Sunday, December 5, 2010

WOW!!! My 2010 Western States Lottery experience

With Western States Race Director: Greg Soderland before the drawing. Because I had come to California primarily for the race drawing and indicated this to the various super sweet volunteers and greeters, Greg came over and introduced himself. I was so thrilled to be known as the girl from MD. And even more so after my name was drawn just a little past mid-way through the drawing!!!

Western States is a very famous ultramarathon (100 miler) in which many of my hero's compete for top slots. All I am hoping/training for is a sub 30 hour finish. With a bit of luck, good health and hopefully no family disasters this year, I *really* hope to do this!!


I have been interested in running Western States for many years. My first JFK50 miler I heard about it from my running friends (and heros!) Ed C., Dave Y and Bill T. These Reston Runners are LEGENDS. They have run nearly every 100 miler in America and are super tough!

While on my radar, early in my ultra-running career, I did not believe I could finish Western States 100 because is is quite tough, challenging and does not have a great success rate. And of course I am slow! Since I did not believe in myself I did not sign up for the lottery in 2006, 2007, and 2009. By the time I had the confidence, experience and felt if selected I would not be "wasting" a coveted slot, the odds dwindled from guaranteed sucesss ultimately with the two time loser rule to 20% last year. This year my chances even with two tickets was a dismal 14%. I was not optimistic.

But I still decided to fly to California to experience the lottery. Let me just say it did not disappoint. The energy was amazing, everyone was so friendly and I knew about 20 folks in the 200+ person audience.

As the names were selected there was a nervous energy in the air. I had told my husband earlier in the day that the optimal time to be selected (from my perspective) was about halfway through. There would be lots of anticipation but at some point after your name was called you could appreciate the experience.

Arriving at the gym, Tristan and I were fairly early. I got a good seat and put my lucky bear hydration pack on one and my sparkely fanny pack on the other to ensure Tristan and I could sit together. I needed all my lucky animals and items with me. Because we were going to be in the 100 miler for the long haul!

I chatted with lots of super nice runners and family and caught up with my friends while waiting. Folks would ask where you were from and I was happy to indicate I had traveled from Maryland. And yes, my trip here was primarily for the WS100. Visiting Tristan's family and the California International Marathon were ancilliary. I ultimately was introduced to the Race Director, Greg Soderland as the girl who came from Maryland. I also got to see Tim Twietmeyer, who I had met the day before at the CIM EXPO. It was really neat. Just meeting all these amazing running legends was incredible!

Then it was time for the lottery. Announcements were made then it was asked who traveled the furthest? I was next to a gentleman from Cleveland Ohio. But Gaithersburg MD won! I was excited to be called up and received my first bit of goodies: Moeben arm sleeves (my favorite!), a Western States coffee mug and a hat. My day was off to a great start!

As names were selected, the audience would erupt into huge cheers when it was a local. I saw a few names of running friends but quite a few names from MD/VA/DC were not names I knew. And I thought I knew most of the crazy 100 milers in the Capitol area because of belonging to the Reston Runners, Virginia Happy Trails and Montgomery County Road Runners. Alas none of these names were mine.

Each minute I became more nervous and anxious. The energy was electric. I had my fingers, toes and everything else crossed willing my name to the screen. 5, 10, 15, 20 runners were selected. Every time a two ticket person was selected I was excited. My odds improved. But alas odds do not get your name picked specifically. At the halfway point I for a moment lost hope. But I gave a pat to my lucky bears and squeezed my eyes shut wishing super hard. Next thing I know on the board it says:

Gaithersburg, MD

It lists some races: JJ100, VT100, JFK50, Tails for Trails 40, New River Trails 50 km.

These are the races that have gotten me here.

It takes a moment to process, that is MY NAME!!! I start hooting and hollering and jump up in excitement. It is AMAZING. The next few minutes are a blur. I hug the guy who had drawn my name. I hug the race director. I savor the moment. It is AWESOME!!!

Getting your name selected while being in the gym is an experience that is incredible. The crowd cheers for me and is so nice. I am thrilled to recieve my race brochure and a bag. In fact it is only a few minutes later that I look in the bag and realize it is a Moeben Set including a running skirt and a pair of arm warmers in the daisy pattern. This is my FAVORITE pattern. My lucky day keeps getting better.

