Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Crewing & Pacing Burning River 100 For the Hubby

I've always admired people who take on the Burning River 100 Endurance Run. This year my husband Steve happens to be one of them! We trained mostly together as I completed the Canal Corridor 100 a few weeks earlier. So as I was recovering he was starting to taper and get ready for his little journey of 100 miles through the forests of Northeast Ohio.

Prerace in front of the Castle!
The race starts at Squire's Castle in North Chagrin Reservation in Willoughby Hills, OH. This is a park we spent many miles running in when we lived in Lake County. The 100 mile start is at 4am...so we had to be up pretty early as in 1:30am to get ready and make the close to an hour drive. We were out the door by 2:30, arriving at the start at 3:30 with plenty of time to get Steve ready for the long day and night ahead. We ran into some friends Brandon and Mel that were parked next to us. Mel has done BR numerous times and is one of the fast ultra ladies out on the course.

Steve and I headed up to the start about 10-15 minutes before the event started. I could tell he was excited and anxious to get this thing started. It was fun watching these 250 or so runners take off in the dark with their headlamps and dreams of first time or maybe PR finishes. Once he started I spent a few minutes in the car mapping out the route to the Polo Fields aid station where he expected to come in around 5:45am. I chatted with some people and waited to see Steve and have some of his requested items like chocolate milk ready for him. Next i met up with him at Shadow Lake where he was able to change into his new trail shoes.

After that I had some time to kill since I wouldn't see him again for 2 or 3 hours so I headed to Panera to grab breakfast and a bagel for Steve and I also stopped at Heinens to get some lunch for us later in the day. I arrived at Meadows aid station where I was able to get in about a 30-minute nap before setting up to cheer and crew for Steve. When he came in he was hungry and had a blister we took care of. He was still in good spirits when he took off. Again I had some time before I would see him again at Boston Mills (mile 50) so I headed over to the aid station and took a second cat nap before setting up my crew stuff. I ran into some Cleveland Tri Club friends, which was a nice pick me up and I ate lunch and cheered on some of the 50 mile finishers. Finally Steve came in and was able to eat his lunch I made him and change his shirt before heading on.

Ledges before our run together!
Our next place to meet up was 16 miles away so I had a lot of time to kill. I ended up stopping at the grocery store and going home to make dinner and take care of the dogs before meeting up with Steve later at Ledges Shelter. I had heard from friends that he was having a hard time and I was growing worried about him since he was a good amount off his goal pace. Finally as I started to head out on the course I saw him coming in! He looked pretty tired and I knew he was hurting. I agreed to pace him in the rest of the race, which was 34 miles for the 100 plus the bonus 3 miles at the end since BR 100 is actually BR 103. He ate and I put all the crewing stuff away, locked up my car and off we went to the Ledges to start our long and memorable journey together.

We did pretty well running through the Ledges and Pine Hollow but Steve was fading at Covered Bridge with about 20 miles left to go - including some tough ones! Special thanks to our friend Trevor for lending Steve his running jacket because it had gotten chilly and he was cold. By the second time through the Covered Bridge aid station he was doing better and we were power walking and light jogging and in better spirits. From Covered Bridge II to Botzum seemed to take a long time as well. We ran into our friend Rich in O'Neal Woods and he had some words of wisdom to share with us 100-mile newbies. Finally we reached Botzum! And then it took forever to reach Memorial Parkway but this was our last aid station! We still had about 4-5 miles to the finish including the Gorge in Cuyahoga Falls where you have some serious stairs to climb after 100 miles. Oye! Even I did not like the stairs so I can only imagine how Steve felt!

Hardest earned medal ever!
Leaving the Gorge I was excited for Steve to finish and I was excited to be done because I had been out there with him for many hours through the night and was growing tired and cranky! He was able to run the finish and then immediately needed to sit down for a few minutes and just soak everything in. He was a 100 mile finisher! He finished Burning River 100 like a badass! The only issue is that his right calve was swollen and of course his ankles and feet were swollen too, which of course made walking not fun.

After the race we went home to eat a quick bowl of cereal, shower and sleep for about 5 hours. Then we got up and went to the Ledges to pick up my car and headed over to the Winking Lizard Peninsula for a proper post race dinner and hoppy beers! Of course Steve had to put his hard-earned BR100 sticker on his car too! He sure earned it! And I am proud of him because I know that he struggled for more than half of the race and especially the last 20 miles. It was not the time he had in mind but he finished and that is all that counts in my book. I don't know if he will run this one again but you never know and for me I would rather run the 50 or 4-person relay next year. I don't know that I will put this one on my bucket list but only time will tell.

Congrats to all the 100 mile finishers - you are all amazing! And to all the 50 milers and relayers - way to go! BR is a tough course. My 37 miles was tough after a day of crewing - also very hard work! Thanks to Western Reserve Racing for putting on an excellent, well-organized event. Most of all thank you to the volunteers. You guys make the race! Without you noone could do this race. Your generosity and support are appreciated!

Until next year BR!

Hardest earned sticker ever!