Tuesday, January 29, 2008

marathons w/ Mike


Last week, I got an invite from Mike Pastore to join him at Greenville’s viewing of the movie: Spirit of the Marathon. Our local theater was presenting a one time showing, and the G’ville Track Club had organized a dinner/movie outing.

How could I pass that up? Going to see a documentary about marathon training/racing with one of my endurance heroes.

I first met Mike, last year, when he was training for the Umstead 100 Mile Ultra (North Carolina). He was looking for people to “pace” him from mile 50 on… Robin called to see if I was interested.

I didn’t even have to think about it – Heck YES!! I wanted to see people that could run 100 miles nonstop; better yet, let me run (some of it) with them! However, after agreeing, I got worried – what kind of pace did he want to run? Would I hold him back? I was quickly assured that “pacing” really means: running alongside Mike, carrying the light & water, keeping him sane w/ some conversation, and encouraging.

The 12.5 mile loop I did with Mike, in the middle of the night, was one of the most interesting runs I’ve ever completed. Ultra running is a totally different world. We’re used to triathlons… everyone has the latest, greatest, most expensive, aerodynamic, moisture wicking, top of the line equipment an athlete can find.

Ultra Athletes… not so much. These people are hard-core. Bandannas, salted potato wedges, bloody/blistered feet, t’shirt and running shorts… While triathletes are begging for wetsuits, these people are asking for tougher courses, steeper climbs, crazier trails, more challenging weather. There are only a handful of people seeking a “win.” For all other participants it’s about simply finishing or setting a new PR.

If I remember correctly, I began running with Mike as he set out on mile 70. It was the middle of the night, but the moon was full and we could see the trail without the use of our headlamps. Surprisingly, Mike was in great spirits (now knowing his positive nature, I shouldn’t have expected anything less)… but, if you made me run 70 miles… I don’t think I would be in such a “nice” mood. After awhile, he was asking how I was doing – and if I needed anything?!

Those miles, submerged in the world of Ultra runners, I witnessed a new level of athletic persistence and determination. There was absolutely no tension or spiteful competition between competitors… they were helping one another. (fyi, pepto bismol is to an Ultra Runner what cigarettes are to prison inmates). In many of my own races since then (including my most recent half) I have drawn on memories from that night for personal motivation.

Mike finished that race – and drove his own car to the hotel. He’s now training for Western States (a point to point 100 mile race)… *in his career, he’s raced over 70 marathons… and does about 4 Ultra Events each year!

So, who better to watch The Spirit of the Marathon with? We grabbed a bite at the Atlanta Bread Co. and got seats at the theater. Who’s who in the Greenville running community packed the place.

If you get a chance to see this film, I highly recommend it: whether you’re an athlete or not… it’s an inspirational story about 5 very different runners. From beginner to elite – each facing their own challenges, each striving for a different kind of success.

· Ryan Bradley - Boston Hopeful
· Leah Caille - First-Time Marathoner
· Deena Kastor - 2004 Olympic Bronze Medalist
· Jerry Meyers - Four-Time Marathoner
· Daniel Njenga - World Class Marathoner
· Lori O'Connor - First-Time Marathoner

2 comments:

Sally said...

what a great blog. I'll be looking for the movie and hoping to meet Mike when I'm in Greenville some time.

Sarah said...

i love how mom posts a comment on every blog...i think it's prove that she actually reads them...love you mom