Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Western States 100, part 1

This is a bit of a long post...but so many people ask about M's races, so I wanted to try to be fairly detailed without having numerous posts about the race.  I'm going to break it into 2, just so it's not ridiculously long...

Part 1

At 3:30am on Saturday, June 23, our alarm went off.  Ugh, early, yes, but we hopped out of bed with some nervous excitement - it was race day! 

All of the pre race events and the start were at Squaw Valley in Tahoe.  We stayed in a time share right next to the village, and it was fantastic to just be able to wake up and walk to the start line.  Once we did our final check in, our runner rested while I paced...I might of been more anxious than he was!  It was super dark at the start line...since the sun hadn't come up yet.  The race started at by the time they got to the top of the first climb, the sun should have been up...

As soon as the race started, Tommy and I waited for a few minutes to see them go up the mountain and headed back to the condos.  As we walked back, we turned around and looked up.  What. Was. That!? A huge black cloud covered the top of the mountain.  Rain was something no one expected!  

We snuck in an hour nap before packing up the condos, loading the car, and heading off.  We had to go way down the mountain, across, and back up to meet him at the first stop.   It was cloudy, foggy, and pouring rain on us most of the way...if we were getting this weather, what was it like on the edge of the mountains?

Thank goodness for that stump.  I thought the girl directing traffic was going to send us over the edge of the world!

Shuttling to aid stations was something new to me...the races we've done on the east coast weren't nearly as big and crowded as this one.  I was certainly not prepared for the wait times associated with the added element of shuttles.  Poor Tommy was great at calming my nerves...the worst time for me is before the first aid station.  Once you see him the first time, you have a much better gauge on the pace to expect.  He gives us a chart of times to expect him at each station - fast, goal, slow, and cut off.  We we go along, we note what times he arrives and leaves each aid station.  After 50 miles or so, we have a good feeling of when to expect him at each spot.  

We nervously waited in line with other crew members, all who were concerned with missing their runner too.  The hour plus that it took between parking and getting to the actual aid station was not a fun one...

Luckily we got to Robinson Flat aid station about 5 minutes before our runner.  At this point, he was 30 miles in.

In line to get weighed in.  They had to stay within 7% of their initial weight throughout the race. 

Aid station buffet line.  These aid stations were 'full service' - they had a volunteer for each runner.  This was great for the runners, but very strange for crew.  Normally I can meet him as he comes in and I take care of getting him some food and his pack WS the areas were roped off and no one was allowed in. Definitely took some getting used to.

Now that's friendship...

We set up a chair for him at the end of this aid station.  He had requested new shoes at this station, and with the rain, sleet, snow and hail that he ran through, the new and dry shoes and socks were a welcome change.  He snacked on a plate of chips and a bit of soda while Tommy and I got his shoes changed and refilled his pack with gu and salt tablets. 

and love...

It was much colder than anyone expected, and very damp and rainy.  Luckily I made him start with his jacket, and he kept it with him after this aid station.  

He's heading back down the trail - see him in the very center of the photo above the broken tree.
After saying goodbye here, we had another long wait for the shuttle back to our car...and he had to run 25 more miles before we would see him again.  

We had a bit of a drive (and some 'site seeing') back to Forest Hill and a couple of hours to kill before making the trip to Michigan Bluff.  We saw the leaders come through right as we got back to the aid station...they are crazy fast.  (the winner ended up finishing in 14:45 and setting a new course record)  

We had to take another shuttle over from Forest Hill High School to Michigan Bluff.  I was concerned after the first shuttle experience, so insisted that we were ready and over there early.  Luckily, this shuttle was super quick and easy...and we had lots of extra time once we got there!  

We cheered as each runner came in.  One really cool thing they did was have a radio guy who sat probably 1/4 mile up the hill from the aid station and announced runner numbers as people came through.  This way, you were totally prepared when your runner came through.  We also watched the very busy medical tent...which seemed like the black hole.  Runners who went in tended to not come out...

So 55 miles in, they called #83 and we were so excited to see him looking strong.  In the aid station he was weighed again...

And then taken by hand to ... the medical tent.  Not being able to go past the rope, I was totally uneasy. I waited for about 2.5 minutes before I bucked the system and ducked under the rope to see what was wrong.  

Better her than me!
Come to find out, he just wanted to get some blisters checked out.  Apparently the guy who wrote the book on blister treatment was in the tent working on feet...and our runner was star struck and wanted him to check his feet!  And he needed a little rest...

After new socks and coming out of the 'tent of doom,' he stopped at our chair set-up.  The sun was starting to go down, so we swapped a wet, short sleeved shirt for a dry one and new, dry hat.  He also munched on some more coke and snacks.  He took his headlamp and headed on.

I walked up the hill with him...and only had about 5 miles before I'd see him again.  It was nice to have a few minutes of time to chat.  They come in and out of the aid stations so quickly, it can be really tough on crew.  You schlep all of the gear around and wait and wait...and the runner comes buzzing in and out of the aid station...and then you pack it up and move on to do it again.  It's nice when you can walk along the race path with them and catch up for a few minutes.

After he left, we shuttled back to our car and got ourselves organized.  We moved the car from the parking lot across from the school to along the road where the runners were running.  I left Tommy to get himself together and ran just over a mile along the course to meet him.  By this time, the sun had set and it was getting dark.  Once I met him, we ran the mile + back to the Forest Hill aid station.  It was about 9:30pm and we were 62 miles in, night had set, and Tommy was up - it was time for him to leave me and head off with M!

1 comment:

  1. Linds, I love this post! So great to see all the details and hard work that go into this for both M and you!! (and Tom!) Can't wait for Part 2 :)