Everything about WS100 was perfect this year. I had true Western States fever, being a five-time consecutive lottery loser (with additional non-consecutive lotteries attempts in years prior all the way back to 2006!). I read about WS 100 when I was a teenager and knew that it was my dream to set off one morning with those runners in Squaw, and over the next 28 years the personal reasons for doing it grew more and more important to me. I have always told myself that it was my time when I got in, and then this fall I got the present of a lifetime when Trish and Chuck Godtfredsen surprised me with the Mile 78 race slot that I hadn’t put in for.
I had very little 100 mile confidence. I had always wanted WS to be my first, but had once tried Mt. Hood 100 and succumbed to hypothermia at mile 80 despite a very strong race. The year before I had jumped into Bryce 100 upon hearing the new qualification standard and completed it without pacer or crew in 34:45 in lockstep with my goal of not risking anything to get my qualifier. I thought maybe I was a 100ker by limitation, but thought I could pull off a solid 27 hour attempt at Western States.
My strategy for training was to focus on course specific training, throw in two great hilly races (Lake Sonoma 50 and Canyons 100K) and do all the training runs. I asked Meghan Arbogast to be my coach for the three months leading up to the big day and did whatever she told me. I had so little time there was no danger of overtraining!
Race day had blue skies (all the smoke cleared out just in time), moderate temperatures (the 100 degree weather had passed), and even some cloud cover. I couldn’t have been happier. I set off up the big climb and discovered that the five of us who had been lucky enough to scout the 30 mile high country together with the guidance of the great Jack Meyer two weeks earlier were miraculously side by side in the crowd of 388 runners – Kelly Barber, Tina Hyde, Sandy Baker, and Jack. It proved to be very important to have seen this section as I was aware that the trail is nothing like TRT – it’s a lot of loose rocks, difficult and tiring if you fight it. It is also very dusty and I made myself use my buff every time runners were in front of me. I also used my inhaler every 2 hours which I’ve never done before. I kept my heart rate below 140 as the trail did its up and downs for the first 30 or so miles; stopping as early as several miles in to wet my buff and soak my head. Matt Keyes’s approval of this strategy raised my hopes that I was doing this section correctly – just the sound of his voice behind me and the sight of him gliding along in front of me made me feel better.