Thursday, June 9, 2011

Potawatomi Recap 2

Ok, I wasn't going to publish this report but I decided I should for a couple of reasons. First I did take the time to write it back in April and it was a different experience for me that I think is worth noting meaning trying to be a pacer versus a racer. At Potawatomi, I had planned to run one loop by myself as I wanted to give a bit of thought to things from my past, my reason for that is that the race was on my Dad's birthday. He died in 1983 and I thought it would be good to take the time to remember things. This is a long post so sorry about that but I debated breaking it up and decided since it was personal most folks would understand.

As to the race, my plan was to pace Wayne and Karen for the first 2 loops, run loop 3 on my own for myself and reserve 2 more loops for them. As a reminder, Wayne and Karen were doing the 100 and I was hoping to do 50 miles but my main goal was to help them and give my ankle a reasonable test. It was Wayne's second attempt at a 100 and Karen's third attempt at McNaughton. On the drive down we went through many race scenarios all of which were contingent on things going well. If the weather and the course were good, I knew that they would both finish. If conditions turned bad at McNaughton, well it is a tough course and that would be a problem was our conclusion.

The weather when we arrived was in the mid 60's with a forecast for upper 70's the next day. The water in the creeks was low, so we were expecting very good running conditions. Our plan was to try and mimic the pace from last year plus about 10 minutes, that meant a 2 and 1/2 hour first loop followed by a 2 hour and 40 minute second loop. Not too fast, I think we thought that the initial part of the race would be easy, relatively speaking. One thing not in the forecast was the rain we got right before the race. Unfortunately, the rain made the course almost un-runnable. Part of the issue was I chose to run in my Brooks Cascadia's, not a good mud shoe at least with the steepness of the McNaughton hills. The hills were scary on the way down and very slippery on the way up, grabbing small tress and branches was required.  With regards to our plan, the mud made it not happen, the first loop took 2 hours and 50 minutes and it felt like we pushed it a lot harder than we should have had to. The second loop took almost 3 hours.

I wasn't happy that I failed to get them through the first two loops any faster and that it took a little more out of me than I had hoped. I sent Wayne and Karen on their way and took a chair. I was hoping that I had slowed them down and that without me slowing them down that they would find a nice pace. Rick said he was going out on his own to take some pictures. I liked his idea and decided to do the same thing except I grabbed my phone to take pictures. As I started the third loop, I could tell the heat was coming on but it also was drying up the course which was good. I had even more ankle pain. To quantify the pain, during the first two loops every step hurt a little when I landed or pushed off and occasionally the steps hurt a lot. The third loop seemed to be more of the "lot" versus a "little".

To take my mind off of my own issues, I started to try and remember things about my dad, he died in 1983 at the age of 54, he was overweight, smoked, drank too much beer, loved to play golf, listen to the Cincinnati Reds and IU (Indiana University) basketball, he was a caring man and I wish he had lived much longer. He died of a heart attack while in his Doctor's office. He was in a preventative program to reduce his risk of a heart attack and had just completed a stress test when his heart went in a-fib but they couldn't get it stopped (to be honest, I may be wrong about it being a-fib but that is what I remember). On a related note, his father died the evening after he did a stress test (back in the 70's). My older brother has told his Doctor he will never do one. Not sure how I feel about doing one.

I then thought about my mom, she died in 1989 of colon cancer. She was alive when our first daughter was born and I still have strong memories of her with Katie. We have a picture of them together with the Easter bunny. I do wish that my parents could have lived to see our girls grow up but it wasn't meant to be. I have the memories but my girls do not. I also thought of my niece Sarah who was born 6 months ahead of Katie but died before her first birthday. She had neuroblastoma, was diagnosed in 1986 and we thought that part of what kept my mom from recognizing her colon cancer was the time she spent trying to help my brother and his wife as they dealt with their cancer stricken daughter. Those were not easy days on my family and for me living in MN, I felt even more removed and helpless to help out. Thankfully I have 3 brothers and a sister who carried the load of dealing with Mom. I should really write a bit more about my mom but will save it for another post.

Next up in my thoughts was our daughter Kellie who died before she was born. She would have been our second daughter but was stillborn at 25 weeks. Needless to say my wife and I were devastated when she no longer felt movement and then we went in for the ultrasound where no heartbeat was heard. They were able to determine what might have caused her death, my wife has a blood clotting issue (it is called anti-phospholipid syndrome - her blood clots too well). After the diagnosis we decided to try again right away to have another child which led to our miracle baby, Kristin. I remember my brother and his wife the Christmas after Kellie when we discussed her, how one of them said that our loss was harder than theirs, we had no time with Kellie but they were given almost a year with Sarah. That made me feel better but I still can't imagine their loss.

