Tornado Warning Racing

For the first time in a long time I wasn’t racing this past weekend~instead I was crewing and pacing along time friend and training partner on his first timed (12 hour) ultramarathon.

A timed ultra is where they give you X hours on the clock (this past Saturday it was 12 hours) and you’re free to run as many miles as you want for as many hours as you want. Maybe you wanted to run 15 miles. That’s great! You have 12 hours to run those 15 miles. Maybe you wanted to push yourself to your limits and see just how many miles you could squeeze into those 12 hours? Perfect! Let’s see how many you can get!

My friend wanted to see how many miles you could get. He had trained. He was ready. He toed the line Saturday morning with enthusiasm. He was ready to run….along with quite a few of my Mississippi running friends!

We were in Jackson, Mississippi, for the Fondren Urban Ultra. This was a 12 hour ultra on the paved roads of Jackson. No nice, soft dirt trails in the woods~just the hard, asphalt, pothole, obstacle-course roads of Jackson.

What an adventure!

We met in the parking lot of the Fondren Church. They had graciously allowed us to use their facilities for this race. Seeing as it was a certified course, runners who were residents of Mississippi were up for state records! There were a lot of motivated runners Saturday morning.

Everybody toed the line at 7:00 am. The starting gun went off and so did the runners! ZOOM!!!

7:08am, this notification came through on my cell phone:

We had been warned that there would be severe weather and they weren’t kidding! A few seconds after my cell phone went off, the tornado sirens went off!!!

The runners were out on the course. One by one they trickled back up to the church as they finished their first 5k loop. Lucky for them the loops were “only” 5k! Most all the runners were back before the really ugly weather hit.

That storm was impressive!!! This Mississippi girl has been through a lot of storms but this one….it gave me pause.

While we had over an hour storm delay waiting for that particular weather cell to pass, we all had fun chatting and taking selfies and catching up on old times SO~we’ll do that here right now!

It was terrific to see these two amazing people! Dennis and I had run a few miles together on the trails at Brazos Bend 100 back in December. He and his wife, Renee, are also the race directors at the MS50 Trail Run, the 50k I ran just a month ago. They were doing the timing at Fondren and did a fabulous job. It was great to see them again! Terrific people!!!

It’s always a great day when you get to see Don and Donna! Two terrific Mississippi runners and such nice people, Great running, you two!!!

Tracy is always the absolute BEST! She never fails to make me laugh and Saturday she also helped me keep warm. The temps plummeted after that initial rain squall. She lent me some long track pants and jacket to wear until my pacing duties started up. Thank you, Tracy and congratulations on your 21 miles!!!

This terrific lady ran soooo strong! It was exciting to get to see her ring the bell to wrap up a solid day of running! She also makes the most amazing dark chocolate dipped oranges!!! Holy cow~those things were good!!!

Kathy is just the bomb~diggity!!! She kept everything at the aid station going so smooth AND she didn’t smack my hands when I kept getting in that delicious bacon that was meant for the runners. Awesome to meet you IRL, Kathy!!! I’ll be back next year to run!

Soooo many other terrific Mississippi runners and I’m kicking myself around the block for not getting more pics! The storm finally passed and we were “just” down to thunderstorms so it was time for the runners to get back to running.

The hours passed. I made Tailwind for the real reason I was there in the first place. I was there to crew and pace (when/if he needed me) for a friend of mine.

This guy is the best! Talk about a strong and serious runner!!! Why he runs with me, I’ll never know. The hours we’ve spent on the roads have always been fun. Sometimes the miles have been grueling but the company has always been top notch. I was there for him.

This is Shobal and he is pretty much a legend in my part of Mississippi. Nicest guy in the world and a super strong runner. It was a honor and a privilege to be there for him.

My job was actually pretty easy! Mix up some Tailwind Nutrition here and there and be available when/if he needed some pacing. That’s what I did. The rest of the time was spent chatting with others there to crew….that and sneak a slice of bacon here and there.

I know Shobal had some BIG mileage goals for Fondren. When the tornado warning delay hit so early in the race, those goals were immediately dashed. It was time to set new goals. He did! He turned his sights towards his new goals. That’s what you do in ultra running! Things happen when you’re working towards the big miles. You have to be flexible and work with what you’re given on race day.

As the day progressed the fatigue set in and finally Shobal wanted me to tag along. I was more than happy to grab a few miles. It was time for me to get to work! YAY!!!

We headed out on our first loop. During that first loop, he mentioned that might be his last loop. I had him do some #runnersmath. How many miles had he run? How much time was left on the clock? After those answers, I did a little #runnersmath of my own.

I suggested we complete that loop, walking the uphills and running the downhills and flats. We could completely walk the next loop because that next loop would take him over 40 miles! That would be a sweet day’s total~didn’t you think?

He agreed and that’s what we did.

About 3/4 through that loop~the one we were just going to walk? I said, “Look! A downhill! Let’s run it!” We did.

We were almost done with the “we’re just going to walk this loop” when we did some more #runnersmath. We still had a little over 2 hours on the clock. “We could simply walk another loop and be in the mid 40’s for overall miles! You can walk another 3.1 miles, right?”

He agreed.

I don’t think I was his favorite person right about then. He was deep in his pain cave and in survival mode.

We walked that next loop…maybe running a few downhills towards the end of the loop.

By this time we had done 3 loops together and I was doubting my abilities to talk him into one last loop~even though there was still a little over an hour on the clock.

As we wrapped up that loop, who did I see but his younger brother! YAY!!! I said, “Look! You’re brother is here! I’m betting he would love to walk that last loop with you!”

Poor Shobal! He was soooo tired but agreed to go out one last time with his brother. They finished up that last loop with just 20 minutes left on the clock. Shobal had literally left it all out there on the course. He had run strong and had proven himself to be a terrific ultramarathoner!!!

He crossed the timing mats with 49.70 miles and finished 4th Overall Male. That’s some amazing running!!!

Well done, Shobal!!! Super proud of you and over the moon happy for you!


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