Waking up at 3:30 is pretty standard for me…but it is usually followed by drinking a Capri-Sun and falling back asleep. The morning of the Waldo 100k I didn’t get to go back to sleep. Luckily the always spectacular Milky Way was there to greet me as I rolled over in my sleeping bag. The air was cool, but not crisp as I had expected. Early starters were already underway as the 3AM start time was an option. After a quick breakfast, I folded up my sleeping bag, hid my car keys in the woods and headed to the starting line.
We climbed under the light of stars and headlamps for about 30 minutes before turning onto single-track. I decided to run Waldo because I felt the need to learn. Learn about how to fuel during a race, learn these mountains, learn about myself and the trail. The biggest thing I learned at Waldo is the value of a good headlamp. The service road was illuminated by the stars and moon, but once we got on the single track I was immediately dropped by the first 2 runners as I was unable to see well (clearly haven’t eaten enough carrots). I thought about just leaving my headlamp on the next tree stump I saw, but figured no one else would want it either, and dropped it at the first aid station.
As I had never run over 50k I was in no hurry to lead, and enjoyed the quiet air and stunning sunrise over the first 12 miles, but after the Mt. Ray aid station (20.5) the itch couldn’t be contained much more. At Charlton Lake (32) I picked up my drop bag, slammed a coke cola, grabbed my ipod and headed out into uncharted waters. I knew going into Waldo, 9 hours was a long time to be on the trail. 3 hours and 41 minutes was my longest run ever, and that was Chuckanut, 5 months ago… I was a little nervous, to say the least. Coming out of Charlton Lake I was high. The trail was calling, and I had to answer. Emotion won over logic as it does and I started rolling. Everything was perfect. Climbing up the twins wasn’t great, but wasn’t too bad either. Coming into the twins aid station the second time things were starting to get tough. A few miles later on the top of Maiden Peak the guy on top looked at me and was like, “bro you gotta eat something at Maiden Lake”. Coming down from Maiden Peak is really when things got dark. I was pretty tired, pretty thirsty, pretty hungry, my shoulder hurt from a fall, I really wasn’t stoked to be on the trail. I just wanted to get off the mountain. This is the place where people meet the boat man, and I knew it. I kept thinking back to a text I got the morning of the race from my roommate, “…the rough times will pass. See you on the other side”. Sometimes you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, but it doesn’t mean it isn’t there. I kept returning to the fact that it was hard, but that’s the point, and it gets better.
Finally rolled into Maiden Lake (Volunteers hiked aid into this aid station as they did at the twins and Fuji, I can’t thank them enough) I didn’t really want to keep moving, and stopped and started talking to the volunteers. They quickly caught on to the fact that I was lonely and stalling. They hustled me off and I headed out to enjoy the delights of a glycogen depleted state. The last 7 miles went past beautiful lakes, all of which looked amazing, but unfortunately it was too late to win the ‘wet waldo” so I didn’t swim. For some reason I had 9:00:00 stuck in my head as the course record, and when my watch rolled over into 9 hours I started walking. My mind filled with expletives, all I wanted to do was throw my bottle on the trail, and sit down. But I didn’t. I continued down the trail, exhausted, but still enjoying the freedom of the hills. A minute later, saw my sister and Dad on the trail, cheering and encouraging me. I saw the finish line, and continued out of the trees onto the slopes of Willamette Pass Ski area, and under the finish banner.
There isn’t that much to like about running. But those few things that are to like make it all worth it. I’v been running and loving it my entire life. In the words of 10,000 meter bronze medalist Ron Clarke, “To some happiness is a warm puppy or glass of cold beer, to me happiness is running in the hills with my mates around me”.
During the Waldo 100k I wore Nike Zoom Kiger Trail shoe, and carried a small handheld water bottle. I drank coke, water, and ate Powerbar gel and GU at aid stations. Immediately after the race I swam in Odell Lake to aid in recovery and got a massage at the finish area from Eugene’s finest Mike Blackmore.
I cannot express my thanks enough to Craig and Meghan for directing this years race, and those who created the race! Many thanks to the smiling volunteers at all the aid stations! And especially those who carried all the supplies up a mountain to provide cokes, cookies all kinds of food for all the runners.