Sunday, September 9, 2012

Run Woodstock, Pinckney Mi - Sept 7,8 2012

 Run Woodstock was simply amazing ,  the venue ,  the theme, the race organization and more then anything the hospitality of our American neighbors was second to none!

 Way back in May a thread was posted to RM about this race  and it wasn’t lone before I was signed up for the  50K with the intention of doing all the  3 short fun runs offered Fri/Sat and Sunday.  The various events with the live music sounds like a recipe for a rather fun running weekend    .  After the DG race in August I was leaning towards doing Haliburton instead of Woodstock.  I almost signed up for Hali but when I looked at the cost as well as revisiting the Run Woodstock Web site and Facebook page I decided to stick with my original plans.  A week before the race I resurrected the RM post.  Chris Baker responded and said that after DNFing the Lockport race he was going to give the distance another shot at Woodstock.   I instantly saw an opportunity to turn my weekend into another running adventure and offered to pace him through the night.    The race is done on a 16.7  mile loop and started at 4pm on Friday.   Pacers were allowed to join in on loop 3.  Chris's wife Krista was planning on doping the last two loops so I was in for loops 3 and 4.   Figured I would be done my pacing assignment in time for may race 50K race at 06:00 am. 

 Friday was a kind of a crazy day.  My original plan was to work until noon then leave directly for the race arriving sometime around 4-430 pm ,  plenty of time for the 7:30 pm race.   Well that all changed ....  still left work as planned but had to run some errands and it was 1:30 pm before I was heading in the right direction! First stop was for some decent nutrition at Tims in Durham.  I wanted to order a couple of Chicken Wraps but the drive through was line up onto Hwy 6 and there was a dozen frustrating looking folks hanging out at the food counter ... plan B a Coffee and 2 Oat Cakes.   Getting from home to Sarnia sucks ... no real good direct route and being that I was heading from home instead of work the Hwy 23 option was best.   The traffic sucked  and before I got to Listowell I cut across to Huron County back Rds where there is little traffic and the speed limit is 90Kmh.   Got a little turned around adding an extra 10-15K onto the journey but I still figured I would make it 6:00-6:30 ish.    Traffic was an issues in the Grand Bend. Pt Franks and Forest area !!!!  When I finally made it to the border around 4:30 pm I was nearly out of gas not wanting to stop on the Canadian side and what seemed like light traffic I figured I would have just enough to get to Port Huron.   Coasted down the US side of the Bridge to customs .... no line up so I ,  perfect or so I thought!   US customs was up to something and the  Customs agent said he would have to hold me for a few minutes!  Checked the gas gauge and figured I was OK and then proceed to have a really nice chat about running with the fellow who seemed pretty knowledgeable about the topic.   After a brief delay it was a quick fuel stop and I was off at around 5pm.... still lots  time or so I thought,  Breezed into Detroit ,  breezed through the core but then traffic bogged down as we approached the suburbs ... more frustration.    Anyhow I made it to the race at 7:10 pm ,  exhausted , stressed and needing a little run!    I dashed to get ready and just made it in time for a the live Jimmy Hendrix rendition of the American National Anthem.

  The "Freak 5K"  went off a 7:30pm with a loop around the campground as the band played some Stones Tunes.  My stress was gone and the effort to get to the race had paid off ... I was running at Woodstock. 
There were lots of newbies on the trail,  mostly road shoes.  Helped one fellow who fell off the trail ...twice!  2k into the loop the trail split ,  to the left was the " natural " way ,  to the right was for those who wished to remain dressed.   Finished the loop a little after 8pm.... it was still nice an warm  27C but you could tell that the weather was changing and it wasn't going to be dry.    I was parked about a K from the start/finish and headed back to the car to grab my waiver to pick up my race kit..... didn't find the paper work!    Headed back to the start finish ,  signed new waver  then realized that I didn't eat since Tims.  Grabbed three very small Slices of Pizza and chatted with another pacer from Toledo.    Checked in at the timing tent and saw that Chris had completed his first loop at 7:09 pm,  3hrs9minutes a wee bit fast I thought for the 27+C temps and high humidity    Figured Chris would be back in around 10:30 pm ... projected ahead and figured we would do a couple of 3.5 to 3.75 hour loops  leaving me just enough time to get to the start of my 50K race at 06:00 am .      Headed back to the car to prepare for my  pacing assignment and my 50K race that followed.     

