Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Western States Dream

As runners, we have goals and then we have dreams. Our goals are usually very realistic and are short term. Our dreams, however, can be lofty and borderline insane. I think its important for runners to have goals and to have dreams. Short term goals help us focus on the present, and dreams help inspire us to believe in ourselves.

My dream race is the Western States Endurance Run. I qualified for it in my first 50-mile race this year, by running a 50-miler in under 11 hours (10:21). The race is held in June, 2011, and the only way I can get in is through a lottery. With 3 days left in the application period, there are 1490 applicants. About 300 applicants will be drawn in the lottery. If picked, the applicant's credit card will be charged $370, which is no small sum of money!

Sounds like a no-brainer for me, right? Wrong. My 10:21 qualifying time is "soft", since it was run on a relatively flat course, in perfect overcast conditions. The Western States race has over 18000 feet of elevation gain and is held in the summer, where temperatures can easier soar over 100 degrees. So if I were to be lucky enough to be picked, I would have to train like a madman to feel worthy of toeing the starting line of one of the most prestigious ultra races in the world. And to further complicate matters, my wife is due to give birth to my second daughter at the end of March!

I still have 3 days to decide, and to convince my wife that I shouldn't give up on my dreams, no matter how difficult or challenging. Without her approval and support, I don't think it would be wise to pursue the dream this year. There will be other years, hopefully, even though it will only get more difficult in the future. The clock is ticking. What would you do?


  1. Well, hopefully she will be behind it and you can follow your dream this year. Since you area already qualified and all! Plus, the chances of getting in aren't great....but with their lottery system, don't your chances go up every year that you apply but don't get in? So you could enter the lottery this year and if you don't get in then maybe your chances would be even better next year or the year after that and maybe by then timing would be better too!
    Good luck and can't wait to hear what you decide!!!

  2. At least YOU aren't having a baby in March! That would really screw up your training! Happened to me once- but I am still satisfied with the results of both the baby and the marathon that happened a year later. :))

    Well, this is a dilemma...but you know your wife best and she knows your heart. Perhaps one way to address it is to find some way to either trade time with her- like you take your training time and she gets as many hours of free time when you watch the baby (may require a breast pump/bottle)..and/Or find a person you can have help your wife in your place, like a doula or a family member- even a very good sitter.

    I definitely don't have the answer. I had my baby AND my race. (I was extra greedy :) ) Between you two, you'll come to a good solution. Praying you get into the race- all in God's will.

  3. It's really difficult not to just go for it. =P As I said before, if your wife is up for it and is behind you, then you can do *anything*. =) If she isn't, it will be very difficult as you'll be carrying a heavy burden of guilt with you as you run, making the race even more difficult.

    The three days is up now. I'm wondering what you decided? Please hurry and let us know.

    Hope you had a really wonderful Thanksgiving. =)

  4. I decided not to do it. My wife was against it. And the ultimate goal is to run it well. I don't want to just survive it. I still hope to run a 100 miler next year, but Western States will have to wait till another year (hopefully 2012). Thanks everyone, for your support and friendship!

    And yeah, I had a very nice Thanksgiving with lots of food, family and friends to share it with.

  5. What a very difficult decision for you to make - must have been heartbreaking to set that burning desire to run it to one side.
    However, now you will be able to focus on your family and be there for them when they need it. And you'll be able to be well trained, ready, and raring to go next time you have the opportunity to sign you'll totally own it instead of just surviving it. =)

  6. I am sad, John. :( I should have came back to this post earlier, instead of just waiting for you to post some sort of update.
    Finally, today, it occured to me that you wouldn't post an update entry if you had decided against it.

    I agree with Keeley about being ready when the timing is better. Still, it isn't easy. I know that my hubby, Jon, will never be a distance runner and has his limits as to what he will tolerate with my "hobby". In a way I am blessed by it. I hate to think what kind of crazy person I might be if I didn't have him to balance me out.

    Peace of mind cannot be purchased for any price. You did the honorable thing.

    Here's three cheers for baby Nguyen and 100 mile races in the future! God Bless