October 5, 2003
Back to Valencia and Magic Mountain for the best deal of the year. Leading up to this race, I had a long layoff (race-wise), so I am somewhat fresh (or out of shape).
A few weeks back, I did have a little ultra-viewing adventure when Todd Rose, Bernard and I went to help out at the Angeles Crest 100 miler. This is a race that begins in Wrightwood, CA, and then runs trails through the mountains and ends in Pasadena.
One of my good friends from the hash met her husband who was running this event.
In 100 milers, runners will often get a pacer or pacers to help them from a certain point on to the end. A pacer is on hand to keep a runner company when he is struggling, but cannot carry supplies or water for the runner. My friend Ellen was asked by friends of the friend to be Gary’s pacer from Mile 90 to the end.
Runners may often be delirious towards the end of a race, so as a pacer, you have to be encouraging as well. Gary told Ellen that no matter what he says, just to encourage him to the finish… no matter what.
Well, Gary started feeling some discomfort and complaining in the last few miles, but Ellen kept egging him on even though he really wanted to quit. Gary ended up collapsing around a mile from the finish and had to taken to the hospital with severe dehydration and kidney issues. All of Gary’s friends were mad at Ellen for not really listening to him, but somehow this turned into a real love story.
Anyway, we knew at least 3 people running this race – Jasper, William (aka “Black ‘n’ Blood” from the hash) and Gary. We were at Chilao Flats and helping out at the aid station and watching. Also, I said that I might pace Jasper for 10 miles if he needed it.
Around noon, Jasper drove up in a car, because he had started out too slowly and missed the first cutoff before even marathon distance. At around 5pm, Black’n’Blood, accompanied by a couple of pacers (he could have pacers for the entire race if he wanted because he was over 60) came through. “Black” is pretty headstrong, so when he came in, he said, “Let’s just get through here quickly,” once he was weighed to make sure he hadn’t lost too much weight. His pacers had a different plan for him. One said, “Sit down and shut up! You’re changing your shoes and you’re drinking 16 ounces of liquid.”
“Fine!” he snarled, but did exactly what they told him.
Runners came running or shuffling in, but soon we were right upon the time cutoff… and Gary hadn’t come in yet. The count was running down… Gary needed to be OUT of the aid station by 8pm. Suddenly, at 7:58pm, Gary came fast-walking through. They quickly weighed him, he ingested nothing and sped out of the aid station just in time… where we brought him some soup and refreshment (which he puked up), and then he dropped out of the race 30 minutes later.
In fact, none of my three friends finished, but it showed me the great rule of completing any distance ultra – fitness is important, but confidence and persistence is what gets you to the finish.
Which takes me to the Magic Mountain 5K. I felt fresh enough for the first mile, where I ran 6:41, but then had to walk the hill (in a 5K!). I finished in 24:30. Maybe I am just getting slower.
This was probably the best showing of people at this race. I have run it at least 5 times, and I have never gotten more than 1 or 2 people to come with me, but there were at least 12 people doing the race and enjoying the park afterwards. One of my favorite moments was waiting in line with my friend Dorothy (who graduated from the same high school as me, but 12 or 13 years before me) for a number of roller coasters and then she would carefully walk over the ride and head straight for the exit. At least we got to have a nice conversation while we were in line!