Greg Soderland, Race Director for the Western States 100, has a saying he likes to tell the runners a month or so before the race. In one of his regular email updates he often remarks,
"I hope you are enjoying your training. Remember, the training is the main meal and the race is the dessert."
As I have been reflecting on the cancellation of this year's Western States I have thought often of Greg's words. And, I guess the basic truth is, this year we simply had to go without dessert. However, it by no means diminishes the value of the main meal and in fact, in a twisted sort of way, it'll make next year's dessert taste that much sweeter.
I, for one, just concluded one of the most enjoyable and enriching training cycles of my life leading up to this year's non-Western States. Beginning on New Year's Day and continuing up to the Wednesday before the race I put in the miles, did the speed work, grunted through the hill repeats and pounded out the tempo runs. I systematically removed all of my toenails, lost 15 pounds of winter fat (I was poised to go into WS 5 pounds lighter than last year!), got that funny tan line where my watch is and did it all without succumbing to a single injury. At least in my own not-so-humble opinion I was primed and ready for the big dance!
Then, they took away the dessert!
So, what can a runner do after a big meal and no dessert?
Well, in a couple days I'm off to the Vermont 100 where I'll perhaps arrive a bit more rested than last year. Other dessertless runners will be doing two loops of the Tahoe Rim trail on the very same day while still others will be re-focusing their efforts on events later in the summer like Leadville, Wasatch, and Angeles Crest. Whatever people are doing they are hopefully getting over the disappointment and moving on to their next meal. After all, in this great sport of ours, there's always another adventure ahead and the dessert cart is always full!