The adventure that I have been working toward over the past months is about to begin. Tomorrow I will be do my final packing, go over my checklist and we will head out the door for the Western States 100 Endurance Run.
I'm feeling much better and had a very good 5 mile run this morning with our Y-Run Club. I went to the doctor early last week and got some meds for giardia just in case my water stop at the American River during the training run was the cause of my illness. I think my stomach problems stemmed more from bad food or a virus but I didn't want to take any chances. The illness actually may be doing my taper some good because it's kept me from overdoing it. That's right Meghan, I'm not going nuts! neener neener!
Late breaking news.... Rob Hester will be traveling with my pacer Steve Stoyles to help Michelle with the crewing duties. The plan was forged at coffee after our run this morning. Rob has wanted to run WS and also has his crosshairs aimed at Badwater sometime in the future. This will give me added incentive to forge on when the going gets tough because I'll know I will have one of the best support crews waiting to care for me and keep me going.
I'm going to fall back a bit and tell you a little about how I ended up running long distance races. I started running about 14 years ago after Michelle my wife had taken it up. I was about 35lbs overweight from sitting behind a desk working a phone and a keyboard as a Sales Engineer for a Plastic Injection Molder. When I finally felt like I was in pretty good shape I entered a local 12K race and really enjoyed myself. I discovered I could compete and found myself up toward the front of the pack. I started working on speed and placed in a couple of local 5K's and 10K's. I remember when the Runners World Magazine came out with a big article on the 100th anniversary of the Boston Marathon. After reading the article I decided to train for a marathon. The Seattle Marathon made the most sense so I picked it and started my training. I didn't really follow much of a training plan other than to gradually pick up my mileage to my longest run of 18 miles. I ran the 1998 Seattle Marathon in 3:45 and discovered that I am the poster boy for leg cramps around mile 23. It was an emotional finish having completed a huge goal and crossing the line about 37 lbs lighter than when I started running. It was a painful experience and I decided that Seattle would be my first and last marathon.
Five years latter three of my YMCA buddies made it into the Boston Marathon. I ran into them at the Y on a Wednesday the same week that they had run the race. They were all huddled around a newspaper article about their participation in the race. I congratulated them and that's when they all looked at me and said that they all thought I could qualify for Boston too. In fact one of them told me that if I was able to qualify he would fly me to Boston for the race. Four marathons later I qualified in Vancouver British Columbia with a 3:29. I ran Boston that year 2004, and the following year 2005. After that I just continued to sign up for marathons but only one every three months of so. That's about the time Rob Hester joined up with our Y-Run Club. Rob is a guy who decided that he was going to run a marathon one day. His approach was a bit different. He trained for and ran his first race at a distance of 26.2 miles in Portland OR. Who needs 5K's, or Half Marathons? Not long after he got the Ultra bug and eventually joined the Marathon Maniacs. Rob was our Y-Run Club odd duck. He was our crazy runner who ran back to back runs of 50miles followed by a marathon. He eventually ran the CCC 100 mile course and tore it up. CCC is a harder course than Western States. Rob convinced me to join him one day at a trail run. Each lap was just over 10 miles and I was scheduled to run 20 that day anyway so why not run two laps with Rob and get a little muddy? That was the day I met an incredible group of ultra runners, including Olga. These people were happy go lucky and elite running machines. I was hooked.
The Y-Run Club attracted another runner that had taken a two year break due to some extensive knee surgery. Steve Stoyles started running with us and very gradually started working his mileage up. He worked through a lot of pain and tenderness but eventually he got back to some long runs and participated in some marathons and ultras. We have become good friends and for that I am very grateful.
Rob Hester decided late last year to put together a very challenging series of ultra runs. Steve and I jumped on the bandwagon figuring if Rob could do it we could do it. Family and grad school go the better of Rob and his training couldn't keep up with all he had going on in his life. We all ran the Tiger Mt. Fat Ass 50K together and I think Rob was talking to his dead relatives the last 8 miles as we worked our way to the finish. We all placed dead last. Rob wisely reorganized his race schedule while Steve and I continued the grueling challenge. A part of this challenge was the Autumn Leaves 50 mile in Oregon. Steve ran the 50K and I ran the 50 mile. I chose the 50mile because of the bling. The were offering a belt buckle. The race director and Olga who was volunteering all reminded us that this race was a qualifier for Western States 100. Having seen the video of Western States I remembered how challenging the race seemed to be. I qualified for Western so when I got home I decided to sign up for the lottery and not tell anyone. As the drawing drew nearer I had leaked my entry to Steve and Rob. I was in the shower when the phone rang. Michelle knocked on the door. She told me I was selected for Western States and that I had two pacers, Rob and Steve. Oh and Crew Chief Extraordinaire Michelle. The journey to Western States had begun.
My race number is 121 for Western States. That's really what I've been writing about above. One to one contact with my friends eventually led me to Western States. In Japanese the word koko means one to one. Koko will be what takes me to the finish line. Thanks to all of you who have provided input as I've trained for this event. I'm going to have my computer with me so I'll try to post my thoughts about the race (readers digest version) on the 25th.
Run happy! I will
NOTE: I will not paint your house for a belt buckle!