by Whitney Murphy
We get to bear lake and it’s pitch black. There are runners changing, stretching and getting ready for the big day. We walk up to the pavilion and set up shop right in front of the finish line. Everyone looks so prepared and like they’ve done it numerous times before. I feel nervous and I’m not even running the 52 miles..
A little bit of small talk and stretches begin our morning and then the race director gives a 5 minute warning.
A kiss, an I love you, a butt slap and he’s off. I start my stopwatch.
I set up my chair, blanket and bag of goodies for him and myself. I take a moment to take in natures beauty for the day. The fog hung low to the ground and somehow had a silence so strong, it was almost screaming.
First lap down and he’s still in one piece! ‘Okay good! I can do this!’ I thought.
I kept track of each of his laps and offered small snacks and endless kisses and I love yous. I tried to keep the aid stops as simple as possible; fill his bottle, ask what snack he needs, check on him mentally and physically and make sure I have his change of socks or shirts ready to go.
Laps go by; about 4-5 in, I start to worry. His eyes look sunken in and he’s pale. He doesn’t look normal. What can I do?
Absolutely nothing. I ask him repeatedly if he’s ok. Try to offer some words of encouragement as well as reassurance that he doesn’t need to kill himself over this race. He insists that he’s fine and heads out.
Laps go by and he’s still going. His lap times are getting slightly longer, but still making good time.
One of the stops, I finally get him to eat something of substance. I sort of talk him into accepting a grilled cheese and bacon.. He eats and is off in less than 5 minutes.
I feel slightly better knowing he ate and started to get a little pep back in his step. FINALLY! I can exhale and try to relax.
More laps go by and he looks like a new man! Thank goodness!
As he’s down to the single digit laps to go his lap time increases and he’s now running alone. I tell him he’s doing great and he tells me he’s really starting to feel it.. Damn! And I thought I was done worrying. But yet again, an I love you and he’s off! Second to last lap.
To make my worries worse, the assistant race director comes over and makes small talk with me about how great of an ultra runner Christopher is, and that’s he’s sending him a pacer to go get him.
*Double take* Wait, What? What the hell does that even mean? This is my first real ultra I’m crewing for… What the hell is a pacer and why does he need one? Oh shit… This is bad, isn’t it…?
Panic sets in. I literally start to pace.
I watch his pacer take off and run in the opposite direction on the course, in his lime green jacket. I walk down to the water to have a better view of the end of the lap. I see that lime green jacket weaving through the trees, still in the opposite direction.
How far back is he? Is he ok? What if he’s hurt really bad? Shit… I cannot handle this..
His lime green jacket disappears in the trees.
Wait. Wait. And wait some more. One of the other runners wife checks on me and how he’s doing. I’m sure she could read the worry that was written all over my face.
I take a panoramic photo of the lake, trees and sky as the sun sets.
I see that lime green jacket and Christopher’s black tank. I almost cry. I check his time when he runs through the lap counter.. His time is better than his last few laps..
Why was I worrying so much? Why didn’t I just check his time and base my emotions off of that? GREAT… Now I feel dumb.
He’s feeling good, I run and get his head lamp, give him another butt slap and off they go, lime green and black.
It’s now dark and all I have to rely on is bouncing head lamps, bobbing through the forest trees. One lap to go.
Every lap, at about 45 minutes, is when I would get up and start to get ready for him. It’s been 45 minutes. I’m now pacing next to the finish line.
After a few unfamiliar faces run through, I see lights, hauling ass in my direction. Haven’t seen that much speed this entire day. I see a head lamp, and then lime green, and then another head lamp..
I see Christopher’s beautiful face appear, arms and fists up to the sky, everyone cheering, and a loud roar come from him.
He finished strong and you could read it all over his face. He was practically glowing, with confidence and determination!
THAT right there, is what I’ve been waiting over 10 hours for..
What a freaking man..
Congratulations my little hunny, you prove yet again, what a fantastic human being you are!