Monday, June 2, 2014

Western States Training Update Q&A: The Final Push

Only 26 days remain till Western States!

Q: Hi John! What is going through your mind right now? You must be so excited for the big race! Your training has been awesome!
A: I won't lie to you. I'm kinda scared. 

Q: What's wrong? I thought your training had been going great! 
A: My training has been pretty great. Not perfect, but I am very happy with how my training has been going. However, I sprained my ankle this past Saturday on a 22 mile night run. I turned my ankle after about 8 miles. It wasn't a terrible sprain, so I slowed down and just finished the last 14 miles. 

Q: Oh no! You poor thing! How does it feel now? And how long do you think it will take to heal?
A:  It feels okay. There is still some minor pain and swelling, but I'm not limping and can even jump a little on the bad leg. I'll trying running 4-6 miles today and see how it goes.  I'm hoping to be back on the trails this weekend for a last, long trail run before tapering. If that doesn't happen, it's still okay. 

Q: The month of May was supposed to be a big training month for you. How did May treat you? Other than your little mishap at the end, that is. 
A: May was pretty awesome! I logged about 274 miles in May, and was able to get some training in the infamous canyons twice. I only ran 48 miles on the first day of the Memorial Day Weekend WS Training Camp, and it ended rather poorly, but I am okay with that now. 

Q: Finishing a 48-mile training run on the WS course on a warm day sounds pretty good! And yet, you still sound disappointed! What's wrong with you?
A: I made some mistakes and bonked badly in the last 10 miles. It was a big blow to my confidence! Ann Trason tells me that she sees it as a good thing though - as long as I learn from it. And that makes a lot of sense to me. 

Q: Speaking of THE Ann Trason, everyone wants to know how that is working out. What insight can you share about this mysterious legend who's won Western States 14 times? Is she a good coach? Would you recommend her?
A: Ann Trason is a great coach! If you need evidence of it yourself, you can listen to Trail Running Nation's Podcast where she and Andy Jones Wilkins are interviewed about the Western States Race:
One of the main reasons why she is a great coach is her genuine passion for running. She is humble and kind and just a pleasure to work with. I really feel lucky and blessed to have her as my coach. All her legendary accomplishments are irrelevant when it comes to Ann Trason as a coach and friend. I talked to her on the phone the other day about my bad 48-mile training run, and she reminded me that she failed to finish WS on her first two tries. She made plenty of mistakes. Shocking, I know! And it's okay to make mistakes. Bad stuff happens. Learn from your mistakes, plan accordingly and solve your problems as they will surely arise.

Q: I know this race is your dream race. Will your family be coming to cheer you on? 
A: Sighs... At the least, my wife and kids will be there at the finish line. I'm hoping that my wife can make it to Foresthill (mile 62) the night before, but that may not happen. I've asked my parents and siblings to come out to the finish line, but I'll be lucky of any of them show up. They've never come out to any of my races. It's a little sad, but I'm okay with it. Coming out to cheer for us ultra runners must be a tough job. I really admire those of you that have family cheering for you. I'm just happy that my family loves me and supports me (mostly from a distance, in spirit).  

Q: What do you have left to do? Is the taper going to drive you nuts?
A: I still have some running and training to do, but it'll be just a little less running. I'll be doing more heat training to acclimate to the heat that we'll be expecting on race day. Ann calls it "protection mode". The proverbial hay is in the barn. 

Q: Do you have any time goals? Or are you focused solely on finishing?
A: Finishing under 24 hours feel like a pipe dream. On a cool day, I think it would be possible. I believe I need to run "by feel". Get to Foresthill (mile 62) conservatively. If I can get there with some fresh legs the whole experience will be so much more enjoyable. I'll be happy just to finish. 

Q: Any last thoughts you want to share about this big dream of yours, that is coming to fruition?
A: I want everyone to believe in the power of their dreams. Dreams do come true. Western States isn't just my dream. A lot of deserving folk (many faster than me) did not get into this race this year. When I got into this race, I knew I had work to do - to earn this privilege. I need to fight for that finish to the very end. I have to want it. I have to believe in the power of my dreams. And simply make it happen.

And thank you, my friends, for following along on my little journey. And I wish you luck on the chasing of your dreams. Believe in yourself.  


  1. This is great! It will be exciting to see you come through Last Chance! Make sure to stop by the car wash and I'll squeeze a sponge on your head.

  2. Awesome John, you got this!

  3. I can't believe it's so close! So exciting!!!

    About the bonk and the ankle, you're just getting all the bad stuff out of the way before race day, so it's a good thing. Come race day, you'll be ready to kick some butt!