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 My first 100 mile-pacing duties

Joined: 14 Dec 2004
Posts: 225

My first 100 mile-pacing duties Posted: Mon Oct 23, 2006 11:46 am 

Wow. Just. wow.

Friday night, I drove down to San Diego to pace my friend Bud in the San Diego 100, a race run in the Cleveland mountains east of San Diego. You may recall that Bud and I ran the final 8 or so miles of my first 50k race last january and runs 100s all the 58 years of age.

We were to meet at an aid station called "Todd's Cabin" around midnight-2am, so I procured a hotel room after watching the race's 6 AM start and helping set up an aid station tent and hunkered down for some intense naptime around 11am.

I snagged around 3 hours, watched a bunch of cable, and at 10:00pm, headed out to Todd's Cabin, about 1 hour away. According to the pacer instructions, the cabin was about 1/4 mile from the area where we were to park, so I set off into the darkness of the trail, me, my flashlight, and my water pack, beneath a black, star-filled sky. In fact, the sky was SO big and filled with stars, during my awe of it, I ran past the trail's turnoff point to get to the cabin and ran an extra 2 miles out before coming across runners heading towards it, informing me to turn around. So, I got in an extra 4-5 miles of running (but DID get to see a meteor burn out across the sky: It was white as it shot, then turned a crimson orange as it faded).

I managed to get to the cabin at 11:30, and it was soooo cozy: Old fire stove, lots of sofas and chairs...DEATH for any runner who would drag their tired ass inside after 75, grueling miles. I assisted in getting food to runners as I waited, and actually ran into a guy I'd run part of the Calico 50k with. He looked fresh and great. Another guy, Robert, didn't, and he wound up dropping, even after my shoving food, Tylenol, and fluids his direction.

The hours ticked by, and by 3am, I had the guys radio the previous aid stations to see if Bud (lucky #13) had come though. He had, but he was slow, so I grew a little concerned regarding his condition. Lo and behold, not 30 minutes later, in rolled Bud, all smiles and jokes with the aid station workers. We hugged and he introduced me to his friend Darren, who was looking, well, like @ss. He explained that he was getting over a cold, PLUS, he hadn't really trained for this race (he isn't inexperienced at all: He's run Badwater 3x, and H.U.R.T. several times), so they'd been crawling along, about 1 1/2 hours behind Bud's desired pace.

At 4:00, flashlights in hand and headlamps beaming, we struck out into the night, Darren, power walking behind our shuffling up ahead. It. Was. Beautiful. There's nothing like being alone on mountain trails at night. We talked, didn't talk, joked, relieved ourselves many-a-time (I was glad to see they were both hydrated), and then, after a small aid station stop, Bud told us to go ahead, as he was taking a "deuce break".

I was concerned for Darren and didn't want to push him too hard, but also, at mile 81, thought he should keep moving. And he did. He dug deep, and before too long, we were running at a decent pace across the rooty, rocky, dark trails, him telling me about Badwater, how awful he was feeling, his kids, and I kept him talking/running for a good 30 mns, knowing in full that Bud would catch up, but I had to keep his legs going.

As the sunrise came, Bud caught us, laughing at our increased pace. We were around mile 88 at this point, and Darren looked like death, but when we stopped, Bud sat him down and said, "Even if we don't make the cutoff, we're crossing that finish line together. All 3 of us." I nearly cried but held back, since the last thing Darren needed was a pacer weeping over such a loyal friendship.

The miles crept by, but onward we shoved, as the sun hit us in an exposed, rocky area, but only 10k to go! A loooong final climb came about 3 miles before the finish (don't they always in trail races?), and Darren needed to take rest breaks in the shade, but the barn door was ever-so-close, and as we slapped our feet across the finish in 29:50 (a good 1 + hours before the cutoff time), I was blown away by the determination of both Darren and Bud.

It's looking as though the San Diego 100 will be my first 100 next year. Maybe I'll break the new course record set by Carl Melzer this weekend of 15 hrs, 48 mns?

Probably not so much.

Runworks 2005 5M Racer
San Francisco, CA
Joined: 26 Nov 2004
Posts: 1157

Re: My first 100 mile-pacing duties Posted: Sat Oct 28, 2006 9:51 pm 

Awesome! I can't even really imagine what it must be like to do one of those 100 milers, but if I were there, that cozy cabin at mile 75 would have looked mighty inviting. Way to go pacing Bud and Todd through to the finish! And congratulations on your own run: you ran nearly 30 miles over tricky terrain, at night! You must be really psyched for your first 100 next year. If I'm free in October I'll come cheer you on!