 While I was getting ready it started to rain.  By the time I had everything organized it started to pour and the temperature plunged.    I remember looking at the clock ,  it was 9:45 pm I was warm,  dry and quite comfortable in my car and was having some serious second thoughts about what I was about to do or not do.  My feet are still not fully recovered after DGs 4 weeks ago.  I originally had my usual Thoro's on but they acted like sponges in the wet so I changed to some thin socks that I haven't worn in wet conditions.  Another last minute addition was adding my Shell to my Ultra Aspire pack.     Nearing 10pm the rain as pounding down even harder.  My thoughts turned to Chris... he started loop 2 in the daylight and 27C heat and was now running in the dark,  wet and very cool!   I decided that unless the rain let up I wasn't going to go out and would snooze in my car until my event started.  I felt really bad for Chris  and I was wondering how much he was counting on a pacer.   I know he didn't plan on it  for loops 3 and 4 until I offered so I figured he probably wouldn't be too disappointed if I was a no show or at least I tried to convince myself that that is how he would feel.   So I decided that it the rain let up in the next 10 minutes I would head out and if it didn't I would make myself comfortable and set an alarm for 5am.     As the clock struck 10pm the rain stopped and I was committed.  I was relived that Mother Nature made such a decisive call and I was off to pace Chris though loops 3 and 4. 

