Tuesday, June 26, 2012


What can I say about Western States 2012?  It was everything I needed it to be.  The yogger dominated and during the process of doing so, he of course insisted on berating himself about his poor performance.  True yogger form.  It was beautiful.  It was legit.

Dr. Evil, The Yogger, The American Hero
The yogger provided a pace sheet for us.  It had STCC101 pace, 22 hour pace, and 24 hour pace on it.  He consistently hit the numbers for sub 22 and finished in 21:47.  Solid and reliable the yogger is.  Able to drink a bud light at the California Club after 101 miles of running before the place closes, the yogger isn't.  I suppose it's good to have room for improvement.  STCC101 may actually be more difficult than the marathon BP challenge.  Only time will tell.

Devil's thumb, roughly halfway
What I loved the most about this year's race was seeing the yogger reduced to a level of suffering even I would be proud of.  The photo below sums up the nighttime experience.

Yogger, Hero, Evil
I'd have to say, the most memorable moment of the weekend for me was watching Becky take care of Jeff after the race.  It was gentle.  It was humane.  It was heartfelt.  The bond they have is real and it is special and there is no need for rings or tax filings to prove what they share.  It goes beyond creating a life together.  So comfortable I am with the two of them that I went ahead and showered off in the gym showers while Becky took care of the shivering remnants of the yogger only a few feet away.  I figure it's sort of a completed circle after I spent a few hours with the two of them just before Maya was born.  And who really cares about anything after 22 hours anyway?  Well, I guess I care about being clean.  And the yogger wanted to be warm.  And Becky wanted the yogger to feel better.

Watching the incredible performances at the front of the pack, witnessing the grace and ease of those who make the course look easy, and seeing the absurd weather over the first 30 miles had an interesting effect on me.  It fired me up to start running again.  I haven't felt true desire to suffer since last year's race.  Quite the opposite, I've been scared to suffer.  I haven't done any quality suffering since last June.  I just wanted to be comforted on my yoga mat, I wanted to set my boundaries and be still.  I wanted to not get dropped, and I wanted to get soft and weak and to retreat from thought.  I still want all of that, but now I also want to reintroduce a little bit of run edginess into my life.  Surprisingly, I don't care much about my super-weak 5k pr at the moment.  I'd like to get into the states lottery which means I need to finish off a 50 by November.  So it's time to get fit enough to do so.  From the long and slow miles perhaps a sharpness will arise.  Or maybe it won't.  Either way, I long to feel the fitness I once had and to run with a little bit of grace instead of continual sloppiness.

Naya's favorite treat
But all of this racing, it's been covered by much better writers from much more informed perspectives.  Am I obsessed with Western States?  Certainly.  But there are many who are much more obsessed.  Indeed my obsession isn't even notable among those who truly dedicate themselves to this event.

So what is really special about last weekend for me?  Being a wallflower, and driving home with Geronimo and his daughter.  Watching and listening to the two of them interact.  Father and daughter.  I don't know what that is like because I am not a father and I can never be a daughter.  I will get more of this from Jeff and Maya as she gets older and interacts with him more, but they are not quite there yet.  And I get a different sort of vibe from my sister's husband as he tends to his flock of 3, sort of the same way the host of a dinner party has to make witty small talk with all of the guests instead of having time for a deep conversation about Carl the Dog.  I got a small glimpse of the father-daughter bond during our drive back to San Diego with Iso and Naya and it still makes me feel happy just thinking about it.  Hearing her tiny voice ask "poppy, how do you spell chela?" as she drew a picture of her dog with crayons made my heart melt.  Hearing Iso tell her "happiness is a choice" was similarly beautiful.  The cycle of life played out before my eyes, father and daughter, each trying eagerly to understand, to communicate, and to share the experience with each other.

So, what is next?  I had a good job interview today and I think this stint of unemployment may come to a close soon.  I decided to go to Vermont and pace Rod at VT100.  I'm on the fence about HURT but I'm going to make running a priority and I'm going to get some fitness back in my legs somehow.  I feel more balanced today than I've felt in a long time.  And I'm looking forward to tomorrow in a fresh and exciting sort of way, as if I've come out of a funk.  Only it was more like some downtime from running, some necessary downtime, following a race that is often difficult to wrap your head around.  I still don't understand Western States, and I definitely don't know how to race it, but I sure do think about it a lot and I'd like to learn a little bit more about it while I still can.


  1. Nice thoughts on Western. I'd love to get out there someday, but I don't think I want it to be my first 100. Have you thought about doing Cuyamaca 100K? Not sure if it's a qualifier for WS or not, but I think it's going to be a fun race and it would be great to see you out there.

    1. I need to nut up, don't I? Definitely considering it. Sub 11 seems difficult, but so does sub 20 at states.

  2. Yea Yogger!

    And yea back-in-the-sneakers Duder!

    If you WS next year, I want to come out and spectate/support/whatever it is people do, just to see what it's all about.