“Running is about finding your inner peace, and so is a life well lived.” Dean KarnazesThis is where it all began for me. Although I had run 50 miles before running a 100 , on a trail was not my dream. Todd ran Western in 1998 and wanted to go to the training camp on our vacation. I remember thinking why would I want to go run on vacation. In the end I went and I fell in love with downhill running. It reminded me of skiing and mountain biking. I felt like I was dancing down the mountain on rocks. I came home knowing I wanted to run 100 miles and put my name in the lottery. That was 19 years ago. I have had the pleasure of being in Western 3 times. Each is a story to share but this is my story now
.I had to ask myself why do I want to continue to go. So many things, it is such an honor to be a part of. It was my beginning of trail running. The volunteers are amazing. Each aide station they all said, you look great, cheered me on, filled my back, fed me, and just made me feel special. The history I love and the people who have spent so much time creating this event are the standard for all races. Then, there is the course. It is so beautiful. From Squaw with the downhill winding trail with pretty wild flowers, the canyons, the river. This trail has it all. This morning before I left for the airport I went to No Hands Bridge, my heart and mind filled with peace as I watched the American River flow. There is something I yearn for, a place I am afraid of, and running long takes me there. It is like my life and all I have known are before me. It makes me want to be better, not only at running but a better person. This calls me back.
This year I had a plan. I thought Western and Boston are both downhill courses. Although I only do one road marathon a year I thought training for Boston would be good training for Western. A lot of Western is runnable and marathon training would require me to train faster. I like to run fast so I was excited for this plan. Distance is usually not my issue . I can run plenty of miles and not have any problems . I am a social runner and I love people so running is my social time. I got into both races, then Dec 31, fell and broke my right wrist. I ended up with surgery and a lot of time off. I really ran as soon as I could but then the plan for Boston just did not come together. I had no desire to just go. If I could not run well there was no reason for me. Western States was my goal.
Going into Western I really had no idea if I was ready. I had run enough miles. I run every afternoon in the Kentucky heat and humidity so I felt fine with the heat. Downhill running is my love so I was very excited with all the downhill of Western. I had some dear friends ready to come to do whatever I needed so all was good.
I have so many thoughts into how the race went and I could just start at the beginning and go over it but I think it takes days to process it all. I really wanted to run a faster time but so many things come into play. The temp was perfect! Really never too hot…really nice. The snow and ice were very hard for me. By this I mean I kept falling. I do not mind to fall usually…I do it all the time. I am old lady with skinned knees always. But I twisted my left ankle 5 times. On the third time, I thought I broke my ankle. Each time I had to take a while to stand, then hobble, then start again. All this happened in the first 15 miles. I knew whatever goal I had was out the window. I wanted to blame my shoes, but in reality I know it was just my footing… I love my shoes, they are great, I have worn Hoka Speedgoat for awhile. ( Many did not have any issues with the ice, no excuses.) My bruised ankle and I kept going. I made sure I was careful of my footing going forward. I was slow but so happy to out there and when Chloe met me at Foresthill I was happy to have the company. I loved the stretches we ran, this is the magical running spot of the course. For those past 24 hours it is dark and it is just nice. You hear the water, you dance along a single track, you make up time lost from the day. Then you come to the water crossing. There are strings of tiny light lighting the way to the river. It is beautiful and you know if you keep going you will make it. At Green Gate, the aide station after the river crossing, Kris met me. Homeward bound. Everyone I ran with I loved. We were in it together. I always thought of all the downhill of Western but going slower I noticed all the uphill. Wow! I felt I was uphill forever. It seemed so different from what I remembered. 18,090 feet gain, I did not notice that in the past! That is quite a bit more than Leadville which I never noticed before. Going across No Hands Bridge I once again saw the beauty that draws me back. I want what I see there, the feeling it brings, closer to something deep inside.
I did not make my goal this time and I know it maybe my last chance. That is why I am with mixed emotions. I finished, fine and good, but someday I want to run with no reserve. Just go for it. I am not going to win but I want to do my best. So maybe with luck there will be another time.
I am upset with myself that my legs are good, no pain, only a swollen ankle! This means I did not try hard enough. I will be 58 in a month, if I do not learn lessons now it is over! So, any advice I have is to never hold back, you do not know if you will be this way again. Leave no regrets. It is all a gift, many in the world will never have the luxury we have of just running. What is important is who we become by our efforts. I am still searching…
I did get an award for the oldest lady to finish this year. Very cool and unexpected! Maybe I can set a record at 60. Who knows, I will just keep trying!
Thank you, Kris, Chloe, Emily, and Randi for sharing this adventure with me. I loved every minute of it! Thank you Todd for always supporting me in my crazy dreams, I know you give up so much for me and how blessed I am. Thank you all my dear friends, trail family, the Shelbyville gang, and Jerry, my running partner, for helping me along the way! I love you all!
“The obsession with running is really an obsession with the potential for more and more life.” George Sheehan , M.D.