Photo courtesy of Andrew King - D4 Productions

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Western States pacing duties

It's been a while since I've posted anything so I'm playing a little catch up here. I'm leaving to Silverton tomorrow morning to get ready for Hard Rock and with limited internet connection I will do my best to update my runs leading up to the race.

Thursday I flew out to Reno and met up with Justin Mock who was there to pace teammate Nick Clark. Justin was kind enough to offer up a ride to the PI house at Squaw. Josh was staying in Reno that night with his wife to clear his mind. And rather than write something that has already been written, check out JM's report. I'll pick it up at Michigan Bluffs where our stories start to differ:

PI boys pre-race

Earlier in the day Josh was running strong but because of all the standing water on the trail and wet feet, Josh developed major blisters that covered the bottoms of his feet. He did the best to fix them on the trail but by the time he got to Michigan Bluff it was almost too late. A 20 minute stop to fix the feet at the aid station by John Vonhof who authored the book Fixing your feet. He told Josh to keep his feet dry and continually change socks but regardless the journey was gonna be arduous. Josh attempted to leave the aid station but came walking back clearly not wanted to endure 45 myles of walking. Hillary (Josh's wife) and I encouraged him to at least continue to Foresthill and let the foot form to the new shoes and socks.

Josh coming into Dusty's corner mile 38

Sitting at Foresthill waiting for Josh was agonizing for both of us because we knew he was hurting. We knew that we needed to change the mindset from winning or placing in the top 10 to "just" getting to the finish. I say "just" very lightly because anyone who crosses that finish line is a true champion - the journey is not easy for anyone. For Josh (who has clocked a 16.54 and 19.59 at San Diego and Grand Teton 100s respectively) I'm sure it was hard to get his mind around anything less than competing for the win - nothing wrong with that at all. But to change the mind set mid-swing when you are clearly not at your best on such a big day must be extremely tough.

At Foresthill, Hillary took care of Josh (as she had been all day) and sent us on our way. I could sense immediately that Josh was determined to get to that finish line. He was running strong, picking people off (8 to be exact) in a span of 2 hours and 45 minutes. But right before we got to Rucky Chucky I could tell the energy left his legs. We pulled into Rucky Chucky for a much needed break for Josh. He sat while eating and drinking and then off towards Green Gate. Hillary made her way down the road to meet us with some lights for the night journey.

I was thoroughly impressed with Josh's perseverance to continue. I knew he wasn't feeling well but he still made a concerted effort to run intermixed by strong hiking. In and out of the canyons lit up by a full moon, Josh continued to plug along and was suprisingly still in good spirits. We pulled into Brown's Bar aid station (that place is just weird), some broth and rice for Josh, quick stop, and we were out. Next up was a nice little climb up to Hwy 49 aid station, only 4 myles - Josh alternated 30 seconds of running with 30 seconds of power hiking and when he was running - he was running good.

Now he could smell the finish so it was just a matter of keep moving forward. Leaving the Hwy 49 aid, he wasn't feel well at all so we took our time to get his stomach right. The moon still lit the sky and the air was very,very still so it was hotter than expected. All the way down to No hands bridge Josh couldn't settle his stomach, a little Coke at the aid and across the bridge. As we got to the far side of the bridge, it happened for the first time for Josh. Yep, everything came out. I examined the carnage to make sure the lining of his stomach didn't come out. I explained to Josh that the next 15 minutes were critical for moving fast.... AKA Vomitus Euphoritus. Don't know how it happens but it seems when you empty the contents of your stomach, you feel this sudden rush of feeling good. So the timing of Vomitus Euphoritus was perfect. Up and over Robie Point and down into the stadium - 21.34, 53rd place. A very well deserved finish for Josh!

Josh getting his buckle

Men Top 10

Now as far as my running is concerned, I feel good going into Hard Rock. I did 6 myles on Friday in Squaw (a couple up the first climb of the race and 4 later with the PI gang), 38 myles with Josh, and then 12 today in Utah. I'm looking forward to my time in Silverton, it's Christmas to me!
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