Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Pam Looby: 50 miles in the Mojave Desert.

Pam and her husband Gary at her 2005 Ironman
Pam Looby has been my friend and midweek running companion since 2008. She has always been encouraging to me and to others in her capacity as a group fitness director at the YMCA. I remember when I thought about doing a triathlon, it was Pam who encouraged me to go to the masters swim classes. What a daunting idea to someone like me, who was scared to put their face in the water! But she was right, I could do it and learn to swim and complete a triathlon in a lake!

When we were running one day, she told me about doing her first half-Ironman in September 2004. She then decided to complete the Panama City Beach Ironman on November 5, 2005. She is not afraid to take on a challenge and train hard and alone. So when Pam told me she was going to do her first 50-mile race in the Mojave Desert in the middle of the summer over blacktop, I was not surprised. She trained like a maniac, even layering clothing and running in the hottest part of the day with the least amount of shade possible. Her training involved back-to-back days of incredibly long runs, almost all of them done alone. She was relentless in her training, and it paid off! Once she gets a goal in her sights she is going to work as hard as she can to complete it!

Pam on the 50 mile course
Pam picked a race In Nevada in the Calico Racing series in June.  The average temperature at that time of year in June is 110 degrees. The course is composed of rolling hills and is thru the desert without shade, I guess that is why the race is aptly called, “Running with the Devil”! I was so excited to hear about it and of course the website had warnings about the heat. Pam used supplements to avoid losing too much water during the long runs and weighed herself, as they do doing the race to make sure she didn’t lose too much water and become dehydrated, in the race that would mean she would be pulled for health and safety.

On June 25th, 2011, thirty-five people started the race and only twenty-two FINISHED the 50-mile course across the dessert. I asked her what she did when it got hard. Well, it may have been called “Running with the Devil” but Pam says she was definitely running with God. She used lots of prayers to keep her going. Pam said, “The last 6 miles were the toughest to keep going, although I never considered stopping. Having determination and focus is critical to just take one step at a time. I do thank God for my ability to run and for giving me the strength to be able to run 50 miles.”

Pam recalls how she met up with another runner Ed Ettinghausen ,who has a great running story himself and is an experienced ultra runner. He gave Pam the encouragement she needed for that extra kick at the end that helped her finish in her goal of under 12 hour. She finished in 11:49:18. Pam was not only the 1st Woman Overall, she was the only woman to finish the 50 miles course!
Pam says “Don't be afraid to try and don't be afraid to fail. No matter what the end result, you didn't fail if you tried and gave it your all, because you will never know if you don't try.” Pam respected the challenge and knew that training was key. She says, “Train hard and be prepared with hydration and nutrition. Don't take it too seriously. Enjoy! It is just running.”

As our mutual friend Johnathan Savage would say, “How hard can it be?” The truth…. pretty darn hard, but that’s why we train! Way to show how training hard can really pay off Pam!

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