This next section was the best and happiest I had felt in a very long time during this race. I definitely had upbeat times and I was trying to be grateful for the fact that I was taking part in Western States even if it wasn't going as I had hoped. But this section was very easy to be positive on and most of that is directly related to the fact that I started moving well and passing people, quite a few in fact. The splits won't show it because there is no information relayed from Cal-1 aid station (65.7 miles). I probably passed at least eight runners but most if not all of them would pass me back shortly after Cal-1. I had commented to Barclay that passing people was making my stomach feel better. I can't recall what I ate at Cal-1 but whatever it was it did not sit well with me.
Started out of there still feeling okay but not very long into the journey to Cal-2 I sat down with stomach distress. Once again I was hoping to puke but the same thing happened as before, some heaving & burping only. So we moved on down the trail a ways more until I decided to stop again. This time I was going to eat a piece of candied ginger to hopefully help the stomach. When I opened the pouch to get it out I saw the gels & chews in there as well and I began to vomit. Mostly just liquid but a few chunks of something came out as well. I probably should have gone with a finger down the throat so that I could get a full reset but I did not.
I think I went with some veggie broth and ginger ale at Cal-2 (70.7 miles). I remember someone saying it was 'all downhill to the river except for one hill we call the six minute hill'. I knew this was not entirely true, there are some rollers as well but no serious climbs other than six minute hill. Very pleased to state that it took us less than eight minutes to get up six minute hill. Looks like on Strava the Bottle Hill Rd Climb segment
is most of the climb but it doesn't quite go all the way to the top. My effort for that segment during the race is listed as 6:10, so not too bad.
Shortly after going over the top of that climb we arrived at Cal-3 (73.0 miles) and I don't recall a thing about being there. Not sure exactly when it was but at some point on the way to the river crossing I did tell Barclay that I had not paid any attention to cutoffs before the race. It had never occurred to me to study them since I didn't expect to be challenged by them. There is no time information for Cal-3 but I do see that I made it into Cal-2 almost an hour and a half ahead of that cutoff.
Vaguely recall that I began to move better on the way to Rucky Chucky aid station (78.0 miles). What I know for sure is that getting there was a mental relief. Prior to getting there I remember someone telling us that once we cross the river the cutoffs become 'softer'. One thing I felt certain of was that once I made it past Green Gate I was going to finish. I assumed correctly that this would be the last time I saw Whitney & Sara until the finish line. Prior to the race I had told them that they could go to Pointed Rocks aid station if they felt like it or they could just go to the finish line. With me being almost five hours later than I had planned to get here they chose wisely to get some rest. Sat down in the chair and started knocking back a Rock Star energy drink, might have finished off half of it. Towards the end of my time sitting I began to shiver horribly but knew that I would be fine once I started moving again. It wasn't cold that is for sure. One thing we all got a chuckle out of was when I stated something like 'Okay, only 32 miles to go. I can do that'.
Crossed the river in a raft and the guy rowing the thing worked it like a pro! Hit the ground on the other side and I grabbed the long sleeve technical shirt I had in my drop bag and tied it around my waist where it stayed until removing it as I began to enter the stadium. I didn't really think I would need it but since I had been shaking so much while in the chair I figured it was better to take it and not need it than the other way around. We held a good hiking pace up the hill. Told Barclay that I recalled there being some sections that I could run but I was likely to hike the entire thing. The 39 minutes it took me from checking in at Rucky Chucky to checking in at Green Gate (79.8 miles) is only one minute more than the avg pace I had charted out. Of course I had no idea I had done that well at the time.
Heading to Auburn Lake Trails (85.2 miles) we got into a convoy of runners and I didn't push myself like I probably should have. I was okay going at whatever pace the front person was setting, looking back I do regret that. If I had enough energy to catch him I clearly had enough energy to pass him. Decided before we got there that I was going to sit down and eat a pancake. My stomach had been grumbling at me a few times on the way there. I told the volunteer that was getting it for me to make sure there was lots of syrup otherwise it wasn't likely to go down very easily. Shortly after he handed it to me a different volunteer asked if I wanted some pancakes with my syrup.
We had arrived at the aid station at 0536 (in 199th place) and the sky had been getting lighter. That probably helped some but getting in some solid food definitely felt good. On the way to the next aid station I started feeling quite a bit better.
At Quarry Road aid station (90.7 miles) something really clicked. Got there at 0706 in 194th place, I ate a bunch of ginger cookies and I might have drank some more Mt. Dew. As soon as we got out of there it was on! I felt like I was putting on something of a show for other runners. I was flying (at least it felt that way) up hills, running them instead of hiking. At one point Barclay asked "Were you just faking being tired back there?". I told him that this often happens at the end of 100 milers, I find that I have a reserve of energy that I didn't tap into prior and I begin to move really well. We continued to move past people with relative ease and from this point on (in spite of what ultralive.net shows, because nobody passed me between Robie Pt & the finish line) I was only passed once or twice on downhill sections. I set quite a few Strava PRs in the last ten miles. One spot in particular that I remember was going up after Walmsley's turn. I felt like a mountain goat, bounding over rocks and running uphill. Near the Hwy 49 crossing we caught up to another runner and his pacer. Guess we freaked the runner out a bit, his pacer reassured him that it was just people and not an animal chasing him. He then told us that his runner had been 'seeing animals' for quite some time. The runner did decide to step on the gas pedal a bit and so that led me to a different tactic. I let him go and actually slowed to a walk on a relatively flat section. Barclay didn't say anything but I could tell he was wondering what was going on. When we got to the base of the next climb I looked up and saw that they were hiking so we began running.