After my name is selected, I can appreciate the lottery. It is wonderful when folks from the audience are selected. I notice no one seems to match my energy and enthusiasm. I may never be able to show my face in Auburn. But after the drawing is complete super nice people come up to me and say that my antics and excitement getting selected were appreciated. That is neat. I always like to show my enthusiasm and LOVE ultrarunning. I know I am really fortunate to be able to run and and so thrilled that in 2011 my journey of ultrarunning will include Western States and hopefully even the Grand Slam: Vermont 100, Leadville 100, and Wasatch!


Dan Rose said...

The only thing that made my lottery non-luck better was hearing that you were selected. I think I speak for everyone in the running world that it couldn't have happened to a better person!! Congrats!!!!

Tiger said...

Congratulations! That is so awesome! I'll be living vicariously through your Grand Slam journey! You are going to ROCK this!

Daniele said...

I second what Dan said! Couldn't have happened to a better person! I'll be cheering for you all the way from here in Maryland!
: )

Bob - said...

Very Cool Tammie, and way to go and experience it! Now stop reading this and go train you ass off :-)

It's WS Time!!!!

GO Tammie GO!

Carmen Mak said...

Hey Coach Tammy, I got your text, I didn't know the significance of this until I read your blog! I am so excited for you! This just makes my life of living through yours even more fun! You are gong to do so well. I know it. love ya, Carmen

Ric Munoz said...

Congratulations, Tammy! Dan Rose mentioned your selection on his blog and linked your lottery story. I feel like such a slug -- especially after reading your exciting account of the experience -- for not traveling up north from L.A. to attend it myself. I watched the lottery webcast, but then their internet connection died. This meant we got to hear only the first 75 names selected, so I missed hearing yours. Thanks for the great report. Best of luck with your training. I'll be on the lookout for you during race weekend next June so that I can say hello and wish you well in person!

Runner Tammy said...


Thank you!! From the trifecta of awesome pacers (you, Iva and Shane), this means so much. I hope I can make you proud!


Thank you. I know along my journey I will think about the miles we have spent together at various races.


Thank you! That is so kind.


Thanks! When will I see you next. Want to have a rematch at Umstead 100 or VT100? Or we could run on a level playing field: Leadville:-)


We will need to pick a marathon this spring to run. Maybe Delaware. It is in mid-spring and is a very cute course. And of course it would be a great training run for WS100!


Thank you! See you along the course. Are you going to the training run(s)? I am signed up and have all my travel plans for the Memorial Day weekend training. I am really looking forward to it.

Happy Running,

Tiff said...

Tammie, Congratulations! I have been reading your blog for a while now and I also appreciate your enthusiasm for running! I hope to complete an ultra-distance at some point (I've done 3 marathons). Your detailed race reports are very helpful to novices like me!


Runner Tammy said...


Thank you. I am glad you enjoy my blog:-)

I partly write my blog so I can look back and remember but I also write my blog for others. I think everyone's race experience is unique but seeing a bunch of different perspectives on the internet creates a prism that one can learn from. Of course mine is from a moderately slow runner (although lately because I really want to ensure I can finish Umstead 100 in under 24 hours and now Western States in the time limit, I have been trying to push myself).

I encourage you to think about an ultra. They are great fun! Looking at your profile it appears you are from VA. There are many great ultra's around here. And a wonderful running group, the Virginia Happy Trails Running Club. Ultramarathoners are a very welcoming group and since you are going further everyone goes slower.... which I like.

Happy Running!

Ric Munoz said...

Alas, Tammy, I will not be able to make it to any of the training runs, but thanks for asking. I'm tapped out in the old moola department (that $370 for WS is a killer!). Anyway, I will make do with the trails in Southern California and hope that they suffice. Unlike most folks, I will be 100% satisfied with a finish next June as long as it's 29:59:59 or faster.

And thank you for being encouraging to Tiffany and other similar novices. You really do capture the enthusiasm and excitement of what the world of ultras can provide. It took me 15 years to fully comprehend that ultramarathons are MUCH easier than marathons -- and ultra folks are much friendlier than marathon folks, too!