I’m starting to think about MdS as a restful vacation with a bit running thrown in. I’m not underestimating the desert...
Western States 2012: No Heat Training RequiredLiza
I just couldn’t bring myself to believe it was going to rain at this year’s Western States. Sure, I’d heard the pre-race weather reports. Unseasonably cold. Lows in the 30s. Highs in the 50s. With a 30% chance of rain. In my mind, that meant clouds and a few brief showers. Surely it didn’t mean 4 hours of rain and wind — with a little hail mixed in for good measure. This was Western States. People heat train for this. Ice scarves. Wet sponges squeezed over people’s steaming heads. Canyons named “Volcano.” AND I’d already done my rain running for the year at Rocky. So I lined up at the race start (where it was not raining) nice and prepared for cold weather — appropriate layers, windbreaker, hat & gloves etc. Good stuff until it was all soaked through. And by the time I made it to the aid station 10.5 miles in, I was nice and hypothermic. The volunteers there asked what I needed and all I could think to say was, “It’s very cold.” I fumbled for a packet of Chomps and whispered, “Can you open this?” I’d been tearing at it ineffectively for over an hour. The packet looked like it’d been attacked by a squirrel — but the Chomps were still nice and safe inside. I was so muddle-headed at that point I thought the aid station was Robinson Flat and spent some time looking for my crew. I decided something must have happened to their minivan and headed back onto the trail hoping they were okay. I figured I’d be able to make do with aid station fare until I finally linked up with them in a few hours. So I was pretty surprised to see them later at the real Robinson Flat. They were yelling and cheering and being grand and I tried to walk right by them in my cold stupor. Dave stopped me and I gave him and Amanda a pathetic, “I’m very cold.” Then I convinced them I didn’t need anymore layers. Impressive, eh? In my defense my thoughts were honey slow and all I heard them offering was more clothing. Clothing that would also get soaked — and keep me cold. I wanted a rain jacket or a trash bag. I did not tell them this, of course. That would have required actual thought processing. They did manage to put dry gloves on my swollen, non-functioning hands.
So all this is to say, I dug myself into a nice hole early on and I didn’t really dig myself out until I picked up Dave at Forest Hill, 60 miles in. So, lesson learned, I’ll carry the tiny, lightweight rain jacket THAT I OWN if there’s a whisper of rain in the future. Also, two 100 milers in a row with soaking rain? I’ll be making offerings to the trail gods regularly before Leadville in August. (You might want to do the same if you’re coming.)
It’s easy to understand why people fall in love with running Western States. The landscapes are lovely and there is some fun steep downhill terrain and wonderfully challenging climbs. More than that though, you’re on an actual journey during the race. Sure, you’re on a personal journey on all 100 mile runs, but it was unexpectedly impactful to be on an actual journey on this course. No 20×5 loops or 25×4 or Out 50 and Back 50. We ended up 100 miles from where we started. Very cool.
I certainly didn’t have the race I’d liked to have had out there, but I definitely had the run I needed to have. Nice and gut wrenching and soul baring. And I had the company of two great friends crewing and pacing me. I am full to bursting with gratitude for their friendship. Dave can motivate a rock to excel. And nothing can stop you if you have Amanda’s support. I was a little worried for the doctor’s life in the medical tent after the race when he told Amanda my lungs sounded clear. The trail dust had me wheezing, popping, and crackling the last 20 miles of the run and I was coughing like a pack a day smoker. Maybe the stethoscope dulled the doc’s hearing — and protected him from Amanda’s death glare. (PS. Apparently the inhalers are at the aid stations along the course — not at the end.)
Thank you to the hundreds of Western States volunteers. WOW!!
Thanks to Team New Balance for the support. I can’t tell you how much I appreciated those hugs Monica and Dominic. And congratulations to Katie!!!
Thank you to GU. Those watermelon Chomps are gold. Next time I will open them before the race — or race in Hawaii.
80 some miles in wet and wettish feet. No blisters. Get yourself some Drymax socks!
Thank you to the Rockhoppers in San Antonio for following along all day and to Lalo for manning command central.
And finally, thanks to Team RWB for helping me keep the day in perspective. When things got bad I’d think, “Well at least nobody’s shooting at me.” Let me know when the Team comes out with rain gear.
PPS. I got also got stung by a bee on the course. What the heck?!?