Monday, December 27, 2010

Year in Review

I was lying peacefully on a cot at the Highway 49 crossing at Western States when my phone rang…

“Hey, LB, it’s AJW, what’s going on.” It was my friend AJW. Ugh.
“I’m, um, resting on a cot here at Highway 49,” I responded feebly.
“What the hell, dude, I finished an hour ago. Get off your butt and get over here.”
“Um, Ticer is refusing to run with me. He thinks I’m a risk for the race.”
“OK, well, I’ll find someone here who can hike in with you. You need to finish this thing.”

And, with that, AJW hung up and went to sleep. What followed at the Placer High School Track that night was, from my understanding, a virtual cluster attempting to find me a way to the Finish.

You see, AJW and I are both totally obsessed with Western States, and this year, in particular, we were really psyched for the race. However, something really bad happened to me between Brown’s Bar and Highway 49 that relegated me to the now infamous cot. I am not sure what happened but I never want it to happen again. And, AJW has reminded me of "the cot" about once a week since that great day.

Earlier in the week AJW and I had enjoyed a great pre-race psych-up staying together at the Squaw Valley Lodge and enjoying the hype as we prepared for each of our 7th running of the WS100. That said, everyone knows AJW doesn’t do anything halfway and, of course, he showed up at The Dance with his entire loud and annoying family as well as two cases of Sierra Nevada. The Jiz certainly has his priorities straight! But, with that sideshow, sleeping and resting for the race is all but impossible. In fact, reflecting on the weekend, I am pretty sure the reason I ended up on the cot at Highway 49 was all AJW’s fault. Next year, I’ll know better!

Up until Western States my year in running had gone really well. In February I actually beat Meghan Arbogast in a race and cracked the top-10 in the Truffle Shuffle 4 Mile. A week later I once again cracked the top-10 at the Pemberton 50K in Arizona and I even went sub-4 hours (my 3:59 was only four minutes slower than AJW’s best time on the course). After that, however, things began to go downhill. At Chuckanut I finished 43rd and Meghan smoked my ass. Then, at the Pear Blossom 10 miler, I failed to come in under the one-hour barrier for the first time in something like 35 years. This all, of course, was a harbinger of the disaster at Western States in June.

When I licked my wounds and looked back to what might have gone wrong at Western States five things stood out:

1. I made the mistake of riding in the Cool Mountain Bike Race in March and got crushed.
2. Instead of running the Way Too Cool 50K (incidentally the last ultramarathon race in which I beat AJW) I decided to volunteer. Stupid mistake.
3. I wandered around the mountains throughout the winter as a ski patrol guy rather than training (I did win a bunch of awards for this effort and that made me feel like a giver) but I think I underestimated the impact of this activity on my fitness.
4. I got my Ham Radio License (whatever that is:) and continued to serve the sport as the Race Director of the Where’s Waldo 100K, the toughest 100K race in the Universe.
5. In spite of doing hours and hours of trailwork and volunteering at Ultras, I got a year older.

So, with all this done, I was resolved to have a successful 2nd half to my season. And, I did. In the Cascade Cream Puff 100 Mile Mountain Bike Race I finished in 11:45 and spent absolutely zero minutes on cots. In addition, I only lost to Alan “Quads of Steel” Abbs by 19 minutes. It cost me $1000 to GOATS but it was worth every penny. In this stretch I also ran three 5K races and beat Meghan twice. At the McKenzie River 50K in September I finished 11th and I actually let Meghan beat me. That felt good.

After that, it was time to put everything into training for the Hayward Field Mile on November 23rd. You see, if there was one race I knew I could beat AJW at it was the one-mile run.

When the day arrived I was ready. I knew it would hurt but I knew I could win. You see, everyone knows, quite simply, AJW is not a fast man. And, three things were in my favor:

First, he’s fat.

Second, he has no idea how to train.

Third, when he gets caught up in the moment, he can be downright stupid.

My plan for the Hayward Mile was to stay on AJW's heels for the first 809 meters and then put the hammer down. Which is precisely what I did. Quite simply, I ran the Perfect Race. In the end I beat him by a second (5:06 to 5:07) but it felt, to me, more like an hour. With that victory I can now go into the 2011 season with a renewed sense of confidence and a bolstered sense of self-esteem and, SkyDaddy willing, I think I can finally cut into AJW’s 8 hour lead in the 10-year bet.

And, oh yeah, I am sick of being known as the “guy with the blog.” Let’s get after it in 2011!


Craig Thornley said...

I think you channeled me well :-) Oh, and thanks for messing up my race last June (and for encouraging me out of the cot).

Koz said...

How many glasses of red wine did it take to "channel"? 8 hours ahead in the 10-year bet, closing to only 1 second behind on Hayward and equal in the blogging hilarity...LB has his work cut out for him in 2011. This year-end blogging idea was at least as funny as any of the WS synchroblogging. You didn't send LB a cot for Christmas did you?... because that would just be taking it too far.
Happy New Year...see you on the trails in '11.

Grae Van Hooser said...

Hey LB, Why don't you use the TED hose you were wearing at the finish as a wind sock for your back yard. String it up outside so you can look to see what way the wind is blowing before you go out for a run. It would also serve as some mighty fine memories!

Craig Thornley said...

That's a great idea, Grae. I could use it for motivation. Not that AJW and my other training buddies don't remind me of it often enough.