Sunday, July 24, 2011

Western States 100 Mile: Duncan Canyon to Mosquito Ridge

Along the race course near the Lake we ran alongside for several miles. It was a very beautiful blue lake that had lovely snow capped mountains in the background.

We never got too close to the edge of the lake although at several points we had to cross over (through) streams.

The trail along the perimeter of the lake was very nice with very few roots or rocks so it was easy on the feet and there were not very many tripping hazards.

Just a few minutes later and one final switchback up the hill I make it to the Duncan Canyon Aid Station. The aid station is really active and lots of fun. The volunteers take great care of me helping me fill all my hydration pack with ice water and my bottle with sports drink as well as filling my bandana with ice so I can wrap it around my neck to keep cool. Everyone is so cheerful and helpful. I loiter a bit, chat with the volunteers and again get scolded to get out of the aid station.

Jogging out of the aid station I am feeling great. My WS100 experience is amazing so far. It is exceeding my expectations!

The current course continues its diversion on the “2011 snow route”. We go into Duncan Canyon then head up to Mosquito Ridge. As I am running into the canyon we have a small section on snow then abruptly get onto a road. I am thrilled to see road. I have had enough snow for many, many years to come and I actually do like running on road since it is fairly brainless (so far I have not fallen on road, trails I fall a lot!).

As I running down the hill, safety patrol catches up to me. They are very nice and even take my picture as I run along. We chat for a while. Their job is to make sure runners are doing well. Sadly I am doing well so after a bit they head off. I try to suggest that I am not coherent and that they kind of owe me an escort since I did give up my SPOT rescue beacon which was supposed to be my chaperone. Apparently this does not convince them to stick with me. Nor does my exciting conversation and company. As they head off, they remind me that the DNF line is approaching but suggest that I am moving solidly and just need to keep running strong.

In the canyon we run along a river for a bit. I love rivers and the sound of running water. I am in my happy place. The views continue to be very pretty and I am just having so much fun. I try not to stress about my lack of SPOT and try to remind myself that statistically I am unlikely to experience death and disaster.

Hiking up the hill I am bummed when we get off the road onto a fireroad. At least it is not single track. As I run along I am all alone. Along the road you could see about ½ mile ahead and behind at various points and there are no runners in my field of vision. But as I run on the dirt road I am surprised to catch up to my friend Don. Not surprisingly he passed me at the Aid Station. We catch up a bit and jog for a bit together. Again, my pace is slightly faster so we ultimately separate. A little bit later I catch up to my friend Jose SG. He really struggled in the snow (in fact at one point I asked him what shoes he was wearing…so I could NEVER buy them!). He is starting to struggle in the heat but is moving forward. He has a lot of experience in 100’s so I am optimistic for him.

As I continue running I am back to being alone. This is actually how the rest of my day seems to progress. Sporadically I see runners in the aid stations but overall I am alone. I did not know if headphones are allowed so I did not carry any. But regardless I would not have put them on because I want to make sure I can hear the rattlesnake, bear, cougar, marmot, lizard or whatever other animal might be about to attack me!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Western States 100 Mile: Poppy Aid Station to Duncan Canyon

With my personal assistant: Vicki who took GREAT care of me during my visit to the Poppy Aid Station.

She was so sweet and helpful. She made sure to help me with my sock change (which is very labor intensive and kind of smelly) and attended to my every need.

After the race I was so lucky to run into Vicky again at the post race buffet where again she took excellent care of me.

She was an AMAZING volunteer and so kind!

After leaving the Poppy Aid Station we quickly ran along a beautiful mountain lake for about 5-7 miles.

The course was really lovely and the views spectacular. Around each bend you could see the blue/green lake flanked by the snowy mountains.

The views were just breathtaking and it was such a treat to be able to run alongside this picture perfect lake on such a beautiful day.

Pretty soon we arrive at the Poppy Aid station where our first drop bag is located. Here I make my first mistake of the day. But luckily it is a fairly small one and easily rectified. Because the race director during the pre-race briefing suggested we change our socks, I do so. In retrospect I would not have done this. But alas having a really good friend, Ethel (who was a GREAT pacer at the ICY-8 hour in 2010 helping me get my first 2nd place female), who ended up with massive feet issues from her attempt at WS100, I do the conservative thing and change my shoes.

