Photo courtesy of Andrew King - D4 Productions

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Wasatch 100K - Pacing duties

Just to be perfectly clear my "duties" really weren't "duties", it was just palin' around on the trail with a good friend.

As mentioned before the Wasatch 100 is coming home for me so just to be a part of the race was an honor. This time around rather than having virtually no time because of racing I had plenty of time to catch up with family and friends as I waited for my pacing to begin. I got into town on Thursday and spent the night at my parents. On Friday I went to the in-laws as they live within 2 myles of the start. Having said that I got to spend some pretty good time with both sides of the family, which is always hard to do when my family comes into town. Then I went to the pre-race with Aric on Friday and helped pack his drop bags.

Saturday morning as I woke for some reason I was glad I wasn't running, it's kind of nice to be on the other side as support for a change - no nerves, no pressure. Although as I watched the runners leave after the gun I wished I was out there. My father in law and I drove up to Francis Peak to get Aric what he needed and also to see who the contenders were this year. It didn't take long for me to find my good friend Carolyn Boman, who read my blog and came through with the peaches - Thank you Carolyn and Wes Boman! (my mom also covered me and brought peaches just in case - got tons now) Rick and I chatted with Carolyn and her daughter Trudy for a good hour about anything and everything - it was real nice to catch up Mrs. Boman. Aric came through about 1/2 hour behind his split but I knew it wasn't a big deal so I told him not to worry about it. Now the long haul to Big Mountain.

Rick and I got to Big Mountain around 3:00 p.m. and were surprised to hear Aric was about an hour ahead of schedule. He came in @ 3:30 p.m. and looked GREAT! He was in good spirits and looked fresh. We started what I believe is the roughest part of the course down to Alexander Ridge. For me, in the 4 years I have gone through this section I have never felt good so I was warning Aric to brace for the worst and hope for the best. It wasn't long before Aric's stomach turned on him. From a physiological stand point I believe around 40 myles is were the body has utilized all the muscle glycogen and has to switch systems for energy, either what is put in, protein, or fat. Some people are more efficient at this, hence a shorter bonk, but some people may take a few more hours of sorting it out in the gut. Any of you who have run ultras know what I'm talking about and it truly is a helpless feeling.

We made our way to Lamb's Canyon (mile 53) where Aric's family and friends were waiting. Since Aric paced me last year in this section he knew where we were and started to get excited. I saw the soles of shoes and a quickened pace for the last 3 myles in. It was about 8 p.m. by the time we got outta Lambs and it was dark. Not only dark but it was really cooling off. The next section is a lot of road and one sharp climb, not fun at all.

Finally we arrive at Upper Big Water and there is still lots of family and friends supporting Aric: his family, Scott Mendoza, Phil Mendoza, Rick Robinson, and myself. Aric and I were shivering because the temps were now in the high 40s and we were about to go higher in elevation. I had been forcing Aric to take a gel every hour since I had picked him up. He didn't notice but I noticed the increased energy. I know he was still feeling bad but those gels helped get him up those hills. Through Desolation lake and Scott's tower and now down the road to Brighton. Little by little Aric's energy was being zapped but I was amazed at his tenacity and his drive to put one foot in front of the other. And then it happened, twice - BLAAAAHHH! First time for Aric. We've all been there and know the helpless feeling. There was nothing I could do or say to make him feel any better. Just walk, and walk we did. Getting into Brighton just before 6 a.m. Scott Mendoza was there to greet us. Scott hadn't slept all night and was there with sleeping bags, chairs, and food. Talk about true friendship! Aric's race literally depended upon Scott's support at Brighton.

Into the Brighton lodge to warm up and take a good break. Things weren't looking good and then all of a sudden Aric came out of the bathroom and said "Let's go right NOW!" Scott and I were both shocked and giddy. Aric had done it! He had done it all by himself! He had literally taken himself through the whole process of DNFing to I'm gonna finish this race come hell or high water! Amazing! Just goes to show you Aric's resolve to succeed and fear of failure.

Leaving Brighton is the point of no return so if you can get out in time, the finish is almost a sure thing. I got emotional as we climbed to the top of Catherine's pass because I knew the journey Aric had taken over the past two years to get to this point. I was extremely proud but also knew the work was not over.

25 myles to go and some of the hardest trail anyone will ever run. I was trying to prepare Aric for the types of ups and down we were in for - The plunge and dive, Irv's torture chamber. I tried to give him a preview between aid stations so that he could prepare mentally. In my own experience of this race, it's at this point were I just get pist off. I could feel Aric was starting to get in that realm with statements like, "how much further to the aid?" "are you f-ing kidding me!" I knew he wanted it to be over and I wanted it to be over for him. I wanted to see the joy in his face as he saw his family and finish.

34.51 minutes after Aric started in Kaysville, he finished in Midway. Well under the 36 hour time limit. He had done it! His family, his sisters family, my parents, my in laws, Phil Mendoza, and Scott Mendoza were all there to congratulate him. It was a very happy, emotional time.

So you see, my "duties" as a pacer weren't really "duties". It was about palin' around on the trails with a good friend for 24+ hours. I believe life is about good family and good friends. If you are fortunate enough to have both then you have a good life. I am very fortunate.

In the end, I reconnected with my Wasatch family. When I speak of my Wasatch family it constitutes a bunch of people that I have met over the years. But primarily it's made up of the Boman/Sybrowsky family. What wonderful people they are! In addition, I got to spend time with my parents and my in laws who are both very supportive of this crazy ultra thing. I love you all and hope to see you soon.

Oh and one other person I forgot to mention that was there THE entire time - Wayne Manning. Wayne is always watching....
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