Western States....a humbling, beautiful, brutal and another learning experience. LOVED IT! The final of the Montrail Cup series....one word to describe WOW.
Everytime I would ask someone how they would compare Western States to any other hundred...the response would be similiar "Its Western States, there is no comparison". And I will have to agree. From the terrain, the amazing crowds, the incredible organization....it was by far a 10 on my list.
Almost 2 weeks later and here is my race report, finally put into words. This explains the awe of such a race that really now can I muster up what it was all about. OK, and coming home to 5 kids who are out of school and full of energy...makes it difficult to sit down! Back to the WS100 report.....
Looking at profiles, elevation charts, pictures, reading previous reports...doesn't really mean much until you are physically there. Coming from the east coast to the west coast and seeing these BIG HILLS was a reality check. The day before the WS start of the race I looked up at the mountains above and immediately downsized my expectations. I did not train for this type of race- coming from flat 24 hour training in a matter of weeks to hill training is a big reality check. So, I knew I was going to give it what I had but if I want more...I will have to adjust training for next time (there will be one!) and really train for this race. It is worth it...this race is amazing!
The weekend started with meeting up with my Montrail teammates - it was so great to put a personality to a face. What a wonderful team - not just amazing athletes but the personality to go with it. I loved learning about all the new amazing shoes that were to come as well as exchanging our favorites and why. All around it was wonderful to stay in the "Montrail House" and really feel such a welcome.
Sean Meissner and Chris Eskew, two AMAZING athletes as well as now becoming awesome friends, were both crewing and pacing for me. When Sean had agreed to pace me, I felt so honored. When he also told me that Chris would help too...I felt extremely special! So I had a chance to meet Sean again as well as Chris for the first time.
OK...the race. The morning of, I felt very rested. One very important element in any ultra race....getting rest. It is the natural steroid to boosting your energy. I did focus on the rest. I had all my gear in check and ready to go.
It helps to have your crew be familiar with the course (thankfully they both were!) and knew what to do, where to meet me. We went over little details.
The race started at 5:00 am. And what a welcome, to big hill #1. Up and up and up and into snow,snow, slush, mud, streams - all added to the craziness of trying to keep your feet on the ground instead of your butt - which I did happen to fall on my butt! A group of us went of track for a little bit but regrouped and got back on. The top of the first incline,Watson's Monument, I was told to look back at the sunrise. Amazing. And then....like the top of a roller coaster....a down, down, down take off...flying down!
So the hills, mountains(compared to my east coast hills!) were many! The uphills, rough (Devils Thumbs switch backs, 37 of them!) but the downhills...whoa, just as rough. My butt was in need of some serious rubbing!
Western States is both organized very well with volunteers at the aid station but especially at the medical. The weigh-ins were many, which are a very good indicator of dehydration's, hyponetremia, and other factors that could come up. My first weigh-in, up 8 lbs. Shocking to me since I thought that I was drinking a sufficient amount as well as salt in-take. So I increased the salt. At Michigan Bluff I was held for awhile until I could pee (since my weight was still up). I wanted to figure this one out. And what dawned on me was my fueling....I believe that my drink of choice had to be changed since it was not agreeing with my celiacs. And so, from Michigan Bluff on...I completely changed my gels and drinks. The first 50 I was poisoning myself, the second 50 I was recovering. Thankfully due to a conversation with a teammate of mine the day before who also has celiacs, I learned that he could not have what I was fueling with....and since I have recently been taking this fueling for the pasts 6 months I concluded that after a couple of mishaps that maybe this is not working for me. It took a tasking race like this to put my body into rejecting processing this to figure it out.
In all races...we can have A PLAN....and keep in mind that PLANS CHANGE...often. Having the ability to adjust and trust your instincts are a key in ultras, especially the ones that are more tasking on your body.
At Michigan Bluff, I definitely knew I was not in a competitive field so I downsized my race again and just wanted to learn and have a healthy race. So...I had fun. I enjoyed the views, in awe of the beauty, alot of "who am I" moments....the peace, the being alone, the thoughts of the wild, loved it. Loved being alone in the middle of nowhere. Took it all in....but, I wasted ALOT OF TIME! I planned on going under 24, thought that would be no problem, but of course I had too much wasted fun! I sat in one of the rivers for awhile, got a massage, took my sweet old time at the aid stations. And came to find out that I truly was in pamper, relax mode! And so, with my amazing pacers who had patience, yet motivation to keep me going....they kept me on my feet and in good spirits.
And we joked, and laughed.
Sean and Chris are both strong in body and strong in spirit and they sure were going to keep me moving by the time I got to them.
While we were running we learned that our teammate Geoff Roes had won the race and broke Scott Jurek's record. Geoff is a strong runner and an amazingly humble guy. We also learned of the other teammates, Annette Bednosky, and Joelle Vaught came in the top ten. Truly amazing...so happy for them both! It brought a high to me as I was making my way up and over and up and down and progressing forward.....
Two sunrises later....I made it in...FINALLY! The longest I had ever been on my feet!
Western States...you humbled me, but didn't defeat me...I'll be back. And stronger and wiser next time....
Thank you so much Sean and Chris for giving me your time and crewing and pacing for me! Thank you Montrail for such awesomeness not only in a company of amazing shoes but a company of amazing people!
"Some people will never learn anything, for this reason, because they understand everything too soon". Alexander Pope
Looking forward to the next one - and looking forward to meeting up with all the amazing runners out there! Everytime I do these races I collect more and more amazing stories, amazing friends, and of course amazing experiences that make me who I am.