My personal assistant, Vicki (who is WONDERFUL) gets my bag, helps me in getting off my nasty wet socks and putting on a new pair as well as a new pair of gaiters (you might as well change everything is my philosophy). Changing my socks also involves cleaning my feet rather thoroughly with wet wipes. By the time I have wiped them off you can eat off my feet (not that I ever would, but I am a bit fastidious about my feet). After getting on my socks and gaiters, I also put on my pair of Zensah calf sleeves so I can put on my snake proof gaiters. When putting on one of my calf sleeves somehow it is upside down…or at least looks that way. In fact when I take it off, put it back on it then is really upside down. Then I have to take it off one last time to put it on rightside up. So for those of you keeping count this sleeve has now been on and off 3 times! Finally it is on right. I then hook up my snake proof gaiters (these I do know how to put on although it was only during a practice run I realize that there is definitely a right and left foot). After attending to my feet situation it is time to put on some sunscreen. This takes a bit of time because I know I need to apply at least a shot glass worths of sunscreen and I really do not want to miss any place. Although I had applied sunscreen before I started I do really try to take care of my dermatological needs. I also try to take care of my oral hygiene but as you will learn later from mid-afternoon until the finish I was fighting the DNF line rather than gingivitis!

Grabbing a grilled cheese sandwich, some brownies, a payday bar as well as resupplying both my fanny pack bottle and my hydration pack I am ready to leave the aid station. In fact the volunteers are starting to really encourage me to leave as they (and I) know the DNF line is starting to creep up on me! Alas attending to needs can be an important race strategy and I am sure that I will be able to make up time with my freshly clean/dry feet as well as with the confidence my snake proof gaiters will give me and finally with a full belly of food and drink!

The next section of course is by far the prettiest in my opinion. The course follows along a beautiful lake and it is a fairly runnable section. Don and I continue to run together chatting about ultra’s. the ultra community and life in general. He is good company and I am glad to have a person to run along with. Even when we are running in silence it is nice to have some company. We sporadically stop to appreciate the views and to take pictures. The lake is a beautiful green with snow capped mountains behind it. We are in a lush pine forest with lots of wildflowers. We sometimes are a few hundred feet from the lakeshore and other times we climb a bit higher. We have a few stream crossings including one very soon after we got out of the aid station, aargh! Alas I am glad I made sure my feet were in good condition and it was nice to chat with Vicki while she was taking excellent care of me!

After running along the lake, Don and I start separating. My pace is a bit too brisk for him. This is sad because he is such great company but we both know that it is also important to run your own race particularly in the 50 and 100 mile distance. I am super pleased to have spent so many miles with him and know the early miles will be some of my favorite because of his company.

Running along we head up a fairly steep hill. The sun is getting bright and warm. And there seems to be residual burn from I would guess the late 90’s or early 2000’s. The tree’s do not provide as much shade but luckily it is not too hot and is not predicted to get super hot. I would guess at the hottest it might have been 90 degree’s but there does seem to be a pleasant breeze now and again. We really lucked out with delightful weather!

Reaching the top of this long hill climb I see my friend Keith Blom. He took some super pictures of my lottery selection (when I basically blew a gasket and forgot to photodocument the whole experience). But luckily Keith snapped pictures as I realized my name had popped up on the screen. It was an amazing experience! We subsequently ran into each other at the Across the Years and then he was one of the “Media”/official photographers of WS100. It was great to see him and briefly say hello!

Western States 100 Miler: Talbot to Poppy Aid Station

Picture: Me along the course between the Talbot Aid Station and Poppy Aid Station.

Notice that there are plenty of rocks, not very dense pine tree's and a dirt path. This is how the majority of this section looked. It was very beautiful but very different than the first ~15 miles which was snow covered.

This section had both up and downhills but no significant climbs or descents. Additionally, the footing was pretty good including a large portion of jeep road. My impression of the jeep roads is that there were bits of rocks but none seemed to be ankle twisters. And while the course might have been a bit dusty I believe my gaiters did the trick of keeping this out of my shoes and off my feet.

