Monday, February 8, 2010

Rocky Raccoon - The crew report

My Rocky experience is a little different than most, I crewed for a woman I have never met before with a group of women I had never met. Well we all kinda met online but never in person, you see we all belong to a group of running moms online and have become great friends. The 4 crew members all came in from different states just to support Tara in her first 100 mile race.  I was so amazed by how many people run these things, I mean it takes a certain kind of person to want to run 100 miles right? Well there were over 300 people signed up to do just that, and another 300 and something signed up for the 50 miler…. WOW I felt like something was wrong with me because I really had no desire to ever do either. After it is all over I still do not want to do 100 but the 50 will be a goal after the next baby.

The race start was not too exciting for us crew members. There were so many runners that we could not even get to the start line to see it. So our real look at the race would be 4 hours later when Tara finished her first loop. It was so exciting and nerve racking trying to get all the gear and supplies ready before she came through. We all wanted to do a good job and make this easier for her so having everything ready and getting her in and out as quick as we could was our goal. I think the first few times she came through we accomplished that. As the run progressed, we found out that the Ensure we were giving her was not sitting well with her so we stopped giving it to her; we found out later that it was her only protein source so we should have had a plan B. Next time we will.

Cathy’s (another member of the Rocky Crew) husband Jack was signed up to run the 50 miler and at the last minute he decided to go for the 100. After we took care of Tara we decided to wait and help Jack out if he wanted. He was going to crew for himself. It turned out that he was running about 10 min behind Tara so it worked out great. When Jack came through we were able to get him seated and changed. We also got some water and Heed (electrolytes) in him before we sent him on his way.

That first 20 mile lap they both looked great. All smiles, big dreams, and big goals. The second 20, Tara was still looking and feeling good, the woman was on fire. We had her in and out in maybe 5min or less (we had this down now) and then she was on her way again. When Jack came through he did not look so hot. His legs were hurting pretty bad, and he did not expect to be running as much on the next loop (he was now at 40 miles). We decided to drive up and meet them both at the next aid station and barely saw Tara as she shot through and was on her way. I had a bad feeling when Jack came walking up, he really was not looking very good, you could tell he was feeling it already, this was not a good sign with 60 miles left to go.

Once night time fell and Tara took off with Marny for the next 20 (miles 60 – 80) we quickly learned that things were not going as quick as they were. Marny brought her phone with her and called to ask us to meet them at the Park aid station with Tara’s jacket,k she also let us know they slowed way down (The first two loops took 4 hours, this one took 6) It got colder than we first thought, and at this point Tara was doing quite a bit more walking and we dressed her more for running and she got pretty cold. We ended up missing them at the aid station and did not get Tara warmer clothes till she was done with that 20 mile loop. Shortly after they took off to start this loop we were still at the start waiting for Jack to come through, when Jack found us. He let us know that he DNF (did not finish) at mile 55 and caught a ride back. I was glad to see that he was not torn up about it at the time, but I think that was more the sheer pleasure he must have been feeling about not having to run again. Later he did seem a little upset about it, but I think he did great. You see Jack did not train for this, and well frankly he made it farther than he had ever run before and farther than what he originally signed up for. Jack did great and I hope he knows and feels it.

When Tara came through this time I was up to run 3 miles with her. When we took off from the start she was doing good, we started off at a walk then planed to run a bit later. She was still shooting for the sub 24 hours. When we tried to run about 30 seconds later she said no running. She decided at this point that the goal would have to be to finish. Her legs were shot after 80 miles. So we changed to the plan to finish instead of the sub 24 which would mean she had to run. I really started to worry when our pace kept slowing down and she started not understanding what I would say at times. My fears got worse when she asked to hold my shoulder for support. I knew at this point she was not doing very well. She told me she was tired and needed a nap, but I was so worried if she slept that she would not want to get up so I told her she needed to consider that. I finally decided she had to nap or there was no chance of finishing when she fell asleep walking. Her feet stopped and she started to lean on me. I pulled her forward and told her that she had to keep moving and that she could nap soon, we were almost to the next aid station. All we had to do was get to the next station and she could sleep. When we finally came around that corner and I saw the lights for the station, I cannot even tell you how thrilled I was. That was the longest 3 miles I have ever done, Tara you scared the crap out of me!

The next few hours proved to be the longest of the whole race. We checked Tara in at the aid station then pulled her off the course so she could sleep in the car. Marny and Bethany had to help her down some stairs and she kept falling asleep on the way to the car. Once we got Tara in the car she was so cold she started shaking, so we rushed her to the med tent. She told them that she was going to finish and they just said to get her warm, so we covered her with everything we had gave her some hot water and then let her sleep. We figured out that if she was back out by 4am that she could finish by cut off if she walked the rest. So that was our final plan to walk her to the finish. Bethany took the longest hardest section (total of 12 miles and 6 miles with no aid station) and the rest of us waited and worried the whole time they were gone. When we finally got to see them again Tara was smiling and moving along slowly. She only had 4.4 miles to go and more than enough time to do it in. Cathy went with her on this last four and we met them about a 1/4 mile from the finish to cheer her on. When she crossed that finish it made the whole thing worth it. There are plenty of things we would do differently as a crew that might have made it go better, but for first timers I think we did okay.

Rocky Raccoon was an experience I am sure to not forget any time soon. It had its ups and downs, the good and the bad, the victory and the defeat, but the number one thing it had was HEART. Waiting for Tara at that last aid station we got to see several other runners come through, and they all looked beat up but every single one of them pushed through the pain to that finish. I think every mile of the 100 was an adventure, but the last 20 was all heart.


Anne Marie said...

That is SO cool that you were a part of her crew! And love that you all were from cafemom's run group. You all ROCK!!! I'm inspired;-)

Marny said...
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Marny said...

Aw, I loved re-living this adventure through your blog. It was really great to meet you Tracey. You did a great job of holding everything together for the entire crew. I would have been totally lost without you! Next time though, we need to make sure YOU sleep, since you were so busy making sure everyone else was rested!