Sunday, April 22, 2012

Western States... Here I Come!

Something about clicking "purchase ticket" really gets the blood pumping!  I have been impatiently waiting, watching and scheming to get our tickets for Western States and it all came together on Thursday.  After applying every mile, point and discount under the sun... it is done!

Ironically, less than 10 minutes after booking the tickets, I stepped out of the shower to take a phone call from my husband and FULLY wiped out on the bathroom floor.  I laid there for a second staring at the ceiling and mentally scanning all body parts for breakage.  I'm the proud owner of a purply-green shin bone and a goose egg in my right glute but other than that, I am unscathed.  The irony of potentially breaking a leg within 10 minutes of ticket purchase was not lost on me.  Lucky girl... no more shower phone calls!

For anyone who's wondering why I'm so excited or if you identify the words Western States with Oregon, California and Washington - here's a bit of history for ya...

The Western States 100 is one of the oldest and most prestigious 100 mile trail race in America.  A couple of thousand people apply through a lottery process and about 400 runners are accepted each year.  It begins in Squaw Valley, California and ends 100 tough miles later at a high school track in Auburn, California.  The runners will climb 18,000 feet and descend 21,000 feet over the course of the race.  Runners who finish in under 24 hours receive a silver belt buckle, 30 hours gets a bronze buckle, over 30 hours and you get nada.

Obviously, this is not about a belt buckle.  This is about moving the human body via mental will past any sense of reason.

Runners start the race alone at 5:00 a.m. to tackle the Sierra Nevada mountain range and then at mile 62, they're able to have a "pacer" join them to run through the night hours.  That's me... the pacer.  My friend and quasi-inlaw Wayne Miles asked me to join him for miles 62 through 80.  After I stopped laughing incredulously and spent an afternoon panicking on the phone with my running junkie girlfriends,  I saw this for what it was - a gift.  I promptly and happily accepted.  Apparently, this is how ultra runners give back and grow the sport - slap a headlamp on a newbie and send them into the dark wilderness of California?!

Last year a documentary film was made about WS.  This trailer will give you a little taste of why I break out in a sweat when I think about waiting at mile 62 for Wayne!  Just breathe Lauren...

Wayne is an inspiration to me for many reasons - not the least of which is that he's a legendary ultra-runner, terminal cancer survivor and at age 63 is running 50 miles Rim-To-Rim-To-Rim of the Grand Canyon this weekend as a "training run". Yeah, soak it in...

In preparation, I've read about 100 blog posts written by Western States pacers.  Some had runners that were in such good shape at mile 62 that they couldn't keep up with them and were left behind like pacer roadkill. Others had to scrape their runners off the trail as they sobbed and puked and begged to quit - but pacers don't let you quit.  Some are ultra-runners who have their own 100 miler on the horizon and use pacing WS as a training run. Some are the spouses and siblings of runners.  Some sign up on-line to pace international competitors that they've never met and who don't speak English.  So many stories, each one unique.

The distance and darkness are no problem.  I don't run a lot of trails here but anyone who has run on the roads of Barbados knows that I'm navigating potholes, uneven pavement, speeding taxi vans, loose dogs and soaring temperatures 365 days of the year.  The thought of a cool, quiet trail at night sounds like heaven!  (you can remind me later that I typed that 'heaven' part)

My specific plan for WS is to be whatever the heck Wayne needs me to be: whip-cracker, caretaker, chatty-cathy, church mouse, cleaner of blisters, head cheerleader, photographer, queen of the aid station - whatever

I'm on a journey that truly scares and excites me - that's how I know it's right!  I can't wait to post my own "Pacing Western States" story and I hope you'll read along...


  1. So amazing! I still can't wrap my head around running 100 miles, but that race has a nice ring to it and it's on my tentative "someday maybe" race. You're going to love being a pacer, getting to experience the race without running 100 miles!!

  2. The video just gives me chills and chills on top of it when I think about you being part of it! Just awesome!