This is the first time I have seen people who might have contact with the outside world. I ask where the Ham Radio operators are. I am pointed to the exit. I go over and chat with them and confirm that my husband has been alerted that I am not sending out an SOS but have given my SPOT rescue beacon to others needing it.

I am assured my family has been contacted.

This is not the case but I do not find this out until Michigan Bluff. Luckily my friends and family can see that I am progressing along the course. This actually distresses me when I learn that a message was never conveyed to Tristan or my crew. I am sure glad they did not follow the helicopter to the hospital it went to because at that point I would have been a bit stranded and very puzzled as to where my people disappeared to. But then again from Tristan’s fall last year on Mt Theilsen they should have known not to immediately head to the hospital where one is medivacced but wait until the final destination is determined (when Tristan fell and was ultimately medivacced, I was told he was going to Portland Health Center. Luckily I hunkered down and waited and in fact he was only transported to St Charles Medical Center in Bend a few hundred miles away, I think I would have been horrified if I arrived at a hospital after a cross country flight only to learn I had another 3-5 hour drive to get to him). But I digress.

Don and I head out of the aid station together. We are pretty well matched for pace. And he is great company keeping a very easy conversation going. I learn his training has been really good. He broke 24 hours for a 100 miles at an event in the winter. I am still trying to do this, although I think without a bad knee issue at Umstead I might have broken it in April. Alas that was a learning experience when I learned my standard training of being conservative and not pushing to hard worked for me at least. For my first 6 years of ultra-running I never had an issue. Starting last fall when I started pushing really hard I have gotten shin splints and a bad knee tendonitis that took over 2 months to recover from including 1 month of intense physical therapy.

Running along I am thrilled that my knee is not acting up. I am feeling strong, enjoying the views and having a great time. It is so beautiful in the high country. How lucky are the runners to be able to do something we love so much on such a lovely day! We could not ask for more perfect weather. It is a beautiful blue sky and the scenery is spectacular!

Since I may be the better trail runner of the two of us, I end up being the pace setter for Don and I. This is fine with me because then I can go faster or slower as the terrain changes. Don is agreeable to this strategy. He is good company and lots of fun to run with. As we run along we both appreciate the beautiful views we are being given. Although I know I will be skirting the DNF line (based on other races and the fact that the snow has really slowed me down), I still take the time to stop occasionally to look around. We are so lucky to be so fortunate to run this race on such a beautiful day. There is no other place I would rather be! I will think this over and over throughout the race.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Western States 100 Mile Race Report: Interrupted for Vermont 100 miler

I apologize that I am leaving you my readers hanging...but my kind of lame excuse is that I am getting prepared for my 4th Vermont 100 miler.

This is the second stage of my Grand Slam 100 miler attempt. The 4 hundred milers in the Grand Slam include:

Western States 100 miler, California
Vermont 100 miler, Vermont
Leadville 100 miler, Colorado
Wasatch 100 miler, Utah (CONDITIONAL assuming I finish the prior 3)

If you want to wish me some luck feel free to text me at:

(804) 310-8745

I will have my cell phone on me. Service will be sketchy but I know on a few ridges it actually is pretty good:-)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Western States 100 mile: Escarpment to Talbot Aid Station

Running up Emigrant Pass I found a super nice lady who was willing to run alongside me snapping many pictures.

The course was really beautiful but snow covered for the vast majority of the first 15 miles or so.

It was challenging to run on and I know many runners including myself struggled to stay on their feet.

But the course was very lovely and we were so lucky to have perfect weather including a very sunny blue sky, and delightful temperatures.

What you will notice here is my full outfit including gloves, pants and of course sparkely my fanny pack, my flower hat as well as lots of random stuff.

Here is one of the many river crossings we had to do.

This picture includes my friend Don who ran many of the first sections with me. He was excellent company and a seasoned ultramarathoner with many 100 miler completions.

This river was one of the larger ones and in fact had a rope to assist runners in the crossing.

As you can see there is snow right along the side of the stream. I would guess the temperature of the water was just above freezing. By the end of the river crossing my feet and lower legs (from thigh below) were numb from the cold.

