Monday, November 19, 2007

The Ultracentric Experience

I've been trying to take cues from others about how to write a great race report, but I have a hard time keeping track of all the details. So, I thought I'd just give a brief recap of the weekend today and then post more after I've had time to recover. We arrived in Dallas on Friday, meeting up with Tim who had to go early for a conference, and headed over to Grapevine which is about 20 minutes west. Having done this race last year as my first 100 miler, I was familiar with the course and the set-up which really helped make everything less stressful. I tend to get lost a lot, so it is always a relief to me when I know where I'm going. After checking in and picking up my number, we headed over to the course to see where we were going to set up in the morning. Good thing, as they had changed the layout for crews quite a bit and we had to re-think how we were going to set our station up. We ended up at the top of the course (rather than by the main aid station where we were last year) which ended up working out great. The 48 Hour runners had been on the course for about 10 hours when we arrived for our preview. I am simply amazed by people who can go that long - 48 hours - 2 days - and when we started running with them the next day, they were still going strong and in good spirits!

Saturday morning, I went down for a quick breakfast and saw Pam Reed. Now, a couple of years ago, before I had ever run an ultra, I wrote an article in Marathon & Beyond called "Stalking Pam Reed," all about how much I admired her and her ability to be a mother and a competitive runner. We had crossed paths last year at Ultracentric, but only exchanged a brief hello, and she seemed a little nervous to see me (like I might really be stalking her!). This time, we actually talked and she was super nice. Then, for the next 24 hours, as we passed each other over and over again, we chatted here and there and she was very encouraging and supportive. It's kind of neat to have someone you look up to cheer you on - I really appreciated it.

In addition to Pam, there were so many great runners, that it was just cool to be there - David Goggins (48 hours), Connie Gardner (tentative American record!!), Roy Pirrung, Carolyn Smith, Deb Horn, Scott Eppleman, Alex Swenson...basically both men and women's American teams plus Akos Konya, Jamie Donaldson and Bob Sweeney. Because this course is out and back, you are in almost constant sight of the other runners so you get to talk to everyone. I ran several sections with Jamie and it was great to have someone to talk to, especially in those moments when you have had enough. She's a very upbeat person, and fun to run with, so she really added a lot to the race.

As I mentioned earlier, we parked at the top of the course, and it really worked out well. Last year, we parked next to Connie and Tom, her significant other, and the men had a blast while we ran, so we all made sure to hook up again. The guys had a tv so that they could watch the Ohio v. Michigan game and basically, Connie and I had a double crew! If you ever have a chance to watch Connie Gardner race, take it - she is unbelievable! I have never seen anything like it. 145 miles! Possibly a new American Women's record! And she looked so cool and relaxed the whole time, encouraging other runners as she passed.

In the end, I was really happy with the whole experience. I finished with 126.99 miles, 3rd Female, 7th Overall. I promise to write some more details (because that is what I love so much about other people's reports, but my brain is still fuzzy).

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