Let me admit this. I have been running out of ideas recently and didn’t really know what to write on my website.
Thoughts like ‘most blogs die within 6 months of their inception’ was creeping in my head because I have not had courage to think and write something useful and interesting.
However that changed yesterday when I thought of summarizing my pacing experience in the North Face Endurance Challenge Wisconsin on Sept 13, 2019.
There are only two ultra runners at Kerry Beloit center. Collin Hayes and I love to run long distances. Collin has signed up the 50 miler race where pacing was allowed after mile 27. He came to me on Friday and asked if I can pace him on Saturday. I requested him to give me couple of hours so that I can obtain approval from my home minister. Namrta kindly agreed and I was set to pace Collin from mile 35 to the finish line.
Collin created a group text message including myself and his girl friend Shelby. Shelby agreed to inform me about this location so that I can leave on time from Madison to reach MacMiller shooting range in Eagle WI. Collin said he will be at mile 35 between 11am-12pm.
I underestimated the time to drive to mile 35 and realized that I won’t be able to reach there before 11:38am and Collin may have already passed the aid station. Shelby told me that he should be at the aid station around 11:30am. So I was definitely going to miss him there.
I panicked a bit and requested Shelby to keep Collin informed about the delay. She also agreed to tell him to continue running and I will catch him in 5-10 minutes.
I reached the macmiller aid station at 11:37 am and didn’t see Shelby. I texted her where is she and sure enough she was helping Collin to pack his food and water. I apologized and got pacer bib quickly. I ran with my bib, water bottle and phone in my hand.
Collin was looking good and we chatted for a bit and kept running together for a mile or so on rolling hills.
He told me that a girl who ran a trail marathon with him couple of weeks back is also running this race. I asked him if he would like to chase her? She was leading by 3-4 miles. We decided to pick momentum and passed many tired runners on the trails.
I kept him engaged in various discussion ranging from ultra races to talks of workplace. I kept observing how he is feeling and adjusted my pace accordingly.
Around mile 40, He looked a bit tired so we slowed down and again picked our pace after some steep hills.
I told him to hang on with me till mile 45 and let it hurt in the last 5 miles. He agreed and averaged sub 10 minute mile pace whereas he was hoping for sub 12 mins pace to break 10 hours.
I asked him about his 50 miler PR and found that it was 9:45. We both decided to try a PR for him since he was looking good at mile 43.
I had my water bottle filled with ice cold water and reserved that in case it’s too hot. I saw my friend Brenda volunteering at a road crossing, we greeted each other and I took off with Collin.
Just around highway 67 it was open prairies and it was hot. I saw that Collin was struggling a bit. I advised him that cold water on neck and head will make him feel better and I will spray some water on him. He agreed. After soaking his shoulders in water I asked to remove his hat and poured some water on his head. It feels great, he said.
Highway 67 aid station was in sight so I asked him if he wants me to grab something quickly. He said no, just help me fill my water. He started stretching at that aid station and I filled his bag with water poured some more ice cold water on his head. He took off and I grabbed some more water in my bottle after hydrating myself. I caught him quickly and asked him if he needs some orange slices and he gladly took one. He was feeling good now and finish line was only 6 miles away.
I kept observing him and kept pouring ice cold water on him from my water bottle. I advised him to put some ice in his hat from the next aid station which was at mile 47. He did that and felt awesome. He kept chasing and passing people and he was thrilled. I asked Collin if he let it hurt and enjoy the pain, we will break 9:30. He gave his all and kept moving fast and faster.
We saw another ultra runner who had flags of many countries hanging at her begpack. She also had Indian flag in there. Out of curiosity, I asked her about why she has so many flags? He said that she wanted to visit all these countries and have already visited some of them. Her name was Diana and she was from Columbia. Three of us kept running together while talking about ultra running and what other races we have planned. We found that Diana have run Hennepin 100 in 2017. I ran Hennepin 100 in the year, said I.
After running together for around a mile, Collin and I took off.
At one point, I told him that if he is moving at this pace breaking 9:20 won’t be a problem. Let it hurt, Let it hurt- I kept saying and Collin kept gaining momentum. Whenever we saw any steep hills I asked him to take 5 deep breaths so that his heart rate comes down. He followed my advice and was looking great. To divert his mind from the body ache and leg pain, I kept telling him some jokes and I was surprised with the fact that he was smiling at mile 48.
At the last aid station, I saw Emily and Craig who told us that the finish line is only 1.8 mile away. Collin kept pushing hard and harder.
When he saw the finish line, something happened to him and he started sprinting. Collin finished the north face endurance challenge 50 miler in 9 hours and 24 minutes which was a PR by 21 minutes and 36 minutes faster than his goal. Congratulations Collin! Here is our picture at the finish line
We saw Shelby at the finish line took some pictures and then Shelby dropped me to the aid station where I picked Collin for pacing.
It was a wonderful to help my friend achieve his goal with a huge PR. I felt great whole day. Slow 15 miles felt more tiring than usual 15 miles but I will take it.