Thoughts about “Crewing”…

So…   This post will, like all of my others, demonstrate what exactly goes on in my mind while running and show just how scatterbrained I really am!

This morning I stepped out on a 20.15mi trail run.   It was “supposed’ to be 25mi but after dealing with the mud, sleet, and freezing rain on the trails I went with symbolism over miles.

This year, as I mentioned before, is going to be my year of running and reaching new milestones.   So why go in easy right?   Here is what I have planned for the year…

1.  2,015mi running
2.  2015 Running Streak (run at least 1 mile every day this year;  clearly if I am going to accomplish the first goal I will need a lot more than 1mi per day though)
3.  Cactus Rose 100 (ok… has nothing to do with 20.15mi run this morning but still a 2015 goal!)

Everytime I get out on the trails, road, etc for a run my mind wanders… I have done work, wrote code, had pretend conversations…you get the idea… My mind wanters.  There is never any rhyme or reason…it just bounces around…  Well today was no different.  Instead of my normal thoughts (as normal as one would call them) I actually went back to my crewing and pacing for Brazos Bend 100.    You already know my experiences from crewing and pacing Lynn and Norma, but there was still something missing that I needed to look at.  What did I learn about crewing.

Throughout the entire 20.15 mi run today I went over all of the drop boxes, the aid stations, things that happened at each of the aid stations, things that I wish I had with me, things I wish would have been in the drop boxes, where did I put my extra pair of green socks, what I was having for lunch today… You know…  🙂

SO I broke this down into a few areas…

  • Drop Boxes
  • Pacing
  • Triage
  • The Crew
  • The Next 100

DROP BOXES:  The drop boxes they had were well thought out.   They had both anticipated what they would need throughout the entire race at each location.    Not only did they have everything they needed, everything was packed neatly in LABELED zip lock bags (like “Feed me”).   Like life though… regardless of your planning, you will come across what you didn’t plan for… Brazos Bend 100 was no different.   Several times there were things that we needed (like socks, gloves, jacket, drugs, etc) that were not at the drop box we were approaching.    Luckily I had extra gloves and socks and one of our crew had an extra jacket…Honestly, none of that really matters…  The important part is that regardless of your planning… you will need what was not planned for.   Ideally you could have the exact same thing in each and every drop box this way regardless of which Aid Station you hit, you know it has everything you “planned” for.     The one thing that I also had them include in each of their drop boxes was a small notebook and pen.  My “theory” was that at each Aid Station the crew would update the book with the details of our runners when they came into the Aid Station.  I was looking for specifics:  What they ate, what they drank, what they asked for, what they complained about, ups, downs, etc.   I wanted to be able to go back in after the race and do some post-race analysis to determine what went right and better plan for the next race.    Needless to say I pulled a notebook out of the box once and wrote in it…   Great idea in my head (like many of my ideas), it just didn’t work out.     One thing that I think is going to be important in the future is making sure the CREW knows what is packed in what box.   There were several times that the crew ran around digging through boxes looking for things that the girls needed.    Next time the Crew needs to be involved with the packing.  🙂

PACING : This being my first time pacing for a 100mi I will post a bit of what I learned, what I may do differently in the future, and what I believe the most important thing that I took away from the race….

First, after pacing for Lynn on her 100, I believe that everyone should be part of a crew or pace a runner on a 100mi before they run one.  I actually learned more from pacing Lynn than I did in any of the books that I have read.   This was such a valuable experience, just being a pacer for her increased my confidence level for Cactus Rose 100 in October!

We had a remarkable group of pacers out there supporting both Lynn and Norma.  While all of the pacers were friends, Lynn and Norma both had a good friend as a pacer as well as a “seasoned pro”.    This distinction is actually very important.    Norma had her good friend pace her from the 50-75 and had the “seasoned pro” pace her for her final lap and to the finish line.   I liked this approach a lot and the reason is the “seasoned pro” knows exactly what it takes to finish that 100, exactly how to push her to finish, and can push her through the downs much better (and easier) than the good friend.

Now that said… I paced Lynn on her final loop… CLEARLY I am not the seasoned pro.   While I believe I did everything I should have done for her, it was also very hard to be that “bad guy” and push her to the finish.     All that considered, if I had to do it all over again… I would still want to be her last pacer 😀

This is actually where I learned the most of what additional things need to be staged in all of the drop bags (covered in “The Next 100”).

Like I mentioned in my actual Race Report, it is worth mentioning again!  I was given very vital advice from Liza Howard.  “Make sure you rest and take care care of your own hydration, nutrition, etc.) ”   Well as you read before, my focus on the final loop was on my runner and ignored myself.   I never filled my handhelds (I carried two) and I finished with one full one.    I bottle for 25mi was not wise, especially when my training is one bottle (200-300 calories of Tailwind) per hour.    I will just chalk that one off as self inflicted stupidity!  🙂

TRIAGE :  There were some hiccups here.   Lynn finished her first 25mi loop with hotspots and after mass chaos and confusion we ended up taking to long to take care of her and get her out of her.   There were a few things that attributed to our confusion.  We knew she had hot spots but weren’t expecting it to be that bad.   We didn’t have the right blister prevention items in the boxes so we relied on the aid station.  They had Trail Toes and Trail Toes Tape, but nothing that Lynn used before (You know… don’t use it if you didn’t train with it).    Then again, this isn’t something that she had gone through in the past so it was all going to be new.

In the future, I think we all just need to be more prepared to triage the runners coming in, get smart on HOW to triage them, and make sure that the start/finish drop boxes include a first aid kit that we can do anything (short of amputation).

THE CREW :  There really isn’t anything to say about the crew other than they were AWESOME!   Everyone was on top of what they were supposed to be doing, wanted to be there, and provided amazing support to Lynn, Norma, and anyone else that needed it.

Get the crew nailed down early… make sure people are committed, and have FUN!

THE NEXT 100 :  For many of us, the next 100 will be Cactus Rose 100.  The only difference is I will not be pacing this one!  I will be toeing the line and joining in the fun (finally).   I have done the training runs with everyone else, I just never took the step to sign up…  Time for a change! 🙂

So… what does all of this have to do with the Next 100?  Simple…  There are a few things that I found need to be included in the drop bags based on this past experience and while I may do all of the extra anal planning, there is still going to be something that I miss or didn’t plan for!   So what is next?

  • Pain killers – Whether this be Motrin, Advil, Hydrocodone… There needs to be some in each and every drop box/bag as well as carried in the Jurek Essential.  While you may never need it, taking a single pill can provide enough of a “mental” boost to push you further.
  • Ice packs – When we came upon the final aid station, all I wanted was ice to try and make some tendons happy…   Unfortunately the aid station had none.    A single ice pack in each drop box/bag (you know..the kind that you crack open) could be a life saver.
  • Blister Kits – Enough said… Blister kit, needle & thread, superglue… Needs to be in every drop bag and carried in my Jurek Essential.
  • Extra socks, gloves, hat, etc.    These can take up little space but they need to be stuffed in each box/bag as well.

The short of all of this is that I learned a lot and this single experience has given me a tad bit of a mental advantage for Cactus Rose 100 in October!

My message to ALL of you…  If you have not already done so, go crew/pace someone on a 100mi race.  It is such an amazing experience!


Until next time!  Laters!




Posted on January 10, 2015, in Trail Banter. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Reblogged this on run4seven and commented:
    My great friend, trail brother and fellow crazy ultra runner with his take on crewing a 100!

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