Saturday, April 5, 2014

Ultra Mother-Daughter Bonding

Ok, so lots of people gave me feedback on the utility of the Buff. I especially like the ice-in-the-Buff idea. Whatever you like to get you out the door and enjoying nature is good by me (I am still not saying I’ll wear one!). But am I wrong, or do Buffs seem to be fairly specific to trail runners?? Anyway, enough fooling around; on to more serious running numerous 1 mile laps around a lake with my daughter. You can find her version of the story here.

The weekend of March15-16 I had the pleasure of participating in the Pacific Rim 24 hour run. But this wasn't just another race for me - this was an ultra I got to run with my nine year old daughter Megan! And it was my 50th ultra to boot!

The race is more like a strange cult running event that seems to draw many of the same participants year after year and comes complete with its own whacky leader in RD Fred "Wildman" Willet.  A lot of people remembered Megan from last year when she did 27 miles. In fact, at this race Megan is the super star and I am an ultra-nobody! At one point I was running a lap without Megan and mentioned I was there with my daughter and my companion asked, “Oh, are you the mom?” I love it; yes, I am the Mom!

The race gives sweatshirts out to anyone completing at least 50k, but Fred must've had a soft spot for Megan last year, because he gave her one for completing her first ultra-marathon at 27 miles. But right at race start he made it really clear that she wasn't going to get off so easy this year as pretty much the first thing he said to her was: "You're not a rookie anymore, so if you want the sweatshirt, you have to do the full 50k!" No problem - that was Megan's goal all along. My goal was just to be with Megan, but I was hoping I could sneak in a few extra laps to get a 50 mile weekend.
#50 - For 50K!
Though we were basically duplicating everything we did last year, things seemed a lot different. First off was the weather - Saturday was beautiful compared to last year's horrible storms. It made it a lot easier to be out in the park. But the real difference was Megan. She still had the same fierce determination, but she seemed so much more mature this year. Sure she did about a hundred cartwheels during the race, but she just seemed less silly. Last year, I made a feeble attempt to tell her about Sacajawea (since we were running around Lake Sacajawea); this year she told me the entire history of Lewis and Clark and how Sacajawea was taken from her tribe as a baby and raised by another tribe. She told me how Clark helped deliver Sacajawea's son, John Baptiste, and later Clark helped raise the boy. She said Sacajawea was married to a fur trapper, but she didn't remember his name, but it was something like "Frenchie-French-Frenchman" and she laughed at her joke (actually Toussaint Charbanneau, which is pretty much the same as "Frenchie-French-Frenchman" if you ask me). And she matter-of-factly told me all about Lewis committing suicide three years after the trip. I grew up in California and grade school history was all about the gold rush not Lewis and Clark so I wasn’t just running with my daughter but learning all kinds of history. I have to admit, I wasn’t always the best student. I constantly made jokes about Uranus when we past the plaque of Neptune that showed directions to Uranus (the park has plaques of the planets around the perimeter, but Uranus wasn’t on the course. Good thing because we don’t want to see Uranus while we are running an ultra! -hahaha!) And when Megan told me Lewis had a black Newfoundland dog named “Seaman” that liked to hunt beaver...well, I just about lost it! Is it bad that my nine year old is more mature than me?? (Well, she is very mature for her age...)
There was one sidewalk section. Apparently this means you should cartwheels.
Megan’s approach to the race was very different this year as well. Last year she ran and rested based on when she got tired or when it rained, but this year she had plans, and strategies. I swear I had no input when she said she wanted to do 32 miles so that she could beat all the people that stopped at 50k and she told me I had to do 51 miles both to match my bib number (#51!) and to beat all the people who stopped at 50 miles. That one extra lap bumped me from 9th female to 6th!

Oh, it was serious alright! There were training plans and race strategies! 

While many people question the sanity of running a looped course or think it might be boring, what you lack in stimulation from new scenery, you make up for with the much higher interaction with other runners and the people at the one aid station. We got to talk to many people on the course, including speedster Zach Gingerich who just came up from Portland to do a 100 mile training 16:59. My daughter is a huge fan of his after all of their eating contests and how nice he was to always say hi to her or tell her what lap he was on. I have to say I am a fan for the same reason. We could never get that on a standard race course. It was great to share laps with several others, too, including Karl Jansen, who gave Megan such a good lesson on jogging slowly instead of sprinting/walking that I nearly had to sprint a full lap myself to catch them when I stopped to chat at the aid station! And by the end of the event Megan practically had her own cheering section at the aid station. Thank you to the runners and volunteers at Pac Rim for letting Megan and I be part of the cult. These last two years have truly been priceless time spent with my daughter.
My first selfie ever (yes, really!) at the finish of the race  - that's how monumental this was. And Buff fans, take this late entry into the world of selfies as proof that I take a really long time to warm up to new things!
For anybody wondering what your limits are (marathon, 50k, 50M, more???) but you have doubt holding you back, I strongly encourage you to find a timed event and get yourself out there! I think you will surprise yourself. The cost for Pac Rim was $84, which is cheaper than most marathons (and there was much better food!). If for some reason you do have to quit early, you won’t be stranded in some remote area.

Megan didn’t get to 34 miles because she has any special athletic gift; rather she has the childish naivety (and the example of crazy parents) that allowed her to believe it was possible to finish a 50k. Too often people place a mental barrier up delineating what they think they can and can’t do and it prevents them from achieving their maximum potential. I am super proud of Megan but honestly I don’t think she has extraordinary talent. Rather she is a great reminder that ordinary people can do extraordinary things if they believe they can.
I was not at the race to be competitive, but I got this nice orange plaque thanks to Megan's strategizing!
One final funny note: A friend from RWB Camp Eagle named Rob left a comment on Megan's Pac Rim race report. When Megan read it, her eyes lit up and she gasped, "Mom, is it Rob Krar?!" OMG, What have I created??! (Rob, your comment is still appreciated!)


Olga said...

Nice hat! I meant to tell you, Larry saw her last photo in a buff and said, Megan has a runner's body, she will totally be awesome (if she chooses to). Plan? Isn't it her mom's (bad) influence? :) I agree, PacRim is totally fantastic for things like that for anybody ever. You guys are awesome together. All f you.

Jennie said...

"Rather [Megan] is a great reminder that ordinary people can do extraordinary things if they believe they can."

Love this! I just did the Gorge 50k last weekend as my first ultra and am both so humbled and inspired by runners everywhere :)

LukeD said...

I think there are quite a few boys that would have the same reaction if RobK commented on their blog :P

Trailmomma said...

You are both an inspiration! I love it! I hope my little girls find something so passionate and throw their hearts into it the way Megan did!

Rob said...

Yeah, tell Megan I wish that Krar put the comment there too. And please keep blogging, wonderful reads every time!