Saturday, June 16, 2007

The Hay's in the Barn


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!

38 comments:

Backofpack said...

You forgot to mention your extended denial - after saying Seattle was the first and last, then eventually running four more to qualify, you swore that Boston would be your last. You were going to drop back to the half distance. 23 marathons total now... Then you ran a 50 mile with Rob. Swore that you'd drive the next time you needed to go that far. 11 ultras total now... Hmmmmm....I'm seeing a trend here...

I'm actually quite proud of you, and thrilled to have made this running journey with you. It is my honor and my privilege to be your crew chief (and your wife). I admire your speed, your endurance, your sense of humor, and most of all your attitude. Thanks for allowing me to share this side trip on the journey of our life together.

Donald said...

I'm totally excited for you, Eric ... and wish I could be there with you. I'll definitely be tracking your race number, and sending good vibes through the computer screen.

Flo said...

I've been lurking and following your journey having nothing really to add since I can barely cover 26.2 miles :) But I know next weekend will be exciting for you! I have friends from Hawaii here also doing Western States and I know what they went through to get ready. My boss is a pacer :)

Have a great race!!! Can't wait to hear all about it.

Daniel said...

Eric, I want to wish you the best for next weekend. You are a great inspiration for all of us, simple lurkers/readers, and we'll be with you in thoughts all along your long run. Your journey to a Centum is coming to its great finish, so as we say in Molière language, Merde et bonne chance.

Joe said...

Eric, yes, the hay is in the barn, now we just let it do what it was intended.

I'm excited for you and wish you the best. I'll be following closely!!

robtherunner said...

I am glad to be a part of the journey and am thrilled that I will be able to share it with you in person. School was keeping me busy enough so I did not have to think about missing it too much, but now with a week of free time I am excited to be going.

And don't worry I will have no problem lounging around soaking in the atmosphere while you and Steve are running. I'll find some trails to keep myself busy in between crew duties.

Darrell said...

Thanks for the history. This long distance stuff gets in your blood. It is so cool that Rob will be able to join you. I'll be sending you virtual cheers next weekend. Enjoy the journey.

Happy Father's Day.

shawn said...

Exciting week! Now, don't forget to pack your NASA diapers Eric - I know you've been secretly training in them ;-) You're going to do great. How fun for everyone going along with you too, what a good group to have along. Now I just hope you don't come home and find that your boys have thrown a party with both parents out of town all weekend!

wendy said...

What a great story to share with us, Eric! I never knew your history with running, although, I think I remember Michelle saying she started running first.

I love that you have shared your journey with us, your writing has always been inspiring, and always funny. I look forward to all the pictures you post, and seeing your great smile throughout the runs and races.

What an outstanding crew you have. You are ALL an inspiration. Best wishes for a happy run!

Jenny, Maniac #401 said...

Very inspirational Eric. It's been fun to watch for the past couple of years(and to join into the crazy world of 26.2+). I'll be rooting and praying for all of you. God bless your adventure!
Jenny

angie's pink fuzzy said...

good luck, have fun. you'll have a blast! can't wait to read all about it.

angie's pink fuzzy said...

oh, and happy father's day!

scott keeps running said...

that's a wonderful story.

best wishes on the race!

Michelle Sarabia said...

Eric, I am so sorry I missed you guys before you left. I know you are going to do great. Just have some fun in there too. i will be thinking about you and cheering you on from afar. Michelle S.

Joe said...

Eric, a couple more notes...I've scrounged around the WS100 site this afternoon...wow, what a deal. Glad you've been able to run some of the course before.

My work colleage, Jay Hodde, completed WS in 1997 and 2000. He has some awesome stories.

Pulling for you all the way. Hope you and Michelle have a great vacation and an awesome race.

Wes said...

Hee, hee. I doubt I will ever do an ultra (sound familiar?), but getting to live vicariously through you is reward enough :-) So looking forward to your event....

Jon said...

