I am lucky enough to have many folks coming out to support my effort at Western States this year. Some new faces, and some old. I think it will bring some excitement to the day having them all there. But everyone is starting to ask me the same question...what's my job? Ah, that's easy. Get me to the finish line! Oh, you wanted something more specific? OK. Here is a first swag at it. I was going to just write up a private email to them all but hell let's just lay it out there to see where the gaps are.
Tim - His job is easy. Pacing. He gets to run the last 38 miles of the course with me. You can't have pacers before that (unless you are running slow at 55). And Tim has ideas on how to get me to my goal time. So I am relying on him for this job. I pretty much expect for him to yell "slow down" to me all day and then suddenly start saying "speed up" later in the day. On top of that, Tim has lots of experience with 100s (6 last year!). So he gets to spread wisdom through the day as well.
Eric - Eric is my business partner and friend. He is making the trip to support me and see what this is all about. Eric's job is going to be technology. Huh? Pretty sure my minimal friends just threw up. Well, there is a bit of help that I need to get me through a race and I am going to rely on Eric for that. One example is my watch. It never makes it the whole 100 on one charge. So I need to recharge mid-run. I do this with my portable charger. It works well. But someone has to remember to give it to me. Last year at LT100, Natalee and I both spaced on it as I left Twin Lakes and I was dead within an hour. Its not a race killer but when your goal is time-based, its sort of nice to have your watch ticking. So Eric will manage that transition point for me and check it at pit stops. Eric will also be given a host of video devices...HD camera, GoPro, etc. He can get crazy and capture footage. Hey, this race is a once in a lifetime thing. I would like 15 minutes of video to share when its over to show the progression of suffering from my perspective. If you want more, go buy Unbreakable. Eric will also be the light guy. Making sure I get my lamp and batteries when I need it. I need my music too. So have my iPods ready to go. Finally, another key technology requirement is the tweeting. I need my supporters who were too cheap to come watch live to get updates on me. Eric is plugged in to that as I am so it will be in his hands. I fully expect Eric to be charging, shooting, tweeting, then recharging all day. Plus, mildly giving me shit.
Glenn - Glenn is one of those few that got me started into running. With 30+ (I forget) marathons under his belt...including many consecutive Boston runs...he has some running experience under his belt. He is a frequent reader of all things running science. An engineer like me that likes to solve the problems that running throws at us. So I am going to throw a few common problems at him to own: shoes, salts, and heat. Shoes: I will probably take 4 pairs of shoes to the race. Plan on going out in the Crosslites. Planning on a switch later in the day to either my Adidas roads or maybe the MT110s. I have my post (shim) that I need in my shoes so that takes 2 seconds of prep on the switch. I think I might take my Hokas too. Only to be used if my feet go to shit anyway. I blister in them otherwise. Salts: My S-caps plus those provides at aid stations should be sufficient on top of some salty foods. But I need to manage it a bit. This was a key factor in my demise at Leadville last year. How much did I take that hour? Did I drink enough? I am not lucid enough to remember. Heat: I think this will be a team job at times but Glenn can help here with some logistics.
Kim - Wife. Moral support, which is code for telling me "you wanted to do this so keep running, asshole". On top of that key duty, she is my photographer and chef. She will be swinging the camera all day and then turning her back for 2 seconds and possibly missing the greatest photo ever of me. Oh well. Its a hard job. As for the chef role, her and I have been concocting some food choices over the past year that she will be prepping on course. We will see how that goes. I think we can cook rice from a cigarette lighter power outlet. We need to test that at home soon. Kim also is well versed in my bitching. She hears every day after my runs about my shits, sweats, rubs, aches, etc. Hopefully, some of that knowledge will come in handy as the crew anticipates needs.
Mom and Dad - Yep, they are coming to their first ultra. Now, I haven't really gotten solid confirmation about their presence on course. I think they believe they are babysitting my kids. I have a helper there to offload them in Eric's wife, Angela. This frees them to come witness this circus. They have no responsibilities other than supporting me. I think they should be at Placer High School but old people like to go to bed early. Think they should stay up?
Natalee - Captain/Chief/Sister. Can't keep her away from these races. After last year's Leadville DNF, she took it as personal as I did. So we are back. Frankly, we haven't spoken much about it. Just biding our time until we can go at it again. I hope that this post gives her an outline of what I am thinking. But as always, I turn everything over to her the night before. I just focus on running. She gets to focus on executing the plan and adapting when it seems to be veering off course. In terms of specific responsibilities, Natalee gets the general oversight but she specifically will be dealing with logistics, gear, and nutrition. Logistics meaning getting the rest of this group and herself where they need to be when. Transportation. Keeping them energized too. This race seems much more difficult than Leadville to access the aid stations in a timely manner. There are crew A and crew B options. Up to her how to get people to the right spots. Gear will be knowing the stuff I have along and making sure I am transitioning through it as the day goes on. Bottles...1 vs. 2. Clothes...warm mid-day vs. night time temps. Hats. Socks. Suntan lotion. Glasses. Whatever. I usually throw a few drop bags at her and explain it all then let her predict it out. Nutrition will be the make or break thing for this race. Its not my strong suit and its still not perfect. We will work through a plan in the coming weeks but I expect her to track what she can and then convince me to do what we planned in the moment. Finally, if it all works out, I fully expect her to join the pace group at mile 99 (or maybe earlier if Tim has an unforeseen issue).
Crewing is a tedious job. You will be out there for a long periods of time. It gets stressful. Its a lot of hurry up and then wait. You need to take care of yourself so you can take care of the runner. The aid stations are there too for the runner so in the event of some sort of mishap where you cannot meet the runner, its not the end of the world. Be calm and recover as you can. I will just keep moving. I try and mentally accept that I can finish the race without the crew at all. But its a lot better with. My gear, my food, my people, etc. I am excited to share this day with all of you.
Homework - OK. If I got you excited, that's good. Now for some resources that you should check out before race day.
2012 Western States 100 Training Camp Veterans Panel's Advice - I think this is a worthy investment of your time. Its about an hour but its informative and humorous. Gives you a sense of the types of challenges you can expect your runner to face and you to be aiding with.
Western States Participant Guide - This is the race manual, so to speak. It contains crew instructions, directions, maps and more. Its valuable. I expect maybe Natalee to be printing several of the maps and such to have handy.
Study up. I will keep training. If all goes as planned, maybe we can knock this race out before the earth completes a full rotation.
The rest of you! What did we miss? Or give them some of your sage advice.