Friday, February 24, 2012

Pacing at Rocky Road 100

Earlier in the year I pondered attempting to run the Rocky Road 100; it is relatively nearby where I live and I know the course well.  However, I (for once) listened to my own voice of reason and realized that I could not get ready for that distance in 5 weeks.  Instead, I asked a running friend if I could pace her; she did not have a crew or pacer and she was very happy for my offer.  My plan was to start pacing her at mile 45 and stay with her until my legs said no more, she got tired of me, or she finished; in other words, I prepared mentally for 55 miles of pacing.

I ramped up my distance and pushed myself on back-to-back runs and knew that I was ready to run.  However, I forgot the main thing that is different about 100 miler and shorter distances - walking or wogging is what your legs need to be prepared to do!  Nevertheless, I had a blast pacing Rachel for 30 miles; she struggled with foot issues and decided to call it after 75 miles.  She was such a bright spot during the dark night and I knew she was feeling horrible when her smile became more of a painful grimace; while I pushed her to finish the loop, prop up her legs and warm up, and then reevaluate, I realized around her mile 73 that there was no way I could convince her to attempt miles 75 - 100.

We completed mile 75 and then warmed up in the car, thinking our friends (her ride) were doing the same.  I know understand why I always see warnings not to sit by a warm fire at an aid station during a race; it's nearly impossible to get back out there after experiencing that comfort.  My legs probably wanted to thank her for not continuing as they ached from walking 30 miles (I walk very fast so her jog was my walk); I finally "got" what Billy meant when he paced me during SD 100; walking for that distance is harder than running, if your legs are trained to run! 

When I discovered that our friends had gone back out for the next loop, I decided to stay with Rachel until I knew she was feeling okay.  That led to having time to chat with her and consider my plan for hopefully earning a buckle or two over the next year.  Pacing and being out there seeing incredible athletes pushing themselves to go the distance made me yearn for attempting a 100 miler as soon as possible; May is looking like a potential 100 mile attempt.

Thinking ahead to next year, I was impressed with how much the race has grown since I paced and volunteered at it in 2010; since it is so close to home, it is on my radar for next year.  While it is very monotonous (7.5 miles out and back - repeat- repeat- etc) and the scenery gets boring quickly, seeing the other runners so frequently helps make it enjoyable.  Having aid stations every 2.5 miles helps with making the race an "aid station to aid station" race and breaks up the distance.  For me, running past where I will be getting married was very cool and I think that I would enjoy that next year.

With Rachel post-race


  1. Aw, you're a really good friend. I did the marathon - I really liked how the 26.2 miles was broken up into the 6.55 mile chunks.

    I had the same problem when I paced a friend at her marathon - I ended up walking 15 miles and my hips really hurt. Running and walking use totally different muscles.

  2. 75 miles is awesome. What fun that you got to pace your friend! It's a great experience. Those repeat loop races are very difficult mentally (so are the repeat out-and-backs!).