On May 14th at East Creek Ranch in Los Olivos Luis Escobar hosted the inaugural Born To Run Race. Distances included 10, 31, 62 and 100 miles. The course can be described as rolling fire roads and single track through a working cattle ranch of around 8000 acres and is 100% runnable on 100% dirt. This weekend also marked a new beginning for my involvement in running because instead of toeing the line I volunteered. Overall the run was an overwhelming success (for those who didn't DNF) and for me a great learning experience. This is the account of a runners perspective and now a first time volunteer experience (note: I said first time, not only time volunteering...semantics or not I will volunteer again). This time, I was going to be First Aid Guy!
Early Friday evening the Honda minivan was loaded and dinner complete. My kids were finished with dinner and bath time and set for bed. I said goodbye and headed south to Los Olivos. The drive time was a short 50 minutes and pulling into the ranch was like a step back in time. My previous experience with one of Luis' runs was this past November for the Red Rock 40 where the run was fairly remote and camping was the best option. In November about 35 to 50 people camped out. It is what I somewhat expected, ya know a low key, love to run, runners for runners camp time. Coming down the hill I could sparsely see the actual number of people. Pulling in to the left and looking around I found Thomas and Benjamin hanging out by a little fire. Good thing too because there was at least 300 people there. Runners with families and loved ones were scattered along a couple flat spots along the road to the start finish line. This is where I found Lou. He gave me a spot and so I parked the van and set up for tomorrow. Jeepers there were a lot of people. All kinds of barefoot people, kind of like a renaissance fair without the idiots fighting with sticks. Hay bales, fires, some buzzed people, various food stuff, a lot of laughter and great stories that were typically run related. My time was short for the evening festivities. Ultimately I spoke to those who I knew, took a shot of Yeagermeister with Thomas and then went to bed. It was fairly noisy at first and then Lou put everyone to bed. He got on the microphone and told everyone to go to bed. At this point I can only guess that the time was about 10pm. A short evening was fine, tomorrow is going to be long.
WAKE UP TIME!
4:50am. Music fills the cool, moist air and then Lou once again gets on the mic and tells everyone to get up. Country music followed the announcement and kept everyone awake....I am sure of it. I wouldn't be surprised if the Chamberlins heard it. I stayed in the van as long as I could and then I just had to get up and go pee. TMI? too bad. Coffee, coffee, coffee....OH YEAH!!!! coffee. Kept that shit rolling all morning. Never too much coffee, until you get heart palpitations. I digress. The morning time went by pretty quick. This is when I noticed I wasn't running. No need to eat right away, no worries about porta-pottie lines. Just relax and do whatever is asked of me. Luis was checking people in and other people were getting their perspective jobs done. So I set up the first aid area and then waited. I snapped a few pictures here and there. Then it was time to get going.
This event is very special in that it hosted a barefoot or very minimalist shoe category. I have to think that is why there was the 10 mile category. The course is on dirt, ranch type service roads. In other words they were sun hardened and covered in loose pebbles and embedded with rocks. Really NOT comfortable to run on and the barefoot running was more like barefoot walking. A lot of people were wearing sandal type shoes. Some crazy dude even went 62 miles in them. Seriously, I am friken impressed as hell on that one. Not to be out done, except he definitely was, Mauricio ran the ENTIRE 50 kilometers sans shoes, sandals or even socks. The dude went with what he was born with. In the end, or after he finished his 30 miles, he smiled and went about his business. What a cool cat!!! As far as 100K sandal man, I am also very impressed. Your feet are going to hurt after running 62 miles on almost any surface with shoes on, this guy put only 5mm to 10mm of material between his feet and the hard pack and finished it. Plus he provided the wake up music and I liked it so he's cool in my book. Some of the other barefoot people sorta rubbed me the wrong way. Typically I am not a shit talker: when you scratch someones car you say sorry, if you want to be part of a conversation you work your way into it you don't friken interject your out of place thoughts on half information and you don't use other peoples events to schlep your shit. Just sayin.' I should say more because this is my phuqin blog. Like I said he rubbed me the wrong way, came across as arrogant, self serving and a phuqin know-it-all. What an ass-ho.