As you can see by this time I had taken off my long sleeve shirt and jacket so the day was warming up. So I did thaw out pretty quickly.

Climbing Escarpment (continued)

As we continue on, we are on a snow slope that is not too steep. Others seem out of breath but I am happy that alttitude or hills are not really impacting me greatly. I continuing moving at a modest clip. Along the slope I am able to get a very nice young lady to get my picture. She even gets a few action shots which is nice. The final climb to Emigrant Pass is a bit treacherous. But I make it. I am thrilled to be at the top of the pass. I will only be going downhill from here. But alas going downhills is my weakness. I go really slowly, get nervous and would actually go many, many, many extra miles to avoid downhill. Alas the WS100 course is a net downhill.

Near Watson Monument at the top of the pass I find another spectator to take my picture. I know I may be wasting valuable time but I rationalize that this is giving me a break, giving me some joy and I need to savor and document my experience. It is really beautiful with snow covered mountains all around.

After Emigrant Pass

The first few hundred meters down the mountain I am excited to see no snow. We are on a dirt/rock trail with stubby bushes and wildflowers. It is very pretty. Unfortunately after about a half mile or so we get onto the snow. We will not get off the snow for nearly 10 miles. (ten miserable miles in my world!). I am glad I invested in a pair of trail shoes when I visited my friend Jamie. My new pink trail shoes (which I have only run in 2 times for less than 25 miles!) are very comfortable and grip pretty well. It does seem that others are sliding quite a bit more than I. But I also am taking this section very, very slowly because I really do not want to fall! In fact every so often we get to a fairly steep area in which it is obvious others have fallen. I sit down and slide on my but. Finally my overdressing pays of!!! My pants protect my butt from the snow. Others are mentioning the burn and snow up their shorts. But I am having a blast each time I sit down and slide. Next time I think I might pack a bag but in all honesty the pants work out very well. My gloves also were a wise decision although with the bitten finger and the fact that they are not even remotely waterproof make them a little soggy. But the weather is very pleasant and it is not too bad the few moments they are wet and cold.

I run with a pack of runners during this segment. My friends from other races: Jose SG and Wilson L are really close to me. Chris (aka the guy who will be writing a book about a serial killer ultrarunner!) who I met at the WS100 memorial day training weekend is in this pack. Shannon FG from moeben is in this same group. And I get to meet several new runners. Don from Atlanta ends up being closest to my pace and we end up running very closely for the first ~30 miles. He is really good company and has done a bunch of ultra’s.

Pretty soon disaster occurs.

Running along in the snow, slipping and sliding I am really anxious about falling. I see others falling and I sort of stumble a bunch of times. As I round a bend there is a group of three runners with red shirts on. One is down obviously in a lot of pain. The other two are looking concerned. It is safety patrol. They do not seem to have any rescue equipment and I do not believe a cell phone. I realize I may be the only one who has any way to get help quick. And people mock me for my carrying of excessive stuff. I can say that I will not starve or be too thirsty for several days or even be very cold or wet if I ever go off course in an ultra. That 15 lbs I carry includes lots of useful stuff!

After determining that this lady’s ankle is in really bad shape and there is no way she is getting off the snow slope without assistance, I set off my SPOT rescue beacon. Now I am in a quandary. If I keep going the pinging will follow me (and will actually probably make it so they do not send help since clearly I would be mobile).

I now have to give up my lifeline. I am really hesistant. I really do not want to die on the course and I know there will be more snow slopes, lots of sheer cliffs and of course potentially rattlesnakes, cougars, bears and other animals ready to make me a happy meal! I hand off my rescue beacon, wish the lady luck and ask them to get this back to me ASAP. I am optimistic “SPOT” will catch up to me mid-afternoon. In fact they take down my number wrong and never alert my family that I am okay. But the SPOT rescue beacon folks do alert my family. This actually creates some confusion because when the SPOT folks call my husband (who is on my emergency call list) he is unsure about my whereabouts but suggests they should rescue me. He should have stated unequivocally, “GO GET MY WIFE SHE’S IN TROUBLE!!!” He has been reprimanded.

They apparently do send a helicopter to rescue the lady. In fact I think I heard it as we were running along a while later. I kept my fingers crossed she was okay and hoped that this gesture of goodwill gets me some good karma (both in not dying but also in finishing the race:-).

