Monday, December 27, 2010

If Nothing Changes, Nothing Changes

Things here at the Snail's Place are winding down for the year. We have crossed the threshold of Winter; we are daily gaining minutes of sunlight here in the South. I can't help but reflect back upon the year and be grateful for all that has transpired.

I have been fortunate to maintain gainful employment, I have even managed a transfer from the sleepy resort located in Savannah, to the hustle & bustle of Atlanta. In this new city I have connected with a wonderful running club(GUTS)and have started forming relationships with some very cool trailrunners.

With these awesome trailruuners, I have been exposed to some fantastic locations and events. The Pinhoti 100 Mile Run being one that really sticks out in my mind. I plan to return to Helfin, AL to toe the line at this race in the future.

Looking forward to 2011, I am currently in the base building stage of training, working towards 2 50k's(Sweetwater & Chattooga) and the Savannah Rock & Roll Marathon in November. I might even throw in the Wood Ferry 24 Hour run for fun....who knows. I think the race that I am most looking forward to is the RC Cola & Moon Pie 10 miler in June. This race will take place the weekend my sister is getting married and I will get to run it with my brother. The only thing that may make me happier than seeing my sister get married, will be the chance to log some miles with my brother.

2011 will bring a year of continued fitness for myself & my Sweetest Boo...On the trails and in life in general. To have my family back together again is the greatest gift given to me in 2010.

Thank you to all who have been on the journey with me, you all inspire me in so many different ways. I look forward to continuing to "trudge the road of happy destiny" with you all!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Bartram Forest 100 Mile Race

**All photos provided by P. Sebastian

I spent the weekend crewing & pacing for Psyche & Charles at the Bartram 100's...

**Psyche-grabbing fuel, Me-being of no help

Okay...where do I start? Bartram Forest 100 mile & 100k trail race in Milledgeville, GA. In a word, sneaky.

After having a tough go at Pinhoti and missing the cutoff at mile 65, Psyche & Charles decided to give the hundy another go and run Bartram. This race reads as an easier race; less elevation and a longer cutoff.

100 miles is still 100 frickin' miles!

The awesome RD's Chris & Mike ( I believe there was a 3rd, I can't remember his name) set up a 5.56 mile loop that was to be run 18 times. Each loop started & finished at a pavilion where there was a fully stocked aid station. A word about the AS? Awesome. As the day moved on, the food selection changed, soups as the weather got colder & doughnuts in the morning. They had Wendy's burgers at one point and even had pizza delivered. If a runner wanted anything the wonderful volunteers went out of their way to provide it! It had a really homey, family feel.

The 5.56 mile course was very unassuming. It was well marked and compared to a lot of trail races, had minimal elevation, about 200-250 feet per loop. There were two big hills along power lines, the 2nd one, along mile 3, was the harder of the two. I believe Ashley Walsh had the best quote about this hill as we were traveling up it on loop 17, "I wish this hill would die!"

The day started out much like any other...Nerves before the start. Runners were questioning whether they tapered too much or not enough. Had their training really prepared them for the day ahead? I, as a crew/pacer was comfortable with my ability to cover 25-30 miles and was thankful to not be toeing the line...

After a few instructions, the runners were off. I saw Psyche and Charles almost an hour later, 1st loop in 59:37. Quick bite & back out on trail. By design, this course had an unattended AS about halfway through the loop, a little water & mini clif bar stop. The best part was that there was a short cut for the spectators and we could getthere in about 1/2 mile. Great design of the RD's. Throughout the day, I spent a lot of time over in this area to break up the monotony for the runners and give them encouragement.**Charles, the runnin' pirate!

The day was unfolding quietly, Pscyhe & Charles were holding a good pace, each loop only taking a minute or two longer than the previous. All the while I had a chance to encourage other GUTS runners: Kena, Beth McCurdy, Ashley Walsh, Rico Dorsey, Lane Vogel & Big Easy, Jason Sullivan. I also had a chance to meet several other amzing runners & bloggers. Check out Tiger's blog, this amazing woman is battling cancer!

The sun began to set and the runners were switching to headlamps and long sleeves to hold off the chill. An enormous fire was lit; I stated looking for marshmellows.
I was tracking my runners progress, recording each loop & the amount of time spent in the AS. I was happy to see the consistency in the numbers, nothing to cause any alarm. Moving further into the evening a few runners were be expected. Passing the 50 mile mark a little over 11 hours in, Psyche & Charles were a little off pace for their hopes of a sub 24 finish-they were still moving strong. Soon the finishers for the 100k started rolling through; Congrats to Beth for 2nd female.

