Thursday, October 13, 2011

Western States 100 Mile: Foresthill to the River Crossing

You are only allowed one pacer in this area so Iva and a very nice volunteer help me with my shoe change. During my shoe change, I am not the well-oiled machine I hoped to be. But I don’t screw up either, which is good. I take off everything on my feet and wipe up fastidiously. This gets some comments from the peanut gallery. But I am happy to be off my feet for a few minutes and ensuring my feet a clean, dry, well glided and do not have any issues that could become catastrophe’s are important to me. I then do the same for my other foot. This time I pay particular attention when putting on my zensah sleeves having experienced a bit of a fiasco earlier in the day.

After taking care of my feet it is time to wet wipe my hands and take out my contacts. Ahh! What a relief. Because my contacts are so thick (thanks to very bad astigmatism), my eyes bother me a lot when wearing contacts. Mix in lack of humidity and dust and my eyes were a disaster. In fact later at Dardenelles my eyes continue to bother me so much I ask a volunteer to put my eye drops in my eyes because I am not skilled at this (in fact I am not skilled at much and sometimes it just shocks me that I make it through any given day!). Finally I complete all my tasks, it is time to eat.

I grab a grilled cheese sandwich and a cup of soup and head off for the finish line. I am past mile 62 and for the first aid station since mile 20 I do not hear the air horn! I want to keep it this way.

Running out of Foresthill I am a little bummed that I seem to lose members of “Team Tammy”: Tristan, Shane and Bella pretty quickly although they could run about half a mile with me. Oh well, it’s probably because I am running too fast!

Once Iva and I get to the turnoff of Foresthill Road I warn Iva that we are going to hit a fairly steep section soon. We have a brief respite then somehow the steep section I make it down without any issues. It is kind of odd because I had made a mental note that we had a pretty challenging section immediately following Foresthill. Perhaps it was being so excited about not hearing the air horn, being well fed/hydrated or knowing for the remainder of the race I would be escorted to the finish!

After announcing how I spent my day: running, followed by more running, with a little more running for good measure I ask Iva about how everyone on “Team Tammy” spent their day. This includes what they did as well as what was eaten (in fact a good meal can entertain me for hours!).

Iva chats about their daily activities. After getting woken up by my cell phone (the SPOT people called that cell phone as well to assess my situation), Iva, Bella, Shane, Tristan and my dad packed the hotel room then headed to Donner Pass to see the museum. Each of my friends learned what a disaster it is to go to a museum with my dad who likes to read all the placards. After several hours they all bailed while my dad stayed at the museum until likely closing!

Iva mentioned that the highlight of this museum was seeing how deep the snow was. There was a schematic that indicated where 20 feet was which is how deep the snow was that winter. She also mentioned that the museum was a bit disappointing to Tristan and my dad who knew the truth of the Donner Party (eating each other is the unvarnished truth). In fact there was no mention of the cannibalism in the museum but it sounded like both Tristan and more so my dad tried to incite the docent into admitting to what happened. I think I would have asked even more pointed questions along the lines of “human, white or dark meat?” But alas I guess in this day and age history gets re-written all the time. In fact in war, whomever wins definitely gets to write the history of battles how they see fit. It does sound like they all enjoyed the museum particularly since it was free and on the way from Squaw to Auburn.

The course here goes up and down with undulating hills. Sometimes we are close to the river and other times we are moderately high up. We are running parallel to the river and I recall that during the Memorial Day Weekend training run this section is very pretty although at various points there are sheer dropoffs alongside the trail. Luckily I am feeling pretty strong and am not overly worried about tripping. I try to describe the scenery to Iva, but I do not think I do it justice.

As we get to one of the aid stations I am having significant eye issues. My eyes are watering and it is creating some issues in my vision. I have had similar issues before but this time I am prepared with eye drops. Unfortunately I am not prepared with how to use eye drops. At the aid station I ask if a volunteer can get them in my eyes. I feel like a cat because I am squirming away from getting drops in my eyes even though I know this will help!

After attending to my eyes I get a few treats to eat and drank a little. My stomach is turning sour but I am sure I have gotten enough calories in me over the day to get to the finish without any worries.

We continue moving along slowly but steadily. Iva has a Garmin and my goal is to keep ahead of 17 min/miles at a minimum. I would prefer to go faster but my legs may be a limiting factor. Iva gives me good news indicating that we are moving along at a modest clip of about 15 min/mile. This means I am slowly inching my way ahead of the DNF line. But I don’t want to make any mistakes. I pay attention to my footing and keep up a conversation with Iva. Most of the time we are alone but sporadically we pass a runner or two. I am feeling pretty good and am so happy that I am in a segment I have run before and know that relatively speaking is not too hard.

Pretty soon we see the lights of Rucky Chucky. I am super excited because it means I get to sit down for a few moments. And of course I get a raft trip. I tried really hard to convince my pacers/crew to go on a raft ride (my treat) on Saturday and yet no one took me up on this offer. I love rafting so I have been looking forward to this all day. In fact I have been looking forward to it since learning that it was a high water year and we would be going across on a raft. This is going to be so fun!!!

As we arrive at the aid station I take a drink of ginger ale and a coke then move along. I know there is another aid station on the other side. And have I mentioned I am excited about the raft ride??!!

Leaving the aid station we are guided to a steep climb down to the river. It is lit up with luminaries and Christmas lights. It is beautiful and surreal. I take a moment to absorb it. Then I start my walk down this sheer cliff like path. But Western States takes such GREAT care of it’s runner I have no problem maneuvering down. As I step down a super sweet volunteer will take my hand and point to a place I should put my feet. They then hand me off to the next volunteer and upon confirmation many of these volunteers would give me a pat on the back, rubbed my shoulder or patted my head upon handoff wishing me luck and strength to finish the race. It was so wonderful.

All of the volunteers were so helpful, encouraging and so sweet. I wanted to savor the moment because it gave me such a warm feeling inside. Then all too soon I was being outfitted with a life jacket and handed off to the volunteers in the boat. I climbed in and sat down quickly followed by pacer Iva.

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