Joined: 14 Dec 2004
Posts: 225

Re: My first 100 mile-pacing duties Posted: Wed Nov 01, 2006 7:59 am 

It was quite the experience, and seeing the runners roll in at mile 75 in various states od disarray, confusion, and exhaustion only served to egg me on to do a 100 even moreso. I'll let ya know so, if you have time, you can sit at wait 30 hours for me to finish and cheer me on!

And pick me up in a wheelbarrow and cart me away.


South Orange, New Jersey
Joined: 19 Dec 2004
Posts: 367

Re: My first 100 mile-pacing duties Posted: Wed Nov 01, 2006 10:59 am 

Nice job Rustyboy. What sort of pace were you guys doing? I'll be doing the JFK 50 Mile run on 11/18 in Boonsboro, MD. I'm curious to know what sort of training you plan to do for the San Diego Endurance 100 next year.

I'm hopinig to finish the 50 miler in around 10 hours. I have no idea what it's going to feel like to be on my feet beyond four and a half hours (my worst marathon time) and how to work in intervals of walking with my running. I've heard of all sorts of different run/walk combinations and I guess it just comes down to personal preference rather than a formula.

I've been reading "A Step Beyond - A Definitive Guide to UltraRunning" and though it's a thick book with info from various authors on all sorts of topics it seems to be missing the info that I'm looking for. For example, Hydration. Ultrarunners are always seend carrying water bottles in each hand as they run. Is this in addition to a Camelbak or is there only supply of fluid. I would think carrying a water bladder on your back or around your waist would be better than having my hands full. I would rather have my hands free to catch myself if I trip and fall. This book doesn't address the specifics of what to carry but just talks about the importance of staying hydrated.

So, Rustyboy, do you have any tips for my first Ultra?


Joined: 14 Dec 2004
Posts: 225

Re: My first 100 mile-pacing duties Posted: Wed Nov 01, 2006 3:43 pm 

JFK? Sweet first ultra! You are gonna have a blast, to be certain. Ultrarunning is such a small community, you'll probably get adopted by at least a few of the you are one of us now!

Our pace was: Slllllllllow. 8 Hours to do 30 miles-ish. We mostly power-walked anything with any type of incline and slowly trotted on flats and downhills, as their quads were shot to hell. As for your pace, as you've probably read time and again: Go out slowly and comfortably. Then back off that pace. 50 miles is a long haul, and pace doesn't play into these races for we lowly mortals (as I said:Carl Melzer won the race in 15:48, we came in at 29:49 - pace goes out the window). What works for me is walking the steeps and running the flats and downhills at a measured, slow pace for the first half of the ultra, then, if I feel I can up it a little in the back half, add little by little.

Food fueling, as well as hydration, is incredibly important. Fill up at every aid station: PB and Js, soup, cookies, chips, whatever your stomach is telling you sounds good. And make sure to take electrolyte tablets about once/hour (they usually have them in bowls at the aid stations). Many people bonk and can't finish because they "didn't feel hungry", and therefore, didn't replenish their glycogen. There will be - more than likely - a point where you know you *should* eat, but don't want to. EAT ANYWAY. I can't stress that enough. Gu's, M and Ms, whatever - get food in your body and don't linger too long at the stations (it's always hard to leave when you stop for too long).

As far as hydration options, I've gotten used to handhelds and actually prefer them because I can fill one with Gatorade or flat Coke, and the other with water. Odds are, the stations will only be 4-7 miles apart, so running out of fluids, unless you're walking slowly, won't be a hassle. Personally, I think carrying more than 40 ounces is just adding dead weight, but you'll see every type of hydration system out there.To each his own!

I can't wait to read your RR! Remember to talk to lots of fellow runners and thank the aid station workers!


South Orange, New Jersey
Joined: 19 Dec 2004
Posts: 367

Re: My first 100 mile-pacing duties Posted: Wed Nov 01, 2006 4:41 pm 

Thanks Rustyboy, those are some good tips. I'm hoping that the three marathons that I've run this past month (and one more next weekend) will have strengthened me. I ran them all at an easy training pace (around 9:00 min/mile). I still need to post my race report from the last two (Mount Desert Island and Marine Corps) and should get to it soon (I've been extremely busy the last two weeks). If anything I've been training myself to be disciplined and stick to my goal (slow) pace and resist the temptation to go faster.

I haven't done much trail running in a while but after NYC I plan to do all of my remaining easy runs on nearby trails. I also have some different fuel to experiment with. The JFK 50 Mile web site is pretty sparse and it doesn't go into much detail about what to expect at the aid stations.

I'm looking forward to this race more than any of the other marathons I've done recently. I understand that if I can finish it in under 11 hours I'll be qualified for Western States. I don't know if I'm ready to go that far but it would be nice to know that I could register for it if I'm up to it.

Thanks again for the advice.

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