Monday, 13 August 2012

The support crew's view

I could never have done the 100km without the help from Stevie. Here is his view of the race.

The support Crew view:
This is my view as Izzy’s coach and support crew. I knew how much the Celtic plate meant to her, it was her A goal of the year and I knew her training had been going well.
After previous disappointments and under performing I had persuaded Izzy that we needed to go back to basics and work on her speed, which give her credit she did, it was not always easy persuading an ULTRA RUNNER to do 8 x 1 mile reps instead of a 6 hr. run!!!! Once she was used to the intensity then she added in the endurance runs, and the back-to-back long runs, which were key and went along with the speed work:
So I knew we had went into our taper in the best shape we could be in, but getting an ultra runner to taper is like getting an alcoholic to drink in moderation.
The taper and the nerves leading into the race are best described in what shall now be referred to as THE BURGER INCIDENT. My side is, 2 days before I accidentally ate a burger that she had earmarked as hers, by doing this our relationship was over, and she was now flying down to the race. Dramatic? Over reaction? I will let you decide but I wont ever eat her food again!!!
We decided to drive down so that we were in control of our own travel arrangements and it allowed us to stay relaxed in that important day before.
Arriving at the hotel, Izzy started to get nervous as she met up with all the other team members. As a support crew the days leading up to the race has to be all about the athlete, I see it as my job to make sure she has everything she needs/wants and to keep her relaxed, to talk about the race when she wants to and to take her mind off it the rest of the time.
On race morning Izzy seemed up for it and ready to be released. We made some last minute adjustments to our race kit due to the expectedly hot weather. These were positive changes following an adverse experience in a 24 hr. ultra in Switzerland, when we had not expected the scorching heat and Izzy had suffered badly to the point I had to pull her from the race as she had suffered heat exhaustion. We both learned a lot from that and I did a lot of research, and then we often discussed how best to run in the heat. I have to congratulate Izzy in embracing my philosophy that running in the heat is something that can be managed rather than I am just not good in the heat attitude.
We dealt with the last minute nerves and then I can do no more and its up to her, she lined up and off she goes, its hard seeing her set off, I just want to run with her, to settle her down and get her into her pace, but I cant so I get ready for her first PIT STOP:
I watch Emilie Gelder come in looking good, she demands NUNN, grabs a bottle and heads on not even breaking stride. As a support I am always watching and learning, so if Emily is taking Nunn already after 2 miles it must be hot and she is preparing for it. Izzy came through and she was a bit fast but I knew she would settle, and over the next few laps she did as her and Gail ran together and grinded out the laps. In the past Izzy has struggled with taking food on board, and we had really worked on that so I was pleased as she got food on board early and she was taking small drinks. Due to the heat I gave her Nunn and Dioralite rather than water to prevent cramps late on. Approaching 10 laps her pace was good and even, but I could see runners starting to be effected by the heat. I needed to get her cold drinks so in-between laps I was running in and out of the center putting her bottles in the freezer. I had timed her laps so had timed how long this took, so I was ready on each lap. I was getting really worried about the effects the heat was having on the others so even though she does not like wearing a hat or sunglasses I ordered her to put on a hat I had brought and on each lap I poured water on this to keep her cool, I also made sure I periodically caked her in sun cream. The heat was just something we had to manage. Lap 16 she was still going well and I gave her a cup of tea, as she barked orders at me not to loose her best brown cup!!!
On Lap 21 I was ready for her and looking down the road expecting her to appear as she had every other lap, she had pulled away from Gail who had been going through a bad patch and she had been looking strong on her own. When she did appear she looked different her stride was wrong, unknown to me and despite our best efforts the extreme heat had taken it effect after she had left the last feed station, so she had already been struggling for 20 minuets when she arrived. She wobbled and just about collapsed, I grabbed her, shoved water over her, reapplied sun cream, and shoved her back out onto the course with some coke and her favored Mountain Dew. This was tough love as she called it later. That next lap was hell, I wanted to run after her to make sure she was all right! I cursed the officials who would only allow me a few precious meters to assist her. As her helper I understood this but as her partner I hated it and wanted to protect her and know she was ok. 22 long minuets later she came in, feeling a bit better, I had asked Adrain for his help so that 2 of us could ensure she was ok. More cold water, some fresh fruit and she left looking better, thankfully at that point she had caught up with her friend Sandra who was definitely the right person at the right time, and she helped Izzy through the next few laps selfishly sacrificing her own performance,
Now back on steady laps we counted them down in single figures, I felt proud she had got through her wobble, she had not let the heat effect her and she was heading to the finish and that highly converted Scottish title. Adrian handed her the Saltire and she crossed the line exhausted/emotional and completely exhilarated. Job done and A goal achieved.
As a runner I understand what we put our bodies through but an Ultra takes its own toll and Izzy had some highs and lows over the next few days which I know she will not want me to publish here. As her partner I love her through the lows as well as the highs.
We had planned not to run at all for a week buy only 3 days later she confessed to me she had went for a walk, in her running kit and might have ran a little!!!! Then that night she comes to support me in a club mile relay, not taking her running kit she just happened to be wearing her running shoes (coincidence? I think not!!!!) and yes she did run a leg!!! Oh well you cant keep an ultra runner from running!!!!