This was a first for me, a race that I was running for someone else. Throw ego to the side, and realize that you are there for the runner you're pacing, not for yourself. Some time ago, a friend of mine announced he was running the Mother Road 100 Part 2. I told him if he did, I wanted to pace him. He said, "I sort of had you in mind." This was to be his longest race ever. I won't go into his ups and downs before the race, you can read his blog if you care for the background. If I had not had pacing duties, I would have run a 12k yesterday. I thought I could do both, but I decided to check my ego, and not run it so as to be well rested when my pacing duties started. The 100 mile race started at 9:00 a.m. Saturday morning. The plan was for me to jump in at mile 67 and basically run with him through the night and on to the finish line. I woke up that morning very early, and decided to go out to the 12k and volunteer. I had a great time there and for one of the few times got to see a race from start to finish. It was inspiring to see both the front runners kicking butt, and the back of the packers just enduring to the end. After that, I went home to piddle until that night. I knew I needed to nap, but just wasn't tired. I watched football, but again was getting restless. So I decided to find my way to finish line parking and see if I could find a ride to the meeting place aid station. I waited in my car and listened to the end of the OSU-Texas Tech game. I saw someone picking up a pacer, turned out I knew the pacer and they agreed to take me to my meeting place. My runner was running a bit behind schedule, so I went out to meet him. He was in good spirits, this is around mile 65, and was actually assisting another runner. He whispered to me that he was going to make sure this runner made it to the 72 mile aid station, and leaving it up to him whether to continue. We did that, and the runner stayed at the aid station. I don't know if he finished. This aid station was a weigh in point, and Joel was right at the limit, so he hustled out before they had time to do the math. He said he was really a little heavy at the initial weigh in, and he was not concerned that he was not taking in enough calories. We pushed on to the loneliest part of the race. This was a 6 mile stretch of dirt road that crew vehicles were not allowed on. Did I mention that it is now around 2:00 a.m and cold cold cold. I had dressed warmly enough, but I always have issues with my hands. This night was no different. It was hard to navigate this section, there were several forks in the road, but we finally figured out that they had thrown ribbons on the correct road. This would be a very hard section by yourself, and after that many miles you'd be a bit punch drunk. I would guess that several people dropped after this section because of that and the cold. Joel decided that when we finished this part, and got back to our crew vehicle, we would have to sit inside for a while to warm up. He had put together the perfect crew, this guy, Michael, was the right man for the job, and assisted Joel with his every need. The car was showing around 35 degrees. Joel was also starting to have some foot issues, 78 miles by now, go figure. He took care of them, and we headed out for the next section. It was a low point for Joel again, but again he persevered. By the time we made the next section, the sun was coming up, and so were his spirits. We started running more than before, and made our next section in good time. Joel had goals, but in my mind my only job was to listen to him, and get him to the finish line safely and under the 30 hour cut off. I gently pushed him, but this was not a kick him in the pants for some unimportant time goal. Joel was really hurting on the last section, but he smelled victory and kept moving. Our pace was slowing, and quite honestly I was getting a bit sore. We were going slow, but over 30 miles is still a long way. However, I knew I wasn't going to get any sympathy from a man on his 95th plus mile. Joel's family started showing up as we neared the finish. He was hurting big time, he didn't give me all the details, I'm sure by this time just talking is a big effort. But it was clear he was just pushing the pain aside and concentrating on the finish. I honestly gained more and more admiration for him as he pushed on. This race has a cruel finish, you turn through a gate and think the finish line is not far and then you see a sign that says "only 1.5 miles to the finish."
Nonetheless he persevered until the end. I am sore after my 35 miles, but so glad that I got to be a small part of this impressive showing by Joel. Great job man.