Monday, May 23, 2011

Meet my pacer. (33 days to go!)

Running 100 miles through the night in the mountains isn't easy, or necessarily safe, so Western States allows runners to utilize a pacer for the final 38 miles of the course, from Foresthill to the finish line. Some runners choose not to use one, but most, including the leaders, have a buddy or even a complete stranger come out and run with them through the evening and nighttime hours. It's a safe strategy at a time when competitors are battling tired bodies and exhausted minds. I paced Fernando Fernandes last year, and this year I'll have a pacer.

Meet Jay. He's my pacer.

Okay, so this is an old picture, back when Jay wasn't in the same shape he is now. And he smoked. He definitely wasn't a runner. In fact, I don't think he had ever been a runner, not even in high school.

This is Jay now.

Notice how he's running all by himself. That's an ultramarathon in northern California. He runs by himself a lot now. You see, Jay is a very fast runner...the fastest I know. In fact, he ran the Boston Marathon this year in a new personal record of 2:29:33, finishing 88th overall. Yes, out of ALL runners. Here's a photo (sorry, Marathonfoto!) of Jay running down Boylston toward the finish line and a new PR!

Yes, he's eating a cannoli. The woman behind him finds this hilarious, doesn't she? Our friend Sully handed them out in what's become a bit of a tradition among my running friends. Jay's out there having the race of his life, having spent all winter running 100 mile weeks (in Santa Cruz, so it's not THAT hard), and he has a good enough sense of humor to pose with a cannoli just a few hundred yards from the most storied finish line in marathoning. This is why I'm having this man pace me through the night. Well, that, and he's got experience at pacing Western States.

That's Jay on the raft crossing the American River at Rucky Chucky with Western States competitor Oz Pearlman. Jay paced Oz from Foresthill at Mile 62 to Greengate at Mile 80 before joining another runner for his final 20 miles.

It was a memorable weekend for Jay and me, one we hope to reproduce in 2011. Oz easily earned a silver belt buckle, and Jay's second runner came back from the dead (okay, not the dead, but a several hour nap) to nab his first WS finish in five attempts.

Jay is fast, and while that's not necessarily a quality I'll need from Foresthill to Auburn, it can't hurt any either. The best part of it all is that I'll get a chance to run 38 miles with my friend...and I look forward to that moment after we've entered the track at Placer High, when our running is done for the day, and we get to partake in our second favorite hobby:

Cheers! Here's to a great 38 miles, Jay. Thanks for agreeing to run with me!

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