Putting Together the Team
|September 9, 2019||Posted by Melinda under Uncategorized|
It’s really hard to ask for help.
I try to avoid it at all costs.
Let’s talk about the Rio 100 mile race.
The first year I had a crew person and multiple pacers. I finished!…..and I drove myself home. (Bad Mel!)
The second year I had a crew person and no pacers. I did not finish. I drove myself home again. (Never ever again. I promise)
Obviously, the logical thing this year is to change something. Wanna hear my plan? Wait for it….wait for it…..
- No crew, no pacer (but I did get my husband to agree to drive me home).
I held onto this fantasy for about a month. Truthfully, it had less to do with what I thought it would actually take to finish the race, and more to do with not wanting to inconvenience anyone. If I’m being even more honest, it was more about being able to fail quietly, without anyone noticing.
No team means I’ll just be able to drift away in silence. No one screaming in my ear that I need to dig deeper and harder. The truth is, when there’s no one watching I don’t have to try as hard. There’s no one to disappoint at the next aid station. Pacers that showed up to run and wait, watching the minutes slip away. Looking that crew member in the eye who just slept for 7 hours in a parking lot so that they could give me exactly what I needed in 30 seconds so I had a chance to beat the next cut-off but not making it after all.
I’m better at being disappointed when I’m all by myself. I can pretend that it’s not quite as disheartening to fail….again.
Apparently, despite paying a $400 entry fee, I’ve already resigned myself to not finishing.
A kinder interpretation is that since the stakes higher this year than previous years, and the outcome not certain (as what happens anytime you toe the start line of a 100), I’m following my tendency to push others away when I really need to focus.
Probably a little of both. It’s complicated. It’s always complicated when you are going to make a poor decision.
The problem is that my virgin 100 mile self had it right. I need people to get this done. Running a 100 is about reaching deep and giving everything, but it’s also about leaning on the people around you. It’s about not worry about finding your drop bag because someone has already found it for you and is looking for you to come in off the trail. It’s knowing that your crew person is waiting, a spare set of filled water bottles in hand ready to stuff into your pack if there’s ZERO time to waste. It’s about knowing that at a critical moment your friend and pacer next to you won’t let you not push hard enough or push too hard on the trail when the sun is rising a second time and nothing is working properly, especially your brain.
Tonight I asked two people to help me get through Rio Del Lago in November.
The first person I asked is one of the best running crew people I’ve ever had – Aurora. She nails it every time. Crewing a 100 is rather thankless work. You see your runner for 2 minutes every 5ish hours. And then, last year I didn’t even finish. She gave up her entire weekend to pat me on the back and stuff food in my vest and struggle with my water bottles.
“I don’t know if you want to do this again….but if you do, I ‘d rather have you than anyone else.”
That went well. Thus emboldened I contacted another friend who has never paced me before but I trust for this race.
“Hey…..what are doing this year at Rio?” (a valid question since she’s always volunteering to do something or other).
Turns out, she wouldn’t mind pacing me into the finish. Is glad I asked. Happy to help out.
Just like that, my rio team is set. A pacer, a crew person, and a ride home.
My odds of finishing just went way up.
Let’s talk about training.
I haven’t done enough 100 mile races to know the magic formula that gets me to the finish line more times than not. But, I’m going to try to make the magic happen again this year. Here’s the plan (54 days until RDL 100, about 45 useable training days if you count on a 10 day taper, and since I refuse to run every day, I have about 20 runs left, of which 6 could be long runs).
- Stay uninjured. That was a major problem last year, but aside from that month of ulcers and drama after the 100k this summer, I’m uninjured in all the way ways that matter this year.
- Do more road running. The first year I ran Rio I did a LOT of running behind a stroller, meaning I did a lot of street running. Since then I’ve ditched my town job for jobs near trails, and the newborn is a heavy thirty pound toddler. No more stroller running. Road running stresses my body in a completely different way than the trails do. Because the first 19 miles of Rio is relatively flat, paved bike trails and roads, getting some long runs in town is really important. The nine miles I did yesterday through the streets was way harder on my legs than the 18 miles I did the previous weekend. I think one reason I had dead legs at Rio last year was the lack of street training. My plan is to squeeze in a couple of 10 mile road runs from my house, and do the actual 19 mile loop on the course for a long run.
- Pre-run the 22 mile loop at Auburn Lakes. This is the loop I do in the middle of the night and also has most of the climbing. I’m joining a group of fellow runners in a couple of weekends to run this loop in the dark. Should be fun! I love running in the dark, but there’s enough mountain lions out there I won’t do it by myself. Some day I’ll see that trail in the daylight right?
- Keep on my interval runs and strides to keep my leg speed fast.
- Work on my hill hiking and walking speed.
- I’ve signed up for what I think will be a difficult 50K that is about 1 month prior to Rio. Likely this will be my longest training run. It would have been nice to do a 50 mile race, but time and finances prevented it this year. I ran Loco 100k an hour faster than last year on a difficult snow year, so I have to believe in my base and work on other things. I have to remember that I finished RDL 100 in 2016, my first 100 mile, having gone no more than 50 miles. A good 100k effort a few months ago is fine.
Great post. Glad to see everything is working out well. I completely get what you are saying about asking for help on event like these. I tend to do most of my training alone and absolutely hate the idea of having someone wait around for me- perhaps hours- especially if there is a chance I might not even show up. I think it was easier for my first few ultras because, having come from road races, the thought of not finishing wasn’t even a thing. Now, after a few DNFs, it’s very much a thing. Looking forward to seeing you out there.
A season a DNF’s was definitely eye-opening for me for sure. I too started out in Road marathons so the idea that I couldn’t just make it happen all the way to the finish line was definitely humbling. Good luck at Rio and maybe we’ll see each other on the course!
I am always amazed at how happy people are to help…even thought I personally *love* to help. Whassup with THAT blind spot?
Before my (first) hip surgery, a very kind and wise friend held me by the ears, looked into my eyes (the only way to be sure I’m paying attention) and said, “if you don’t ask for help, you will hurt my feelings.” I’d never considered that. Its makes asking much more do-able.
It really is a huge blind spot! I will do better….
The hardest part about a twin pregnancy was having to learn to ask for help. Luckily, after 9 months of pregnancy and 3 years of being a twin mom I have learned…
I still can barely bring myself to do it. I hate it.
Oh good. Then I will have blog material for years. Since my inability to ask for help definitely makes for some interesting times.