I am a girl who loves mountains, changing seasons, running, true backpacking, strong coffee, and knitting with high quality yarn.

When something bad happens, you have three choices: let it define you, let it destroy you, or let it strengthen you.

The purpose of life is to discover and develop your gift. The meaning of life comes from sharing your gift with others. - David Viscott

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Mad Mud

by Carl Touchstone

When things are hard and the going gets tough
When the trail is steep and the footing is rough
We can't go on and we just want to quit
The struggle is not worth the pain, not one bit!

Like the mouse in the trap, who's had enough cheese
"No more, no more, let me out of here, please!”
And a voice says, "Stop now and rest a while
For this steep incline goes on at least one more mile”.

But if we push on and ignore the displeasure
The pain of the climb plays out its full measure.
Then the crest of the hill comes into full view
And we reach the top of this problem renewed.

Cruising downhill now with strength in our stride
The wind in our face, with joy and with pride
"Thank you, God, for your grace and good will
To see that we didn't quit on the uphill”.

I absolutely love pacing. It is such a high to help someone to achieve their goal or just have a good time, get all the glory without the pain...besides, I really enjoy to be a slave driver:)

Saturday morning started early - at 4:30 am I was on my way to the start of March Mudness ½marathon/50k/100k. I was working registration, and not even sure if it was the right decision for the RD - I knew way too many people and had to say hi to everyone, give a hug, ask how the year is treating them, what’s the plan next, and respond to the same questions. But all got checked in, received the numbers and the goodie bags as well as a nice fleece jacket, and were disappearing in 4 waves: early start for 100k, regular start for 100k, shuttle for 50k, and finally half-marathoners. I had also had my neighbor (Russian woman) with me as she wanted to make sure I am not the only crazy one existing out there, and she was super excited to see how many people do this kind of things, and how age doesn’t matter. As somebody mentioned in the blog world - ultras you grow into aging. And that’s what I am hoping for.

I had to go back home, take Stephen for a baseball practice, and while he was there, took a nap (yep, no track running this time). By 1 pm I was back at the start, parked the car and got a ride from Allen Boyce (a 50k finisher, thank you, Allen!!) to Saltzman Rd, my waiting point. I ran down 1M from there to the intersection with Wildwood (the race trail) and got involved in an aid station business. What wasn’t much - the only people left on the course by then were 100k runners, and they were sparse (about 14 starters). Since I came a whole hour ahead of predicted time, I saw first 3 guys on their return trip (100k was an out-and-back on Wildwood trail in Forest park with some add-on pieces in the middle and start/finish). Then 2 early starters passed, and the guy number 4. We chatted while filling bottles, spent time with other volunteers reliving our races and discussing aches and pains (the favorite topic) and how bad it is to have rain (again!) today. I didn’t have a jacket...oh, well. Mike Burke was my runner, my good friend, my training and racing partner and the guy who saved my ass from getting lost in the high mountains dead of hypothermia at the Wasatch 100M. He came in exactly at 2:55 pm, as promised. Woo-hoo, lets go! after usual “what’s hurting, how u’re feeling, pace is good, rain is not” (his stomach was acting up, but other than that all was normal, as it can be after 45 miles). We were moving swiftly, keeping 10 min/mile pace and taking short breaks on most steep hills. The mud was pretty bad with all the rain before and the trail conditions weren’t something to desire, the rain was cold (though it finally stopped with about an hour left to go). Things were developing the normal way, I kept the trot steady and runner’s favorite lies going (looking wonderful, doing awesome, this is downhill, lets shuffle this uphill and take a break later...)though have to honestly admit in this case it was mostly truth. Knowing the course as your own hand is a big advantage. Knowing a person who you’re pacing is even better:) I was vividly picturing what was going on in Mike’s head:

