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On attempt #7, I have finally run what I believe is my most complete 100 mile race. I was running the entire time minus a few steep and rocky climbs. I didn’t bonk, I didn’t blow up, and I stayed positive throughout. There was no notorious death march. Western States 100 was a big success and I’m very pleased.
The idea that dominates when I think about this race is that it was 20 hours of pure, in-the-moment being. My mind never wandered. I was thinking about the run, my body, and managing the race the entire time I was on that course. The time flew by. If I have ever experienced flow, this was one of those times.
For anyone wanting to run 100 mile races, Western States should likely make your running wish list. Complete and amazing experience. From the moment we arrived all the way through the awards ceremony Sunday afternoon, they put on a memorable, feel-good event. I clearly remember telling aid station workers that I loved them after they doused me with icy water and sponges or after they topped my bottle off with extra Cliff drink mix. They put on a true running community spectacle and I’m fortunate to have taken part in it.
The word of the day was patience. Kaci L., the runner-up female, and I ran together for a few miles in the first third of the race. We backed each other up on our strategies to be patient in order to ensure that we had legs for the final thirty miles. I never pushed it, I stayed steady all day, and I was running all the way to the track at Placer High School – Kaci crushed it and finished 2nd female.
I had great crew and pacing. Julie was the leader and her experience showed as she was always ready with whatever I might need. When I had to change out insoles in my shoes at mile 55.7, she had dry socks and new insoles for me. When I needed more calories in my water bottle the final 20 miles, she had 400 calories of TailWind cold and ready. We had the fortune of having our friends Anna and John joining in for the crewing experience and our friend Ryan along for pacing duties. We even had some Rooney cousins out there cheering and supporting. Along with all this support, there were many we knew in the race and community which made the event all the more special.
Ryan was a kick ass pacer. I laid down the ground rules from the beginning. “I’m not into tough love, rah rah motivational type of stuff”. “I’d rather we just be quiet for awhile and run together.”Even though we’re not talking, it really helps knowing you’re there.” Ryan did everything a good pacer should do. He was there for me, he listened to me, he made good suggestions for things I should do, and he helped maintain a positive, enjoyable environment during a challenging part of the race.
I didn’t bonk. I ate between 20 and 30 PowerGel during the event and I drank the Cliff electrolyte drink they provided along with TailWind from my crew. I ate a few handfuls of watermelon at aid stations while my bottle was being filled. That’s all I consumed and I felt fine on energy throughout. It was a hot day and I survived with one 20 ounce bottle tucked into the back of my shorts. They’d fill it with ice and Cliff drink at every aid station. I ate gels when hungry and over the final 22 miles only consumed one gel. I can only hope the next one goes this well.
There were challenges out there. Devil’s Thumb worked me. So did the next climb. I walked those hills for sure. The heat was a challenge but I feel like I fared well in it. I had some chest/breathing issues from miles 20-60 but those were resolved with some ibuprofen. Not sure what the cause was but it hurt to take a full, deep breath. It got better after Forest Hill and didn’t recur the rest of the race.
It was a conservative effort. I was patient, I never pushed. I wanted to keep running throughout and I was able to accomplish that. I think I can probably push more in future races. I’ve blown up too many times though and needed a full race. I’ve got that now. I’m already busy thinking about how I can do better for the next one.