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!

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