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Beyond Limits 50 Mile Race Report (by his mother, of course)

by Carilyn on March 31, 2014

*Warning: Sappy, braggy post below. He is my baby, even if he is 17. Please bear with me.

Grant 50 Miler

When my son, Grant, said he wanted to run a 50 miler just to see if he could do it, my response was, “Maybe you should at least run a marathon first.” And I thought that was the end of that. He wasn’t a runner. He’d never shown the slightest interest in running. And to be frank, I didn’t really think he could run.

Well, as now seems pretty typical of most of my parenting beliefs, I was wrong. Grant can run. On Saturday, a month after running his first marathon, he won the Beyond Limits 50 miler. To say I was surprised (and pleased. Oh, so pleased.) is an understatement. I had spent the whole race praying he would finish and not get hurt/sick/die.

Grant chose the Beyond Limits Ultra simply because it was close and it was a 2 mile loop course (something that I pushed because, well, you all know how I feel about loops). Also, the course was run on groomed trails which he agreed would be easier on his body after the marathon had left him a little more beat up than he had anticipated. (Don’t they always?)

Our friend from the US Team, Joe Fejes, was running the 24 Hour, so he set up with us, and we crewed him for the day. This turned out to be a great lifesaver for Grant because it kept me focused on something other than him – not that I can get too intense, or anything. With Joe burning up the course (he is such a phenomenal runner), and Grant running steadily, I didn’t have a single moment of down time and the day marched by without me even noticing, from cold morning, to hot afternoon, to cool early evening. And while all the runners suffered a bit in the heat, Grant and Joe acted like pros, cranking out lap after lap with only their quietness giving away the fact that they were uncomfortable.

My job consisted of the usual crew duties: keeping track of fluid, calories and electrolytes consumed; pushing a few more calories here and there; reminding them to put ice in a hat or neck wrap; and (Grant’s least favorite), asking them if they were peeing (Joe, the consummate pro offered up the information voluntarily. Grant had to be cajoled.). Sometimes I would walk a bit with them just to make sure they were okay, mentally and physically, but mostly I stayed in my little area. I wasn’t the runner and I tried to remember my place. As bossy as I wanted to be, I know from experience that the runner is ultimately in charge of his own destiny, even if he is only 17 and you are convinced he can’t possibly do this without you.

Because the moment always comes when you find out he absolutely can do it without you. And usually much better than you expected.

As Grant was heading out on his last loop, the timekeeper said, “He knows he’s in first place, right?”

Say what? The timekeeper repeats it.

I catch up with Grant and relay the information.

“I don’t care. I just want this to be over. I’m just going to walk the last loop.”

I tell him that is fine, that I am just so proud of him for doing this. He has no idea that for 48 miles I’ve been afraid for him, that I’ve wanted to tell him to stop because it is torture watching him suffer, even when I know it is by choice.

But then he silently hands me the Coke he is carrying and starts to run. I guess somewhere in his mind he came to that point we all do where you decide to “finish this damn thing” even when every cell in your body is telling you to stop. Or at least walk. I watch him round the corner and I turn back towards our tent. I have to gather myself before I get there, feeling like I might start crying out of sheer relief that he is going be okay. Pride is lurking under there somewhere, but it is still muted by the almost faintness I feel at knowing he is going to finish without calamity striking. Tim’s collapse in his 50 miler haunts us all.

As I come around the corner, my emotions now pretty much in check, I hear the timekeeper telling the RD, Ken Rubeli, that Grant is on his last loop and is the lead runner. People start to gather around the Finish in anticipation of some sort of payoff for all the time they’ve spent watching people go by, loop after loop. Like me, none of them are aware that it’s “the kid” who is going to come across the line first.

A little bit later, I see the familiar red hat coming in from the trail. He’s going to do it. He’s going to finish. He’s going to win. I simply can’t believe it, and now, no matter how hard I try, I can’t contain my relief and my pride. Tears fill my eyes and it takes all my self control not to run to him, not to run in with him, but I know that he needs to finish this by himself. Like with everything else I’ve been learning these last few years of “teenagehood”, I have to be there for support, but it’s his race to run. Even when it is painful, and joyous, to watch.

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Juan March 31, 2014 at 9:02 am

Pass on my congratulations to Grant. What an awesome achievement. Carilyn, you should be very proud.

