Monday, July 11, 2011

Squaw Valley to Auburn: Final Thoughts

This will be my last post concerning anything Western States until December. The lottery drawing for the 2012 race will ultimately determine my future with WS, though it seems back to back selections are very unlikely. Last years selection odds were 12:1, and assuming next year has more applicants, it would project a 13:1, or more ratio. Thus, being selected two years in a row seems something of at least a 100:1 chance. However, since I was already selected once, I suppose I am now back in the 12:1 odds pool with everyone else again :-)

Final thoughts on my 2011 race

Pacing: I didn't wear a watch, and obviously it would have helped nudge me to hit certain time goals. Going "old school" without a pacer, or crew didn't seem to bother me either, though a motivator late in the race may not have been bad. WS is a well stocked course, and I never felt like I was lacking anything I needed running solo. The volunteers pretty much are like an adopted crew team, but for family and friends who want to support their runner being on a crew is probably very rewarding, needed, or not.

Nutrition: My weight was never down more than 4 lbs, or up 2 lbs. In fact, beyond mile 55 (Michigan Bluff), I was within 1 lb of my pre-race weight. Bottom line, even without a watch I kept very good track of my liquid and calorie intake.

Pre race "training": I only trained 40 mpw leading up to WS. I also had a handful of slow 20-30 mile runs, but nothing fast. It would have been nice to toss in a few quick 4:30-5 hour mountain 50k's for training. Ideally, I would have aimed for 80+mpw, topping out at 100, but it wasn't in the cards this spring. Trying to be balanced with work, social life, and other hobbies made it tough to really want to dedicate so much time to running. There's always a trade off.

Performance at WS: Obviously, finishing any 100 is something to be proud of. Like they say "there's no such thing as an easy 100". WS certainly isn't an easy 100. My biggest physical setback during the WS run was clearly the deterioration of my left quad starting at mile 38. In a big race like WS, it's really demoralizing to know you have 62 more miles to run on a bum leg. I would have liked to have at least made it to Forest Hills (mile 62) feeling relatively fresh, but that was cut short by about 22 miles. Lack of training volume is probably to blame, as my muscles simply were not conditioned enough for runs longer than 40-50 miles. There were significant amounts of the course beyond mile 62 I knew I could have run. My time of 25:26 reflects the fact I kinda "walked it in" after I knew sub 24 was gone. I really believe if I spent a dedicated, and strict 3 months training specifically for the WS course, that I could run in the 21-22 hour range. But, that's easier said than done.

Post Race Recovery: There are only two other races I was more sore after finishing: my first 100, and my first ultra. My left quad was the primary culprit of my post race limping. My right quad was barely sore, calves fine, and ZERO blisters. I lost one toenail because of a rock I kicked, but at least it wasn't due to blisters. Had a bit of a bruise on my right foot from lacing my shoes too tight. At first I thought I may have broken a metatarsel, but the bruising and swelling has gone down a lot since the race. It's kind of funny, but my feet never really hurt during the race, mostly afterwards. My left quad is also feeling much better, which is a good sign that the pain I felt during WS was just a strain, and not a serious injury. Don't get me wrong, it still hurt a ton during the race, and going faster simply wasn't an option.

That's all I got to say about Western States until the next lottery drawing. Wouldn't it be crazy if I got selected again! I'm hoping next June I can enjoy the coolness of Squaw Valley and chuckle to myself saying "didn't think I'd be back here so soon." I'm looking forward for another chance at a silver buckle. Like a true runner, there's always a goal on the next horizon :-)

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