I reached in my pocket and pulled out some cheese crackers. I had him eat two, drink, eat two more, drink, etc. He came out of this spot quickly and we continued to run slowly and walk quickly. I estimated us to finish the loop in 5:20ish at the pace we were going. I could live with that. We saw Sandy (Slowdown) when we were coming back into ****ation AS. I remember his saying hello, and I think I told him that I believed we would make it. I truly did. It was in the bag. We ate at ****ation and moved on out.

All this while, if I wasn’t suggesting we run a little, Nathan was suggesting it. This made me feel great about him finishing. Around mile 75, he stopped to pee. When he turned, he felt a burning sensation in his Achilles’ Tendon. I suggested we walk it out a bit. His walk quickly became a limp. It was soon evident that he could no longer run and could barely walk. The temps had dropped, and I could feel a chill coming on quickly. We were not moving fast enough to generate enough heat to keep us warm. I was in denial and tried everything I knew to say to get him to continue if at all possible. I did not want him to experience the disappointment of a DNF, not on the first time out, not when he was still running well, not with 25 miles to go… Despite our best efforts, he was unable to continue. I thought we would never get to the next AS at his reduced pace after the AT issue. I told him that it was not mathematically possible to hold this pace and finish the race. He said he knew that. We made it to the Park Road AS, and he dropped. I had to get the car. I was frustrated because he had really done well with hydration, nutrition, foot care, etc. He had run a perfect race for someone whose only goal is to finish in the allotted time. Dang it!!!

I had to get back to the car on foot, and it just so happened that a runner came through with no pacer who was trying to hold on for a sub 24 hour race. I left Nathan in the good hands of the aid station and took off with the other runner to help him get his sub 24 and retrieve the car at the start/finish line. This guy was reluctant to take on a pacer at first. He felt like it would be a boring trek for me. But I assured him I could deal with it. After the first mile, he commented that he was glad I was there to talk to and keep him focused on a good pace. We were moving very well, around 15 minute miles, passing people like it was cool. Then, from out of nowhere, I had to pull over for some business that would not wait…

I got back on the trail after 10 minutes, and I began trying to catch my runner. I had the most fun of the night running down that dark trail with only my handheld lighting the way. I caught up with my runner, almost passing him when he called my name. We kept going down the trail talking about past races, course records, future plans, etc. Suddenly, we turned a corner and saw the finish line. I suggested we run, and run we did. We came in around 23:25 or so, well under 24 hours. Nathan had ended up catching a ride back to the S/F and was waiting for me. He went to sleep while I waited for another friend of ours to finish. Our other friend, who DNF’d (Did Not Finish) last year, came in at 25:22. We were all happy for him.

It was a disappointing day for my brother. But, like I told him, he had a plan that he had the courage to stick with from the start. He didn’t get drawn into someone else’s pace, and his plan was working. But, there are some things that cannot be controlled. If the AT situation would not have occurred, he would have finished with some time to spare. We were on pace to make up 30 minutes on the 4th loop. I was truly impressed by what he accomplished. In my DNF, I made several mental mistakes; my arrogance was my greatest enemy. He respected this course and the distance; his plan showed that respect. He just had an issue that was beyond his ability to control. So, when I give him words of encouragement, they are more than just trying to make him feel better. It was a good day, despite the DNF. I got a whole new perspective on ultras by working in the aid station. I saw some strong runners throw in the towel early; I saw some slow runners tough it out and get a buckle. I saw people at their lowest and highest points. I really enjoyed helping others.

Thanks for reading.
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