While my runners were on loop 12, I went & changed into my running gear, I would be going out with them next loop. Forecast called for rain around 3am, I dressed warmly. As team Scallywag rolled in to finish #12, I posted my last race update via FB & Twitter and off we went!

Charles was feeling strong & pushed ahead a little, Psyche & I motored along at a good pace, my goal was to get her around in 90 minutes. The mood was light and I entertained her with various stories of my sordid life..."What is said on the trail, stays on the trail." We finished the loop in 93 minutes and were looking forward to the next. I knew the rain was coming and grabbed my rainbreaker. I thought about grabbing a couple of poncho's but thought we would be back before it hit.

Halfway through lp 13, I wondered aloud if I was halucinating & seeing snow. Psyche said no, it looks like snow flurries. Ahead of us was Lane and his pacer, he yelled back that he would rather have snow than rain and we agreed. Not longer after that the "snow" switched to rain. It was light and not too bad to deal with until Psyche told me she couldn't run anymore, her hip flexor was killing her. We were power walking at a nice 17 minute pace, I knew I could get her in soon.

All hell broke lose around mile 4 of that loop (76 on the day). The freezing rain began to pummel us and we were in an open section with nothing to break the 20 mph winds. Stopping was not an option, we would be destroyed if we tried to go to ground. I told Psyche to stay right behind me & we pushed as fast as we could to cover the last mile and a half. We passed DCRR member Shawn Prewett & his pacer Johnny Buice. Shawn was motoring as best he could(I learned earlier while talking with Johhny, that this was Shawn's third race ever!). Psyche was such a champ, I knew she was in extreme pain, she never once complained. She stayed right behind me; one step at a time.

Finally we pulled int othe AS and I sat her down by the fire to warm her up. I grabbed our bags and got her some dry clothes and sent her to get changed. After soup & fire, she was starting to come around. "I'm feeling much better, I'm ready to go back out." Almost an hour had passed since we came in, it was time to do work. As we headed out she looked at me and said "I can't walk". I pushed her to get to the end of the road. At that point she said that her hip flexor was killing her and she thought it was something serious. After talking it over we agreed to go back to camp and rest, see if we could work it out, we had a lot of time on our side. Charles had finished another loop and ran into us on our way back. After the two of them talked for a minute, Psyche decided to drop. On the record, I think she absolutly made the right decision. I know we could have pushed through the last 22 miles, but it would have cost her so much moving forward, turning a potential injury into a serious injury with a huge layoff.

Psyche Wimberly is one of the strongest runners, strongest people I know. It was an honor to run with her at Bartram. We shared a moment out there I will never forget.

She told me I should run Charles in & I picked him up with two loops to go. He was feeling strong and we headed out. It was 30 minutes to daylight, we were pushing 22 hours into the race. Out of nowhere, Charles started running, running like the devil himself was behind him with a cattle prod. Not just on the downhills, the uphills too! WTF?!?! This dude has run 88 miles and he is about to drop his pacer? Oh, hell no! Let's go big cat! We were knocking down 9's for about 2 miles and then he finally slowed down. We ran when we could and hiked the hills. lap 17 done in 81 minutes.

The last lap was tough, Charles pulled through like a champ. I ran ahead to make sure Psyche and his son Alex were at the finish. 26 hours and 17 minutes after it began, Charles crossed the finish line., completing a 100 mile trail race for the 1st time.

As I sit here today, I am full of a variety of emotions. I have a new respect for the 100 mile race and those people who choose to run them. After Pinhoti, I thought that a hundy was a good idea. I thought that with the proper training I can do it. I learned after this weekend, that the beast of a hundy has so many variables. So many different things can go wrong. As I tried to explain to Charles on his last loop(I don't know how much made sense-in our sleep deprived state) "It's really all a gamble Charles. A certain small percentage of people are going to have a really good day, everything goes right. A larger percentage will finish-doing so with great amount of suffering. Then there are those who will have to be the statistic of not making it, so the others can. The problem is, it is a crap shoot at the start of the race to see who is going to draw what number that day..."Me and Lil Weezy!