“Do not worry about how you will make it all work. Just focus on how you feel and go towards those things that bring forth joy. When you are living in your joy, the Universe is living joyfully through you. When you are living a life of fear, the universe is dying and becoming smaller. Remember you are a child of the universe and everything the universe provides is abundant. The sun shines rays of joy, the bird sings a song of joy, the tree joyfully grows to provide shade and keep the air clean. Everything has a purpose and when we are living in our joyful purpose we will be supported because the universe loves joy. It takes a little bit of time to go from fear to joy, but if you stay steady and keep the course you will at last come to see that your joy can be your reality. Trust in promise of joy, it is your birthright.” – Jackson Kiddard
There is great joy and an uneasy fear present as I face the greatest race of my life. This is my pie in the sky, my Superbowl, my World Series, my Boston Marathon; this is my dream, materializing before my very eyes. If I could pick one race to run, over and over, it would be Western States. I know there are many other great races out there that I have yet to experience. I know I would enjoy many other races - ones with great support or amazing sights. But in the present, its all about Western States. Everything I've read, everything I've seen and heard lead to Western States. It's what my heart wants and it's what captures my imagination - it's my dream. And it's here. Now.
This race is the Superbowl of Ultra Running to most people. The field limit is only 400 runners, and a third of that number is reserved for elite runners, international runners, or runners given special consideration. Over 2700 people wanted to get into the race this year via lottery. These people have already proven their worthiness by qualifying for the race through a fast 50-miler, 100K, or 100-mile completion at a qualifying race. There were runners with up to 5 tickets in the lottery, based on the number of years where they qualified but were not picked. I had one measly ticket in the lottery. And somehow, through some twist of fate, I was chosen. I did not feel worthy of this honor. I knew other runners much more qualified and deserving than I. So I knew I had work to do - to earn the honor, to train my heart out, and to prepare for the race of my life. On that note, I began my training. I hired an amazing coach in Ann Trason to help guide my training, which in itself has been an amazing experience.
Training consisted of running nearly 6 days per week with a long run every week. The first couple months were solely dedicated to building a mileage base. The next couple months included more quality runs that included more speed workouts, and the final months included speed workouts, hill repeats, and training runs on the Western States course itself. All throughout the training, core workouts and upper arm strength training were added in addition to all the running. Any time there was a sign of injury, aqua jogging, elliptical machines, or stationary biking was prescribed in addition to a trip to the chiropractor or massage therapist. A handful of 50K races and a 50 mile race were used for training, along with a handful of organized training runs. All in all, there were 9 training runs/races over 30 miles plus another 11 runs in the 20-26 mile range. In 6 months, I had run over 1500 miles, averaging 250 miles per month and 58 miles per week. My massage therapist, Greg Finney (Sports Medicine Institute, Palo Alto) and chiropractor, Lyresa Pleskovitch (Spine Therapy Center, Palo Alto) played big parts in treating my injuries and kept me healthy enough to run consistently throughout my training. And Ann Trason, my coach and friend, always knew what to say to motivate me, inspire me, and guide me through this epic journey - which will hopefully culminate at the finish line in Auburn, California.
And lets not forget about my wonderful wife and two beautiful daughters! It breaks my heart to leave my wife and kids for many of these long training runs and races. Without their support, patience, and love, this dream of mine is empty and meaningless. My eggs are not all in one basket. Regardless of whether I finish Western States, I am already greatly blessed - with a loving family, good health, and the opportunity to chase my dreams. Allyson and Grace, I hope that you believe in yourself and your dreams. And I hope that someday, you too will chase down your dreams and make them come true.