I was asked to pace a friend at the 2009 Western States. Wow.
A couple things for those of you that don't know the back story on this one. The reason this blog is named "Rookie Ultrarunner" is because, well, I'm a rookie. Relatively unproven but for a couple of 50K's. No string of belt buckles. Heck, I don't even have a good collection of race t-shirts yet. I don't know what it's like to spend several hours above ten thousand feet. I have not had the pleasure of hallucinating due to fatigue. In fact, anything beyond 40 miles or so is something I have only read about...for now.
For those reasons, I was a bit puzzled and very excited for this opportunity. My friend is an accomplished ultra guy. Veteran of the lonely trek. Knows his PR's. He's had some good pacers and some not so great. Plus, the 2008 Western States was smoked out, so he's been chomping at the bit for going on two years. This is a big deal race for him. It's a big deal for me.
To see the oldest 100 in the US up close and personal, even just as a pacer is huge for me. The history of the thing demands respect. Filling every recent year almost exclusively by lottery. Squaw Valley. Robinson Flat after 30 miles of, well, whatever the weather decided the first part of the course would look like. The river crossing at Rucky Chucky. Hell, anything with a cougar in its official literature is freakin' AWESOME!
And my training of late shows my excitement. Last Friday I beat up Lake Perry for around five hours. Went back Sunday for another 4 hours. Lifted weights on Monday as if I'd been popping steroids like aspirin. Hill repeats today until I was completely gassed. Might even skip the New Years Eve hoopla.
As big as this is for me to consume, there is something deeper here. It is an invitation to take a glance at the ultra community outside my own limited experiences. A chance for a greater understanding of the 100. An initiation, a veteran baby-stepping a rookie deeper inside the sport of going long. I like the idea that the ability to run, walk, or crawl great distances depends in part on mentors, friends, family, and peers guiding the journey. I'm grateful for those around me that have taken the time over the past year to "pace" me. If you're reading this, you've probably been an inspiration whether you knew it or not.
And we are gonna kill that Western States course!
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