This episode takes about 10 minutes. Finally I bid farewell to the safety patrol and am back to running. This time I am running scared. One should never run scared. But it makes me really cautious.

I also realize my friends who are following my SPOT tracking will have no idea what has happened to me. All they will notice is that I was moving along, then I abruptly stopped and sent out an “SOS”. In fact in my gmail account after the race I get pinged with a bunch of SOS please send help. I am not sure why I put my gmail on my contact list. If I need help I don’t think I will be able to access gmail to see that I need help, duh!

Running along, I catch up to my friend Don. He and I seem to have a very similar pace (particularly on the snow). He is good company and helps makes the miles flow by. We chat about ultra’s, life in general and how tough the snow is. Sporadically we have to stop and look very hard for the yellow flags and ribbons. This actually becomes very challenging and we end up forming a cluster of about 8 runners as we all struggle to find the course. Jose, Wilson, Brian, Shannon, Don and several others end up in a pack for a while. We sort of randomly have runners lead or follow looking for the yellow trail markings. They are hard to spot since the glare of the snow and the yellow ribbons and flags seem to blend together. This gets to be very tedious and slow going. Unfortunately knowing how easy it is to get off course I refuse to follow footprints but only go where I can see yellow ribbons. I really do not want bonus miles. I already did that at the training run going straight up a hill I had to promptly go down when I realized I had missed my turn!

As we ran along there sporadically was chatter but a lot of energy was spent paying close attention to the course markings as well as our footings. I think most of us fell several times, stumbled and slipped around. And we had to be cautious of tree wells where you could see the snow was up to 20 feet deep. And occasionally you could hear a river of water under the snow so you had to be careful to not step in the wrong place and fall into tunnel of water. It was very disconcerting.

The course slowly descends but the snow does not seem to go away. During the pre-race briefing it was suggested with the recent heat wave the snow might be patchy in sections. I have not seen terra firma for many miles except for small few feet patches (which I get really excited about only to realize the brief respite is just that…very brief!).

As the trail descends our pack seems to disband and I am back to running with Don. We get to a stream crossing and see my friend Chris finish crossing it. It is actually a bit deep (thigh high) and moderately long (about 50 –75 feet). And the water is REALLY cold (although it does take me a few moments to gather my courage to get in to start crossing). Before spring 2011 I had never purposely gotten my feet wet crossing a stream or river. But upon realizing I was going to do WS100 with multiple stream crossings I started my stream crossing ways back in March while a trail sweep for the Seneca Greenway 50km race. I was pretty proud of myself because I have really matured as a runner and have refused to let perceived challenges stop me. Partway through the stream I get my camera and take a few pictures of Don and I. This is a bit tricky as we have a rope we are holding onto. I in fact am using a death grip on it holding on for dear life. This means during each picture I am standing thigh deep in freezing cold water. It takes my breath away! But alas it also chills my knees and ankles which are a bit bothersome from the snow running (actually each time I fell on the snow I also rationalized that I was pre-icing from any injury I might get!). Finally I get to the other side. I can barely feel my feet. The water was really cold!!!

Jogging along my feet and legs seem to thaw out. I wonder how many more stream crossings we will do. A few minutes later we have another stream but this one is only about 10 feet wide. But getting to the stream is a bit more treacherous with a very steep slope going into it. I am glad in my hydration pack I have a pair of pants and a jacket I can change into if my stream crossing goes horribly awry! But I do successfully get into the stream and cross it. I am feeling pretty happy that so far no obstacle has been insurmountable.

I know from my Garmin we have traveled well over 10 miles and should be getting close to the first aid station. I am excited just to have a moment or two off the snow. And of course I am looking forward to some treats. Because I have a 20 oz bottle and a 100 oz hydration pack I am very well set for beverages and I do have treats in my pockets. But aid stations have so much energy.

Soon we are entering the Talbot Aid Station, WAHOO! As with all the aid stations, the volunteers take great care of us making sure we are well hydrated and fed and ensure all our needs are met. I am getting excited because I know we have only a few more miles of snow to run along. I was definitely over snow-running after about 1 step!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Western States 100 mile: Start to Escarpment

Tristan and I during the race just above "High Camp", the top of the Gondola (taken with my camera that traveled the full 100 miles).

