What it’s like on the other side


Dan had chosen the Dirty Girls 24hr Trail Race as his goal race this year, my job would be to crew all day and pace him after 8pm (if needed).
We were lucky that training buddy, Geoff knew someone with a place to stay a mere 20 mins from the start line and we were graciously invited to spend the night before there, instead of camping at the start/finish. This is key because there ended up being a horrific thunderstorm that night and more torrential rain (that had been occurring on and off all day), and I’m afraid of thunderstorms. So as I curled up in bed, wide awake, I was pleased to see that Dan slept soundly, I figured I’d be able to catnap during the day, but Dan needed his sleep. I hoped that all the runners and supporters already on course were fairing ok (there was a 48 hour race option which started at 8am Friday morning!).

Good sign pre race.

The morning brought a rainbow, I was silently praying for little rain and NO more thunder and ligthening. We had no trouble getting Dan and Geoff registered and Geoff’s buddy Mark, came along to help me set up “race headquarters” (which was a good thing because it’s next to impossible to do on your own).

Race HQ

The race started promptly at 8am, Geoff missed it because he was in the bathroom, but I assured him that 24 hours was plenty of time to catch up. Both the guys had given me printed copies of their race plans, so I knew I had about an hour to kill, so I spent that time getting HQ set up/organised and cheered on the 32km runners that started at 8:30.

Dan ready for the start.

Geoff missed the official start, but was “relieved”.

Dan was back from his first loop (8km) in 55 minutes, he didn’t really stop except to swap his mostly empty Vitargos bottle for a full one. I let him know his (faster than expected) time and he just shrugged and trotted off for loop 2. I waited for Geoff to come through and then headed off to pick up some ice. Mark stayed with me until the boys completed lap 3, and then I was bored.

Heading out on lap 2.

I tried to read but I got distracted cheering runners as they went by and then Dan or Geoff would show up, I’d get them what they needed and send them on the their way. Boring. Apparently I wasn’t the only bored HQ wife and eventually I ended up hanging out with Katie and Marta, both supporting 24 hour runners (they would even help me move my HQ closer to theirs after some 6 hour runners left so I wouldn’t have to go running back to my tent when the boys arrived). That certainly helped with the time. A big shout out to all of you who texted and emailed to help keep me busy and pass along good wishes to Dan.

Heading out on lap 3.

Heading out on lap 3.

As evening set in Mark returned with more ice and some pizza for Geoff. Dan hadn’t really eaten a ton of solid food, but seemed to be doing alright. As Dan finished lap #9 I offered to head out onto the course with him as it would be dark by the time he finished, but he said he was saving me for the “double digit laps” and to be ready when he returned. I pointed out that 10 was a double digit, but he went off on his own.

Getting rested for lap 5.

Geoff just needed a clean shirt for lap 5.

I could tell he was tired but he was still going pretty strong, he hadn’t had a lap take him more than 1:30 (except for when he spent a little longer in HQ having a burrito). So when I finally got to start running with him on lap 11, I have to admit that I was a little disappointed at the amount actual running there was! Dan was having some calf cramping so he was trying to take it easy, so we just chatted and worked our way through the undulating, twisting course. When we came back through HQ Dan decided to throw on a jacket and take his poles out on the next lap.

New shirt, new lap. Lucky number 7.

What a difference this made, we absolutely sped around the loop even though Dan barely ran a step. He was feeling so great that he didn’t even stop at HQ and went straight into lap 13. Maybe not the smartest thing to do. Just after the a climb about 2km in Dan stopped for some water, when I turned to look at him I was shocked to see a pale face and a shaking hand. Hmm, I tried to think of the last time he ate something substantial, I had made sure I had a gel at the last aid station, but what did Dan have??

Half way. Dan needed a new shirt too.

What was I thinking? How could I not make sure my runner was eating? At the same time I didn’t want to alarm Dan so I just watched him closely as we carried on (he preferred to lead) sure enough I noticed him starting weave along the path. We had really slowed down but I didn’t want to push because I didn’t want anything to happen to him. So as we approached the next aid station, I started asking him how he felt and when he’d eaten last. He said he felt fine and that he had a potato at the last station. One potato!! That wasn’t enough. I told him we had to stop at the next aid station and that we weren’t moving until he had some coke and some sugar.
Dan was shockingly obedient taking down whatever I handed him, and we set off. We made it through lap 13 unscathed but he needed a quick calf rub and I made him eat half a burrito in that time, of course sitting he got chilled and started to shake so we quickly got him changed into a dry long sleeve shirt and we were off.
Laps 14 was uneventful and 15 actually had him picking up speed. It’s amazing the “pick me up” of being able to say that’s the last time I’ll go up that hill or go through that aid station, plus it was getting light which really helped. We held hands as we marched into the start/finish area, I was surprised at how emotional I felt, I could only imagine what going through Dan’s head. We crested the last hill and Dan took off, really took off, I was standing there holding his poles wondering where that energy had come from!

The Finish…again, Dan had already passed under it 14 times!

Dan was given his beautiful belt buckle and we both got a delicious vegan smoothie. Then it was a hobble back to HQ to change/eat and await Geoff’s arrival.

After being awake for over 24 hours, Dan thinks his buckle is made of gold!?!

It was an excellent learning experience for me. I’ve since cycled through being petrified about my race to feeling like I’m ready. Only time will tell.

The boys, their buckles and beer.


2 comments on “What it’s like on the other side

  1. Mom says:

    You are ready!

  2. mum & Gaz says:

    i felt so emotional reading that – so cant imagine how you must have felt ! all i can say is thank you for taking such good care of Dan and i know that he will do the same for you when you take on and master the Mog ! well done to both of you – shows what a fantastic team you are ! lots of love xxxxxxx

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