I was sitting here trying to think of a better acronym for CREW: Crabby Runner Endless Waiting; Constant Running Endless Whining; Can’t Run Endless Whining…none just seemed to fit the bill of what I think CREWing is all about. So, I came up with my own: GOYU: Give Of Yourself Unconditionally. (truly what a Sherpa is)
Part of the reason Team Terranova runs so smoothly is because when it is the athlete’s turn to race the other gives of themselves unconditionally. That might mean shortened workouts, change of plans (we call those audibles at our house), extra chores, and completely 100% being there on race weekend. I am not saying this is for everyone, but this works for us.
After I finished WS in 2010, Paul decided to move from triathlon to the ultra-running world. And, because he doesn’t do anything in a small way that meant The Grand Slam + IM Hawaii in the same summer. After that he qualified for WS in 2013 at Bandera 100K. But let me back up a moment to that Bandera 100K 2013. We were enjoying an easy trail run together when I started talking about running the Bandera 50K which runs at the same time as the Bandera 100K. I hadn’t really taken “my turn” after the whole Grand Slam funness and I was starting to get the feeling that I was getting sloppy seconds on races and race weekends. That enjoyable trail run didn’t quite end the way it started, but it did end with Paul telling me that Bandera was important to him and that he really needed me there to CREW. So, all in I went. What that means is that we are a finally tuned NASCAR Pit machine. We don’t have to talk, we are completely dialed in, and Paul has amazing success without a moment of lost momentum. But, what that also meant was that I needed to find something for me that didn’t get in the way of his Ultra pursuits. And, of course, if I were to follow in the footsteps of we don’t do anything small I decided to swim around Key West, 12.5 ocean miles around the island. But, it was more than that. It was 6 hours for Paul to sit in a kayak and fully support me 3 weeks before his goal race. Many people would be stressing about the weekend of workouts lost, the endless downside of sitting in a boat in the heat paddling for 6 hours 3 weeks before their goal race, but that’s not how it works. Paul went all in: prepping my bottles, slathering me in zinc oxide, and only hitting me with the kayak once in 12.5 miles. The end result was that three weeks later the tables were turned and I went all in for him: prepping meals, bottles, carrying loads, washing heat training clothes (I just call heat training an excuse for him to create more laundry for me), and pacing.
Knowing that Paul’s goal was to do well enough at WS to return again, I knew I needed to set a goal that fit in the midst of his off time or not key training. And, since he didn’t seem to maximize all 30 hours at his races, and thus utilizing my full potential for long-term help (well, aside from the sadness that was Run Rabbit Run for him…note here – don’t start a 50 miler on 30 minutes of sleep after crewing) I thought I would go big and give him the opportunity to crew for me for 3 days (see his post about Ultraman Florida). For folks who thought we had the crewing and teamwork down, well that was child’s play compared to what he did at Ultraman. Everything was flawless. Sure if you ask him, now, he will talk about some of the things that went wrong, that he could have done better, that I could have done better (I don’t know if he has completely gotten over the fact that two bottles of ice were annoying me on day 3…he even documented it like Dustin Hoffman did in Rain Man: at 9:44 on Sunday yelled and didn’t want two bottles with ice) Funny now, but not even for a moment did I know that was happening while I was racing. It was completely because he was totally giving of himself to me and my race.
The moment I crossed the finish line at Ultraman it was and is my turn! The schedule had been planned for Paul to do races to lead up to WS. But, as with anything in life, things changed. He injured his ankle, and everything needed to be rearranged and hopefully repaired for a great execution. As a Team that meant that I went into motivation mode: getting on the bike with him, forcing him to swim with me, finding alternative training races, rearranging reservations, and taking the baby steps he needed to get back to golden. As he healed, since I was all in I was just as happy and relieved as he was. His success meant as much to me as it does to him.
Fast forward to May and his changed training race of Quicksilver 100K. This was going to be our first time in months to practice our pit crew work. I was super excited for it…until I couldn’t find the first crew aid station in the dark. I drove up and down a road for an hour. I was almost in tears. He was just with one bottle and I was going to give him his race vest with two bottles. CRAP!! I have never missed him at a crew spot, ever. More than missing giving him his pack I knew that he would be worried for where in the world I was. I was afraid he would stop and try to call me vs. continuing on. I went into problem solve mode knowing that the next place I could see him (aside from the aid station we had planned) was a 5 mile climb from the aid station. I hauled butt to the aid station, put his pack under my pack so that I wouldn’t adjust his straps from where he keeps them, and I ran up and up and up to meet him. I got to the aid station and was totally confused because they were closer than I thought they should be. Turns out they had set the aid station up in the wrong spot. Good for me because I didn’t miss him, but bad for the runners. Sure enough as Paul came through (maybe in 4th-5th place) he said he had worried where I was. I got him all set, and off he went. From there I took the other trail to haul butt down to catch him at the next spot. Fortunately, the aid stations were well stocked and he was just fine without seeing me…but I had gone crazy feeling I had totally failed my job. For the rest of the race I was totally on it, we had a great dress rehearsal for WS, and he had a great training run cruising in 2nd place.
As we closed into our final 7 weeks before raceday, it was and is his time to know that I am all in. Training Camp weekend you can just call me the driver and this year the bonus mileage runner (of course I don’t mind those pieces).
If you don’t see me in the next few days it is because in the midst of working, I am cramming all my training in before our departure. (which will be about 21 miles swimming and some running and biking) Because when we land in Reno it is game on. Not game on for Paul (he is all good), but game on for me…food prep, crew/pacer organizing, checking/re-checking/and re-checking for good measure every instruction and direction I will make happen for him on raceday. All he has to do is go run on those most incredibly sacred trails. All he has to do is put forth the race that he is ready to run. And I will be there to do all the rest! GOYU!!