Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Rocky Raccoon 100 - A Pacer's tale

Pacers - Ana and myself

I knew that Rocky Raccoon 100 was coming up in February but I wasn't exactly sure when in February it was since I wasn't planning on doing the race. The Monday before the race I get a Facebook message from my friend, Anthony Mireles, where he casually slipped into conversation this message.

Woah!?!?!? What Tony was running the 100 miler in 5 days and he was wanting Ana and I to pace him? It was short notice and I was pretty shocked by this. So I thought about it and figured it would be a great opportunity to pace a friend, I would get to hang out with Ana, and also it would make a great video for my youtube channel. So we told Tony we were in and the game day plan was for Ana to pace 20 miles on the 4th loop and I would bring him in for the 5th loop. Team Tony was set!

Race Day:

MILE 1-20: 1st loop

Tony didn't want to just finish the race, his goal was to do it in under 24 hours which on paper looked easy but we would have to see how his body reacted on race day. His first loop did not go as planned and he was behind his goal of doing 20 miles in 4 hours as he came in about 16 minutes late. He rushed in and out of the aid station and we cheered him on as he left for his next loop.

Mile 20 - 40:  2nd loop

Tony said he would take 4 hours and 45 minutes for this loop at the most. So when that time passes we start to worry. We figure he is struggling and could use a pacer for his 3rd loop out. (Since Tony is 61 it is within the rules for him to have a pacer for all of his loops if he wanted.) As I'm running to the trailer to change into my running gear I see Tony come in and ask him if he could use me to which he replies yes. 

After a quick change I get back to pace Tony for this unexpected 3rd loop. I was thinking at this point, does this mean I'm going to have to pace him for the last loop too? I was willing to do it but was hoping that somebody might step in. I was also thinking of my video and knew pacing him for the 3rd and 5th loop would only add to the film I was going to make. 

Mile 40 - 60:  3rd loop

During this loop Tony updates me on how his race has gone thus far and he tells me how he had fallen twice on his 2nd loop, which is why it took him so long. I had never really paced anyone for a 100 miler but as a pacer I'm trying to push him as hard as possible by seeing his body language and to me it looked like he was pretty spent as would be expected at this point of the race. We would run the downhills and flat sections and walk the hills.

We hit the Damnation loop which is just about a 7 mile loop and it starts to get dark. I turn on my headlamp and its dim. As the night gets darker I realize more and more how dim my headlamp is as I can barely see in front of me. I decide that I would not worry Tony with this fact and just run/walk to the best of my ability. I kept tripping and almost going off the trail but we for the most part did not slow down. When we get out of the loop to the Damnation aid station I ask for batteries and life is good again. We finish off this loop with no further incident.
Change of batteries

Mile 60-80: 4th loop

Ana takes over pacing duties and they go off on their 20 mile loop. During that same Damnation loop, which is one of the more technical portions of the whole race, their batteries both die on them and they are running with dim headlamps. They try calling me to bring fresh batteries around 2 am but at this point I had fallen asleep to rest up to pace Tony for his last loop. I wake up around 3 am, see all the miss calls and start and then I rush to meet them up at the Park Road aid station with fresh batteries. 

Damnation loop! LETS GO!

Mile 80 - 100: 5th loop

There is no one to take my place as a pacer so I have to suck it up and do the 20 miles to get Tony to his 100 miles. At this point we have 6 hours and 19 minutes to complete the 20 miles. We would need to go faster than Tony did his 2 previous loops in order to finish.  So we get going and I'm pushing Tony as hard as his body will allow him. As we hit the Damnation aid station at 5:45 am they tell us we have to finish the 7 mile loop by 10 am or Tony will have a DNF. Tony is doubting that we can make it but we keep pushing and make it out with about 40 minutes to spare. We make it through to the end and I can remember thinking wow this guy is still running after all these miles! As we close in to the finish Tony picks up his pace and runs across the finish line to claim his buckle. 

This guy is 61 years old and doing a 100 mile race! Pretty inspiring stuff and I'm glad that I was there to help and witness it. Congrats Tony!

Check out the video I made of the whole experience.

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