Saturday, August 28, 2010

Morning People

Sunday:  5 mile run
Monday:  4 mile run
Wednesday:  8 mile run
Saturday:  18 mile run

Total:  35 miles!

I have not been blogging much because I have been working more than usual, getting the girls adjusted to being back at school, dealing with a sick dog, and trying to keep up the training for Columbus Marathon.  Whew!  The running has been really erratic.  In lieu of the usual morning run, I have had to squeeze in running in the late afternoon or evening.  My body does not like that.  I feel sluggish and it is soooooooo hot then.  The biggest reason I don't like running in the afternoon/evening is that people are crabby.  Really crabby.  No eye contact, no friendly smiles, no cheerful banter.  Just crabby, crabby, crabby. 

Today was wonderful though!  I was able to get out and running by 8 am.  It was so nice and cool.  I even had some goosebumps going!  I did two 9-mile loops from our house.  All my old morning peeps were out on the path and it was like old homeday.  Gosh, I missed those smiling morning faces.  One of the morning regular walkers noticed I had my fuel-belt on and gave a cheer as I passed him for the second time.  I saw another couple that I have seen regularly since I started running marathons and we exchanged hellos and where-have-you-been's.  I chatted with a man who had his 6-month old golden retriever off leash on the trail section.  It was such fun that I hated to see the 18 miles pass by so quickly.  Truth be told I was terrified that I would not make it through today's run, but it was pure joy.  I was smiling all day.

In terms of family fitness it is pretty much status quo.  Abby is in cross country mode and has her first meet on Tuesday.  Go Tigers!  It is looking like a nice strong girls team this year and that is exciting.  She has a goal time of under 14 minutes for the 2 mile race.  I think she will reach that with no problem if it ever cools down.  Gina is on break from swim team and anxious to start up again.  Her exercise is mainly coming from marching band lately - sweating away in the mid-day sun for an hour or so every afternoon.  I think that's work.  Jerry is running a few times a week.  Nothing major.  His recovery from BR100 has gone well and he is also anxious to start up again although no races have been set.

Vegetarian diet status is also being maintained and quite well at that.  I recently read that only 3% of Americans claim to be vegetarians.  Wow!  We watched Food, Inc a couple of weeks ago and that just solidified the decision to not eat meat.  The girls pack their lunches everyday for school and we are learning a few more ways to expand our food plans.  The only downside I have discovered is not being able to fry eggs in bacon grease!  I really miss that.......

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Burning River 100 Support Report

Jerry had a great day and surpassed his main goal of running 100 miles in less than 24 hours.  His race report and several photos can be found here!

I wanted to take a few moments and write how the race went down from the perspective of his race crew which consisted of myself, Gina and Abby.  Together we are typically a hormonal mess of peri-menopause and teenage angst and I don't know how Jerry puts up with us most of the time; however, we held it together for race day and did our very best to support him.

The first thing we did was decide on Thursday to not actually go to the starting line with him on Saturday morning at 3 am.  This was a very rude thing to do, but he managed to secure a seat on the shuttle bus.  We made the decision so that we could be at our very best during the night when he would need us to be in good form.  The change in plan allowed us to sleep till 6am and then we loaded up the Subaru and headed towards South Chagrin Metropark.

We bought a few supplies at Walgreen and then landed at a little parking area we are familiar with on the road heading down into Sulphur Springs.  This is a Williamson Family favorite where we have spent a tremendous amount of time.  It was great to hang out in the cool morning air and watch the runners go by.  Gina and Abby did some balance work on the fence rail!  Jerry went by and asked us to bring him a bandana and "the Stick" from home.    The girls were really a great help.  One of their main jobs was to help me remember things like that.  They also recorded his times in and out of aid stations, controlled the ipod in the car, texted and checked voicemails from my phone when I could not, and most importantly they helped me navigate and stay focused.  They are really wonderful girls and I love being around them!

From there we meandered our way to Shadow Lake and then on to a surprise stop at Bridal Veil Falls.  Jerry did not know we would be there but this is also a favorite family spot. It was not an official aid station so we just wanted to pop in and say hi.  We stayed in the car a bit so Gina could read another chapter of The Scarlet Letter and Abby worked on a bracelet.  When we made our way down to the waterfall we were completely shocked to see Jerry immediately come down the trail!  Whew  - that was close....we almost missed him!  He was really trucking along and I was so glad we had reworked the pace chart to include the faster pace times.

It was now nearing lunch and I had been wracking my brain trying to figure out how to get from Bridal Veil Falls to Station Road via the Pulp Smoothie shop in Macedonia!  It is a traditional pit stop for the girls and I and it just wouldn't be BR100 without it.  We figured it out and it was awesome vegetarian goodness.  On to Station Road where we set up a chair and a blanket and hauled the shoe boxes full of Jerry's supplies into the open sunny space.  The place was pretty packed and we had a good chat with some of JPs crew.  We were barely finished with lunch when Jerry came running in.  He was right on a 21-hr pace and it was sort of freaking us all out.  It seemed way too fast and I was hoping he would not crash and burn.  As a family we have all been trying to step it up a bit this year - try running a bit faster, harder, push a bit more, go outside the comfort zone.  Jerry had clearly stated his goals but a 21 or 22 hour finish was NOT part of this plan!  Regardless, we fueled him up, changed his shoes and sent him over the train tracks to be on his way.  His attitude was completely different this year - I kept looking at the girls and saying, "Dad's got his game face on today, I don't know what's happening."  He was soooooooo serious.  We went home after Station Road for a quick refresh.

