Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Western States 100 Mile: Michigan Bluffs to Foresthill

I take off my hydration pack and give it to Tristan. I put on my super bright headlamp (*thanks to Jamie Donaldson and Meredith Terranova for this suggestion) and put on a few layers and tie some others to my waist. After refilling my bottle and munching a little bit it is time to get moving.

As I get ready to leave I hear a voice asking if anyone has a spare headlamp. In fact I had my beta headlamp on since Devils Thumb but have switched it out for my super strong headlamp. I yell that I have a spare headlamp. A volunteer comes over and takes it. She asks my number. I give it to her “271” but have no expectations of seeing it again. I have gotten used to giving away headlamps and clothing and never seeing them again. But oddly enough when I arrive home and unpack my bags, there is my headlamp with a small piece of paper and my bib number in my next drop bag. It is really cool to get it back but I wish the runner had also left his bib number on it so I could check on his status. I hope he finished!

I am super excited about heading out of this aid station because the faster I get through Michigan Bluffs, the sooner I will get to Bath Road where everyone can pace me for about a mile.

Iva and I head off into the darkness. I know the course and describe it to Iva. We have a long up hill with a really sharp left hand turn we need to pay attention for. I fixate on this because I don’t want any bonus miles and I am pretty sure that the DNF line would pass me if I did end up off course. We pay particular attention and finally the turn occurs. We then start heading into Volcano Canyon. This decline is pretty steep but I am able to walk and jog slowly. I know we need to keep moving forward with purpose.

Our conversation flows easily and covers many topics. I ask what happened about my SPOT rescue beacon. She indicates the race staff did not contact anyone, but Tristan was contacted by the SPOT personnel. When they ask him if I am okay he is unsure and thus they do send a rescue helicopter to help the injured safety patrol runner. Based on conversations at the aid station it became apparent to them that this rescue was needed and that it really helped the young lady as she was in bad shape and ill prepared for waiting for help. When I left my rescue beacon I vaguely thought about giving some clothing however, I realized that I could potentially need my layers if anything happened to me. And I assumed that they would have some more layers in their bags (this might have been a bad assumption but considering I had just given up my lifeline I was not ready to give up additional items that could be critical if I had to self rescue).

As the jeep road turns into single track we hear water running. I warn Iva that we are about to cross a stream. My feet are already wet and I am not very stable on my feet so I will be simply walking across. But Iva prefers to go across via rock hopping. I offer to cross then come partway back to give her a hand on the upper side where she can rock hop. She accepts and is successful at keeping at least one foot dry.

We then head up the single track and pretty soon we are on the Jeep Road. I know we only have a short bit and we get to Bath Road where we rejoin Bella, and Shane. And next thing I know there they are!

We walk up the hill (as any respectable back of the pack ultrarunner does). We chat about various topics and everyone is so nice and encouraging to me. I indicate that I want to change my shoes at Foresthill. I know I am behind the suggested 30 hour pace but I am closing in on 1 hour ahead of the absolute cutoff. I know shoe changes take 20-30 minutes but I justify that this will help my feet and me in general in the long run.

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