I don't know where or how to begin to describe the weekend spent with lalo at his first 100 mile trail run. Lalo's plan was well thought out and documented neatly in a binder for his wife Amanda and I. It looked good on paper, but will he be able to stick to it? Will it work? The answer to that question was a resounding Yes!
I was concerned for two reasons. This was Lalo's first 100 miler. Running 100 miles is no easy task no matter who you are. Although I know he trained well and he was determined, you still can't help but worry about those you care about. I was also concerned about pacing him. Was I ready to do a good job crewing and pacing?
We met with Beto and his family for dinner the night before the race. Beto also was running the event and became Lalo's friend on an earlier trip to SoCal for trail maintenance work.
I love the start of 100 milers. Only a hand full of runners shoot out across the start line actually running. Most head out walking and talking to each other. And with a 3 mile 2000 foot climb at the start of this race, it's wise to walk early.
Amanda and I drove to the aid stations and following the instructions in the binder, prepared for Lalo before his arrival. Amanda and I had a great working relationship. I enjoyed our relationship working together. Just like a caring wife she questioned some of his instructions by suggesting we put an extra gel in his pack. Lalo stuck to his written plan for almost all of the race. Midway through the race he did tweak it a bit but it was working well for the most part.
Lalo and I were off at mile 52 an hour before sunset. Boy was I relived when he told me to slow and let him feed off of my pace. This only lasted for a couple of miles. Soon Lalo was picking up the pace. We began to catch and pass other runners.
We would see Amanda one more time at mile 59 before she would take over 16 miles later. Now in the dark we were running on a long downhill stretch. Bats began flying around us and some were diving into our path. Lalo and I were running side by side on a service road and a bat flew right between us. Our friend Niki would have loved it. She loves bats. I had a small tin of badger balm in my pack that was making a light clanging sound. This must be what drew their attention. A bird ahead took flight off of the ground with a beak that glowed like a Christmas tree light. "It must have caught a lighting bug." I said to Lalo. We saw a small owl on the trail. Standing at the edge it did not move. Just turned it's head towards us as we ran by. Two times we heard rustling in the brush. Load rustling. By the sound we knew it must have been a large animal. One of those times scared the $#!t out of me. Soon after this we began to climb. Great, I thought. Lalo will slow down. We power hiked at a very brisk pace considering the steep incline. Again we passed two more runners. As we began to descend Lalo took off and I did all I could to keep up. The trail became very technical, Dirt single track with rocks the same color as the dirt. It was difficult to spot the rocks but the trail markings did include white chalk on some of the rocks. I took my hydration pack off to look for a gel when Lalo seemed to slow down only to look up and he was far down the trail. Dang!, The guy was moving!
We finally reached the climb to the 75 mile aid station at midnight. Here Lalo took in more soup and recovered before heading out with my relief pacer, Amanda.
I showered with a water jug and a special soap Lalo bought to combat the affects of the Purple Poodle dog bush. A bush that is worse than Poison oak and was abundant on the trails. With no more crew access after this point I would not see Lalo and Amanda again until the finish line.
After showering I drove to the finish line located in a park in Pasadena, CA. I tried to nap in the car. It was 1:30 AM. Just before 7 AM I receive a text from Amanda, "we are leaving the aid station at mile 95."
I ran to the point where Lalo emerged from the trails and on to the street leading to the park. We ran in together, Lalo, Beto, Amanda and I.
It was an incredible performance! 27 hours 1 minute! His first 100 miler on one the most difficult courses in the country. Only 74 finishers from 170 entries. And I was part of it. Memories like no other that will live on forever.