The barefoot aspect of the race brought to my attention that there are a lot of people out there trying to get into the au-natural. I support it completely. A really good book that I read on this is "The Barefoot Running Book" by Jason Robillard. It is a fantastic book with a ton of drills and safe, stepwise directions to bring you into barefoot running slowly. It was free from Running Warehouse (http://www.runningwarehouse.com/). So you don't end up in a boot with a stress fracture read as much information as you can before you forget your shoes. On that note, some of the people using minimalist shoes or sandals probably shouldn't have. The idea is to let your foot work naturally and efficiently, that just wasn't happening with everyone in minimal wear. If you are going to go this way you need to do it right. Get the book.
Helping the Runners:
When I found out I didn't have to work this weekend I told Louis I would help him. After an exchange of notes through facebook he told me to help with the start finish line aid station and be the first aid guy. Perfect, I can do that, it will be just like work...only different. I know what I like when I come into an aid station and I have taken note of the workers' demeanor and attitude while visiting aid stations. So, all I have to do is keep smiling, tell each runner they look awesome and ask, "what do you want in your bottles?" So that's what I did or I should say tried to do.
|Tim Cullum at the table before it was raided!|
The end of the 10 miler was sorta frantic. People were finishing and crowding the start/ finish area and the others who were trying to continue their journey were struggling to get their bottles filled (one water jug & one sports drink jug), get marked and accounted for before heading out. Actually, the busier it was, the more fun it was because I didn't have to struggle with my ADD. Busy is kind of fun. This went on for a while and then about every hour and a half to two hours there would be a string of runners coming through. So this is what I did. And drank coffee. After a few hours my first hurt individual came in. The persons problem isn't so different that what I hear from runners at my work. I get information regarding an on going problem about a muscle that hurts when running but not otherwise so it is forgotten when the run is over and not ever dealt with. So I helped this guy out as best as possible. He eventually dropped. That sucks, until I saw him pilfer a couple gu packets to take with him after he dropped. What a dick. If you toe the line, it is better to go at it a little out of shape and healthy than a little hurt and sorta in shape.
With regards to the types of injuries, it was really a reoccurring theme. The day was cool so there weren't any heat related injuries. One very minor blister problem. I mostly saw muscle imbalance problems and I actually helped one guy finish with some muscle therapy work and another with a modified arch tape job. Other than that, I helped out where I could. Some of the time I read my book. Lou made an announcement that I would do massages, which is true and I did for two people. I think overall I helped about a dozen people. I am glad it wasn't more which means that if I am working hard, that means people are hurt.
There wasn't a defining event, a special case or even an overly interesting case to mark my help with the aid station and first aid table. A couple people had some pretty bad problems that had started long before they showed up to Born To Run. I did try to help Benjamin Bruno. He had a little stomach problem he couldn't shake. He is a cool guy and I wish the best for him the rest of the season. Too bad BTR didn't work for him. Some of the most fun I had was with Thomas in the morning. One great moment and a first for me was when the ice cream sandwiches were brought out. Man o man!!! I couldn't resist. Most couldn't!
We were under the influence of a lot of coffee, or at least I was so I thought a ton of stuff was funnier than it actually was. Like this poor dog that was trying to puke. Poor guy looked like he got hammered last night.
I tried to read my new book, "Relentless Forward Progress," so far it is a great book and also worth reading. Mostly, as soon as the reading started someone else would need help so after a while I gave up on reading. So that was it. I smiled. I filled bottles and I chatted to some people whenever the chance presented itself. This went on for about 10 or so hours.
Chance of a Lifetime:
At 60 miles in Guillermo Medina was having a little trouble and requested Luis to maybe find him a pacer for 70 miles to the finish. Luis asked if anyone would be interested in pacing him on the next round . No one was stepping forward. The guy is going to be 70 miles into his run, how friken fast can he be going? Really, no body came forward. I was a little reserved because I ran Miwok last weekend...Then Lou asked if I would, so I said hell yeah! At 6pm I was ready to go and waited. Guillermo came through and decided to wait until mile 80 for a pacer. Good thing, I had to shit. TMI? too bad it is integral to this part, then I had to go again. Once more. AND, are you friken kidding me. What the hell was in the chicken noodle soup?!!!!? Anyway, I tried to chill out and eventually continued my aid station duties in between running off to the outhouse (Don't worry, I used lots of hand sanitiser and rubbing alcohol). At 7:45 a wave of fatigue hit me so I went to my van to take a little rest. At 8 or so Topher knocked on the van and said, "Guillermo is pretty wasted, you ready to go?" I was, sorta, and the sweats came off as I tried to get myself together. It was getting cold and the sky was getting dark. The moon was three quarters full and provided some light. That would be short lived. We started moving away from camp...I was in it, I really wanted to do this, I couldn't back out no matter what was happening with my gut.
