2016 Tunnel Hill

I have often wanted to write a race report after running a 100 miles because the distance always brings up so many thoughts and emotions. It forces me to take a deep look at myself whether I want to or not. Yet I have not. I come home and after sleeping for days and eating everything my life goes back to normal and many of the great insights I have had are lost…till maybe next time.

This is a different race report. I did not race. I went to Tunnel Hill as a friend, volunteer, crew, and pacer. Kris had ask me to go with her on her first 100 miles. I was very happy to do so and I felt I owed it to her. She has been with me in many of my adventures to do whatever I needed. It was a battle inside as well because a part of me wanted to race. I knew I had to give that up. I love Kris and life is not always about me.   She had a plan and a goal and I am so happy I got to be a part of it.

The weather was perfect, cool but not too cold not hot during the day. Colder at night but okay with the proper clothing. The skies were so clear and there was a full moon. I did not even need a headlamp. The moonlit sky was bright enough to see the trail, simply amazing. The trail is flat with crushed rock, a very smooth trail that can be run without much thought. There are aide stations every 5 miles that provide water, Sword (a sports drink), coke, an array of food from sweet to salty. You really did not have to carry anything unless you just wanted to. On top of all that your crew can meet you at about every aide station. A pretty sweet situation, just easy running. The hard part is the course is flat and unlike a hilly course in which you vary your pace this is one I completely runnable at a steady pace. This becomes a mental challenge.  

Kris, Paul, Chloe, and I headed down Friday afternoon. Kris to do the 100 mile race, Chloe to do the 50 mile race, Paul to crew and me to pace Kris. Kris had a goal of under 24 hours with her main goal to be to finish. If something went wrong the time did not matter, she wanted a qualifier for Western States 100 which just finishing would give.

That morning the 500 runners started. Chloe’s dad joined us and we went to the first few aid station. They were doing well. Moving along at a pretty fast pace. Chloe began to have problems with cramping. She tried to fix the problem with salty foods, Sword, and massage. Eventually she had to slow down then regroup. I know it was hard for her. She is a great runner and capable of winning. She fought back and even though she did not have the race she wanted she finished. It is often harder to keep going when all things seem against you. I was proud of her for the mental ability to finish.

After the first 20 miles I then went to volunteer till time to run with Kris. You are allowed a pacer from mile 75 to the finish or when nightfall comes. It was to be dark at 4:45 so there was a chance I could run the last 50 miles with Kris. I went to my volunteer spot until then. I stopped traffic at a road crossing which was a very busy street. What I liked about the job was seeing all the runners. It is always nice to volunteer and cheer people on. As a race director I have found over the years I love helping people in any way I can. I love to see people reach their goals.

Kris ran a very smart race and seemed not to have any issues. After 9 hours and 44 minutes she was finished with 50 miles. It was dark and I was excited to go. Kris and I have very different running styles. She takes a million tiny steps. I have a long stride and I had a hard time deciding how to best pace her. I did not know if would be better to run ahead and lead or walk beside her. I did a little of both but I felt if I walked beside her she may slow down which I did not want. I tried to do the tiny steps but I could not comfortably. So in the end it seemed to me a better plan to run ahead, stop and wait till she was close and go again, never giving her time to stop. I think she was determined though and her little legs ran the entire time. I was so impressed by her drive. During this race I did not reflect on my life but instead on Kris. It was good to watch and think so deeply of a friend. Life is not all about me, what I can do or what I want. The greatest things in life are giving to another and allowing them to shine. I saw how she plans everything out then makes it happen. I did not know if she would break 24 hours but she knew what she could do and what she needed to do to make it happen. Nothing was left for chance. I learned a lot this weekend.

As the hours went on Kris had no idea what time it was or if she would make her goal. She just continued to do her best and move forward. Eating was the most difficult for her. In this area I had to tell her to eat. I am not a believer in having to eat on a schedule in a run. I like to keep it simple, but you have to have something to finish a 100 miles. Looking back I think she needed someone to tell her not give her choices. After miles and miles of running you are tired. It is nice to not think just run. When we had about 7 miles to go I knew Kris would make the time. She was running faster than she had been and seemed not to be slowing down. I saw a women going after her goal and not giving up. She had no idea if she was under 24 hours. I did not tell her. I wanted it to be a surprise. I called Paul when we were close so he and Chloe would be at the finish line. When she saw the clock I think there were tears of joy in her eyes. Paul was surprised too and so happy. I was proud to be a part of her amazing journey.

I realized this weekend it is an honor to pace someone and help them reach their goal. You go beyond yourself and see the real beauty in another. I hope I have the opportunity to do this again. It was a great race.

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