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Maybe…

Not the Western States trail (I’ve never been there), but a really nice trail none the less.

Like a lot of runners, I spent Saturday checking and refreshing the Western States 100 online feed.   I only knew one person doing it this year, and I didn’t really know who many of the top competitors were, but it was a lot of fun to track.  For many years getting to this race was my goal.  I never made it, and now I think I probably  missed my window.

Let me explain…..if you don’t know, this is the equivalent to the Boston Marathon in the ultra running world.  Everyone wants to do this race, but it’s hard to get into.  Qualifying is actually not very difficult.  Any 100 mile finish in the time limit gets you in, or there are 50 mile and 100K qualifying times that are not very difficult, provided you aren’t on an over the top hilly course.  I qualified several times…and trust me, I was not the strongest ultra runner.  The hard part is getting in the lottery.  Once you qualify, you are in the lottery for only a couple hundred slots.  Over the years, the odds have gotten worse and worse, and the race gets more and more popular.  Last I read it was about 1 in 10.  When I first qualified, it was something like 1 in 4.   Plus, it is getting to be more and more of an insider, elite event.  There are fewer and fewer slots for those who just want to finish, and more and more slots for those who are looking for top competition.

I never put in for the lottery.  This race is very expensive to do, and I always felt it would be too selfish of me.  Maybe a little part of me was worried about the training too.   Obviously I missed my chance at decent lottery odds.  I also missed my chance to have the time and flexibility to go for such an undertaking.

Plenty of people with kids run 100s.  And really, if your only goal is to finish, and not death march for the last 40 miles, the training isn’t horrendous.  It’s not a heck of a lot more than what I do right now.   But, it would be more.  It would be driving to some hilly areas and grinding out some miles there.  It would be pretty much all solo running really early.  I suppose if I really, really wanted to I could pull it off, but I’m not so sure anymore.

There are a lot of factors that make me think it’s ok to let this goal go.   I wanted to run a 50, then run a 100.  I did that.  How many people get to say to huge things on their bucket list are done?  Many mornings Mark and I start our run by saying “I’m so glad we don’t have 30 miles to run!”  Yes, those really long runs are tough!  Also, of course I question if taking on any challenge bigger than a marathon would cut into my time with Jasper too much.

A little part of me still wonders if I have it in me to do give it a go someday.  I know I am a much tougher runner now than I was then.  I have so much more confidence and I am so much better at taking things as they come.  22 mile runs followed by a very active non-stop Jasper day is excellent training.  I cannot count the mornings I’ve headed out to run after really minimal sleep, but I force myself to suck it up and go.

So who knows.  Never say never, but unlikely.   I’ve got to do some fantastic runs, and am still doing them (as I get ready for marathon # 26!).  Also, there are so many places I want to visit and run still; places that would also be fun for Mike and Jasper, as opposed to a big trip that is only for me.  For now, I’ll just enjoying reading about others who are achieving their Western States goal.

On the home front….a good final marathon prep run the past weekend, despite really hot temps, and all of Texas collectively holds its breath wondering if this summer will be as hard as last summer (104 today!).  Jasp is loving his swimming lessons and starts a new therapy this week, which I am pretty excited to see if if helps him with some things he has a hard time with.  I’m two for two on my strength training foolishness, and 2 for 2 on yoga this past week.  And only 1/2 a cupcake.  So let’s see how this week goes….

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10 thoughts on “Maybe…”

  1. It’s funny… after swearing off 100s two and a half years ago, I found myself signing up for RR100 in 2013. Since finishing Heartland, I’ve been in a bit of a running slump. Sure, I did a half dozen endurance events — marathons, 50ks, century rides — but I had no goal. No direction. I was running just because that’s what I did, but the drive, the challange, was gone. My fitness has declined as my waist as expanded, and with two kids and more responsibility at work, it’s become easier to chunk the long run. But after finishing a soggy, muddy RR50 in February–and feeling good during and after the race–I had a sense of renewal. I got clearance from the wife to spend the next nine months training and set my sights on one more 100. And even though we are already hitting 100 degree temps in North Texas, I am dreading the early morning long runs. Amazingly, I actually look forward to going to bed early Friday night and cruising around town a couple hours after last call. Hopefully, the optimism will last.

    Anyway… that was a long reply. I hope all is well with you and your family–as it seems to be. Next time you are visiting family in Mansfield or I have a work trip to Austin, maybe we can go grab a beer.

    Take care,
    Ryan V.

    p.s. El Scorcho Sin Lun6 is two and a half weeks away!

    1. Thanks for your response! I’ve been keeping up with your blog and I am impressed you are going for RR again. I just don’t know that I have it in me to hit the road at 4am (which means 330 wake up), so I can run a lot…all alone. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy my long runs, it just that there are so many with 100 milers. Too bad we don’t live in the same place since we both seem be running really early!

      I look forward to following your progress. Keep in touch!!!!

  2. I can understand that nagging ‘should I or shouldn’t I’ feeling- although I don’t think I’ll ever be up for a 100 mile race… but it’s definitely harder balancing running goals with kids in the picture.
    I was going to email you- but what do you know about the Monster marathon in Austin in October? Is it a trail race? I’m tempted to go for a marathon this fall, and saw that one- but I’d like something flat and the course looked like not much overall elevation, but lots of small ups and downs… is it a trail run?

    1. That is the run I do every year. I love it!!!! It’s concrete and gravel. You should come do it!!!! It is super well organized, and that’s where I’ve been doing all my runs lately. Yes, email me if you want more details

  3. Very well conveyed thoughts, Clea.

    After trying for 5 years to get into WS, the desire to do this race has greatly diminished. The only thing that ~could~ keep me in the game is the fact we know the new RD. But, after running a masochistic 100m this past weekend, I feel there is much better (more fun!) things to do in life besides train, run a race, think about what I could do better “the next time”, sign up for another race when the thoughts of all the sacrifice and physical pain of the previous race have basically been forgotten. And, keep repeating it. It’s a crazy cycle! Interestingly, I haven’t run a WS qualifier this year and none in the plans.

    There are SO many places Olga and I want to visit. The best part of last weekend was spending Thursday together in the Black Hills being tourists. The race, itself, was the lowpoint, which is ironic since that is why we went there. Priorities definitely change, although there always seems to be that litle voice inside trying to persuade us to just do another. Spending time with loved ones is precious and as each year passes, we begin to realize, hopefully, how precious that time and that we can’t get it back. Taking our kid(s) to the local creek(s) to pick up sticks, throw rocks in the water, swim is cool waters, or just hanging out doing nothing is far more important than getting another notch in my ultra belt.

    1. Thanks, Larry! Yes, getting up at 330 to grind out miles seems a little silly sometimes, doesn’t it? Congrats on your 100 finish!! Travel marathons are great, BTW…you get to do a run that still feels like a big endeavor, but not feel totally wrecked the next day to play tourist.

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