Tristan hiked up starting at about 3:30 a.m. and cheered on the front runners all the way to the Back of the Pack. In face he suggested that he climbed up and over Escarpment and on the "civilian side" there was a fence which gave him a splinter...which may or may not still be in his hand nearly 2 weeks later!

You can see runners in the background continuing up to Escarpment (Also in the background)

Once the race started I wandered to and over the start line. I knew it was an uphill start from the Thursday hike up the mountain for the very touching memorial service led by race committee members: Mo L. and Tony. Also being an experience ultramarathoner I knew I needed to conserve energy by walking up the hill. I was near many friends including: Bill, Jeff (just briefly), Elaine, Don, Shannon, Jose, Wilson, and many others. It was going to be a grueling uphill climb for the first 4 miles! Luckily I eat hills for breakfast.

As I climbed the first hill I had the pleasure of meeting April who was doing her first WS100 in preparation for UTMB (an ultra around Mont Blanc that is on my “to do” list). We chatted and shared several very nice miles. Unfortunately once we got to the top my incompetence at downhill running ensured I dropped back considerably. While running with April, my friend Elaine caught up and passed me. I would not see her for the remainder of the race and am so thrilled she finished in a little over 27 hours!

At Escarpment I refilled my hydration pack. This took a lot more time then it should have as I identified a lady with enough water in her pitcher. As I opened my bladder she was dumping her water in other bottles and promptly left. I then had to find someone else who had a filled pitcher. This was a bit of a bummer because this also involved doubling back a bit. I told myself it was not a big deal but in fact when I was concerned about finishing 29:59:59 every second can start to count.

Heading out of Escarpment AS as I put my bladder back in my hydration pack my little string of bad luck continued as I bit through my smartwool gloves. Seriously I was using my teeth to pull of my glove and next thing I know the gloves are still on my hand and a bit of glove is in my mouth…pfft!

Continuing to climb I know we will start hitting patches of snow. This is not thrilling to me but at least I know this section. And I know I should be seeing Tristan pretty soon. As we get above High Camp, I do see Tristan. He is standing in a place I would not have picked but at least I see him. I stop give him a hug and chat briefly. I get a picture of us with my camera and then one with his iPhone. I tell him to post it to facebook so friends can see my progress. It is still not posted ~2 weeks later!

All to soon I realize I need to keep going forward. The next segment up Escarpment is a doozy. It is really steep single track some rocky section some covered in snow. I am not in my happy place as it is the stuff of my nightmares. Little do I realize that this is only the beginning of challenging sections. Going up is not so bad but every so often out of the corner of my eye I can see how precarious this trail is. I keep moving forward with purpose and hope it ends. At the top of escarpment I am thrilled. I hope the toughest part of the race is over. I like to live in delusionalworld…

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Western States 100 Miler: Before the Start

My 2011 Western States 100 Miler Experience…Living through it was all I was hoping for!

Tammy Massie Bib #217


"Team Tammy" (Except for Tristan who had climbed up to Escarpment Pass so he could cheer me on as I got to mile ~3 of the race and nearly 8,000 feet in Elevation)

Western States 100 miler, “The Big Dance”, “States”, “WS100” or “Western” (as I call it) is a race like no other. It is an amazing experience for new ultra-runners as well as seasoned veterans. Although WS100 was my 11th hundred miler start it might have been the race I was least sure about finishing to date (later this summer I am running the Grand Slam which includes Vermont 100, Leadville 100 and I have a conditional acceptance to Wasatch 100).

While standing on the start line I realized that I was completely out of my league. I would label myself as a marginally incompetent ultramarathoner. And that is being kind. Lining up next to other runners I was dismayed to observe I probably had the most stuff on my person (~15 lbs of equipment including random stuff, treats and beverages in my hydration pack and in my fanny pack “sparkeley” and even a SPOT Rescue Beacon). I was all set if I went off trail and ended up in Mexico with some peso’s or Canadian money if I headed north. Of course I had my requisite spare ponches (yes that is plural), lip balms (again plural in fact 3 lip balms-one huckleberry flavored, one pink tinted and the lip balm that could also be used on hotspots in a pinch). I had lots of treats including several bags of different foods: smokehouse almonds, almond M&M’s, marathon bars, nutter butters and even some dates (because one should always have some fruit each day!).

