Well, it's Tuesday morning before the race and I think I am ready to roll. After five months of my highest training volume ever I now feel rested and even a bit antsy. I am fine tuning my body during this last week with short daily runs and long spells in the sauna. As everybody knows, this year's race is shaping up to be outstanding with strong men's and women's fields, a great masters' race, and a weather forecast for above-average, hot Western States temperatures. In short, it has all the makings of a classic!
I, for one, am keenly interested in what role experience will play in the race this year. Obviously, some of the fastest runners in the field are those who have not run Western States before. However, some of the most consistent and steady runners in the field are those Western States veterans who come back year after year to get it done. As the race unfolds it will be interesting to see how experience impacts performance. From my perspective, no matter how we've done in other races, how hard we prepare and how intensely we train, performance under pressure in the midst of intense competition in this arena is ultimately how we are measured. This well-known quotation from Theodore Roosevelt rings true in this context:
"It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat."
Finally, I must say that Western States race day is the one day per year that, at least for the past five years, I have looked forward to more than any other. In the midst of the planning and the packing, the preparing and the prognosticating, I always try to savor the simple beauty of the day. How often, in this life, can we spend a full day totally absorbed in ourselves in a beautiful place doing what we love most? For me, that is what I love best about Western States and, I always will.
With that, I'll see you in Squaw!