Shannon & Pam, after months of training, officially became ultrarunners with finishing Way Too Cool 2010 (3/13/10). They continue to run the long distances as they continue to challenge themselves physically & mentally. This is where they post those triumphs and also their tribulations.

April 16, 2011

Pacing vs Racing - Shannon

It's been WAY too long since I've posted, but as usual, life has been crazy and I'd rather be outside or quilting rather than sitting at my computer blogging.  But I do miss this, so I promise, I will try to do better.

I have so much to talk about, however, time is of the essence so I'm only going to talk about my experience last weekend at the American River 50 Miler on 4/9/11.  No, I didn't run all 50 miles, in fact, I wasn't a racer!  I was a pacer! And let me tell you, pacing rocks!  So who did I pace?  My friend Ralph, who I have been running with now since SNERS.  He is faster than me, but he enjoys the scenery just like I do, so he has no problem slowing it down so that I can keep up with him.  So, how can I pace someone who is faster than me during a race?  Well, here's the secret - don't start pacing your racer until he's already done 26.5 miles, he'll be tired by then, and low and behold, you can keep up withi him.  In fact, you might even be a little faster than him!

First, the morning started off with me heading down to the FTR sponsored aid station at Negro Bar in Folsom.  Pam and I were super turtles there last year, but this year, I was more concerned about pacing Ralph.  Pam was up at Beal's Point being a super nurse.  Pam is a nurse by day, runner by weekend, but this weekend, she was volunteering as a nurse at the medical tent for the race.  She rocks!  Oh and then after her nursing duties what is she going to do?  Pace our friend Kym.  So we were both pacers for this race!

Pam helping a runner with a bum knee.
Pam being her cute self.
 Watching the front runners come through the FTR aid station was fun.  Had a good time with all my FTR buddies waiting for Ralph to come in.  When he did, he wasn't feeling too good.  His hydration was down (it was hotter than we had expected) and his stomach was upset.  He knew he had to pull it together, and focused on the mental part of it from Negro Bar to Beals Point (4 miles and where I'd join him on this run)

Ralph coming into Negro Bar
He was definitely looking better once he came into Beals.
Ralph at Beals Point
Now it was time for Denise and I to join him and help him get through the last 23.5 miles, and this is also where you move from paved bike trails to awesome dirt!

I had so much fun being a pacer.  I discovered that when you take the focus off of yourself and focus on the main goal of getting your racer to the finish you don't think about what is hurting you.
So having said that, while we were out there climbing hills and rocks and trying to keep Ralph's spirits up, I would jump in puddles, slosh through mud, all the while pretending to be an aiplane as we'd go down hills (this was to get him to run the downhills, didn't always work, but I had fun trying).

Apparently we were having so much fun out there that we could be heard throughout the canyon area!  I always say if you're not laughing out there, you're crying!  Since I prefer to laugh than to cry, I will do whatever I can to keep the mood fun!

Along the way, there are motivational signs, and at one point, Ralph got tired of them.  Here he is letting us know what he thinks about this one - LOL
This might have been around 40+ miles into this race!  Can you blame a guy?

When you come off the single track, you come upon Last Gasp, which is 3.5 miles UP to the finish.  This is the hardest part.  By this point, there is no running, it's all walking.  But also at this point you know you've only got 3.5 miles more to go.  WOW.
The signs start to show up.  3 miles to go, 2 miles to go, then 1 mile to go.

Denise, Ralph, and me

 I still don't how he got up off the ground after going 49 miles, but he did.  What a stud!

Denise and I wanted to let him cross the finish line by himself, but he wouldn't hear of it.  He wanted us to go through it with him.  You don't argue with someone who has gone 50 miles.  You just do what he asks.  So we did!

His official finish time was 11:59.  We were hoping for sub 12 and we did it.

After, we enjoyed a beer and a dip in the canal to sooth the legs (the water was ice - bbbrrr)

Where did we get the beer?  Well along the way Lisa was there as well, although, she traveled the distance by car and had an ice chest full of beer for us.

Lisa you ROCK

This is the only pic I have with Lisa, it was on a training run we all did for AR50 and her first 17 miler - we're gonna make her ultrarunner soon! (She's actually agreed to do the SNERS marathon this year! Next we'll have her signing up for WTC 2012!)

Would I pace again?  TOTALLY!  I actually think I prefer pacing to racing!

Thanks Ralph for letting me experience this side to running!  Thanks Lisa for being out there supporting us and of course for the beer.

Next on my agenda?  Wild Wild West Marathon in Lone Pine, CA on May 7th.  I'm excited and nervous as I will be dealing with much higher altitudes, but it's ok because my friend Mindy will be there with me - WOO HOO.

Stayed turned for my posting about WWW!

Stay dirty


  1. Great post, Shannon! I so agree with the pacing vs racing a 50 miler! It was another epic day out there in so many ways!

  2. Yeah! Pacing IS fun. I hope to get the chance to pace Trail Pigeon at Western States some day!

    You guys crack me up with your photos. Ralph is awesome! Nicely done pacers! :-)