Early October was a complete whirlwind for me - too much adventure and not enough sleep. But, when do we ever complain about that combination? For most weeks of the year, I live the life of your typical 40-hour a week employee. I sit at a desk, cranking out memos, answering emails, sitting in meetings to discuss necessary upgrades to our wastewater treatment plant or to strategize about the best method for plowing the 120 miles of roadway in our Town. My time away from work is when I feel alive, when I truly get to follow my passion - so I take advantage of every opportunity that comes my way!
Brian decided to run Grindstone 100 to close out his season - and asked that I travel with him to support him during the race. I was excited, since I really enjoy the Grindstone 100 event, so I was glad for an opportunity to return to the race...and even more excited that I would get to support Brian along the way. The plan was to crew Brian for the first 80 miles, then pace him in for the last 20 miles.
Brian has had a long season, so he was very much at the end of his season with this race. I spent much of the race doing my best to keep his head in the game. The race starts at 6pm, so there's the added challenge of running at night for the early miles - which I find just makes runners feel more isolated and lonely. Luckily, Brian seemed to be running with another guy (from Norway, I believe), and they are comfortably tied for 3rd for the first half of the race, passing miles with each other.
At mile 65, Brian came in alone in 3rd place - complaining that he just didn't feel committed to racing and was thinking of stopping. I ran the first mile out of the aid station with him to try to cheer him up a bit, and told him that I would be ready to run with him the next time I saw him (at mile 80). I knew he was in a bad place - and on my short mile jog back to the car, I saw that he had about 4 guys on his tail so there was no room for doubts.
The lead runner (Avery Collins) came through mile 80 when I was taking a brief nap in the car. I watched the #2 runner pass through the aid station, and while he was running well, he looked a bit worn down. If Brian could get motivated, I knew he could potentially track this guy down.
Brian and I headed out of the aid station together, he was about 40 minutes back on #2 (ok, so maybe we can't catch this guy after all). Brian was moving well - he was more unmotivated to move well rather than particularly hurting or tired. I did my best to motivate him - especially when (at one point) we could hear someone through the trees so we knew we were being caught. The miles seemed to drag on, and Brian cursed me every time I said 'I think that's the top of the climb there'.
Finally, we dropped into the mile 88 aid station, and found out that the gap to the 2nd place guy had shrunk to 20 minutes. I lied to Brian and said that he was only 10 minutes ahead, and Brian immediately responded. He aggressively attacked the last climb of the race to see if we could catch that runner (or at least gap whoever was on our tail). However, his energy burst was short lived, and he was back to a leisurely pace once the climb was over. No matter how much I tried to motivate him (telling him how hot his ass was, telling him that 'f-ing pussies walk this uphill, B-dogs run!', whatever), he basically swore back at me and told me he couldn't go any faster. He was getting increasingly annoyed at me and I was out of ideas.
We got to the mile 95 aid station - only 5 relatively easy miles to go. The 2nd place guy was only 5 minutes ahead of us now, but Brian was content to let him have 2nd place. 'I won't be that jack ass to pass him at mile 98 just to overtake 2nd place' he told me. I reminded him that this is a race - but I completely get where he's coming from.
After some water over the head, and a popsicle to go, we headed out. Brian walked the first bit, insisting that he needed to finish his popsicle before he ran again. Just as he was finishing it off, Matt Thompson (who had been running in 4th since at least mile 65) steam rolled past us. Brian did his best to stay with him, but was quickly shaken off his pace as Matt powered up a hill. Brian told me 'I can't do it, I just can't stay with him', and I responded that I was proud no matter what place he finished.
However, on the next uphill, Brian looked ahead and saw that Matt wasn't extending his lead - he had put in just enough of a push to gap us. Brian suddenly started running hard to catch up, then pass and gap Matt. It happened so suddenly that it caught me off guard - I caught up to Matt (and his pacer John) and hung with them - I didn't want to pull them up to Brian, and given how annoyed Brian was with me anyway I figured it was best to let him go.
I ultimately took a short cut to the finish, and was pleased to see that Brian ultimately 'unleashed the B-dog' and caught up to the 2nd place runner. They came in together (after trying to break each other for a few miles) then watched Matt (who started the whole finish placing shuffle) finish a few minutes back for a strong 4th place. It was awesome!
Brian and I got a quick shower, then jumped in the car to drive home - knowing that I have precious few hours before I was flying to England.