Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Running with a Stranger

Last week I posted on Facebook that I had a 20 mile run planned and offered for people to join me if they were interested. One friend replied that I should consider pacing at a local race instead. I decided to go for it and advertised my willingness to pace on the race's Facebook page.

After a few people didn't work out, I was able to connect with a runner interested in a pacer. Someone I had never met before. After discussing our paces, we decided that we would be a good fit.

I have to admit, I was a little bit nervous about pacing someone I had never met before. I have had friends pace me during races and I have paced other friends during their races, but never a stranger. And it's not like we were going to be running a few miles together, we were going to be together for hours and hours.

Regardless, I knew that if I had a pacer during a 100K (yes, 100K) I would be thrilled, even if it was someone I had never met before.

Saturday morning he started updating me on his status around the third aid station. Since the pacer pick-up location was about an hour and a half away from our house we wanted to leave with enough time to get there before he arrived. Mike and Bernie came along as support!

 Taking off into the woods

After waiting for about an hour, he arrived! Immediately, I knew I had nothing to worry about. He was so appreciative of just having me there that all my nerves went away.

Although, I was still nervous about the actual run! Since I am just starting 50 mile training and haven't been on trails lately, I knew I was in for a challenge. Even if we were going slower than my normal pace (but probably not much slower on these trails!)

Twisted Branch 100K is run along the Finger Lakes Trail, the portion I ran on was part of the Bristol Hills Branch. It was tough! I had also never run on this portion of the Finger Lakes Trail before so I didn't really know what to expect. There were a lot of roots, rocks, some water crossings, but thankfully not a lot of mud.

We talked when we could, about our jobs, running/triathlon, Bernie, anything to take his mind off of what he was doing. We walked up the hills and we ran the downhills.

Aid Station photo

Snack time

Heading back out for more miles

We hit the first aid station about 6.2 miles into my run. Thankfully crew members could go to this part of the race, so we saw Mike and some other friends there.

The next part was tough, we had 8 miles to go to the next aid station. We also messed up at one point and ran along the road when we thought we had to follow the flags instead of the trail. Thankfully, a race photographer yelled to us that we were going the wrong way (someone must have moved the flags)! That took a little bit out of us, and then we had to go up a huge hill!

Around 12 miles (for me), I started to not feel very well. My legs were fine, but in the morning I could tell I wasn't feeling 100%. Add in the tough terrain and the climbs, I didn't know if I could make it the entire way.

 Running along the trail

When we finally got to the next aid station (it felt like it was never going to appear), I drank some Tailwind, ate some oranges and realized I couldn't stop at this aid station. The volunteers took an ATV in so no cars could get to this point in the race. We decided I would keep going since it was mostly downhill the next 5 miles.

After another intense climb and some more downhill, we made it to a road crossing. It was here that I made my decision - I had to stop. I felt like I was a detriment to his race and I didn't want to hold him back. Thankfully, there was another runner near us at this point and she offered to run with him. If we had to run on trails all the way back to the next aid station and/or no one else was near us, I would have kept going (he also had a different pacer who was going to run the final 4-5 miles with him, so he only went 2ish miles without a "pacer").

 Only 4.5 miles to go!

In the end I ran about 17 miles in 4 hours and 20 minutes. My portion of the run had almost 3,000 feet of elevation gain, definitely not easy (the entire race had about 10,000 feet of elevation gain)!

Mike picked me up and we stayed until our new friend crossed the finish line!

I had a great experience pacing, I just wish that I had felt better and could have run all the miles I was supposed to with him. If you ever get the opportunity to pace someone, even a stranger, I would suggest that you jump at the chance!


  1. So nice of you to pace someone. I think that would be awesome.
    I am sorry you weren't feeling 100%

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  3. Wow, what a neat way to pay it forward--serious kudos! I agree, though; I would've been nervous too even if the projected pace was slower/easier. It sounds like a tough course--sorry you weren't feeling 100 percent.