I have taken some time to craft this, instead of my usual "sit at the keyboard and type the first things that come to mind". However, I am motivated by the supreme efforts I saw at Western States to put a little more thought into this one.
First off, big job by Gabe and Rick Mayo in pulling out sub-24 hour finishes! I'm not going to say any more on that, anyone who didn't already know these guys are animals has a lot of catching up to do on the local ultra scene.
I was pacing Willie. First time pacing, ever. First time on WS course for Willie and I. Maybe first time in history that a WS rookie has chosen as a pacer someone who has not even ran 100 in one week, let alone one day! I can't describe how amped I was. I had my race gear on way before necessary, and as Willie entered Michigan Bluff I thought I was going to jump out of my own skin. At that point, I could have paced an elite.
Except, a great many elites had already dropped by mile 55ish. Think stifling heat. Unforgiving terrain. Lots of folks who had previously dreamed of doing WS, and maybe even finishing top twenty, suddenly thought of something better to do:
- "Maybe I left the light on in the hotel room? I'd better go check!"
- "I haven't called my Aunt Mildred in awhile! Somebody point me to a pay phone immediately."
I won't detail the overnight trip. Willie has already blogged about it. And while I don't remember reading this anywhere, I like to think that the little things that pacers and their runners share should be kept inside. It's a special thing, like the time your Dad drove you down a country road, tossed you the keys, and gave you the go-ahead to take the wheel. Somehow, the telling wouldn't do it justice.
I wanted to leave a note on his blog. Text maybe. Or maybe send a card. How do you explain to someone that you learned more about running from their example than anything you've witnessed to date? What version of Hallmark card will convey the appropriate message to a man who has trashed himself for 26 hours and still retains the will to do battle? How do you reconcile with being back in the real world, away from the trail, everything is so surreal because the effort, the WORK that you witnessed still brings tears gushing out of your eyes five days later?
I have no idea what to do, so I'm posting this instead...thanks for the keys, boss.
Peace, Lee C.