I said it during the Trail Runner Nation podcast on tapering http://trailrunnernation.com/2015/06/whats-in-a-taper-with-aliza-lapeirre-paul-terranova/ and I’ll write it here again: the weeks and days before and after any Western States (or any “A” race) are downright bittersweet (but still more sweet than bitter). The long journey is almost over, race week goes by SO fast, race day goes by EVEN faster, and the days after are spent playing and replaying the events of the journey in your head, in your dreams, with crew and pacers, via photos, videos, interviews, liking, sharing, tagging, etc. My reluctance as of late to tap out race reports seems to stem from wanting to hold on to and savor the experience for as LONG as humanly possible. Normally I’m ready to quickly move on to the next training block and/or race, but the build-up to States for me is a 20+ week process. Writing it out somehow feels like the closing finale, and dangit I have some Girl Scout cookie eating to do!
“Driving slow on Sunday morning, and I NEVER wanna’ leave…” – Maroon 5
-Catching your toe and hitting the dirt/rocks HARD early on the high country with fellow 40-49 AG competitor Sondre Amdahl right behind you was NO fun. Tuck and roll, baby, tuck and roll. Thankfully, Sondre helped me recollect my scattered bottles and get back moving. Was thankful to have arm sleeves on to minimize the damage, left knee took the brunt of this first fall. Had the crew proactively slap some cycling cream (DZ NUTS) on the knee (and later on quads, hammies, calves, etc.) to keep things from tightening up at Dusty Corners, Foresthill, and Green Gate. “Thorough preparation makes its own luck.” – Joe Poyer
-Ultralegend and ultraphotographer Gary Wang was seemingly EVERYWHERE on course. So cool to see him and other friends and supporters out there capturing the race in images and video.
-Catching your other toe and face-planting in the dust on the descent down to Swinging Bridge (right after the new smaller bridge) was even LESS fun. Thought one of my two bottles was going to plunge down the cliff (which would have left me with only one for the hot climb up to Devil’s Thumb) but was saved by the Diego Maradona “hand of God” If a runner falls in the woods and there is no one to see him/her, did it really happen? -Catching your other other toe and supermanning into the ground almost at the end of the descent down to El Dorado Canyon totally PEGGED my fun-meter! Gosh, I got to the aid station absolutely filthy and livid with myself for falling a third time as I’m sure the aid station volunteers there can attest. However, taking the time to get wet (and partially clean) before the climb up to the oven (aka Michigan Bluff) was well worth it! Super thankful for all the cross-training, hot yoga, and sauna sessions (i.e. training multipliers) I continue to put in year after year at Pure Austin . Other than my upper body being mildly sore 6 days after the race, any 1 of those 3 falls could EASILY have ended my day.
“This summer’s gonna’ hurt like a mother…” – Maroon 5
-High-fiving HOKA teammate Mike Morton, yeah THAT Mike Morton , coming through Michigan Bluff was a total surprise and incredibly motivating!!!! Thanks Mike for being out there!
-High-fiving HOKA teammate Jorge Maravilla, aka the happiest man in ultrarunning, coming through Foresthill is equally as motivating, thanks Jorge!!!
-Putting ice in your arm sleeves really helps. In 2013 I wore an Ultimate Direction AK Race Vest and we put loads of ice in the back pouch that worked really well too.
-Pretty sure I saw a tarantula on the side of the gravel road between Michigan Bluff and Volcano Canyon, didn’t stick around long enough to confirm and I was lucid enough that it definitely wasn’t a hallucination!
-Was ever so briefly in 10th place between Cal-3 and the River after getting around Ryan Smith and his pacer Ashley Erba, before getting absolutely steamrolled by the Australian express Andrew Tuckey at Sandy Bottom. BMort and I hung tough and kept him in sight to the river crossing, reminiscing about the 2013 battle for top-10 here with Patagonia teammate Jesse Haynes and Jeremy Humphrey .
-Yes, crossing the American River on foot by cable feels as refreshing as it looks!!! Next year, God willing, I will pull/float myself across the river like Krar did, seems like an efficient way to get across without having to navigate your feet around and over the big slick submerged rocks.
-Smart move: Made a game-time decision (coming up Bath Road) to change shoes and Team RWB socks at Green Gate this year. The past 2 years I’ve swapped out shoes/socks at Foresthill. This year worked out really well. Changed from Challenger ATRs to a lighter (and drier) pair of Cliftons (same ones I wore at Rocky Raccoon 100 this year) for the last 20 miles.
-Green Gate to Highway 49: BMort and I just kept pressing forward and staying positive, we knew that someone in front of us was going to have to crater or fold and we just needed to be in position to capitalize on it. Hal, yeah THAT Hal Koerner , gave us a heads-up at his Brown’s Bar aid station that we might be seeing Francois sitting in a chair at Highway 49. Time to move bro’! When we got there it was all business, grab bottles, Meredith walked me through and gave me a quick update (MAJOR thanks to Mike and Cindy for keeping my crew updated with the latest tracking information), and Justin and I were off. Heard cheering about 2 minutes after we left so either Francois had rallied or we had company from somebody else moving well. Bombs away! RUN HARD FOR MACKEY. Huge props to Francois for rallying after getting sick pre-race, being in the lead and top 5 nearly all day, and then sticking it out for the finish.
-FINALLY had a good climb up to Robie Point and on the pavement!!! HUGE thanks to Patagonia teammate and States legend AJW for meeting my crew and me for the celebratory run to the track. WOW, we had fun and it’s definitely satisfying to put forth an effort that he and others appreciate and does this event the justice it deserves.
When the sweet ache of being alive,
lodged between who you are
and who you will be,
befriend this moment.
It will guide you.
It’s ache is what moves you.
-The aftermath: another well-earned post-race In-N-Out Burger feast and post-awards ceremony Pete’s Brewhouse Monster Cookie and Delta Mudslide Pie
-The after-aftermath: bookend workouts…Tuesday afternoon road my beater mountain bike (aka billy-goat) to the library to drop off/pickup books and got absolutely DUMPED on by torrential rains. Two weeks before States I hit the Austin High track on an early Sunday morning for my last hard track workout, I call it the Igloi 7k and it ABSOLUTELY came down in buckets the entire time I was out there. The gift was I had the track ALL to myself and got treated to some double rainbows. Good karma indeed. Thanks for reading, see you in Squaw 2016.