Monday, September 2, 2013

Beast of Burden: Crew, Pace, Expire

Lee Anne does not like trails.  Rocks, roots, stumps, cliffs, scrabbles, shale, boulders; normal running terrain makes Lee Anne sweat.  By sweat, I don't mean sweat, but become agitated.  I have to live with Lee Anne, so I no longer encourage her to enter the trail races.  Funny thing before we get into BoB, Lee Anne is volunteering at Haliburton this weekend (a trail runner's trail) while I work at Honda.  Yeah, life is not always fair!

For about the last year, Lee Anne was looking for a "road" 100 miler.  She has this concept that once she turns 60 (November 2013), she will no longer be able to run a 100 mile race.  Because she only runs 150K per week...  Such an inadequate base...  Lee Anne runs about 45K every Friday and 40K every Saturday.  Yeah, I have to live with her, please stop reminding me...

It is funny how BoB came together.  Directly before our trip to Mont Blanc, we discussed doing BoB.  My view was it would be too hot.  Long range forecast promised surprisingly cool temps.  A couple of 100 mile all stars committed to helping out.  I would NEVER undertake to support, crew and pace anyone in their first 100 miler.  Think about it.  Recipe for disaster!  Sharon Zelinski (sorry Sharon, I can never remember if the second vowel is an I or an E - please change the spelling of your last name if it is not Zelinski because that is what I'm going to type henceforth!) and Stephan Miklos were a bit surprised when, after not hearing from us for 2 weeks, Lee Anne declared the SHOW was on!

Beast of Burden is 40K from the NOTL wine tasting region.  Hmmm.  With a start time of 10:00 AM, it is logistically doable departing Toronto at 06:00 AM.  Since most of us would be alert (I'm killing myself here) all of Saturday night, no need for a hotel.  The race would be smooth, tranquil and easy.  Right!

Sharon entered the 50 mile race, but paced Lee Anne for 75 miles.  Stephan show me the ropes as we supported Lee Anne and Sharon for the first 50 miles.  What Stephan showed me was that crewing for a 100 mile race was proactive.  It was not adequate to ask them what they needed/wanted at the next stop, you have to have product ready for the immediate moment.  For 29 hours, the crew had all sorts of materials, goodies and necessities ready AT EVERY STOP.

The race director was a bit surprised when Sharon reached 75 miles, when she mentioned that she was in the 50 mile race.  He was very supportive!  Wanted to post her 75 mile time (that would be confusing!).  After crewing for 50 miles, Stephan paced Lee Anne (with Sharon) for 25 miles while I got some sleep.  The thought was that I should be well rested for the drive home.  At 75 miles, I started pacing Lee Anne while Stephan and Sharon assumed the crewing responsibilities.  Nether would get much sleep for the weekend.

One thing I now know, perspective goes out the window in a 100 mile race.  I "paced" (walked with) Lee Anne for the last 40K.  For some unfathomable reason, I thought that walking 40K would be effortless.  Mont Blanc should have better prepared me for what happens, even walking, for such a duration.  My thought was "last lap of 4", no need for a water belt or anything.  Wrong.  It took us almost 10 hours to walk the final 40K.  That is a long time in the sun!  I started at about 5:30 AM Sunday and was dead tired by 3:00, when we finally reached the finish line.  Lee Anne was a mess.

Her official time was just over 29 hours.  During the entire period, Lee Anne never spent more than 5 minutes off her feet.  The blisters were epic.  A large one popped while we were walking, at the 98 mile mark.  Lee Anne screamed (it is quite painful for a blister to pop when you plant your foot).  She wanted to take off her shoe and sock and assess the damage.  My retort was "no way in hell are you taking your shoe off".  My concern was that we would not be able to put it back on!  Lee Anne was adamant that her foot was bleeding (it wasn't).

29 hours!  29 hours!  Try standing for 29 hours.  Or watching TV.  Crazy.  An interesting aspect is that I truly believe that Lee Anne can easily run 100 miles in under 24 hours.  She has run 100K in heat in 12:29.  I believe the biggest issue is that we had just hiked the Tour de Mont Blanc, about 140K in the Alps, with significant vertical.  Although less than Lee Anne's typical 150K week, I would hesitate to call it a taper.  So in the back of our minds is that she can (and possibly will) run another 100 mile race and better her time.

So, Lee Anne has her belt buckle, I have found another aspect of running (crewing/pacing a 100 miler) I would like to avoid for all of eternity.  My prediction?  I will be crewing at Sulphur next year.

And I think this epitomises running in general.  We should all be willing to try aspects of running that take us out of our comfort zone.  We run for many reasons, not the least of which is to push ourselves.  Try crewing our pacing in a long race.  The rewards are there!


  1. Send a big congrats to Lee Anne. Finishing your first 100 is huge. People that crew and pace are always a big part of being able to finish and crewing the 100 is a tough day. Dont know how Kim does it for me.

    BTW anytime I think I am getting lots of base in I think of Lee Anne. Kind of puts it perspective for me and keeps us mere mortals humble.

  2. What a great adventure. Congratulate Lee Anne for ... simply awesome. You did a great job pacing and crewing. Thanks for sharing.