Many amazing things happened out there for many people. The men's race was a true dual of fitness and tenacity and passion. A record number of runners finished. Some dropped. What I am writing is just a glimpse of this past Saturday from my own little world.
Part of Friday at this race is getting a Medical Check. The volunteer staff weighs everyone, takes BP and pulse and records it on a plastic bracelet worn by runners until after the race. Runners are weighed at various points on the course to monitor for too much weight loss (dehydration) or gain (hypernatremia). I weighed in a 119 including shoes and running clothes, after breakfast. This weight seemed a few pounds light to me-yet I wasn’t about to be whiney and argue my scale at home might not be the accurate one.
The pre-race briefing was long and a bit daunting when the Top 10 finishers from each gender and automatic entrants from the Montrail Ultra Cup were called up front. I was on stage with no less than 20 other strong, accomplished female ultra runners. Add the other girls that are not as well “known”, and there was quite a lot of competition for the Top 10 spots of WS 100 2010! I had my work cut out for me, and I knew it!
I spent Friday evening alone in my little cabin at Tamarack Lodge in Tahoe City, dining on a veggie omelet and English muffin prepared in the kitchenette. I was in bed reading by 9:30pm and slept until the alarms (3) went off at 3am. After taping feet and gathering my things, jumped into my rental Toyota for the 8 mile drive to the start. I drank coffee, ate ½ banana and English muffin with almond butter and apple butter.
I parked the car, stashed the keys where teammate Matt Hart had agreed to pick it up in order to deliver it to Auburn. After taking care of “personal business”, picked up my race number and chip, got weighed in for the medical study having to do with hydration and salt I’d agreed to participate in, and found Tony and Elinor who unexpectedly would be crewing for me. Tony is George’s uncle and Elinor is his daughter, to me they are great people whom I am proud to call family. Both crewed for me in 2005 and were able to come back and offer their assistance and enthusiasm this year. It was a joy to share this part of my life with family, especially an event as dramatic and high profile as the Western States 100. Thank you Elinor and Tony!
It didn’t take long before I found my slippery rhythm on this snowy course. Like in 2005 when there was snow, I spent much time laughing out loud from the pure joy of playing in the snowy mountains! Several around me seemed to be delighted in a similar way and as we chatted we seemed to brag about how many (uneventful) falls on our butts we’d taken! (I only had 2! So far!) The early miles of this day brought forth the experience of joy and freedom and flight that first attracted me to this sport. I was reminded of my privilege to be alive and to experience my senses as richly as I do. If you grew up where it snowed and can remember the first snowfall of the year when you didn’t have to go to school, but instead could go outside and play in the snow and build forts and later come inside to drink hot chocolate and each cheese sandwiches…then you can identify with my first hours of this event!
The Past and the Plan
As I have written in previous posts, the daunting expenses of the WS 100 trip and race kept me from seeking entry earlier this year. So actively seek, I did not. Yet, I allowed, if I gained access via automatic entry via an Ultra Cup Race, I’d seriously consider. On May 8, 2010, I earned an entry by my 2nd place finish at Ice Age 50 Mile. At this point, giving myself a week to recover from Ice Age and a week to “taper” for WS 100, my coach, Howard Nippert and I designed a training plan. I would have 5 weeks to gear my training to this course. Since a person can not cram for racing an ultra, I entered with what I hoped was 4 realistic goals. I would to go for:
- A top 10 finish
- To place in the Montrail Ultra Cup (top 3 get cash prizes!)
- To better my time from last time
- To be smart so I still had legs to run well at least until the River (mile 78)
I felt very sad as I came through the aid station (mile 53ish) just before the ascent to Michigan Bluff: There stood Devon Crosby-Helms looking pale and speaking to the aid station medical folks. I could tell things were not good for her and probably hadn’t been for some time. Later I would learn she was dealing with stomach issues and had to drop at Michigan Bluff. I was sad for Devon as I knew from reading her blog and occasional personal interactions with her, that she was very prepared and super excited about this race.
I don't blame the study staff for what happened, rather it is my own fault for not obtaining enough information. I sincerely thank the medical folks at the finish line for helping me come back to life!