10 Things I Did Wrong at Western States

As I recounted in my three previous posts, my Western States race included 71 really good miles and 29 (or at least 20) unbelievably bad miles. So what went wrong? I’m not exactly sure, but I do have some ideas. Here they are:

1) I didn’t change my socks or shoes during the race. For the record, I’ve never changed my socks or shoes during a race (I heard Kaci say the same thing on URP). However, this time, I should have. There was so much grit everywhere, and my feet were ultimately my downfall. Next time, I’m planning several sock/shoe changes.

2) I spent too much time obsessing about my pee. As you know, it was over 100 degrees for much of the day. When it’s that hot, you don’t pee a lot, and your pee is… weird. At one point near Cal-2 (70 miles or so), I decided I needed to stop and drink because my pee was way too dark. The funny thing is, I wasn’t that thirsty and I was still moving well. In retrospect, I should have kept moving. I broke my momentum and I never got it back.

3) I didn’t stay focused. I was running so well for much of the day. However, right around the time I started obsessing about my pee is when I saw Yiou Wang on the ground in a somewhat distressed state. I think it rattled me a little and threw me off my game.

4) I wasn’t always able to find my people. I ran about 50 miles on and off with Clare Gallagher and we were rolling. However, we became separated at one point, and I never quite got into a groove with anyone else out there. Misery loves company, and when it’s 100 degrees, it’s always good to have a sidekick (or be a sidekick).

5) I didn’t preview the course. I live in New York and it just wasn’t feasible for me to travel to CA to preview the course. With that being said, I may have underestimated the terrain a little bit. Nothing quite compares to experience.

6) I didn’t practice math. My plan was to take in 300 calories an hour. And I did. Right up until I didn’t. Ironically, I could still eat. I just didn’t want to because I was cranky and my race had gone to shit. However, by doing so, it is likely that I compounded the problem.

7) I maybe could have used more support. My friend, Laura, crewed and paced me. She also helped with things like dropping off a car at the finish line. Basically, she did a three-person job. I’m sure it was stressful for her, and it may have caused unnecessary stress for me.

8) I didn’t eat enough real food. This goes along with number six. I did eat some real food at the aid stations – fruit, pretzels, etc. I’m vegan, so selection was a little limited. However, when things started to go south, it probably wouldn’t have hurt to take in something a bit more substantial.

9) I may have gotten a little starstruck. For 70+ miles, everything was aces. Coming into Foresthill, I had already passsed Kaci Lickteig and Mike Wardian and I was closing in on Thomas Lorblanchet, who I would pass shortly. Everything was clicking. But I was also a little shocked, a little starstruck and maybe a little delirious from the heat. See number three – stay focused!

10) I wasn’t ready. Unfortunately, this one is out of your control. When I applied to the Western States lottery, i figured I was looking at a three or four year wait, maybe more. And then… my single ticket got picked. Welp! Nobody was going to throw me a pity party, so I had to give it my best. With that being said, I only had one hundred under my belt, and it was in no way comparable to my 50k and 50m results. In addition, my training had been hampered by a bizarre injury at Traprock 50k. Next time, I’ll be ready!

I hope this helps you in your journey to Western States – cheers!