Western States Race Report (Part 2 of 3)

If you read Part 1 of my race report, you know things were going really well. I had reached mile 70.7 in 33rd place. I had passed runners like Mike Wardian and Kaci Lickteig, and I was going back and forth with Thomas Lorblanchet. As I pointed out in Part 1, the heat was acting as an unbelievable equalizer.

Unfortunately, the heat caught up with me a bit at Cal-2 (70.7 miles). I took a seat at the aid station and started drinking and eating. I wanted to get my hydration in order as quickly as possible. The next 7+ miles to the river were challenging. Laura and I were run/walking, but at least we were still moving at a reasonable pace. It was dark at the river. We crossed in a boat and hiked up to Green Gate (mile 79.8). I was still in 40th place, but the wheels were starting to come off the bus.

My hydration was okay, but I was hot and low energy. More than anything, my feet were really hurting. I had to stop a couple of times on the climb to Green Gate just to catch my breath and try to refocus. The worst was yet to come.

The hike to Auburn Lake Trails (mile 85.2) was grueling. My feet hurt a lot and I was basically falling asleep while still trying to move forward. It was around this time that Mike Wardian passed me back. We finally got to the aid station and I told Laura I was taking a nap. Laura looked at me and I could read her mind – “Umm, is that a good idea?” We reached a compromise where I would eat some soup and she would let me sleep for 20 minutes. Win win? Or was it a lose lose? Either way, I got up and I limped out of the aid station. Ouch! Also, while I was sleeping, Kaci came through the aid station and created quite a buzz. She was having a rough day, but nobody should question the Pixie Ninja’s toughness!

By the time we reached Quarry Road (mile 90.7), I was in 100th pace. It was getting light outside, and I was totally spent. The goal was to keep moving forward – and Laura kept me on it – but it was going soooo slowly. The last three aid stations eventually came, despite my 25 min/mile pace.

As we were going up the last major climb, Yassine Diboun came by performing pacing duties for one of his runners. Yassine is one of those people that can lift your spirits in any circumstance. We hit a residential neighborhood, and in a few minutes, we could hear the announcer at the track. And then there it was. I started a slow jog on the track and Laura let me take the last straightaway solo. I finally – and I mean finally – crossed the finish line in 27 hours and 14 minutes.

It was not the outcome I was hoping for. I missed my A, B and C goals, but I did get a finish. I definitely earned that buckle the hard way, as so many people did.

I have a lot of thoughts about the race and experience, and I will share them in Part 3. In the meantime, know that it was a really good 70.7 miles, a really bad 29.5 miles and one day/night/day I will never forget.

Check back soon for Part 3!