Second chance at a first try

Two years ago I was holding my breathe. Waiting for word on whether or not WS100 was a go or not. I had heard the rumors, subconsciously accepted that it wouldn't happen and prepared myself to try and figure out what I should do, all trained up for my first 100 miler with no where to run. And the race was indeed canceled. I was all at once crushed and relieved. There is a good deal of hype around Western States and I was not certain as my first 100 mile experience I would know how to navigate the hype and the distance. I liken Western States to Boston or the Super Bowl: it may be the biggest deal but it doesn't mean its the best/hardest game/race.

Instead, I ran a marathon on WS100 Saturday, pretty poorly I might add. And changed plans and decided to run Vermont 100 instead. I did. I had a blast. I earned my very first belt buckle (which I never got a belt for, curiously).

My first buckle!

I was satisfied with my run. I did well, I ran pretty fast and I realized that 100 milers are not YET my thing. I had a blast with my crew and pacer (Linda and Jonathan), loved Vermont and had a great experience.
Bestest Everest before the race

Last year I opted out of my guaranteed rollover spot, the WC100k was a week before WS100 and I wanted to focus on that. It was my third Worlds with Team USA and I was trained and ready to go for that. It was awesome and we won team gold. I was happy to have nothing to think about after the race. I could simply come home, recover and a week later, pace at WS100.

Even better, I got to celebrate my birthday and enjoy it however I wanted knowing I was in total recovery mode. That was exactly a year ago today (happy birthday me). I celebrated that day by going on an early morning run with my new friends: Caitlin, Will, Brett, Larissa and Nathan. We have all become fast friends since then and that run through the Headlands really kicked off the start to a very awesome friendship. Happy Anniversary of knowing each other Brett, Larissa and Nathan!

I carried a watermelon. Best birthday present ever.

I couldn't keep up on that run as my legs were worked and my body tired, but they were patient and kind and humored me. Running birthday miles is the best way to celebrate in my opinion. I went on to pace the amazing Krissy as she battled WS100 and triumphed as second girl! It was an honor to be a part of her crew. It was also awesome to see WS up close and personal and not as a runner. I was intrigued though not sold.

Nearly to the track. WS 2009.

Later last year, I went east and was all set to run TusseyMtnback 50 miler, the national championship. My Salomon teammate and host, Glen Redpath, convinced me to run Vermont 50 on Sunday and then spend a week in NYC recovering before running Tussey. I figured I had good recovery skills and that if I took it easy at Vermont I could recover fast enough for Tussey. I had a great run at Vermont and enjoyed all 9,000 feet of slipping and sliding in the mud. I won and more importantly, had earned a spot into WS100 via the Montrail Ultracup. I wasn't convinced though of my desire to dive into another 100miler. But the spot was mine and the challenge of doing something new and different intrigued me enough to put the money down and commit. 

And commit I have. I have done new and different things. I have worked really hard to strengthen my weaknesses, learned from my fast new friends (eternally grateful for chasing Caitlin, Nathan and Brett uphill on the trails for a year now!) new skills and tested myself at races that have shown that I am a rounded racer, no need to "stick to the road". 

Moving at the speed of bliss. Learning from my own race at JFK.

Ready or not, here WS100 comes. Am I ready? I have prepared and perhaps my chance will come. I have spent a good amount of time trying to work my head around this big event. I have struggled with my race mentality and been anxious that I can get my head right. This is my second chance at a first try and ultimately I want only one thing from this race. It is something I have experienced before in many a race, especially last year at JFK50 miler. Strip away the hype, the competition, the stacked field, the 1,000 volunteers. What I want is the journey, I want to run, flow, geek out over this thing that we do that is running. It doesn't really matter what we think as we toe the line, strategies we devise, plans that we create, 100 miles is a gosh darn long way in which we relinquish nearly all of our ability to control things. You have to just go out and do what you have trained to do: run. And ENJOY. Bliss out, it is amazing what we are even daring to undertake.

All I want for my birthday is a journey that I can be proud of and that is one in which I wear a smile on my face and keep joy in my heart. Good luck to everyone out there.