Didn't take long for the predators to pass the prey. Even when things haven't been going particularly well I can find a way to compete at the end of a race. Believe I passed one more runner before getting to the next aid station.
As we were approaching Pointed Rocks (94.3 miles) Barclay asked what I wanted when we got there. I told him that I hoped they would have ginger cookies.
The best he could do were chocolate chip cookies. I also ate a popsicle which I think was pineapple flavored. Spent a bit too much time here having arrived at 0808 (in 189th place) & we left eight minutes later. The one problem I was still dealing with was going downhill. There is a one mile downhill segment on the way to the next aid station that Strava shows me at 15:30 per mile. Fortunately there isn't much downhill after getting to that next aid station.
Once I got to the No Hands Bridge aid station (96.8 miles) I didn't spend much time there at all. Might have grabbed some Mt. Dew and took off. Picked off quite a few runners on the trail to the last aid station on the course. I did choose to make a minor stop at the waterfall but only to dip my hat in the stream leading away from it. When I did that, one guy got back in front of me momentarily but I ran up the trail on the other side of the bridge while he was hiking it. Kept the hammer down for the most part. I did hike a couple of the steep trail sections up near the top. Just before Robie Pt (98.9 miles) there was a bicyclist standing with his bike and talking to another spectator. As I was going by he commented that I was still smiling. I took off my hat and said "I'm smiling because I'm about to win the mohawk division at Western States". Split shows me here at 0924 and in 172nd place which is not correct, as mentioned previously. Looking back at the average 23rd hour finisher pace I was nine minutes faster. That was after having been only one minute slower on the section to Pointed Rocks.
Even though I didn't need the water I stopped at the fountain on Robie Dr which the owners of the house have placed there for runners. In the vein of honoring their gift by partaking. Then it was all business to the finish line. As we were making the turn onto Lubeck Rd there was an older couple spectating and the gentleman stated "You're the first one to come through here while running". Clearly he wasn't out there twelve hours earlier. All the same I nodded my head and thanked him. I also took the boost it gave me and started working a bit more. There was one guy back there that I had seen arrive at an aid station or two as I was leaving. He wasn't that far behind me, he was looking pretty strong and I didn't want to be passed.
As we were approaching the gate to the track I took off my hat and the shirt tied around my waist. I hit the track and some serious emotional response hit back. I chose lane 4 for my trip to the finish line. Not long after getting on the track I was being cheered by tahoeblue! That was a huge surprise. I remember his wife was there too. They had talked about maybe meeting me in the afternoon on Saturday but I wasn't too concerned that they hadn't shown up. I wasn't surprised that they hadn't either since it is way out of the way to the spot where they might have been able to see me. So now I'm just cruising around the track and soaking up the feeling of it. The fact that I was about to finish the Western States Endurance Run was very overwhelming. I'm not in pain in this photo, that is one of those half laugh, half cry in joy moments. I absolutely love this one.
I crossed the finish line and barely managed to keep it together. I remember being ecstatic! It felt so very awesome to cross that
finish line. I recall someone putting a medal around my neck. Then I was pretty quickly ushered into the medical tent because I was taking part in the research study and they needed to take some blood. The young lady that was to do the deed took a long time to ascertain my very prominent veins were not my artery. Since we are at the end of the story and things are a bit blurry right now, I'm going to wrap this up. Sort of, anyway...
I finished 177th out of 248 overall on a day when only two thirds of the starters finished. "So yeah I beat Walmsley."
This being the 44th Western States it ranks as the 4th hardest since 1986.Buckle
One of the autographs I had gotten before the race was that of Nikki Kimball. At one point during the race on Saturday she saw me and stated that I was still smiling just as much as I had been the day before. One of my goals was to enjoy the experience as much as possible. I did do that and tried to respect that attitude as much and as often as possible. At one of the aid stations in the afternoon someone had asked how I was doing. I responded that the day wasn't going the way I had hoped but I was happy to be doing what I was and that there was nowhere else I would rather be.
I had told my crew not to let me in on any race knowledge they might pick up. If I heard something while out on the course or at an aid station, so be it. Otherwise I wanted to find out as much about it as possible afterwards. I think part of that decision was an emotional barricade of sorts. So that if things weren't happening up front the way I hoped they would then I wouldn't be 'wounded' by that. I recall hearing about the race in only two instances. The first was right around three miles in when a spectator/friend told a racer that Walmsley had come by three minutes before Olsson. Then it must have been either Devil's Thumb or Michigan Bluff where I heard that Walmsley had gone through Robinson Flat just about even with his 2016 pace but had gotten through the aid station I was at faster than the year before. I could research that but I've been working on this report for far too long. It is time to get this thing posted.
If you are interested in seeing any other photos you can always check back later. I'll add them as a new post to the original thread. Of course that is assuming I haven't totally screwed up all of the facebook links in this thing. EDIT BEFORE POSTING:
Okay, I did a preview and most of the facebook photos did not work so I took out all of those links. I left the text as is & maybe I can quote it later and add the photos.