CrewMy Sister Heather - Crew Chief and Pacer
So why would I pick my sister to be my Crew Chief instead of my wife? For two reasons, the first is that my wife will have her hands full with our children. I didn't want to burden her with worrying about me and them. Secondly, my sister and I have found a great bond in our middle age through running. This is a great opportunity to continue that bond. As a wife and mother of three, she is plenty qualified to organize this circus. Her discipline, strength, organization, and no-non-sense attitude are just a few of the qualities I hope she brings with her on race day. The most important role she has is keeping this whole show moving forward -- being at aid stations, picking up pacers, knowing what gear/supplies and where, etc... Her reward for the hard work is that she gets to be my last pacer and experience the emotions of the finish line.
My Wife Johanna - Crew Member
My wife has put up with my crazy notion to start running ultras and I think she even enjoys it a little. I am so thankful that she and the kids are committed to being part of this journey. She has an amazing combination of understanding, compassion, and a little bit of tough love. Just the kind of person you want in your corner. In addition to keeping up with kids, I know she will be doing her best to support my sister and even relieve her.
My Daughter Savannah - Crew Member
Savannah is my oldest and often my most challenging child. (There is a reason I call her "trouble"). But she always rises up for these kinds of events and loves to support me. Her smiling face and compassionate hugs will be a huge lift each time I get to see her. And I have asked her to be my official videographer for the event. Hopefully she doesn't spend too much time pushing her brothers' "buttons". I may also give her permission to send out Twitter updates.
My Son Dylan - Crew Member
Dylan is a little more low key and easy to keep happy: technology and food usually do the trick. It is fun to see him when I run because he is so carefree -- the kind of attitude I'll need to pull this off. They typically assign him to be the scout. His job is to peek around the corner and alert them when I am coming. The pacers may have to take over this job in the middle of the night :)
PacersMy pacers (in order of appearance) have already been assigned sections. All of my pacers are talented (each has qualified for BOTH the NYC and Boston marathon) and accomplished runners. And all of them are my friends. They don't have the experience one might require for this type of event, but somehow I know that each of them will be completely prepared for the moment. More importantly, they will know better than anyone how to motivate me and keep me going.
Chuck "Slim Shady" Radford
He's the fastest of the crew and definitely a contender for the best laugh. I will lean on him to make me laugh and raise my spirits as I make my second trip over Hope Pass and start the second half of the race. He has promised me -- under threat of nipple twisting -- that he'll start on some serious weight training so his legs won't buckle carrying 10 lbs of gear up the side of a mountain for me.
Chuck gets to pace me over Hope Pass. There is a short section of downhill road to the trail (Winfield Road), then it is straight up and straight down. I am optimistic that I can make up some time on this section. I have allocated 3 hours and 35 minutes, but I might be able to do it in 3:15 or 3:20. In training, I liked the backside better because it is shorter. The key will be to put in an iPod and just work hard.
Jen "Tie My Shoes" Johnson
Jen is another mom in my support team. You can't have too many of those. And she brings balance to our running group as the only female member. She has promised to double knot all of her shoes, even on the hills where they tend to "magically" untie themselves. We are all hoping she bakes some of her famous bread(s) for the event! Her role will be tough because it will be turning dark for an underrated section of the course -- the climb out of Twin Lakes.
Jen will pace me from Twin Lakes (mile 60.5) to Tree Line, mile 72.5. The first three miles are likely to be a real test for both of us with a 1500 foot climb -- the 4th largest on the course. In addition to being uphill, the first 3 miles are rocky in spots (like Deer Creek Canyon). After about a mile, the course connects with the Colorado Trail and can be narrow and slanted to the downhill side in spots. If it is too dark, safety could be a concern. After mile 63, the course gets wider and runs primarily downhill. At mile 66, the course veers of the Colorado Trail to the right onto a jeep road. The road is rocky in spots, but generally pretty wide and pretty runnable with a few rolling hills. This is a segment I must run to have a quality time. My projection has me averaging a 16+ min pace on this section. I could probably make up a good half hour here if I am feeling well enough to fast walk or run even parts of it.
Jon "The Hammer" Ahern
Despite the fact that he primarily runs road events, Jon's wisdom and attention to detail has helped guide me through my growth as a runner. He knew what he was doing picking the middle of the night segments: he doesn't back down from a challenge. His primary responsibility is to make sure I don't quit under any circumstances. While it could be bad for his reputation and street cred, he has promised not deny me any water.
Jon will pace me from Tree Line (mile 72.5) to at least May Queen (mile 87). The first five miles of Jon's pacing stint are road/pavement miles. Hopefully I have enough energy to alternate running and fast-walking by this point and can shave several minutes off of my 16 minute mile projection. Then we will climb about four miles and 1800 feet up to Power Line (with about 5 false summits). Power Line should take roughly 90 minutes if I am moving well. After reaching the top of Power Line (Sugar Loaf Pass), the course moves onto a jeep road and then Hagerman Road for about three miles. These three miles should be extremely runnable as the road is wide and only a bit rocky. These three miles are a great section to make up time. The remaining miles in Jon's segment are down the Colorado Trail into May Queen. This is another section where I could see safety being a bit of an issue, particularly at night. It will probably be hard to move much faster than a 15 min pace through this section in the dark, even though it is downhill. In total, I think there is an easy 20 minutes to be made up on this section if I am moving well.