 Arrived at the 100 Mile tent ,   it housed the Timer, Aide Station and  Drop Bag area.   The tent was abuzz with anticipation ,  excitement and disappointment.  I checked the score board and was surprised to see 140+ runners in the 100 miler and was equally surprised to see a number of dropouts!  It was after 11pm and there was no sign of Chris ,  the loop was taking much longer then I thought it would.    The race officials were setting up a powerful heater in the drop bag area.   It was weird watching everyone coming through I really felt like I should be a participant not standing on the sidelines.  11:30 passed 4+hrs into to Chris's second loop.  Sometime between then and midnight Chris came in.   I quickly joined him,  asked if he still wanted me to go out with him and  it didn't take long for him to confirm that I was heading out with him.   I started in on my pacing assignment making sure that he got lots off food and drink.  I refilled his bladder but it was totally not need as it was already more or less full.   I was concerned because the first 1.5 loops were in 27+C heat so I assumed that he hadn't been drinking enough.    He was also complaining of swollen hands.    Chris had salt pills with him but hadn't taken any yet ,  I looked in his pack but couldn't find them.  I offered him my S Caps but he declined so we headed out.    This was Chris's first pacer experience so I suggested a couple of different ways we could approach things.  I let him lead for awhile but  that didn't seem to work so where is was open we ran side by side and I lead through the single track.   Chris stopped felt like he had to pee but every time he tried nothing would come out.  I figured that his body wasn't processing the fluids and insisted he have an S Cap at the first aide station.     The weather was really turning miserable,  the rain continued to fall and so did the temperatures.  The course was getting quite mucky in places and the water was beginning to pool.   I was wet , very wet and my feet were soaked and I was  worried about staying warm  but this wasn't about me  this was about getting Chris to the finish line.  8 miles into the loop there was a second aide station with lots of food options.   I made sure that Chis ate ,  drank and did another S Cap.  We didn't stay long but it was an effective stop.   The last half of the 16 mile loop was more difficult ,  lots of mucky deepely grooved single track with the odd rock and root hazardous to keep you on your toes.   On a positive note Chris started to pee  and the swelling was starting to subside.  The rain let up long enough to make us believe that it was over but just when we were starting to feel comfortable it poured again.    Chris was still moving very well but was concerned about finishing in a good time.   I told him we had  tons of time and that he could walk it home if he need to.  I told him that his only concern should be to finish and keep moving along.    He was worried about his potion relative to the others ... I told him that there were folks scattered throughout the course and there were as many behind as there were ahead of us.  There was a Woman from Texas running solo that we kept leap frogging.  We had some really good conversation that helped us to forget what we were doing and put some easy miles behind us.   We also kept leap frogging the pacer fro Toledo that I had meet hours earlier.  We were having fun and things were going pretty well until we neared the end of  loop 3.  The last 5K were nasty.  The course was pretty flat with no monster hills ideal for a 100 miler but what elevation there was occurred near the end.   It was rolling ,  mucky ,  slippery in spots and rather rough as we inched back to the start finish.   Between loops 3 and 4 we had a really productive sit down stop.    Chris downed 3  cups of hot pasta soup and changed into some dry and water proof clothing.  He ate and drank and we found his salt pills so he started in on them.  The stop was 5-10 minutes but it really made a difference.  I didn't have any dry clothes and was absolutely freezing starting to shiver. I didn't really feel like going back out but there was no way I was going to bail on Chris.   Because Chris had consumed so much I told him to walk the first K or two to allow his stomach to process the food and walk we did but I was having a tough go getting warm. It wasn't until we started to shuffle along again that I began to feel comfortable.  Chris was slowing down but I was still able to keep him moving along at a reasonable pace.   I would start running at a slow a pace as you can run  and Chris would be walking behind me.  I would ever so gradually pick up the pace until Chris broke into a run and then I would hold it there was long as possible.  Chris was now peeing allot ,  so much so that it began to freak him out thinking that something was wrong.   I told him that we would skip the salt pill at the next aide station!    It was still raining and the standing water became small unavoidable lakes.  The temperature continued to drop and the aide stations were full of semi hypothermic runners huddled around propane heaters ... how many had dropped I thought to myself.   Reaching the halfway point in loop 4 I once again set Chris down and had him eat 3 glasses of very hardy beef noodle soup.  Chris breathing was getting quite labored and he really need more calories .... soup,  bananas ,  ham and cheese sandwiches and an Orange GU Gel for desert.  My rule of thumb with Chris was if he was sitting on his ass he better be filling his face!   It was 8 miles back to the start finish ,  we  started slowly again to give Chis a chance to process his food.  Lack of hills meant very little walking so this was also a good break from  running.   Chris best  statement of the day was spoken " This is really hard"   ....  I  laughed and said something to the affect that if it wasn't hard he wouldn't be doing it!  Chris was now having a tough time running and was doing more walking.    His breathing was always labored when we were moving along but we kept going forward.   Chris was really beginning to worry that he was not going to have enough time to finish and I was constantly telling him not to worry and that he had tons of time to finish and if he had to he could walk it home with plenty of time to spare.   Just before sunrise the rain had stopped and a nice drying breeze had pick up.  I pointed out Venus in the east through some broken clouds and knew that better conditions were ahead.    Loop 4 was much slower then anticipated ,  wet muck conditions and the fact that Chris was closing in on 70 mile added an hour to our anticipated time. 
Chris was concerned about me missing my 50K race ,  I lied to  him telling him I would start the race late!  My feet were really sore after nearly 8 hours of running in the wet.  I was more then content pacing Chris instead on doing my event.  My "Woodstock Adventure"  with Chris was far better than any 50K I would do .... it really didn't matter!  By 08:00 am the sun was up and we were closing on the start finish    Unfortunately the shorter 5 and 10K races were being run and there was constant traffic coming at us from both directions so much so it was dizzying at times.  This was really hard for Chris to take and made the tough section all that much tougher as we were constantly stepping off the course.    It was 09:00 and when we emerged from the forest into  the campground area.  Krista was there ready to go and she ran into the tent with us.   Once again Chris was really in need of calories and we sat him down  and made sure he was eating.    I filled Krista in with all the what happened overnight and what she needed to do going forward.    They headed back out at 09:15 am  with 12hrs45 minutes to complete 2 16 mile loops.   Chris had ample time to finish his first 100 miler and could walk it home and most likely be finished before night fall.  As we parted ways they wished me luck on my race.  I just smiled and thanked them knowing that there was no way I was heading back out. 

 Satisfied that I had achieved yet another great 2012 running adventure I packed up my car,  downed a  Red Bull and headed home.  I spent the entire drive and most of the  thinking about Chris and Krista closing in the  finish. 

PS ... I wrote this before I knew how Chris made out but I am betting on  the face that he finished up around 9pm. 


Anne said...

So how many hours were you awake??

West Grey Runner said...


Double Bellybuster said...

So when the nude and clothed runners split, which way did you go?