Ultra and Trail running made known to me!

One of the things I love the most about running is how it gives me the ability to put my worries in a jar on the shelf, and wait to deal with them when I return.  This time of the year is always exciting as the kids are finishing up with school, summer temperatures invite outdoor activities, baseball is in the air, and getting out for a run doesn't require 10 extra pounds of cold weather running gear.

If you've been following me you know that I just recently finished the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon in April.  This one touches my heart and you can read more about why in my previous blog post.  In addition, I was able to help fund-raise $1500 for my sons club baseball team!  What an amazing event that was. 

Now with the summer in full swing and the mountains calling, one of my dear friends registered for the Jemez Mountain 50 Mile Trail Run.  Now let me tell you... I LOVE to run, and really, I'll run anywhere, but I typically plan for a flat course, mostly road, and 26.2 miles of it.  My friend here, let's just call her Mikey for short, loves the trails, elevation, and distance.  We run together at least once a week on a short 6-10 miles which is always enjoyable time to just chat and clear my head.  So when she asked me to be a pacer for her, I was truly honored as I knew she would be relying on me to help push her during the race.  For those that don't know, and I recently found out because this was my first time as a pacer, a pacer is someone who at certain points during a race is allowed to run alongside the racer.  The task of a pacer varies on what the racer needs, but you're basically a support system.  This could be maintaining a pace to follow, carrying needed items such as ibuprofen, water, nutrition items, etc, but one of the most important parts of being a pacer, is to help with the mental breakdown the racer may face. 

Running isn't easy.  It becomes EASIER the more you do it.  It also, for most, becomes much more ENJOYABLE the more you do it.  But there is also a point when its not easy, its not enjoyable, and all you want to do is quit.  But you keep going and strive to make yourself better.  Now, I say this because I feel it paints a clear picture of how I view my ultra marathon friend here.  I saw it all when we ran in Jemez together.  She made herself better.

The weeks before Jemez, after I secretly swallowed the jagged pill of acceptance to be Mikeys pacer for 20 miles, we talked and worked out the race logistics.  I read, re-read, and read again the participant manual.  I downloaded the trail app, I ran miles with her, helped her nurse a nagging ankle injury, and all the while stayed optimistic.  I wont lie and I'm sure she will laugh when she reads this, but there was one point when we were talking about her injury and I almost felt relieved if she would have pulled out of the race.  But that's not how she is, which is another one of the things I love about her.  She tough as nails!

So fast forward to race day, May 25th, 2019.  Mikey started off with a headlamp in the dark at 0500.  I woke up in time to send her a well wishes text before I got up to get ready and meet her.  I had time as I wouldn't be meeting her until mile 32.  I got to the aid station where some of the most WONDERFUL race volunteers were busy helping runners as they made their way in.  The ultra/trail running community is a great group of people.  Every person I talked to was so interesting and exceptional in their own ways.  I hung out with 2 other individuals waiting for their racers.  Racers would make their way in, a volunteer would hurry over and start helping them with filling up their water bottles, getting them nutrition items, ice, you name it, they were on it.  I watched some people drop to a shorter race from the 50 mile to the 50 K.  Others dropped out completely for various reasons such as dehydration, a broken toe, etc.  It was humbling and had me excited to get out and start running, as well as nervous thinking "what did I get myself into"?

When I heard the volunteer yell out "Runner 810" I knew that was Mikey and was anxious to see her.  She actually looked strong and having 32 miles logged behind her, I knew she would finish.  I quickly helped her fill her water bottles, poured water on some scrapes, waited while she got a couple quick bites to eat and we prepared to head out.  I was at first just amazed at how well she was doing after 32 miles!  The longest I'd ever run was 27 so I was already in awe of her.  We had 20 to go.  20 would be a long run for me but I knew I was there to support her whatever she needed.  We talked, ran, hiked, made our way to the aid stations, picked up another runner along the way for some good conversation, and enjoyed the beautiful views of Los Alamos and the Jemez mountains.  Mikey was strong on the uphills, I helped guide the downhills, and one mile at a time, we made it to the last turn of the race to see the finish line ahead.

I didn't want to cross the finish line as this was not my race.  So I broke off about 20 yards before the finish and got to watch my dear friend finish her 50 mile race.  It was a humbling experience to be a part of.  The ultra/trail races are a new area of running for me but I was so impressed in so many aspects. 

I won't give out much details as to what Mikey has up her sleeve, but lets just say shes asked me to help pace her again, but for 27 miles next time.  In case your wondering, I swallowed that pill too.  Wish me luck!

As for my own 50 by 50 project, I haven't told you all yet whats on the horizon.  With extremely short notice, I'm glad to tell you all that #9 will be the state of Colorado!!!  On June 2nd I'll be doing the Revel Rockies Marathon!  I'll save more of this marathon story for after the race, if I'm able to walk to my computer to tell you all about it. 

Thanks for being patient as this tends to be the busiest time of year for me and my family.  School is ending, baseball is in full swing, work, oh... and we also decided to move during all of this.  But I enjoy your feedback and messages.  I did make a video to show you all my medals as I've been requested, but it got chopped and didn't load the whole video.  I'll have more to come especially as we get situated in a new place.  I can manage to live out of a moving box with my running gear!

Take care everyone!  I'll update you soon on Marathon #9!!!!


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