Wednesday, July 20, 2011

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.

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