My defense system consists of my SPOT rescue beacon (to be carried the entire race), a pink pepper spray (to be carried the entire race), and in my drop bags at various points: pink snake proof gaiters (for both Saturday and Sunday when we will be in the sun) and a hydration pack with a pink superhero “T” cape for the last section that has been a location in which a runner had been attacked many years ago and cougars have been spotted. I felt I was ready for any encounter I might have. And if I got too lost I was going to be well fed and hydrated for a bit of time and would have stuff to barter with if I was with others.

I also had little med packs including various over the counter medications for pain and upset stomach as well toilet paper and single use cottenelle wet wipes. In addition to having overpacked with spare layers even in my hydration pack ziplocked in case I took a spill in the water crossings or if I ended up getting wet in the snow, I noticed I was the only runner with pants on, several layers including thermal shirts/windbreaker and I was stressing about running in snow, getting my feet wet (and dirty), cougar attacks and rattlesnakes to name a few of my numerous fears.

I took a deep breath and try to give myself a pep talk in my mind. This was to be the first of many pep talks throughout the day. By the end I was actually verbalizing my pep talk which included “harness your inner puffi” alluding to our youngest but toughest cat who knows no fear and seems to live life with reckless abandon (which I guess you can do when you have 9 lives!)

But let me start at the very beginning of the day. At 3:00 a.m. the first of my alarms went off. But I was already up having been really anxious about missing the start. Pretty soon I was getting wake up calls from my friends on the East coast. Pacer Dan gave a quick call and wished me luck. Then a few minutes later my frequent hill running partner Tammy B gave me a second wake up call. We talked briefly and she indicated all our hill training should help me finish WS100. While I agreed that our hill training certainly would help, I had never experience a race quite like WS100 so I was nervous.

As I got ready Tristan got up and headed up the mountain to Escarpment. He was going to hike up in the dark to about 3 miles up the mountain to cheer me (and other runners) on. After Tristan left, Pacer Shane got up, then my dad got up shortly thereafter. As I completed getting dressed and ready pictures were taken and discussions were had. Crewette/Pacer Bella then got up and we all chatted briefly and plans for the day were reconfirmed. I was feeling pretty good and the weather seemed like it was going to be delightful. Just a bit cool and sunny. I was really excited.

Once I was ready it was time to head to check in. This involved a short elevator trip then about a 100 meter walk from our suite in the Squaw Valley Lodge. After about 30 seconds I was in the midst of many other runners ready to get my bib, chip and final weigh in. My weight continued to be 133.8. This is a little high for me but I might have been enjoying a few too many ice cream sandwiches, banana splits and caramel apples throughout the spring. Or it could be that I was well hydrated….

Wandering around the check in area I briefly hang out with several other grand slammers. They notice I am eating my breakfast of champions “Pink Snowballs”. It is also commented on that my outfit (pink) and my breakfast food match. I am to keep a monochromatic theme! Also I love snowballs. They probably are going to be banned sometime in my life but the gooey goodness of mashmallow and coconut on a crème filled cupcake makes me happy and tastes so good.

After getting my bib and chip it was time to put them on. I was all set. Time to chat, take a final bathroom break and make sure I was ready for what was going to be the toughest day of my life.

As I headed outside I was pleasantly surprised to see Pacer Iva. I now had a pretty complete entourage (less Tristan who was on the mountain). My Dad, my pacers: Iva and Shane and my crew/pacer: Bella. I am pretty happy that I had the sense to get a group shot of all of us while waiting for the countdown clock to get to “0”.

I was super excited but very nervous. I knew this was going to be the biggest challenge in my life. I knew I would face treacherous terrain, a course I was very unfamiliar with, lots of snow, stream crossings, single track and my biggest fear: getting my feet dirty! Seriously!! I really do not belong in the ultrarunning crowd and probably bring shame to all the other ultrarunners!