Saturday was a stellar day, woke up anticipating the Western States Lottery; a reunion of veteran 100 milers, friends and upcoming stars. The odds of getting picked are about 1:75 so I never anticipated an easy in. I had a few alternatives in mind, Wasatch, Vermont, Massennutten, Hard Rock or The Bear. But WS is in my own back yard, I have run it twice before and know what to expect.
Having a goal is always a good idea, it keeps us motivated, and being an ultra runner it is a reason for training. Today my plans were nixed, within the first 15 draws I get picked so anxiety was never an issue. Acclimates are spread around but this is not reality. The never before crowd is “In shock” as one nominee put it. It is easy to say I want to run a Hundred miler but to actually do it is another matter.
So the fame and fortune gradually fade and we play the tapes in our heads. Will it be hot on race day, can I break twenty four hours, and will I be able to train ten, fifteen, or even twenty hours per week? But then all the good memories come flooding in, a - pr at Diablo two years ago, a sub 14 hr. Miwok in the rain and with Tina Ure we had to run to stay warm.
Stuck in the high country with Jamie during a hail and lightning storm on a easy twenty five mile out and back (that took ten hours), Getting my butt kicked by Kathy Welch at Bishop (but hanging on for the last15 miles), double double canyons in six hours, running down a Brown Bear close to town or seeing a bobcat catch a bird, as the sun is setting, on a long training run after work.
My experience with running is; get a good base thirty miles or so, then run competitively at events, 50k, 50 mile, and 100k, mix in some casual weekend long runs with friends, these are usually groups of three to five runners. We always stick relatively close together therefore the slowest runner dictates the pace. Hold back when you are with the group but then fly when you are alone. Most elites train alone or with one trusted runner this gives them an edge on race day, leaving people asking what is his real ability?
The issue of competition is not serious. I am a middle of the packer but I tend to tear it up when ever I get the chance. Run as fast as you can as long as you can – recover – repeat; is my mantra. So I am looking forward to a season of hypothermia, heatstroke, pulled muscles, bloody crashes, bruised toenails, avoiding snakebites, skunk spray, poison oak, ticks, gnats, or grueling long runs, back to back weekend runs, going to work beat up on Monday, and buying new shoes every three weeks. So what is the payoff?
At the end of the day we get a tee shirt and another buckle, I once overheard an elite runner say “I think I’m going to melt down my Silver Buckles so I can buy more race entries.”