June 30, 2014
48 hours ago I was hobbling onto the track at Placer High School in Auburn California. It seems like a lifetime ago. 3 days ago I was laying in bed, in Squaw Valley, resting my legs for the next days running of the Western States Trail. That seems like an eternity ago.
I always thought finishing the Western States 100 would curb some desire or maybe satisfy some need that I had. Maybe punishing my body and mind for 100 miles would satisfy my appetite and allow me to check this experience off my list. I really thought it would be a valuable experience, that I would do once. But when I woke up this morning, and put my blistered foot on the ground I didn’t think, “that hurts” unfortunately my mind thought, “Next time I do this, I’m gonna be more careful with my socks and keep my feet dry, then maybe I will be able to really move the last 10 miles”.
The race went pretty well the first 30 miles, GU was easy to digest, I felt relaxed and was drinking plenty of water. Coming up out of El Dorado Creek things started to get hard, it was finally getting hot and I powerhiked the entire 3 miles up to Michigan Bluff. I knew once I got cooled off and got food from my crew at 55 my legs would be able to rock and roll to Foresthill and hopefully all the way down to Rucky Chucky; possibly beyond. My crew forced me to regroup coming out of Foresthill, changed my socks, ate a snickers bar, got cooled off, picked up my pacer. Considering we were 100k in I was feeling pretty good, except for one thing. It felt like there was gravel in my right shoe, but when I changed my socks at Foresthill there was nothing there. At Peachstone I stopped again because I was sure there was gravel in my right shoe. Every step felt like something was biting into the ball of my foot. We were rolling and I was feeling good, but I knew if I didn’t get the rocks out I would regret it later. When my socks came off I saw what felt like rocks were not rocks. Because my feet had been wet for 10 hours from the creek crossings, they had begun to, lets just say….get gross. And the ball of my foot had 2 major creases in the skin, changing socks was useless, the damage was done. The last 30 miles were going to be painful. Ryan Matz, my pacer encouraged me to get rolling, as there were runners 2 minutes back. I had been in 10th or so since Michigan Bluff. Needless to say, getting passed didn’t sound good. The last, 3 miles into Rucky Chucky were rough. My body temperature was going between burning up and shivering. When we finally got there the medical staff asked me how things were going. Words were not going to be too convincing so I just tried to grin and gave a thumbs up, somehow that passed the test. Coming down from Foresthill getting in the cold water of the American River sounded great, but when I got there I was too cold to enjoy it, and got out as quickly as possible. This is where things started getting real bad. My head was good, breathing was good, nausea was setting in but wasn’t going to throw up, my quads were still tolerable, calves were blown, and my right foot was bad. Every step felt like the folded blistered skin was going to slide off. I over heard a kid walking on gravel today say, “It feels like I’m walking on Godzillas back!” That seems like a pretty good description. Somehow I decided eating and drinking were useless, and every 2 minutes I looked at my watch, thinking we should have gone a mile. As the sun set, and darkness set in, I crawled into the pain cave. I walked through the last two aid stations, because there was really no reason to stop. My mind was absorbed with getting to that finish line. I was done learning, I was done being free, this was the time to suffer.
Why would I want to do this again? 48 hours after the race and I still feel terrible, why would any person want to throttle their body in every way imaginable? I keep opening up the map, looking at the rugged, majestic Sierra Nevada mountains of Northern California, and can’t help but want to go back. I can’t wait to again see 100 miles of beautiful alpine, rivers and canyons, cover my average weekly mileage in a day, and try to do it a little better and a little faster than the year before.
Big thanks to my parents for their 25 years of support. Thanks to the Nike Trail crew for everything from sewing custom pockets in shorts to cheering us on, and my crew, Hayden Teachout, Ryan Ghelfi and Ryan Matz.
I also want to thank the Western States Board for their year round efforts, Race Director Craig Thornley for his flawless organization and execution of a massive event, Amazing volunteers, inspiring spectators and all the folks who do tasks big and small to make this event possible. Special Thanks to the awesome Ashland contingent groovin at mile 90!
Congrats to Nike teammates Alex Varner and Sally McRae for inspiring performances and top ten finishes!!
Finally congrats to all the starters and finishers who swear they are never doing that again. I bet you will.