As many of you already know I had the great honor of pacing my friend Chris Swedenborg on his first 100 attempt. He yet again pick a doozie with the Leadville 100. I wanted to give you the insight of what it takes to accomplish this and the amount of walls one has to cross.

The week before Leadville Swede and I had talked about his game plan. We had put in countless hours of training and I knew he was ready...well as ready as one can be. Finally Swede drops a number on me of his predicted time. Setting a mighty goal at possible sub 25 hours in Leadville. Oh I knew the ride was on for the both of us.

Saturday morning came and Meg and I had already decided to drive to Frisco the night before so she could run long and we will still have time to get there. As we drove in the butterflies started settling in as they always do when I am pacing. See pacing for me means that no matter what I must stay strong, encourage, motivate, and keep my runner's mind in check. All the while taking care of me to make sure I don't bonk. The ultimate pacers no-no.

As Swede rolled into Winfield at the turn he was all smile as he typically is. He did a few things and then we were off. Man I was so ready to go and went out like Chester from Spike and Chester. The first few miles were easy as Swede gave me a run down on how he was REALLY feeling. Knee was tight, stomach alittle mad, and body alittle tired...aka normal for a 100.

As we approached Hope Pass I could tell Chris was getting low on energy and not taking anything in. Rule 1 of a pacer...take care of your runner. I told him to drop a gel before we started the climb to 12,600 ft. Oh the climb up Hope Pass. This was a monster and Chris was getting tired, legs were dragging, and he was putting in too much fluid with no food. Worried about a salt imbalance I took his bottles and made him eat. Rule 2 of a must be their mind. Well after a VERY long fought battle with a drizzling climb up Hope Pass Chris made the top. I am not positive but I think there was a 45 minute mile mixed in there. All in all...test 1 down!!!

Coming down Hope all Chris wanted was fluid and food. When we came into the aid station I got him 2-3 cups of soup, candy, fig newtons, and fluid. Always remember Rule 1. Oh and while I was there I consumed about 700+ calories as well. When we left there was an entirely new Chris. His legs were coming back to life and he was talking again. That was a welcome sight and sound. He had knocked off the second hardest section on the course and it was behind him. Next stop was Twin Lakes.

As we roll into Twin Lakes the crowd was alive. Chris was quickly bouncing back and we were about ready to race the hardest section of the race...night fall. Rolling through Twin Lakes I could tell Swede was feeling the moment as he started to get his swagger back. That a boy Swede...come in looking strong like "that was no mountain". We met with Steph, Meg, and the Swedenborg family (which I loved). At one point Chris said to his dad only 39 miles left. You can imagine the two a nuts!!! Yes I replied!!!

Heading out of Twin Lakes I had forgotten about the climb coming up. Chris hit the first hill and started to slow. I knew what was going on but never let on. Rule 3 of pacing...ALWAYS STAY POSITIVE. I don't care if your runner looks like pure hell. I knew Chris had plenty in the tank and was already doing the math. I knew all we had to do was to hike the rest of the way and we would make it. As I was telling Chris my math I could see some of the pressure was coming off. He is a great hiker and as long as he kept moving he would be there.

As the night came Chris decided he was in the mood to hike. I was absolutely okay with that unless we started to slow too much then I was going to have to push him. It was no problem as he was hiking sub 20 minute miles. Now another part of running 100 miles that most people don't think about is body temps. As the night goes on your body temp will drop and it is too tired to really bring it back up without clothes and warm food. So I had to monitor his temps as well as soon as the night came on.

As we hiked through the night we had a few chances to chat about life, our dreams, and why we do this silly stuff that we do. This to me was one of the highlights of the run. Getting to know Chris better just made me feel like a good good friend. Those few hours were so great.

As we roll into the Fish Hatchery I knew what was coming and that Chris was fading. Time for some tough love. We came in, got some food, Chris changed clothes, and sat for a few minutes. I could tell the DNF was on his mind. I was not going to let that happen as at as we had went and the time in the bank. I said "let's go" and he looked at me like he hated me. I knew he would had rather stayed there but I was not going to let him. As we left the warmth and light of the aid station I grabbed Steph and Parents. I could tell they were worried and I told them not to be. Yes he is tired but I would never push him too much. I will always keep his health in mind and he will be okay. It became very real to me when his mom said "I am counting on you to take care of my son. Don't let me down". Oh it was on now. It was the middle of the night and a major test lay infront of us.

As we start down the road Chris knew what was coming. He had thought about it for hours so there was no blindsiding him. By this time he had picked up my Black Diamond Z Poles. These poles saved him. Coming up the Powerline it was around 5 miles of climbing with 5 false summits. Chris was moving slow but he was still pushing for everything he had. At one point he said he needed to lay down for 5 minutes. I was fine with that but I knew tough love would have to come again. As he lay there he fell asleep, snow flurries were coming down, and he was shaking. I knew I had to get him up to keep moving. Waking him was hard for me as I wanted him to sleep but I knew we had to push on. As we topped Powerline I knew the hardest was over. It was around 3am and we had about 17 miles to go. The biggest climbs were over!!!

As we entered May Queen I was calculating more. I knew the sun would be up soon and we had a few minutes to get ready for the final push. I stopped off to see Meg for a few minutes and make sure she was okay. It was so great to see her smiling face. Chris went on to the aid station to get ready. It was starting to break daylight and I was hoping for a second wind.

Night turned into day and Chris got a burst of energy. We were pushing 17 minute miles walking. I knew baring some bad circumstance we had it. Chris was basically silent and hiking like a mad man. He was determined not to give up. My little legs were getting tired but was loving seeing him push. So I stayed with him but also gave him space. He needed to be in his zone. The day was coming on and the light at the end of the tunnel was near.

As we hiked to the finish line we hit hill after hill after hill. It was like the course was trying to break us one more time. I remember Chris saying if one more f'ing person tells me just 1-2 more miles I am going to beat something with these poles. Yep...time to take my poles back.

Coming into the finish was a blur. It started with Chris cursing the finish line going up another f'ing hill. I told him he would never feel the hill. The crowds were insane. People were cheering, his mom was taking pictures, and we were making our way up. As we get closer to the finish Chris looks at me and says "let's run in". DAMN I got pumped. Here he was 29:25 hours into a 104 mile race and he wants to run in. I was honored to run in with him.

The finish line was closer and I broke off to give him "his" moment. Seeing him cross was one of the most incredible things I had witnessed. He was smiling, parents were crying, Steph was so proud, and Meg and I were choked up over the moment. It was truly a once in a lifetime thing. At that moment I remembered the last and most important rule of pacing. IT IS NOT ABOUT YOU.

Huge congrats to Swede for his first buckle. Another huge thank you to Meg, Steph, and the Swedenborg parents for crewing. You all made so much of a difference that you will never know. I am so very honored to have been a small part of this moment. To see someone change in a moment and understand anything is possible was like turning on a light switch.

Chris I am so very proud of you. You showed true grit, huge heart, and tremendous courage. Thank you for the moment!!!

08/21/2012 11:43pm

awesome race report and love the before and after photos. Pacing is not easy but sounds as if you did just fantastic!

Lisa Hayen
08/22/2012 9:15am

What a fantastic pacer you are. If I give this race another shot, I may have to remember this. ;-)

08/22/2012 12:28pm

You are an awesome pacer! I was lucky with some awesome pacers too though I didn't have one from Twin Lakes to Fish Hatchery where I sucked the worst. Congrats to Chris.


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