Sunday, July 5, 2009
Pacing at Western States
Pacing the last 38 miles of Western States last Saturday was simply.....perfect. I met my runner and now good friend, Leonardo Soresi in Costa Rica in Feb. when we both competed in The Coastal Challenge. He lives and works as a Journalist in Italy. We had a few brief encounters and he helped me put up my tent one afternoon, but other than that we were strangers.
When I heard that he might need a pacer, I immediately was interested. I did let myself get a little nervous when I thought that the possibility of him out running me was high. After several weeks and emails, I felt confidant that I could run fast enough for 38 miles to bring him home to Auburn.
Leonardo wasn't sure if he could finish Western States. He had had a bad flu virus that had forced him to taper before he was ready. His training going into Western States was questionable. Don't we always feel that way before a big race? His confidence was wavering.
I picked him up at Foresthill which is the 62 mile aid station. He came into there later than expected, as he had taken about an hour rest at Michigan Bluff. He almost DNF'd there with low blood pressure and fatigue. After his rest, he left Michigan and began the climb out of Volcano Canyon. Leo looked good coming into Foresthill and it was great to finally see him. We headed down California street with Michael Jackson's song Beat it, playing loud from someones yard. Our run to the river was smooth and steady. At Fords Bar, Leonardo took a 10 minute rest and then felt renewed. The rest of the race was strong. We ran all the flats and downhills and power walked the ups. It was exciting to watch his confidence and his mental strength growing. Quitting was not an option. We passed lot's of runners. I loved that part. Picking off people ahead of us. Passing runners on the uphills. My competitive nature was in full swing. I felt great, heck, I was only running 38 miles! I am sure that Leo was swearing at me under his breath, but he never wavered. The run onto the track and across the finish line in Auburn was fantastic. It was an honor to pace Leo, and I was so happy for him. He finished in 26:52:12! He is the first native Italian to finish in the history of the race. I am so happy for him!
Out of 399 starters, 238 runners finished. It was a hot day out there and anyone who stood at the start line deserves a "hell ya". As always, this race picks me up. It renews my spirit. Until next year.......