I've been to Western States four times now. It feels like this time was the most impactful experience partly because I got to run with Timothy Olson and partly because my humbling high mileage put me in an empathetic mindset. When I saw tired runners complain of crushed quads, nauseous stomachs, beat feet, and exhausted bodies, I knew those exact feelings from the last month of training. When I ran with Timmy, I experienced a near-perfect race with a consistent red line effort through the second half.
Team Timmy - Photo by Shahid Ali
I heard stories all weekend of great runners succumbing to the course. One way or another, some of the best runners with the fewest weaknesses lost their buckle due to a metaphorical Achilles heal that they'd overlooked. The lesson learned is that the sheer difficulty of running 100 miles in hot, competitive, and challenging conditions puts all expectations on hold. To go into a 100 mile race with a resolute goal is nearly impossible, there's unknowns that just don't come out until race day: overtraining, injuries, nausea, etc. etc. Essentially going after a goal is a risk, and how deep you sink your teeth into that goal determines how great the accomplishment is or how high the risk is for dropping. Our sport is truly one of risk and courage.
Rucky Chucky - Photo by G-Tach
Running with Timmy was a huge eye opener. I think there's a bit of uncertainty about what happens between aid stations for race winners, and now I have a complete understanding of the near constant high level of intensity. On Saturday I saw a complete commitment to squeezing the most out of every stretch of trail. Sections that were steep and baking in the sun would have been hiked by 99.9% of the world, but Timmy kept grunting and running. His intensity is akin to Michael Jordan, complete focus on the task, relentless effort, and always on point decision making. The talent is not in the mere running (which I would say Rob Krar had more natural talent on Saturday), but in his complete race management and personal resolve.
As for myself going into AC, I look to it with a newfound appreciation for the worst possible race conditions and trials and tribulations on race day. If I have anything wishy-washy in my race plan, I might as well just throw away another year. There has to be a sincere preparation for the worst situations and an ability to be mentally flexible on race day. A 100 mile race is absolute.
72.5mi, 13hr 20m, 15,097ft
Not much time for running with travel and race day activities. I ended up running Cal Street and Hwy 49 to the finish for 27 miles. I didn't realize that the sports drink on the course was caffeinated and taurine-ated and I was wired Saturday night. Sunday was the first day I took off all month, and it was all right.
Big Beats. Remixed by Woody