A LETTER TO MY PACERS

By trying we can easily endure adversity.  Another man’s, I mean.

– Mark Twain, writer and wannabe ultrarunner

Whoohoo, you are rockin’ the Life & Hope Fund…$10,416 of goodness to help cancer patients and their families so far.  Wanna help? Click HERE to learn more.

And on with the blog…

At most ultramarathons you are allowed to have “pacers” join you at some point in the race.  Take, oh, the Leadville 100 Trail Run, for example.  You have to make it the first 50 miles on your own . . . but if you survive the climb over Hope Pass (not to mention the consumption of a couple dozen nasty tasting energy gels) you then earn the right to have some company for your misery.

What is a pacer?  Someone who accompanies an ultrarunner and provides any necessary support to keep them moving along the trail.

What skills are pacers required to possess?  Applicants should possess experience in coaching, nutrition, cartology, psychology, psychiatry, biology, chemistry, geology, massage therapy, scatology, first aid, eastern mysticism and time travel.

How about running?  Oh, yeah, that too.

I am very blessed to have several excellent pacers in my Leadville stable.  I am assuming they are all excellent.  You see, most of them have never done it before.  Since this will be on-the-job training for this guy and the majority of the pace crew, clear communication will be absolutely critical.  Articulation that is abstruse, recondite and/or obfuscational must be eradicated.  Do we understand each other?  Hmm, I guess not.  So let me spell this one out so that we are all on the same webpage toward the ultimate goal of celebrating Mile 101 as a team.

Dear Pacers:

Thank you so much for taking time away from work, family and Angry Birds to join me on this journey.  All it took was one trip over Hope Pass for me to truly understand just how important your help will be.  Simply said, I could not do this without you.

Before your duties begin at the Winfield Mile 50 turnaround, I thought it might be helpful to share a few tips and expectations.  So, I hope this helps…

  1. Don’t Lie to Me.  Our relationship is all about trust.  I need to know that I can count on you, and you need accurate information about my condition to make good decisions on fueling, pace and hydration needs.
  2. LIE TO ME!  Forget EVERYTHING about #1.  Your job is to help get me back to Leadville.  You tell me whatever it takes to keep me moving toward that goal. Bernie Madoff, Benedict Arnold, Charles Ponzi, Bill Clinton, Rosie Ruiz and Pinocchio . . . these are all your role models.  Study up.
  3. Be My Drinking Buddy.  Nature likes to move toward balance.  Equilibrium.  When humidity in the air is 10% and humidity in your body is 100%, guess what happens?  That’s right, without a regular supplement of fluids I’ll look like the ultra version of Norman Bates’ mom up in the attic.  Remind me to drink up.  Cheers.
  4. My Eating Problem.  OK, I know how much you love math.  100 miles x 140 calories/mile = 14,000 calories.  Do you know what 14,000 calories equals?  FIFTY-SIX MCDONALD’S HAMBURGERS, that’s what!  OK, in a normal 30-hr period I could probably consume about 15 of those badboys without a lot of prompting.  That just leaves another 41 for which you are solely responsible.  Make me eat.  Bon appetit.
  5. Go Slower & Stand Taller.  Why?  Bears & Lightning.  ‘Nuf said.  I do appreciate you being a team player!

OK, so that’s the basics.  The rest we will make up as we go.  As my dear friend, Helmuth von Motke the Elder, keeps reminding me, “No battle plan survives contact with the enemy.”  Best to be ignorant and nimble than overprepared and inflexible.

Eric

OK, now that we have that out of the way let’s go over your specific assignments.  Lest anyone think this will be a walk in the (national) park, I am here to tell you right now . . . you have to raise your game.  Everyone has a big challenge ahead.  Just running these sections is challenge enough . . . but doing it carrying 175 lbs of ERIC might get your heartrate up a bit.

(Want to follow along? CLICK HERE for a map of the course.  CLICK HERE for a course elevation map, but ONLY if you do not faint easily.)

Winfield (Mile 50) to Twin Lakes (Mile 60.5).  Todd Rowe, that would be you.  As the only experienced ultrarunner of the bunch, I am looking forward to lots of heavy breathing on the climb over Hope Pass.  Three weeks ago when I made this climb, I heard footsteps and stopped to see what was stalking me.  There was nothing there.  The noise I heard was my heart beating.  There will be long sections where our heels do not touch the ground . . . a 22% grade will do that to you.  Once over the pass and down the quad-shredding other side, we cross the river and pray for knee-deep.  Should be fun!

 Twin Lakes (Mile 60.5) to Fish Hatchery (Mile 76.5).  This is the Dan Turpin section.  Dan, we’ve been on a few gnarly runs over the years.  This one will remind you a lot of that killer Dipsea Trail run . . . the one with all the elevation change and epically treacherous footing (see photo from after playing in that sandbox).  Except, we will be doing this one with about 40% less oxygen and IN THE DARK.  Let’s light it up, my friend!

Fish Hatchery (Mile 76.5) to Mile 99.  Cousin Susan Vickerman gets the longest stretch.  No wasting time, Sue, we leave the Fish Hatchery and head in the direction of UP.  Powerline climb up to Sugarloaf Pass before heading back down.  Good thing we both have that Minnesota thing going for us because the temps will be dropping below freezing.  And the sun won’t make things any easier until we are past May Queen along Turquoise Lake.  And once we make it to May Queen, I think we are out of danger of being blown up.  I think.

Mile 99 to Leadville.  In one big kumbaya moment, Tami leads the parade with me on her back.  Heck, she’s been carrying me for over 30 years, what’s another mile?  And I hope Todd, Dan, Susan and Collin the Elder will all be there to share that last mile with us.

As the early morning sun rises we will cross the finish line, collect our medal and head to the medical tent for our complimentary intravenous orange juice.  Can you make that a Screwdriver?

The Life & Hope Fund Update:  NEWS FLASH!  I am very pleased and humbled to report that we surpassed the $10,000 mark of giving to help cancer patients and their families.  So many of you have shared your hard-earned $$ to help cancer patients who were in the unfortunate position of having to choose between getting the help they need to be healthy and paying the electric bill.  You have provided hope . . . and that is a critical first step toward regaining health.  Special thanks to those who helped push us over the $10K mark this week:  David & Sandy Krajcovic, Alderman Lynn Wright, Steve & Angie Jackson, Gayle Turnbull, Anne Nixon and Chris & Carla Weber!  You are all simply the best!  Want to help out?  CLICK HERE!

Training Update:  25 days until the Leadville 100 Trail Run (CLICK HERE for info on the race).  1893 miles YTD.  20 miles of hill repeats at 94 degrees on Sunday . . . check out the salt mine on my running shorts (below) after that effort.  Slight tendon tweak, so I’ll take it easy until Saturday when I plan to attempt 50 miles from Leadville to the halfway point of the race in Winfield on the other side of Hope Pass.  If things work out, I may have some company (other than the bears and cougars) for this one!

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Eric July 24, 2012 Uncategorized