“A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.”
~ Lao Tzu ~
On the Job Training as a Pacer at the Prairie Spirit 100
Disclaimer: Please excuse any typos or babbling in this post. My brain is still a little fuzzy.
This past weekend I was given an amazing learning opportunity. I paced a friend who was running in the Prairie Spirit 100 mile race. If you need help picturing what these runners accomplished; get a map of Kansas and find Ottawa and then find Iola and then return to Ottawa. Since I had never paced anyone before I had little idea what to expect or what was going to be required of me to get my friend across the finish line. After all, his only request was to help him get a finish. Luckily for me he is an experienced runner and was a great teacher during this adventure. I would also be remiss if I did not mention my gracious wife who after working a full day on Saturday drove to where I was meeting my runner and then throughout the night from aid station to aid station making sure we were alright and had what we needed.
After two days of making lists and doing calculations and all the rookie stuff, we headed out to Colony, Kansas to wait for Carl (who started at 6am) to come in at mile 61. This is where I would start and that was all I knew at that point. I didn't know what shape he would be in or how many miles I would end up getting by the end of the race. As we went it was decided that I would got two legs with him which was 16.5 miles and rest for the 9 mile section. I was hesitant to send him on the trail at night by himself but I knew by then that he was going to need me more towards the end; it was a calculated risk we would have to take. I picked him back up the Richmond, KS aid station and set off for the next 14.5 miles to the finish line. Along the way we talked about a range of topics from the deep and meaningful to the ridiculous and everything in between. Other times we went on silently except for a groan here and there. For a good part I stuck to a strategy of using my watch timer for intervals, when it beeped it was time to run at the next beep we walked and so on…it was a good way to stay focused, stay warm, and keep moving without running out of gas completely.
At the glorious finish line; he had completed 100 miles with two and a half hours to spare before the cutoff and I had traveled 31 mile. This was more than twice as far as I had done before. A mixture of running and walking but it was still 31 miles; which tells that I can push myself more than I thought and I am going to complete my 50K trail race this fall. Even more important and the most satisfying part of the whole weekend was after he received the beautiful belt buckle at the finish line and he looked at me and said “this would not have happened without you”. The truth is I was not concerned at all with myself during this whole thing, my only concern was letting him down; and that was not going to happen.
In summary; I can say that I am very pleased with how I feel this morning, and my body is recovering nicely. I think I have found a way to utilize my passion for running and coaching and personal training background. This is not the last runner or the last race that I will pace!