Crewing for Joe - Pinhoti 100

Categories: race   roadtrip   running   support   Uncategorized

Last weekend, Roman and myself headed out to Alabama with The Goat to support him during his effort to run the Pinoti 100 mile endurance run. Later in the evening, we were joined by Coach K and the mysterious lean and mean Clay.

I was primary out there as the driver and photographer, while everyone else was moral support and pacers.

Here is some of the highlights and interesting things from the race:

For those curious, Joe’s longest training run was around 30 miles, done back to back with a 14-16 mile day. He spent a lot of time training with Doug and Gary. I don’t think this is typical mileage for this type of race, but it seemed to work since he was in the top 10 for the first 2/3rds of the race. The plan was to keep up with Doug for as long as possible, which he did until almost mile 55.

The bus to the start was leaving at 4:00. Our plan was to be there at 3:45, so meet Doug and Gary in the lobby at 3:30.

At 2:55, Joe is running around getting ready, so I get up to help with foot taping and getting him out the door. We get downstairs at 3:33, D&G nowhere to be seen. Some other guy is peacefully having a bowl of cereal tells up to relax, because we have plenty of time. While asking the desk clerk to call them up, we slip in “why didn’t we get our wakeup call?” She was kind enough to not laugh at us as she explained it was only 2:30, not 3:30.  The clock in our room was set to an hour ahead.

Doh! At least there was plenty of time for breakfast.

We were hoping to catch Joe, Doug and Gary at Aid 3, but we missed them by about a 1/2 hour, putting them almost an hour ahead of the expected pace. Oops, guess we need to plan on Joe’s love of speed ahead of time. Our understanding is this is about the point Joe asked Doug “Why are all these guys walking up the hills this early?” To which, Doug gave the now legendary answer of “Don’t worry, you’ll figure it out.” (Let the record show that at mile 70, Joe did indeed learn his lesson. Clay has suggested he is now qualified to read “The Tortoise and the Hare” to his daughter.)

On the way up here, we saw an area wiped out by a tornado a few months ago. The damage was mighty!

We decided to skip Aid 4, and jump to Aid 5. Since no one was there yet, we had time to head inland for photos. I was going to try to go a 1/2 mile out, but felt good, and went a bit further. So this kept the streak alive for Saturday. Plus, my photos are a bit different than everyone else’s. Coming back, I missed a switchback and went under a tree. Realizing this wasn’t the way I came, I headed back, talked to the race director about it. He knew right where I was talking about, and I headed back out with a few extra flags to mark the trail better and build a minor barricade. Cool, now I feel useful.

Around this point (barely a marathon into the race), everyone still looked fresh.

By the way, if I didn’t mention it, it was really pretty out there, with fall colors and everything. Scenic 2

Here’s the Goat rolling into aid station 6. Almost looks fresh, 30 miles in. At this point, he changed one of the insoles of his shoes, and I’m sorry to say, I was a bit too close to his shoes. Joe, your feet stank!!! Aid 6-31-Joe And here is the guy rolling into aid station 8. Doug had pulled a few minutes ahead, and Joe hooked up with Prince (in purple. I forget who the other guy in this picture is.) Roman is in this picture too, because he went down the road to check on him and run ahead back to the station to get everything he needed. Aid 8-11 At the next station we went to, number 10, they had a rocking party happening. Everyone’s crew was there waiting, they had a huge PA system going blasting some Rock ‘n Roll, a good fire, and everyone was in good spirits. This was really the beginning of the hard night. Well, the next leg was easy, but then it kicked in. I guess. Driving wise, it was all the same to me. :)

Throughout the day, we saw one guy (who’s name I forget) who was looking pretty rough. At every station, he looked like it was going collapse, or start hurling, or both. He kept asking how far ahead someone was, then would take off after him. At one point, I asked what he wanted, he said some “Tums”, so I asked if the aid station had any, and no one did. I felt a little bad about that for a little while. Come station 13, he decided to drop out, and we gave him a ride to 16, where he knew someone. I can understand him being upset about dropping out, which he was. But the ride over, he was giving all of us a hard time because we weren’t running. When we mentioned some upcoming marathons, he conceitedly said “oh, you like doing the shorter stuff.” It was pretty annoying.

Also at 13, Joe headed out for the next 17 miles with Clay as his pacer. There would be no crew support for him, only 2 aid stations about every 5 miles. So, we had plenty of time to waste, so headed into town to drop the second car off. We got back to the station about 2.5 hours later, and figured we had a little more time to waste. Roman and Clay promptly took advantage and went to sleep. I hung out with the volunteers for a while. And a while longer. Then it got colder. I kept hanging out, waiting eagerly, cow bell ready. A few hours later, the first runner finally came through. They were pretty beat up, but after a few minutes rest, off they took. The radio guy asked me to run down to the next station and make sure everyone was awake, because they couldn’t reach them on the radio.

Well, we continued to wait. R&R continued to get some R&R. at about 2:30 AM, I decided to get my mile in for the day, since I had to keep the streak alive. So I headed a 1/2 mile up the trail. Oh my! I felt like I was in the middle of the Blair Witch Project. It was spooky, and my flashlight kept going out. I didn’t see anyone, or hear anyone, and it was really, really dark. So I did the absolute 1 mile minimum and was happy. (here’s a shot from aid station 13, very dark.)

Aid 12-14-Joe gets a peptalk A while later, I was hanging out again, and the radio guy rolled down the window: “Anyone waiting for runner 55?” Yeah, I am. “He dropped out at station 15, go get him.”

Uh, the only problem is, we were told very specifically there was no crew access. The road is completely inaccessible. So, I asked the guy what we’re supposed to do, and after going back and forth for a while, he said Joe would have to walk out. Well, he can’t continue, otherwise he would be heading down the trail.

So, rallying the troops, I talk to Ryan: “Hey, wanna go get Joe and walk him in.” Before he had a chance to respond, the guy standing next to us jumped in “I’ll go with you, since I’m just waiting for my guy.” This was Tom, who happened to by the same guy we saw about 24 hours ago in the hotel, telling us to relax, there was plenty of time. They took off, and I head to the car to get a few minutes of sleep (which at this point, I hadn’t had any.)

Barely 5 minutes later, Roman knocks on the car window: “Hey, where’d Ryan go. Joe and Clay just got here.” Huh? What do you mean Joe just got here? He’s supposed to be walking out. Well, some guy at the aid station drove them in. So, Roman took off to try to catch them, but after a 1/3 of a mile, turned around to wait them out.

After a bit of talking trash, I headed out to find them. (Yeah, like that would ever happen since Ryan runs twice my speed. Really, he easily does 6 minute miles for miles on end.) This time, I took 2 lights, both in good condition. A 100 feet into the woods, I was wondering what I was getting into, since the moon had gone down, so it was even darker. Scary!

Well, I went a mile, to the dirt road where they were supposed to turn in. I went a little bit up the road, waiting around 5 minutes to see if anyone showed up. No one did, so I turned around and headed back. I swear the trail down was not the same trail I took up, but it worked and I eventually found the right trail and made it out.

Ryan came in about an hour later, pacing a guy named “Sweaty Bob”. He was having a good time, apparently having a number of delusions involving pretty women. He got to the aid station and promptly popped some Viagra. (True story! Seriously. I guess you never know when the moment may happen.)

Well, the team assembled again, the sun was up, and we headed home, stopping at Cracker Barrel for breakfast and smack talk.

(Note: All my pictures are posted to Flickr. If you want a full-size version of one of them, let me know.)

Written on November 15, 2008