The car had become a mess so I spent a few moments reorganizing the shoe boxes of supplies for each aid station.  We made plans to pick up the first pacer, Andy, at 2:20pm at Pine Hollow so that left very little time to actually be at home.  Our golden retriever was acting sick and it took a fair amount of time to get her out to do her thing.  Before we knew it, it was time to get back in the car and head out again.

We picked up Andy and headed to Boston Store.  It was wall-to-wall with people and cars and I could only hope for a decent parking place.  We ended up along Stanford Rd which was great.  By now it was about 3:00 pm and the sun was out.  The heat in combination with the large amount of people was wearing me down quickly.  Jerry finally had slowed down a bit and did not arrive till about 3:40.  He made a quick pass through the aid station and set off for the loop.  We moved everything over by the car and continued waiting.  I was ready to order pizza and leave Boston Store!

I had planned ahead and brought the number for Winking Lizard.  All we had to do was find a parking place in Peninsula on a Saturday evening at 6pm. That didn't take terribly long and we made our way to Happy Days.  Happy Days parking lot was jam-packed.  The theme of finding a place to park was starting to become a familiar one. A spot opened up and that was all I needed to start a big sermon about how God cares for us and will help us through anything!  The girls are used to this sort of digression so they politely listened, prayed with me and then we ate our pizza in the quiet of the evening.

Jerry and Andy came cruising through the aid station and we met them with the shoe box of stuff.  Again, Jerry was in and out and still very serious.  We packed up our things and set off for BP where we needed some more water and ice to get us through the night.  I also picked up a much needed cup of coffee.

From there it was on to Pine Hollow - really one of the greatest places in Northeast Ohio.  We had plans to meet our neighbors there and also the second pacer, Mike and his family.  We were a big crew by then with lots of cute little kids, glow sticks, and marshmallows.  It was super fun.  It really helped break up the anxiety and exhaustion that was setting in.  One of the things I love the most is the thought of how natural this sort of thing is to our family.  Since Gina and Abby have grown up going to these sorts of race venues and long days, they really can kick it in and make a great day when other kids might be grumbling about being away from the computer, TV or their friends.  We always find some fun activity to do.  Nothing will ever beat the pinecone and stick baseball game at Mohican but pony rides may be a new close second.

After Jerry passed through and changed his shoes and refilled his bottles,  it was time to say good-bye to Andy and our friends and head off into the dark of night for Covered Bridge.  My navigation skills were spiraling downward and it was quite an adventure getting there!  We did, however, arrive only to find another parking lot completely full.  Argh!  It was nearing 11pm and I really wanted to snooze, but not while parked along Everett Rd in complete darkness.  Eventually a spot opened and we wheeled the Subaru in, reclined the seats, set an alarm for 1 hour and enjoyed the absolute stillness of the night.

Soon enough the alarm sounded and we gathered our chair and boxes and headed for the bridge.  It's quite a sight and I was excited for the girls to finally see it.  Abby first had to face her demons though:  she has had a rough time at Covered Bridge!  A bizarre rash last summer after we hiked there, a puke-fest during Jim Klett 10K, the memory of my accidental step into dog poop during the Run with Scissors last fall.  We barely made it past the port-a-pot and I heard her gagging.  Poor girl.  She said the smell of runners, port-a-pot, and all those memories was getting to her.

Jerry and Mike had slowed but they were doing just fine and set off for the Perkins Trail loop very quickly.  This was starting to bum me out a bit!  We were waiting and waiting all day and night and then whoosh....he would run in and leave so quickly!  But I kept telling myself, the faster he gets in and out of these aid stations, the faster we are headed to the finish line.  Upon returning from the loop, he announced he really had to use the bathroom.  The girls and I rolled our eyes.  The clock was ticking now and I made my infamous statement upon his return that he was eight minutes off the 24 hour pace time.

Getting to Merriman aid station was another navigational failure.  Thanks to G & A for getting me out of that mess too!  Same thing here:  we pulled in, reclined the seats, set the alarm for about 1 hour and proceeded to snooze.  By this point I barely wanted to leave the car, but I pried open my eyes to watch for Jerry and Mike.  I heard them before I saw them and jumped out of the car.  I ran with them to the aid station and once again, Jerry had one thing on his mind:  get in and out as fast as possible.  I returned to the car where Gina and Abby remained sleeping!  I felt bad waking them up but it was time to go to the finish line and they had to buckle up for safety!

We arrived in the parking garage about 3:30 and I set the alarm for 4:15.  It was not restful at all, but we could hear the announcer calling people in as they finished down below.  We gathered our things and set up chairs.  According to the current pace he was keeping he would finish very close to 5 am but something told me I better get down there "just in case."  Good thing we did because at 4:30 we caught our first glimpse and soon enough he came through the finish - still looking serious, game face on but with a hint of a smile!

We are all so very proud of him and happy to have been part of the whole thing.  The life lessons that can be learned by spending a weekend as part of an ultrarunning event are too numerous to count.  I wish I had time to speak to every runner and find out their story.  It's an amazing community.