Usually I start these things with some failed sarcastic joke and end them by thanking the race director, organizer and volunteers. Today, we give thanks first.
On Saturday morning temps at the Hill Country State Natural Area outside Bandera were below freezing. Freezing rain and ice covered the ground, tarps and cars. The temperature rose little over the course of the day, and I assume it dropped once the sun went down. The cut off time for the 100k is 24 hours, meaning volunteers spent all night in the cold cooking food and warming soup for the runners. Thank you for being out there. With out you all (or should I say ya’ll) I’d likely be shivering under some ice covered cactus, swearing I was never going to run again. Thanks to Joe Prusaitis, Tejas Trails, and all those who worked hard organizing and executing this great event.
Now here’s what happened out there. The first 5 miles were pretty slow and cautious as no one wanted to risk an early spill on the icy rock. Once we got out on the smoother sections the group split up quickly. Paul Terranova and I ran together, off and on, for the next 30 miles or so, chatting shoes and GU flavors. Neither of us was in any hurry to push the pace. By the second loop the rain and foot traffic from the 50k and 25k, as well as the other 100k’ers had turned the Texas dirt into a thick muddy paste that stuck to anything it touched. Within minutes my shoes and back of legs were fully coated in mud, pebbles, and sand. The slop made running on the “easy” sections of the course very challenging. I tried to stop and scrape the sludge off a few times but the process was a waste of time. I started looking forward to the last 15 miles, where the mudfest gives way to rockier trails with less shoe coating mud. The last 5-10 miles flew by. Cold temps made eating and drinking easy. Usually the body has to work hard to cool itself down and blood goes to the extremities, I’m guessing with less cooling work to do my stomach was able to digest much better.
Ferris: Cameron, what have you seen today?
Cameron: Nothing good.
Ferris: Nothing – wha – what do you mean nothing good? We’ve seen everything good. We’ve seen the whole city! We went to a museum, we saw priceless works of art! We ate pancreas!
The summer always ends, and when it does I never feel like I got enough done.. There are 1000 things I wish I could have done. Looking at the summer as a whole paints a better picture; and here are some of them in no order. Luckily there is still a little summer left. I’m gonna use it.
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.
The Western States 100 is getting close. As I finish my hard training, figure out my race plan, and finalize my training schedule I sometimes think about how I got to this place. What set me on the track to be running this race?
My Dad was a ski racer, he loves the mountains and would take the family up to ski on winter weekends. I remember one Friday night we rented a cabin at the mountain, this was pretty special because it meant we got to ski two days in a row. TV wasn’t really something we did as kids. We were allowed to watch the Summer and Winter Olympics and Oregon Public Broadcasting. We got back from night skiing late and the public broadcasting station was running a documentary of the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run. Looking back at defining moments is always a bit surreal but I vividly remember watching those runners suffer over the course from Squaw to Auburn. Something in that documentary captured my young imagination. I remember going to bed knowing that at some point this race would be a pretty big part of my life.
Obviously there have been a lot of other factors that aided in me ending up on this path. These include, being born with a love of freedom, having a family who valued long distance running, having great coaches, moving to Ashland for college, and getting a job at Rogue Valley Runners.
15 months ago I got talked into running The Chuckanut 50k, that race was my first experience at the marathon plus distance and since then its been all uphill, or downhill, but rarely flat. I’v gone through 12 pairs of Nike Zoom Kigers, eaten 400+ GU’s, and spent more time than is probably healthy in the ice bath. In 23 days I’ll do what I’v done 100’s of times. I’ll pin my bib number to my singlet and lace up my shoes. I’ll spend a few precious moments in a dark porta-john and then I’ll start something I’v never tried awake before. I’ll run, hike, and hopefully not crawl, 100 miles as fast as I can.
Every time I go to the Western States 100 Website the race day countdown in the upper right hand corner gives me a reality check. Seriously? 134 days. Oh boy.
As I write this I’m sitting outside Old Town Pizza in historic downtown Auburn, CA. I came down to the course yesterday morning to get a glimmer of an idea of what I had gotten myself into, and more importantly how to get ready for it.
The Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run has been a dream of mine since I was about 10. Somehow the Oregon Public Broadcasting station created a documentary that was captivating for a 10 year old. During my formative years I knew the race would be a major part of my life. Now it is.
This weeks trip to the course consisted of driving, running, camping, waking up to an unreal sunrise, eating too much candy, getting lost, more running, more driving, and generally a lot of exploration. I had the luck of running into veteran racer and WS100 race director Craig Thornley, and WS100 veteran Meghan Arbogast at the Placer High track. I twisted my ankle, found a place to buy ice, found a place to buy pizza, found a curb to sit on, got inspired.
The road to Western States started 15 years ago. And if I may be metaphorical, I’m hardly out of Squaw Valley. The road ahead is hot, rugged, tiresome, occasionally lonely and altogether pretty freakin awesome. I guess this is where adventure begins.