|Rockstar runner, Terzah!|
|Terzah, her husband and their awesome twins.|
When she can't run a race, she volunteers
While I'm prepping (or stalling, same thing) my race report from the Pikes Peak Marathon I just did over the past weekend, I'm going to let my friend, Terzah, recreate the Leadville day from the viewpoint of a crew-er. It's short and sweet, unlike my relentless babble race report, so without further ado, here's Terzah....
Crewing for Jill at the Leadville Silver Rush 50
Last month I was lucky enough to be included in the crew that supported Jill in the Silver Rush 50. As you know if you've read her race recap, it was a triumphant day for her. Here are some of my memories of that day, to give you the point of view of a crew member who didn't run a step.
--The people: -- Of course there was Jill, who surprised and impressed us all with her relative calm from the moment we arrivednight to the scene at the finish, when she sat under a tent in the pouring rain and glowed; Kathy, Cynthia, Marcia, Melissa....I'm lucky to count these women as my friends; and Jill's son Ryan, the most competent high-school-age male driver I've ever met (and he's a great runner, too) and so proud of his mom in his quiet way.
|Kathy, Moi, Terzah, Marcia, Melissa (MIA: Ryan and Cynthia)|
--The start: I loved how most of the runners....didn't run. There was a steep little hill at the beginning, and though a few wanted the honor of being first up it, most of them speed-hiked, wisely conserving resources for later. There would be plenty of hills to climb.
|I wouldn't really call when I did up this thing "speed-hiking"..."slog" would be a better fitting word for me|
--The aid stations: I had to stay clear of them. The spread was just too tempting. It's almost worth it to train for an ultra just for that (note that I say "almost"). We had a bag of her handpicked snacks/drinks/painkillers for Jill, and it was enough for me to keep my hands out of her M&Ms (I might have stolen a few).
--The scenery: Leadville and its environs are stunning. You can actually feel how much closer you are to the sky. When the storm that Jill just managed to outrun moved in, I felt we were in the clouds, not merely being rained on but rained around. I am jealous of Melissa, who ran some miles with Jill and got to see more of the course than the rest of us did.
--The stress: There was actually very little of it. The only time any of us felt stressed was when we had to decide whether it was worth the risk of missing Jill at the last aid station she expected us at in order to see her at the second-to-last one. We decided it wasn't. I felt bad about that later (she *was* looking for us, we learned), but she did so well anyway that in the end it came out OK. I can see, though, that if you are crewing for a runner who is having a bad day, decisions like that can be huge.
--The letter: I had the privilege of being the one to deliver to Jill a letter from her friend Tara, who moved away before this race could happen; the letter was meant to give Jill a lift when she came to a bad place....but she never did come to a bad place, so I decided at the last aid station to read it to her anyway. When you're running 50 miles, you need a lift when you have seven to go, even if you're having a great day.
--The storybook ending: if you followed Jill's training for this little 50th-birthday gift she gave herself ("HEY, I think I need to run 50 miles!"), you know it wasn't all smooth sailing. There were rocks that leaped up and bloodied her legs, and a strained rib muscle; there was interrupted training, and the worry she felt constantly that she wasn't getting enough "vertical;" there were long drives to the mountains to run, which meant long drives back in bad traffic and too much time away from her family (and too little downtime); uncertainty about her first coach.......and yet....In the end, she finished nearly two hours faster than she thought she would. She finished serenely. Yep, that was what I saw on her face: serenity.
Cynthia, Kathy, Melissa, Marcia, Ryan and I were standing at a spot just at the bottom of a little hill where the runners come down and make one last turn to the finish. We could see the storm clouds building to the west, and the wind was turning chilly. I loved watching those runners come in. Some were met by their small children, who ran them into the finish line. Some pranced like they'd just gone for a little walk in the woods, not run a rugged ultra. Most had a smile on their faces. We bobbed up and down, hoping Jill would beat that rain.
When she came around the bend, the announcer (who'd given some personal attention to everyone who crossed that line), said something like, "Here comes Jill Parker! Jill is third in her age group." And we--Jill's little crowd--went wild. We'd known for several hours she was doing well, but to get an age group placement! Wow! After jumping up and down like crazy people, we jogged our own way to the other side of the finish line, just in time for that dump of rain to begin. We got her under the tent, and a nice spectator surrendered his seat to her. We hovered like mother hens (I was worried she'd get hypothermic), but she didn't need any mothering in those moments.
I have no idea how it feels to run that far, over terrain like that, at those altitudes (much less how it feels to do it well). Even after watching Jill do it, I know you can't know until you do it yourself. Maybe someday I'll try. For now, though, I'm very proud of Jill for giving herself the gift of that race, and grateful to her for letting us be there for her that day.
And the next time she wants to do something like this, I'll be honored to be there again. Thank you, Jill--run on, my friend.
And now, I must get back to writing up last weekend's pretty cool race up Pikes Peak so it's not four weeks post race, like others *ahem* have been....