Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Western States 100 Miler, this time it's personal (Part 1)

Way back in 2007 I had my second ever DNF (did not finish) in a race at the Western States 100 Miler http://www.wser.org/ (if you look back far enough on this blog you will read the whole sorry story), this being probably the most famous 100 Miler of them all it was definitely my goal to rectify this as soon a possible, unfortunately not as easy as it seems.
After the "Aussie Assault" in 2007 with over 20 Australian starters, the organizers decided to limit the numbers if runners from non North American Countries and also not automatically give a start to the first 25 Overseas runners, so that meant that we all went into the lottery with everyone else, essentially 1,500 or so people going for around 300 spots and also some people having more than one lottery ticket having missed the year before. For a number of years I had put in my entry and been unsuccessful, and in 2012 now had 4 tickets (with over 3,000 tickets still not great odds), I was very lucky that had actually run a qualifying race (only a few in Australia now, originally you just needed to run a certain distance in a certain time) at Tarawera 100K in New Zealand http://www.taraweraultra.co.nz/ a race I had only entered as Six Foot Track had been cancelled a couple of weeks earlier.
I had had a very ordinary 2012, Tarawera actually being my longest race for the year, I know I labelled it as "My year of running badly", although with back, sciatic and various other issues ultimately ended up trying to get a bit of speed back by doing my local Parkrun 5K race also managing to do a couple of 3:09 Marathons.

Best said I did make some news but with a new event I guess that I was the closest thing there was to a celebrity (and I do laugh about the front page of the newspaper warning that I was there):

Come December (not quite the same without Coast To Kosci this year), I finished the Kurrawa to Duranbah 50K and was immediately told that my name had been pulled out in the lottery, there it was finally my chance .
I had already entered the Comrades Marathon in South Africa, wanting to get the medal for successive "Down" and "Up" years and knew this was 4 weeks before Western States, so it looked like I was going back to the old nomadic running days (I do enjoy that life :-)).

I admit 2013 was really going no better than 2012 racewise, I had managed to get my 5K down to 19:58 but other than that I suspect I was closer to PW's than PB's in most starts and continually was having back, etc problems.

Comrades http://www.comrades.com/ had been tough, i'd actually had a really good first 50K, but from then struggled, even have walk many of the downs, certainly not the performance I was looking for to inspire me for the US

Interestingly it had been much cheaper to fly home from Durban and then fly off to the US two days later, rather than directly from the US, so a jetlagged me, came back on the day of the Gold Coast 100 (no running it this year, first time ever), as I wasn't back until it had be going 4 hours at that point !!!. Still got a chance to catch up with a few people as I rode my bike around the course.
Tuesday it was off to the US. I wouldn't be getting of a plane this time with less than a week to spare, probably the biggest single reason for my failure of 2007.
Always enjoy San Francisco (well maybe a little cool for me, and just why does the fog roll in each afternoon in the middle of summer ??), so I did the San Francisco Marathon, disappointingly slower than 2009 (which was less than 2 weeks after Badwater) with 3:23:59.

Now it was time for the real training, I needed to get up at altitude, so headed off to South Lake Tahoe, with even the town at 6,237 feet (1,901 Metres), wouldn't be hard to find some decent elevation especially as I was staying opposite a ski resort.
Until then things had, been going well, having arrived late the Monday night, decided i'd head into Carson City (the capital city of Nevada) the next day, my first mistake, sure I did all the shopping I needed but being a tourist and having never been there before did a bit of exploring and managed to get hit by a car whilst crossing the road.

Unlike normally at home I was obeying the traffic signals so not happy, I think the driver was also shocked doing a left hand turn into me and her brakes failed.
The Sheriff and the Fire Brigade answered her 911 call (there was nothing on fire, apparently the fire brigade acts as an ambulance ???), and ultimately I had to sign a form saying I declined a trip to the hospital and medical treatment, I was confident nothing was broken but certainly had a solidly bruised left hip and right ankle (it took all my weight on impact). Eventually drove home with only one thought on my mind, "how was i going to run 100 miles in less than 2 weeks time ??".
Woke up the next morning sore but my theory was that I should at least walk and ultimately ended up doing around 6 Hours on the Tahoe Rim Trail, never feeling particularly great but working on the theory that any time spent on feet at altitude was good .
Possibly overdid it (what's new !!), as next day i'd totally stiffened up, and was struggling to walk.
Eventually decided that probably the best thing I could do was get a massage, being a ski resort, plenty of "Beauty Spa's" but as for just a normal sports massage, well I had to find out.
Ended up getting a good deep tissue massage there, possibly not as good as I've had at home but nevertheless definitely worthwhile.

I was meant to be running a 50K race at Santa Cruz on the Saturday (in theory my last warmup), but the day before I was still at Tahoe and had not been able to run since the accident and was still 300 odd K from there, eventually decided I would be a DNS but it did at least mean I got to run on the nearby ski slopes.
I looked on the internet and was relieved that the next day there was actually a 50K at nearby Tahoe City, I think I needed to do this one just to give me the confidence that my body was still able to run.

Interestingly between Saturday and raceday Sunday the temperatures had dropped from the 80's down to the 60's, I was actually feeling a little cool at altitude, it was a two lap course and I ran the first lap in gloves thinking it was warming up I took them off and found it not only cooler but also a little rain, at least I was able to run, possibly not as surefooted as I would like to have been but I was moving reasonably, in the process knocking of a milestone Ultra number 300. I had worn my mew New Balance 110's but if I had given it thought should have done one lap in them and another in the pair of Adidas i'd been training in at home, to me they didn't quite have the cushioning if I was going to be thumping down and up hills.
I'd also managed to lose my gloves, maybe i'd be needing them the next week ???.

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