Western States Death March

The dream most ultra runners have came true for me last December when one of my two lottery tickets was selected for Western States Endurance Run 2017.

I was at the gym that morning when all the texts and calls came in..”You’re in!” I was shaking I was so excited!!!

I immediately upped my game, training harder with higher mileage weeks. I was coming close to PR’ing my training races as my training was on point!

And then it happened….second week in April, a mere 11 weeks before Western States, the dreaded metatarsal stress fracture in my left foot.

Having experience with a stress fracture a year earlier, I immediately recognized the symptoms. Crushed, but forced to continue training as best I could I took two weeks off then started hiking as much as I could. Four weeks after that, I started to run again, towing the line at PCT 50 a week after I started running.

Doing my best to build up my mileage to previous levels, I did mega miles…two weeks of 100+ miles per week.

A few weeks later there I was at Western States 2017.  All I can say is it lives up to its hype. What an awesome experience it was to spend a few days before the 100 in Squaw Valley taking it all in!!

Race morning, I felt amazing. I was well rested and ready to race. And then I started the climb. The trail was like nothing I experienced before, it was climbing to 9000 ft in slush, ice, snow, mud and gushing water.

There were five of us that stuck together. The trail markers had been crushed into the ice and not able to be seen. It was easier for us to slide down the trails on our butts, than it was to run down the slick ice.

When the snow finally cleared the trail was a mix of ankle deep mud and gushing water. With each step I took, my shoes filled with mud and rocks. I tried taking my shoes off and emptying them but it was a worthless cause.

Five and a half hours later, I made it to mile to 15.9! (For the record it has never taken me 5 hours to run 15 miles) I had missed the cut off by 25 minutes. My dreams of that beautiful buckle had been crushed. 25 of us sat there dumbfounded at what just happened, I was in company of people with numerous 100 mile finishes and Western finishes under their belt.

We had all been cut.

I was told it was highest number of cuts on record at that aid station. Yes, the trail conditions were horrible, but bottom line I just wasn’t strong enough.

Looking back my training should have included much more vert and probably less miles. But coming off a stress fracture a few weeks earlier, I felt I did the best I could.

Fast forward four months, I PR’d my second 100 miler and earned a ticket once more to put my name in the pot for Western 2018.

If by some magic my one ticket is pulled with  2.5% chance of getting in, you better believe I am going to do my best to earn that coveted buckle.

Bottom line, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. The VERY best thing about ultra running are 1. The community and 2. The ability to learn from your mistakes and do better next time.

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