Photo courtesy of Andrew King - D4 Productions

Monday, June 27, 2011

Western States 21:18 58th place

Well THAT didn't turn out how I wanted. It never does and that's the luring part - you just never know. Just check out this video clip of the finish and that'll be enough to tell you that everything turned out a-OK.

It's been a ritual for me in 100s to bring my boys across the finish with me. They watch me all day and support, I want them to enjoy in the celebration of finishing one hundred myles. What I've always said "finish what you start" and I have to lead by example. Here's my story:

Western States was my big peaking race for 2011. I went into the race very well rested, with a week prior in Lake Tahoe, and some solid training courtesy of Lucho. I have never felt so prepared for any one race and with the stiff competition I knew I would have to run my best to crack the top 10. I really do like the highly competitive races because it tends to bring the best out in me. All year I've gone to the races that have attracted the best runners just so WS was not a star-studded shock to me. Must have worked cause I felt right at home towards the front right out of the gate.

Climbing up to the escarpment my legs and lungs were working beautifully, running just behind Hal for most of the time. I settled into around 10th place and once we got onto the snow I felt absolutely alive - I was buzzing! Mike Foote and Ryan Burch soon came on me and we took a back seat to the front pack with our mini-pack. Our strides and leg speed are very similar so I felt very comfortable with our pace. We stayed this way all the way through Mosquito Ridge aid when, to our surprise, we were in the lead.... wait. What?! Mike Wolfe, Killian Jornet, Nick Clark, Dave Mackey, Timothy Olson, and Hal Koerner apparently got off track for about 12 minutes and slowly came up from behind. But to even add more confusion, I had a drop bag at Mosquito Ridge packed with EFS liquid shot, they tell me they have no drop bags there... What?! I took off with some GU and brownies from the aid totally confused. Still don't know how that happened. As the leaders passed us our the Robinson Flat loop it broke up our mini-pack as Ryan and Mike sped off a bit in front of me.

Now I'm running just behind PI teammate Timothy Olson through Dusty's corner and Last Chance. I feel amazing and debating whether I want to speed up or not... I decide to hang behind Timothy, good choice. At the Last Chance aid they weighed us and I was down 11 lbs, so the scale says. They weighed me on another which only put me down 7 lbs, still concerning because I was eating and drinking very well. I decide to take 2 S caps, hoping that will make me drink more for the heat to come. Timothy and I descended into the Devils Thumb canyon and the minute we started uphill I became very weak. No power. For me that's a big deal because my strength is climbing... "just get to the top and suck down more fluid and food", I said under my breath. A few people passed me, not concerned in the least bit cause it always comes back around. I got to the top and now was nauseated. Ironically, I sat in a chair next to Geoff Roes who was not feeling it. We commiserated briefly as I chased Tracy Garneau out of Devil's Thumb. Not much better getting out of El Dorado canyon either, still climbing very weak and spent a few meters with Geoff again.

Now into Michigan Bluff and so far there was virtually no heat. This was probably a very mellow year for heat because from what I can recall I was in the shade most of the time with upper 80s, maybe a tad bit past 90 in the bottoms. I finally see my family at Michigan Bluff and it was a relief and a spark. I again sat in the chair next to Geoff, talked with my crew, and I was off. I left with Joelle Vaught and we ran together all the way to Bath road. She looked and sounded great but later heard she had to drop. It's been a few hours now and I can't seem to shake this overall malaise. I just had no energy, did not want to talk, but eating and drinking were fine.

Up until Foresthill I did not know what to expect so everything seemed really long. I've paced twice before from FH to the finish so I knew what I was in for and the way I was feeling did not look forward to it. PI teammate Josh Brimhall came out to pace me and I was thrilled because he had paced me at the Bear and knows how to motivate and get conversation going. Josh, once again, did an amazing job doing the Scott Jaime shuffle-ball-chain. Patient but yet persistent. I know he didn't sign up for 9+ hours but that's what he got - a few bonus hours at no charge. Thanks Josh.

Going along the river was probably the worst I had felt all day and if I could get out of that canyon to take a ride back, I probably would have. We were doing 20 minute miles! And Josh would say, "alright Jaime that one was kinda slow, we need to make the next one at least a 15 minute mile on this flat section" And I would reply with "meh." That's all I could muster. I think it was at Peachstone where I ran into Thornley and we were both in the chair totally miserable. We both made it to the river about the same time and I got to ride in the boat with him and his brother. Earlier in the week the Jaime's spent time with the Jones-Wilkins and now I get to ride the boat with Thornley - both names that are synonymous with WS. Great experience.

OK so now I'm going up to Green Gate I get actually get a little spark. Hmmm... could this be the turn around? I also knew I'd be seeing my wife and father in law so that also gave me a little motivation. Must have given me something because I ran all the way to ALT... OK well 99% of it. It was a shuffle but my trustworthy pacer told me I was crack-a-lackin below 10 on a few of those myles. I should have never sat down in that chair at ALT because after that my legs were stiff boards. I had lost any mojo that had returned.

15 myles to go and I was a hurtin' unit. I really don't remember much beyond the slew of people passing. In particular, Roch Horton passed with his runner Helen Cospolich and he is such an amazing motivator. The way he says things makes you not want to let him down. He tried to get me going but it just was not happening. Well, I'd say I ran about 10 steps till his light was out of sight and then I walked again. Thanks Roch for trying. Into and out of Brown's bar, Hwy 49, and no hands with nothing really to add. At this point it was all about getting done to see my family.

And I knew my family, including my boys, would be there waiting. That was enough to give me the strength to get to Placer High School.

Thank you to all who support me. In particular, my wife and two boys who are always by my side, my trustworthy in-laws who love this sport as much as I do, and my parent's who support and watch my every step. You know I cannot do any of this without all your support. It's going to be one hell of a good time in France! Also big kudos to Kody and Cassie from PI and Aric from Smith Optics who came out to cover WS and support the team! Thanks guys! I had high expectations and I know some of you did for me as well. I am bummed but there will be another day. Everything happens for a reason.

Congratulations to all who toed the line! It takes a lot of preparation and guts to be there, whether you finished or not, it is admirable. And special congratulations to my Pearl Izumi teammates Nick Clark (3rd) and Timothy Olson (6th) for their amazing runs! Honored to be part of the PI team with them.

And a quote to leave you with: The more you learn, you learn the less you know. The more you think you know, the less you learn.

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