Hmm, it’s nice to have a view of a woman's butt in front as opposed to be alone... Is she talking too little or too much? Can’t decide...Stomach is better, but I don’t want the gel! OK, I’ll eat it. No, thank you, no pills...OK, may be one. That guy was 10 min ahead? I am going to pass him...Good, now I need a pit-stop, and he passes back. What’s she saying, run here? Said who? Yeah, as if I don’t know this stretch is flattest...I don’t like flattest! It is a small incline? Not steep? Do you have eyes? It’s a monster hill! You say, I can swear at you? I can’t even breathe, and I have to talk? OK, I am moving...”Keep working it, baby”. Easy for you to say, you’re fresh. Do you have any idea how many miles I ran by now? No, more than that, twice more. Have you ever run that far? I don’t think so. You are horrible! Run this part up because it’s not long enough? Are you kidding? It is like a mile long uphill! Not uphill, but incline? Do you even know the difference?... It’s downhill behind the top of this, and we’re going to pick up pace? Are you nuts?! I hate downhill, my quads hurt, my feet smashed, my knees are old, my stomach is splashing, I want to go home...stop running away from me, for God’s sake, you are my pacer, not a deer in a wild! Yeah, I’ll take your water, may be you’ll get closer...That guys is right behind? So what? He is like 25 years my junior, and I don’t care if he wants to pass me!...Thank you, God, this is a good hill I can finally walk! And a long one! Why do I need to keep moving? Walking doesn’t mean power-hiking, nobody said it is the same, and you said "a walk break"...Yeah, another hill, good, while you’re in a bathroom at the aid station, I can slow down and cath my breath...Well, actually, I feel quite good, may be because there is NO woman in front of me?...Oh, here she is, that was short lived pleasure...Yeah, yeah, I know it’s the last nastiest hill here... It’s a long down now, can I take it easy? We left the guy behind...Who is good on downhill, he is? So what? Run hard here? Sheesh, do you ever have a heart?.. No, I am not talking anymore. No, I am not alive. No, I don’t care we have 3 miles left before a hot meal and a hot shower...I hate you. I ran 60 miles, and I have to run every single step still? Why? Don't you know we made it...You are quet...OK, I guess your legs are still cute when in front of me. That is if I ever have enough strength to raise my eyes off the ground... No, I am not lifting my feet. Why bother? Yes, I am shuffling. Two more people in front? And your point is? I have to be competitive for you? I don’t have to do anything for you! I will pay you back at WS, you just wait...no I won’t even show up at WS! Do you hear how my breathing is? And now I have to find that turn to the final stretch because you don't know where it is? What kind of pacer are you?.. What? Pretend I am at Robbie Point (last AS at WS100 with 1.5M to go)? Blah, blah, last hill, you already said it like 20 times...Entering the track - what track, there is no stinking track in Forest park...Oh, boy, I am so tired, where the f* is the finish!!?? Do I smell burgers? No, I don’t smell nothing! Do I see what? A roof? Last turn? Here? Is this a finish? Do I really need to do these last steps? Oh, my...Thanks, I guess...

Mike placed 4th overall, 1st master runner (for what he got a piece of wood). He finished in 11:05, and the last 17 miles he ran in 3:05, and that included at least 1800 feet of elevation gain. He did a totally amazing job at keeping pace even, not complaining and being strong. I wish I could run like that at the end of a 100k!!! As I said many times, the best job a pacer does is inflicting invisible guilt on a runner. He (pacer) becomes somewhat his (runner’s) mind. Because a tired runner “thinks” he is tired and his body can take no more, he slows down. What pacer is responsible is to make-belief that the runner is still strong and has a lot left. Simply, don’t let him think. Keep him moving mindless. And the results are amazing... Not to take anything away from Mike, who is an accomplished runner (was, is and will be) with hundreds races under his belt and thousands miles, most of which are unsupprted - no crew, no pacers and at times no even aid stations.

I am about to go to the Columbia Gorge for my last run of the week, with Oleg, and by the end of it I will have run close to 110 miles. This would be my highest week in training (as I said before, those weeks that have a 100M race I don’t count even though they come to 115M). I am feeling pretty good, and if time allows, would do it again. It’s nice to know that this mileage is possible to do, whether or not it is necessary is a whole different question...especially a week before a race:)

Enjoy your day! I plan on mine!


backofpack said...

LOve the poem, and love your imagination of Mike's thoughts! You crack me up!

Dirt Runner said...

Sometimes it is better to crack the whip instead of having it cracked at you. Nice job on pacing.

Susan said...

110? Wow that's amazing!

Love2Run said...

Nice poem and super pacing, should copy it out for my next race! We'll be looking for good things to happen in your race next weekend. Relax and have a deserved rest after a great week.

robtherunner said...

I am glad you admitted that you are a slave driver. Nice job on the mileage you MANIAC!

Hey I ran 28 miles this week, woohoo!

angie's pink fuzzy said...

sounds like you had fun

110 miles?! Way to go!!!

Sarah Elaine said...

Wow... poetry, stats and sheer guts, all in one post.

You rock.

rick said...

110! That's just crazy. Wow...I can't imagine what a week like that is like. Like you said races don't count.

psbowe said...

110, super cool!

Glad you had fun. And I like the poem!

Liv said...

Does that poem remind anyone else of "The Night Before Christmas"?!

Hee hee, love your "mind reading" - did you check with Mike to see just how close you really were?

Liv said...

Come to think of it, it's also a little reminiscent of Dr. Seuss... without all the made up words, of course:)

Anonymous said...

Your writing is always so beautifully simple and simply beautiful. It always has such a freshness about it. I almost felt like I had just finished a run when I finished this post.

Mike Burke said...

Your narrative showed how close you have been to the animal level of thinking you get to during these endurance events (Move, Eat, Drink). You are so right about one thing. There will be pay-back at Western. Thanks for the Trail Loving!!


Anonymous said...

Olga, I've been around Bushwaker enough to recognize that this sounds very much like him .. albeit, without the accent ;-) *tc

Hilda said...

How nice should be chating like that with runners, the perfect ambiance, that should be.

How do you manage to switch into his mind and read all of his thoughts? This really sounds like someone else thoughts, not yours at all, so funny!

This morning while running I remember several times your smiling photo... your imagine is very motivating!

I wish you could pace me some day! Well you said you love to!

Donald said...

I've always admired people who are pacers in those long events. Your post reminded me why.

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