A good adventure seems to always begin with a change in plans. Change is the only real constant in my life, it seems. How you deal with those changes can define your sucess and your happiness as a runner and as a person. So an email from Craig Thornley, RD of Waldo, stating a forest fire was threatening the closure of the course, should have come as no suprise only days before the race. But, like a true pro, he and co-RD Meghan Arboghast, handled the course change, re-routed, re-marked and reassured us runners. A tough 62 mile run would now be a tough 66 mile run. And that’s just the beginning.
With two Western States spots up for grabs and at least 5 women running who could run strong enough to grab them, this was going to be a battle for certain. Having just run Speedgoat 50K, three weeks prior, with a 7th place finish (only a few minutes separating me and the two ladies ahead of me- one of them being Denise Bourassa, also running for the top two at Waldo) it was going to be whoever had a better day and who’s legs were better trained and recovered. The untouchable in this race was certain to be Joelle Vaught- who is certainly a 50Mile and 100k specialist. I tend to like longer races, so the extra distance added to Waldo was certain to benefit me.
After attempting a fitfull night of sleep in a double bed (but I doubt it was that big) with both my daughter and my husband, the morning finally came. But rested I was not. I have to admit, my major achilles heel in ultrarunning motherhood has been my ability to recover due to lack of sleep. After Speedgoat 50K, I did what I could to recover and to get in a bit more training, but dealt with dead legs and very painful hamstrings. I haven’t had any time to hit the Bikram yoga that prior had been my saving grace and quite possibly the best recovery tool I have found.
As we started up the first hill, the air was mild, even warm, and headlamps were blazing every footstep. I found my place behind Denise for a bit and then she pulled away and up the hill at a quicker pace than what I thought was right for me. Again, I struggle to run hard in the beginning of the race, possibly conserving too much for the second half. I’ve yet to have the perfect race, so who knows. When I do, I’ll be sure to let you know what the right mix is.
As we all found ourselves on beautiful singletrack, the sky gave away to a light mist and cooler temps. After being in constant 95 degree heat all summer, this was more than welcome. The glorious weather stayed cool most of the day and helped with areas where direct sun exposure was sure to be more of a factor. I found myself in 4th place and stayed that way most of the day with a little back and forth with Kathleen Egan.
Miles 0-40 are like trying to recall what I ate for dinner last week. I know I enjoyed them, I know I took in the scenery and loved the aid stations. I know I was happy and having fun, but my lack of sleep and foggy start just took a while to burn off. Like 8 hours of running while asleep. This was not what I had planned of course, but change is part of every single ultra I run and just dealing with each moment is about all you can do.
I finally got peppy. Maybe the Roctane kicked in. Maybe I could smell the barn. I don’t know what happened but I kicked my own ass into gear. I was much farther back than I had anticipated and just kept trying to get my legs to turn over despite my hamstrings yelling at me from 12 miles on. I was however, having a blast. I stopped worrying about where I was as I knew this just wasn’t going to be my meal ticket to Western States. Not this day. So as I picked up JB to pace and film around mile 45, I just enjoyed his company and loved singing at the top of my lungs to my ipod. He told me I should never, ever consider singing as a profession, but nonetheless, we shared stories, I cried on the last climb as I missed my daughter and my tiredness ovewhelmed me. I was gaining on Alison Bryant who was 3rd and thought perhaps I would catch her to make the podium spot. But as strong as I was running, I didn’t have enough real estate left.
JB and I rounded the last few turns into a long straightaway that folded right into the ski resort where I crossed the line in 12:01, 4th woman and 12th overall. Joelle and Denise had a great day and took the top two spots- great job ladies! Good friend and new daddy, Timmy Olson ran hard and cameback amongst a strong and deep men’s field to take the win and some diaper money!
The glorious views, big trees set amongst perfect singletrack, an excellent finish line BBQ and just amazing volunteers and staff, you better believe I will definitely be back.
Race Kit: Lululemon shorts and tank, Drymax 1/4 crew trail socks (my new favorite from Drymax), GU brew in my handheld all day and GU roctane or GU peanut butter every 30 minutes, Succeed caps every hour, Vespa every two hours, Nathan small racing hydration pack.