Tear up that course Eric! Best wishes to you and your crew this weekend!!!!!!

craig said...

Eric, I hope the race is everything you've anticipated. I'll be checking in on you and you will certainly be in my thoughts and prayers.

Meghan said...

Eric,

You will be in my thoughts this weekend. Best of luck at WS. Run hard, be tough, have fun. I know you will.

Meghan
www.running-blogs.com/meghan

PS. I went to Salt Lake City and didn't get sick. Neener, neener, neener! Seriously, though, I hope the stomach thing has abated itself by this weekend!

Thomas said...

Did you read that comment? Your wife is actually quite proud of you! Made me chuckle!

Good Luck, mate. You're well enough prepared to have to time of your life!

aquaasho said...

Best of Luck Eric! I loved your running story of how you started! As we say in this part of the world "Give it socks!" (That translates to GO GO GO!)

Gotta Run said...

Now if a person is not SO inspired after reading your latest entry nothing will do it.

I am just on the edge of beginning another cycle for a marathon, 50k, and a 50 miler that will all take place this fall.

I am even more excited about this after reading your words.

AMAZING STUFF. I love being part of this journey!

Best of Luck!! You have a lot of people behind!!

olga said...

Hey, dear, you're so ready, it spills out of your page:) I am so glad Rob is joining you, I am almsot ready to jump in myself - if I only didn't have a surgery scheduled this week:(
Now go get at it, have a blast and do Hot Mama proud, because I know you can. And know, whatever time it'll be, it'll be the most amazing experience you've had so far. So remember it on your valleys, smile, and keep on chaggin' along. Because the wolrd inside you will twist many times - and settle in right where you need it to be.
Yippee!

SherpaHerb said...

You've done a great job preparing, You won't even need luck to finish strong!

Bruce said...

Great story, thanks for sharing that history Eric, its an amazing record you've racked up. Have a great race.

Bob Gentile said...

Have a great race Eric, you prepared so well & have an awesome crew !! Kick Butt!!

Steve said...

Three more days.

Excited, psyched, ready?

Yep, Yep, Yep.

Chad in the Arizona Desert said...

Good luck in the race.

Ryan said...

You have a great team at your side I wish you all the best out there at Western States!

Happy Trails to you!

runliarun said...

Oh, here it is, your great adventure, the culmination of so many years. Go off, you prince of living, dance. We are going to root for you.

miss petite america said...

all i can ever say to your posts is wow. wow. wow. wow.

Addy said...

It was so wonderful to read your story of how you got into ultras. I wish you all the best for Saturday and look forward to following along online :) Can't wait to read all about it!

Donald said...

Eric ... I'm looking at the drop list tonight, and wishing there's been some kind of mistake. My thoughts are with you, and I hope you are healthy and well. Take care.

Jon said...

Ditto to what Donald said. I was watching the webcast during my workshift. I hope that you and Karen Wiggens are ok. The verbage of "metabolic" for the drop reason sounds scary. But kudos to you both for coming this far.

If I had half of your passions in life and running, I would have found a way to get out of my own personal funk and back into the running swing of things.

olga said...

Nail biter...sorry about drop, and knowing you, it was probably the only decision to make at the time.
There'll be another WS, another 100, another run.
Heal up, suck in the athmosphere, and get back at it. We love you, guys!

Joe said...

Eric, like Jon, I was following the webcast all day. So sorry to see the word "metabolic" associated with "drop"...two words you probably didn't want either. Like Olga said, I'm sure it was a the right reason.

Look forward to hearing more and hope you are safe and well, along with Michelle, Steve and Rob.

Dori said...

I already know the outcome, but I wanted to comment on this post. I didn't realize your race was June 17, or I would have sent you well wishes. I enjoyed reading your running history. It surprised me, because I figured you'd been a runner all your life. And it was nice to learn all the other characters I've been reading about, especially Rob and Olga. Nice post, Eric.

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