Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Crews and Pacers

It's another beautiful morning! I ran 5.5 miles with 10 minutes at 7:15 pace in the middle. No problem today, I feel good!

I've set aside time this afternoon for planning and packing a few drop bags. I'm a low maintenence kind of hundred miler runner. Usually no crew, no pacer and only one or two drop bags. I will probably only need to get into the bag for my light, a restock of Hammer Gel, S-caps and Shock Blocks, and warmer night time running clothes. I figure they have aid stations at these things, why not use them? Plus, as with everything in my life, I hate to make things more complicated than they need to be.

Most people have pretty laid back crews. Often just the wife and kids. But I have seen other runners come into crew stations and be treated like they were entering a pit stop in the Daytona 500. The runner plops into the chair, a friend grabs the empty bottles to refill, someone else has taken the shoes off and is rubbing ointment between the toes, another crew member has his face inches in front of the runner's shouting how far ahead the next runner is and what kind of finish time is predicted at this point in the race, and someone else is pushing food into the runner's hands. All I can do is say a silent "wow" as I grab a handfull of chips and let the friendly volunteers help fill my bottles. I hate a lot of attention. That's why I don't think I could do a race like Badwater where you have to rely on so many people to help you through it.

My friend, Bj has crewed for me in a very low key way. He'll walk over and talk to me at the aid station table, "You're doing great. Do you need anything? See you in a few hours." Perfect.

The pacer thing is a whole other story. I think I might like a pacer at the beginning of a hundred mile race. Too bad it doesn't work that way. In the beginning half I am just trying to relax and let the miles and the hours pass as easily as I can. It would be nice to have someone to distract me and entertain me during this time. Later in the race I am getting tired. My muscles and joints hurt. My mind is having trouble concentrating on important stuff like getting calories and water and electrolytes. I am starting to doubt my abilities. I don't need a pacer to help me through these times, I need to go within myself and dig deep.

A pacer makes me feel guilty. I start thinking I should be moving faster, I should be more cheerful and talk a little. This person has come all the way out here to help me and I am being a grumpy bore just slogging along at this unbearably slow pace. A pacer makes me feel stressed out! I've run six 100's and had pacers twice (one of my pacer-less hundreds was a DNF). When I count paced runs,I don't count the time my faithful crew of BJ ran back from the finish line and ran in the last 5 or 6 miles of Western States with me. That was actually perfect. I was almost done and I was feeling happy. It was very nice to have someone there to share that with. So I'll revise my statement about wanting a pacer only in the early miles. I'd take one at the very end also.

At this year's MMT, they have added a new division. This new Stonewall Jackson Division is for runners without crew or pacer. I noticed several runners who usually have both crew and pacer have signed up for this, I guess as a novelty or a challenge. I think many of them will discover how liberating it is!

1 comment:

  1. Laurel,

    I've only tried the no crew/no pacer thing once in my 10 100s. It was kind of liberating, to be honest. I was running Javelina and I was fighting both a foot injury and a cold on race day. After three loops (just under 50 miles), I was pretty sure I wouldn't finish. But, I was by myself and I had no one to disappoint or impress or worry about, other than me. It was a beautiful night in the desert, and I decided to go out and hike one last loop at night, just for fun. No pressure - just me and the moon and coyotes. I also figured that if the loop went really well, I'd try another.

    As it turned out, I fell behind 30 hour pace on that loop, so I called it a night at 64 miles or so and went back to where I was staying. In some ways, it was one of the best DNFs ever, if there is such a thing.

    At WS this year, I have a large crew - wife, kids, dad, friend, and pacer. They all know my history and frustration with the race and they all want to be there when I finally finish.

    Have a great race this weekend. I've been down there the past two years and I wish I was going to be there again.