If you’ve been following along on my journey you’d know that here I am, at the end of a fantastic 6 month ride. From getting into the lottery in December, to having a head injury in March and not knowing when/if I’d be able to run, to finally realizing my dream of running from Squaw to Auburn!
As I lay here post race I’m finally able to process it all. I love the training, so I can’t say that it was hard to get here. I mean, I trained hard, and spent many hours alone on trails and in the gym, but I also had many wonderful people supporting me along the way, even if they weren’t running with me, they were helping me in other ways.
On Saturday morning we lined up at 5 am. I wasn’t as nervous as I’ve been at some other races. Not sure if I’m getting used to pre race jitters or if I just knew that I’d prepared as well as I could with the things I could control. I don’t have altitude or mountains or desert, but I did all the things I could do to prepare myself for them.
We started up the mountain from Squaw at exactly 5 am. The climb is long enough and wide enough that the field can spread out. I hiked with Jasmine from PA for a while as the sun rose.
Up the escarpment I felt like a rock star with all the cameras and cheering. Down the backside I managed to twist my ankle, ugh already?! I shook it off mentally and continued.
Soon I came upon Fiona, from Australia, and chatted with her for sometime. Coach Meghan caught up to us just before mile 24. We all got into Duncan Canyon together but Meghan and I left together while the other women would catch up soon after.
I let them go up the next climb, wanting to run my own pace and not get caught up in chatting or someone else’s pace too soon. I was moving nice and easy and controlled around a 13 min pace. I wasn’t worried because I knew I’d be saving myself for the heat of the canyons and the more runnable trail at lower elevation.
I mostly ran alone through Robinson, then into the canyons. As long as I kept the ice going and my clothes wet I wasn’t bothered by the heat. One bottle was dedicated to keeping myself wet while the others were for hydration.
I stopped, for what I thought would only be a few minutes to take care of a blister, but the great John Vonhof of Fixing your Feet, decided 5 needed to be taped. This was the first time I got a little anxious during the race. I very much appreciated his professional blister job, but had a race to get back to Fortunately it gave my crew Brian a chance to work on my ankle and hip from falling at mile 4.
once taped up and worked out I was back and headed to Bath road where I knew my pacer would be. With my left side fixed by Brian I would make up lots of time on this next section, finally feeling like my ankle was solid again.
I ran up Bath road and into Foresthill ready to race! In my mind I was going to catch everyone, in reality after about an hour of running my stomach started to act up. It had been fine the whole race so I hadn’t taken anything for it. I looked for my immodium but it wasn’t in my pack. Uh oh. This section I had some great moments followed by some upset stomach moments, but I knew I was catching people so I kept it up.
We reached the river just after dark and crossed with the help of many great volunteers. Have I mentioned how amazing the volunteers are?
let me pause my story here and explain. If you’ve never run states before it’s like having your own personal concierge at each station. As you neared the aid station someone would radio ahead that you were coming so the volunteers would be expecting you. They would know your name, where you were from and one would personally help you out. It was amazing!
Anyway, back to the race. By now I was heading up to green gate where I’d finally get my headlamp, yea, I forgot to grab it at Foresthill.
From green gate on my stomach got weirder and weirder. I had to walk more, if I pushed too hard I’d gag. I didn’t want to get on the puke train, because often there’s no getting off and it just eats up time and energy, leaving you dehydrated and miserable. So I straddled the line of running just hard enough but not too hard as to puke.
Somewhere near the ALT aid station my pacer, Jordan, said something to the effect of, “ so there are mountain lions out here, ya? I just saw one, let’s pick up the pace.” I thought perhaps it was a tactic to get me moving, but I could tell he was tense and not joking. Adrenaline moved me into that aid station!
The final miles were bonky. At some point I wasn’t sure if I’d go under 24, but I mustered what energy I had left and got myself in just under 23 hours!
I was so happy to see my husband at Robie, and my crew and relatives at the finish!
Wow, the end of a multi year journey, I’d finally run Western States! (And have the toe blisters still to prove it!)
Thank you to all my family for putting up with my nonstop WSER talk, especially Drew, my friends who ran with me, adventured with me, talked me down when I got scared. Meghan for her royal coaching. Balance Movement Studio for getting me strong and also for crewing! Jordan for pacing, Sam for coming out and crewing and making sure the crew was fed and taken care of. Lily Trotters compression socks for so much recovery! Orange mud for making great hydration packs and all of you for your support and kind words!!