Back in January, a friend from high school, decided to sign up for the Burning River 100 mile race (BR100). Adam helped me so much as I was training for JFK (see my race report here) with advice on everything from nutrition, hydration, trail running tips, gear, etc.. I am not sure if I would have done as well as I did without all of his helpful advice. I didn't know how I was going to repay him until he signed up for the BR100. Immediately, in January, I told him that I would be there to help out however he needed me. I marked my calendar and knew I had to be in Cleveland on July 28.
I wanted to be there from start to finish. I got to Squire's Castle around 4:40am. I parked about a half mile away from the start by a swampy pond. It was pitch black and silent other than the big bull frogs wishing me good morning. I found Adam and his sister, Laura by texting, "Look for a girl wandering around...and grab me." Again, it was pitch black and everyone had headlamps on so I couldn't see a thing. Adam was remarkably calm as were most of the other runners. The race started at 5am sharp. No fireworks. No guns. No jet plane flyovers or blackhawks. No band playing. Just a nice, simple - GO! Much like any other Ultra race I have ever been to, there was no pomp and circumstance around the start of this incredible adventure these 350 people were about to embark upon.
The first aid station was at the 10k mark which was basically a loop bringing them back to Squire's Castle. So Laura, Adam's Cousin Penny and I stayed put. As the runners were entering the first aid station the sun was just coming up and it was beautiful as they bounded out of the woods. I told Laura at that point, "I might want to do this!" Um yah, that motivation quickly faded as it started down pouring, then getting hot and sunny and then down pouring and then getting hot and sunny, etc.. Ha. By the time I drove to the 3rd aid station, my willingness to run anything over 26.2 was gone.
Adam's family - 2 sons (ages 11 and 6); 2 daughters (ages 9 and 3); Wife, Cindy; Sisters, Laura and Stephanie; Cousins, Penny and Nate; Neice (20 months) - followed him throughout the day.
|The Crew - So fun to spend the day with!|
|The kids (and Nate) patiently waiting for Adam to get to an aid station.|
|Adam's tiniest cheerleader - so cute!|
The race allowed pacers after the 54 mile mark. Nate was the first pacer for 11 miles. Adam was making incredible time! The night before the race as we were discussing race plans, I agreed to pace Adam from miles 65-80. We thought he would get to the 65 mile aid station between 7-9pm. He showed up way before 7! I was excited but had the pre-race nerves too. I kept telling myself, 15 miles at a 13-16 minute pace - PIECE OF CAKE! Another, "always believe George moment" occurred when I told him what I was planning on running . He said, "That is going to be hard on you and too slow." I rolled my eyes - WHATEVER! Haha. Well, I haven't been on my feet, running for more than 4 hours since the JFK 50 race much less navigating through rocky, rooty, hilly trails in the woods. My feet started to ache half way through and I could feel every muscle around my ankles. I did not dare complain to my running partner who had been running for over 14 hours already. He was having his own issues. Ha! I woke up the next morning so stiff and my legs felt like they were made of lead for the next 48 hours. I am going to have, "Believe George...or Just Do it and Prove Him Right" t-shirts made. :)
|Right before my leg - at mile 65.|
Adam was so clear-headed and lucid all throughout our run. It was really crazy. I thought I would be dealing with a zombie. We had so many great conversations about life, our careers, faith, love and loss. It was one of the most meaningful runs I have ever been on. A great way to catch up with an old friend. Not that there were not a few snags. As well as Adam was doing emotionally and physically, he was having some severe chaffing issues. The only thing that helped him was Balmex (aka Diaper Rash Cream) - "My new favorite condiment," he exclaimed. Haha. We laughed. Ok, maybe he wasn't ALL there! ;) The chaffing brought on extreme pain which seemed to come and go. I did see his running highs get higher and lows get lower over the course of my leg with him. He started feeling nauseous. The role of a pacer is to make sure that the runner is eating and drinking as well. He said at one point he didn't want to eat anymore gel/blocks. Who does after 14 hours? He wasn't hard to reason with. He knew he needed the nutrition.
The nausea seemed to pass and as we were running the last 7 miles, he really seemed to perk up saying as we got to Mile 80 that he wasn't even tired. That was a good sign. We arrived at the 80 mile mark around 11pm. It was just lovely. The aid station was under a covered bridge and they had all these white lights strewn about. So beautiful! Adam's goal was to simply finish the 100 miles. His stretch goal was to finish in 24 hours. He had 6 hours to cover the next 20 miles. I had no doubt he would do that. His next pacer was his sister, Laura. She would run with him until mile 93.
Stephanie, her daughter and I ventured off to the 93 mile aid station to wait. I put my seat down and took an hour long nap. I took cat naps all day. It's tough being a spectator. Ha. Laura passed the pacer baton to Stephanie who was going to pace him to the finish. He had about 2 hours to cover the last 7 miles if he wanted to come in under 24 hours. The whole crew was planning on meeting Adam at mile 99 to all run in together. Cindy, Nate, Penny, Stephanie, Stephanie's daughter, Laura and Adam's two boys ran that last mile together while I snapped some photos. The end of the race was quiet. No one announcing finishers as they do in the Ironman. Just the race director, shaking each finishers hand, placing the belt buckle around the finishers neck with a few people cheering. Peaceful and calm. What an amazing accomplishment!
|4:30am - We are all so proud and happy for Adam!|
|They make my heart smile.|
As a part of his huge goal, Adam also hoped to raise $10,000 ($100 per mile) for child adoption grants. He teamed up with an organization called Show Hope. Check his blog post out for more information: http://thepratts.blogspot.com/2012/07/help-adam-help-orphans.html