Kim March 31, 2014 at 9:53 am

WooHoo!! I cried for/with you while reading this!!! I can only imagine the worry you felt for a huge chunk of the day and then the overwhelming sense of pride!!!
Great job to Grant and congrats, Mama!!!
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Marcia March 31, 2014 at 11:42 am

Oh my. I can just imagine the emotions. The wanting to run in with him but knowing you can’t. Huge congrats to Grant on an awesome accomplishment. Sounds to me like the apple didn’t fall too far from the tree!

Char March 31, 2014 at 11:56 am

Wow! Got a little bit teary reading this – I can totally relate to that mama pride. I guess the fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree.
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Joe Fejesjoe March 31, 2014 at 12:17 pm

I’m super proud too of what Grant accomplished this weekend!! He’s got a bright future in Ultrarunning should he want to continue! He certainly has the temperament for ultras. Thanks again for your crewing abilities!! I ended up having some tummy and peeing (or lack thereof) about an hour after y’all left and had my typical dry heavage for a while. It twasnt my worst day or my best day performance wise but I had a real swell time. I hope to hang out with y’all again real soon! Take care,


Carilyn March 31, 2014 at 12:53 pm

Thank you, Juan!

Carilyn March 31, 2014 at 12:54 pm

Thank you, Kim! It was stressful – thankfully, it all worked out.

Carilyn March 31, 2014 at 12:54 pm

Thanks, Marcia!

Carilyn March 31, 2014 at 12:54 pm

Thanks, Char! Yes, the mommy thing makes everything tougher :)

Carilyn March 31, 2014 at 12:56 pm

Thanks, Joe! It was great to see you – twice in one month, we’re on a roll! Where next? I’m sorry you had stomach issues – I can so relate. I wish I’d known you were going to be there so I could have arranged to just stay with you through the night. Unfortunately, we had to get back to LA. Next time you race out West, let me know so I can help you for the whole race. You are a pleasure to crew, and so much fun to watch race! What talent you have, my friend!

Brad N. March 31, 2014 at 5:30 pm

Hi Carilyn,
Your camp was setup next to ours (Brett helped your husband put up the tent.)
Thank you for the “Is there anything you need?” questions each time I went around the loop. I am very humbled that such an accomplished runner as yourself (and while crewing Joe) took time to make sure I was ok.
The ultra community truly is an unique community and one that I’m proud to be included (even if I’m a bit fat & slow!)

Carilyn March 31, 2014 at 5:52 pm

Brad, it’s so great to hear from you! I’ve been wondering how it worked out. You and Brett were one of the highlights of the race! So incredibly nice and helpful – thank you! I hope our paths cross again soon.

Jeff Dinkin March 31, 2014 at 9:20 pm

WOW!!! This is incredible! Excellent write up. It’s extremely clear how proud you are of your son. It seems he IS a runner, and don’t doubt for a second all the work he’s seen you put into your love and passion for running has rubbed off on him.

I believe this his way of demonstrating he is proud of his mom, and all she’s accomplished!

Kent April 1, 2014 at 4:12 am

The race was most assuredly more painful for Grant, but obviously a whole lot for stressful for Mom! Pretty cool to realize you have that kind of talent at such a young age. I suppose he’s definitely hooked for sure now.

Kent April 1, 2014 at 4:13 am

The race was most assuredly more painful for Grant, but obviously a whole lot more stressful for Mom! Pretty cool to realize you have that kind of talent at such a young age. I suppose he’s definitely hooked for sure now.

Kirstin C April 1, 2014 at 8:56 am

How wonderful!
I teared up at the end.
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Carilyn April 1, 2014 at 8:56 am

Thanks, Jeff! I hope you are doing well!

Carilyn April 1, 2014 at 8:57 am

Kent, it was definitely more painful for Grant :) Thank you for your kind response.

Debbie April 1, 2014 at 10:57 am

Very proud of Grant! But mom, you fell down as the “fashion police.” His clothing doesn’t look too comfortable and not too stylish ;-( You know it’s all about the look!!
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Carilyn April 1, 2014 at 1:37 pm

Thanks, Debbie! We were just glad he wasn’t running in cargo shorts – which were his first choice!

Debbie April 3, 2014 at 7:16 am

Ouch, cargo shorts. That would be some ugly chaffing!! In any outfit, though, he is adorable 😉
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Rob April 21, 2014 at 10:04 pm

Wow! That is so awesome. I’d be just casually mentioning this for a decade or two and you didn’t even drop a hint when I saw you doing Henninger repeats the other day!
Congrats to your son.

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