The run was cool. I asked him what he wanted. He just didn't want to quit. I couldn't help but laugh because I thought that was the main duty of a pacer. He also requested a half hourly alarm so he could fuel and take an S Cap. We took off slowly. You have to feel for a person that has put in 80 miles. His stomach was good, energy was up but his legs were hurting. He had been dealing with a calf issue that considerably hacked away weekly miles. This put him out of shape and his legs were feeling it. I know his pain and the irony of us running together is fitting. At the first aid station I saw Ethan, he looked shitty and I wish I could have helped him too. I tried to give him some encouraging words. He was fighting himself and he needed someone to push him. We didn't stop for anything, just looked and then kept moving. Around three miles in my take home prize from last week came back to haunt me. My IT band reminded me that this was recovery time. Too late now. We chatted about all kinds of stuff, running, life, injuries, soccer and his legs. When it finally got dark enough we put on the headlamps. His battery was dead, luckily he had another...aaaaand that battery was just about dead. He put it on and we went. I ran beside him and behind a little so he could benefit from my lite. Eventually I just gave him mine and I used his and followed behind. 90 minutes in my stomach paid me an unwanted visit. This is a nightmare!!! I am supposed to be helping this guy and my knee hurts and I have stomach issues...at this point I feel like a total douche bag. I caught up and we continued the journey. We passed the last aid and then headed up the hill where he told me a great story how he was touring the property on his bike when a bull approached him. He was trying to get off the ranch and he was forced to turn around and find another way. Every time he would go forward, the bull would close the gap. Scary deal and once again I can relate. At the top we fell into a cool running rhythm and spoke very little. The weather turned a beautiful night dark and it began to sprinkle. Coming into the camp I told him I was embarrassed that I was broken and I my stomach had me doing the duck walk again. He stayed at his camp spot and I went ahead to find another pacer. Just my luck a guy was waiting at the start finish with Guillermos wife and that was it for me. As he left for his last lap I thanked him for the opportunity...then he finished. Congratulations Guillermo, you are a model for all dads, husbands and runners.
I changed my clothes and the rain picked up a light but steady pace. I stood under my little pop up tent and then said phuket, I am going to sleep, it was after 11 and I could feel a cold coming on.
At 5:30 am I woke up for no apparent reason. I needed way more sleep. It just wasn't going to happen. I got dressed and then started cleaning up my shit that no one really needed. The I started helping Lou who was already hard at the process. He, Tim and a few others pitched in to help. Hell, even Micah, who had finished the 100 miler came and helped. Once again we drank lots of coffee. mmmmmm coffee!!!!! Beverly came out and joined us too. I am glad I had the chance to talk with her again. Her and Lou are good people. After the clean up was completed Lou was heading out to get some markers and other stuff from around the course. He shook my hand and said thanks and "sorry I don't have anything for you." Meaning no thank you gifts and honestly I did expect anything. The experience was a lot. I am not gona lie, I would have liked a shirt because they were bitchen...except he ran out. So I left. Went home and took a nap.
1- If you aren't ready to be a pacer, didn't plan on being a pacer, your stomach giving you troubles and your body isn't ready to run at least 20 miles. Don't be a fukin pacer. I am embarrassed and ashamed of myself for doing it and obviously it was hard to say no.
2- Next year if I don't get into Miwok I will run the 100K. If I do get into Miwok I will offer my services again. Only this time do it on a more limited and defined basis. I felt like it was too long and I also felt like I didn't do enough. I hate that feeling.
3- Next year advertise my pacing services for those in the 100 miler for the last thirty. This way I will be expecting to do it and will eat and drink accordingly. That is if I get into Miwok.
4- Dont camp by the start/ finish line.
5- Bring a friend or wife and kids or someone who will give me entertainment for the whole time.
6- Be ready for all day eating. Having all that crap food sitting in front of my face is hard to resist. OK impossible to resist and reaching into communal food bowls when you know there isn't running hot water for 5 miles is asking to get sick. Hand sanitiser only works if you use it.
7- Bring pitchers and my own water jugs to the next event, even if I am running it. Two little five gallon jugs just don't do it well enough. Hell, I may even bring my electric pumper next year. AND!!! For sure I am bringing a sign that says first aid.