My wife had to give herself heparin shots throughout the pregnancy to manage the clotting problem, we dealt with many Doctors, she endured nose bleeds when the heparin dosage got too high, hematoma from one of  the 3x daily injections. It was not an easy time but the result was worth it, our baby girl is now looking at colleges as she finishes up her junior year. I still remember our eldest daughter saying that she hoped that this baby would live. Katie has now graduated from college, is working out in the real world and has developed into a great young lady. Needless to say we are quite proud of both of our girls.

My mind wandered and the miles floated by, the ability to have this happen during an ultra is one of my reasons for loving ultras, it just doesn't happen for me during shorter runs. It was a surreal experience and I struggled to keep it all together. Meaning, there were times I just stopped and had to take a deep breath to hold back the emotions.  I kept thinking how blessed I have been with a wonderful wife and my daughters. Part of my struggle, I admit was that my ankle was killing me, the downhills were brutal, the uphills hurt and the flats weren't much fun either so I was forced to walk more than I ran and I had doubts about if I would be able to help Wayne and Karen. I knew I had committed to do it so I was going to give it my best shot.

I then started remembering the homes that I lived in when I grew up in Columbus. My mind moved through every room at our housed on Pearl street, I remembered friends and things I did in that neighborhood. Then I moved my mind towards our house on 734 California where we moved when I was in high school. Then I remembered my Grandmother's house which was on 732 California. My parents moved into it after my grandmother died. A weird thing was that I was able to remember the house when my Grandmother and Grandfather lived there but my parents redid the house and I could not for the life of me remember it properly. I kept thinking about where the kitchen was and the back porch which got transformed into my parent's bedroom. I think part of my issue was that they redid the house after I was in college or was it after I graduated, anyway the memories I should have had, I struggled to remember.

About then, my loop was coming to an end and it was getting hot, real hot. The forecast had changed to the upper 70's/low 80's. Since we had had 0 days over 60 to train in, it was going to be hard on Wayne and Karen. I made it back chatted with Rick, his dad and his friend. I hung out until Wayne and Karen came through and then I went into the tent to try to get some sleep. Rick was going to finish out his 50 with them and then I would continue. I had a heck of a time dozing off but finally did. They got me up before they arrived so I had time to get my bearings and get my mind back into it. As they came into at 60 miles, Rick told me that they had gotten pretty quiet and that I should just keep them moving.

The ankle was hurting but I was going to try and do my job as pacer for the second time. I asked them what they wanted and they really weren't too talkative, I moved ahead of them, stayed along side of them, asked occasional questions and tried to help at the aid stations. We were mostly walking which was ok by me, it was pretty at night, peaceful and the temps were still very pleasant, not hot but definitely warm like on a summer night. We continued around the loop, I was trying to keep the pace quick and tried to keep our stops in the aid stations short. Frankly, pacing is hard (meaning I am not very good at it, much easier to run your own race). During this loop I kept having an internal debate could I do one more loop with them? Should I do one more loop with them? The battle within went from yes you can, no you can't and as we crossed the last creek, I was really struggling. I moved up ahead of them to try and pull them along. As we came up over the last hill, they started to talk amongst themselves which was odd as they had been quiet during the entire loop. I had decided that I should/couldn't go on and was trying to decided how to tell them, I didn't want to let them down but I didn't think I could make another loop. Turns out their discussion was that they were quiting but they wanted me to finish my 50 so they were discussing that they would do one more loop with me. I told them no and we called it an evening.

We were all disappointed but the course conditions and the weather had been brutal up to that point. If they had continued, the temps on Sunday got up to 86 with a very strong wind. I think they made the right call.

I have to end this post with an update, Wayne finished his 100 at Kettle where he figured out how to tolerate another tough weather day. Karen went down and helped pace him, she was far more effective than I was. I am thrilled that Wayne got his first 100 except knowing Wayne he might now be thinking about running the Potawatomi 150 next year and be looking for a pacer, I think I will recommend Karen :-).

1 comment:

Wayne said...

always amazes me that I just never have any idea what people are going through, thinking about when they are out there. thanks for sharing.


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