Western and the Grand Slam
So for the fifth year in a row I rushed home from my Saturday morning run, booted up my computer and watched the Western States 100 lottery live online. Early on I was hopeful given all the tickets that I had in that big spinning drum but as the 270 spots for runners began to fill up things began to look grim again this year. By the time they had gotten to 200 runners picked a number of Ontario runners were already selected including Iris Cooper and Ken Niemimaa.
I had already begun to ponder what race I would run in 2015 to get my next WS 100 qualifier when I could have sworn I heard my name called. I actually thought I might have been hallucinating so I waited to see it posted in the list and sure enough there I was #219. I would like to say I was happy and I was very, very happy but also I think I must have been in shock because it took me a good hour to realize that I was actual going to be running this thing.
I spent the next few days thinking about what I was going to do. You see I had told myself that the only way I would go back to try and run Leadville again is if I got into Western and then I would attempt the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning. You see since I figured I was never, ever getting into WS I was in no danger of going back to Leadville and being stomped on by that altitude anytime soon.
Finally I figured heck I may never get another chance to do this with it being so hard to get into WS that I might as well go for it. Am I biting off more than I can chew, probably but it would not be the first time and hey sometimes it all works out. I have never regretted trying so no matter what happens I will not end up sitting around crying about what if I had taken a chance and just gone for it. I mean really failing and not trying both have you ending up with the same result.
So the big races for the season are set, Western States 100 on June 27-28, Vermont 100 on July 18-19, Leadville 100 on August 22-23 and Wasatch Front on September 11-12. Throw in a bunch of trail races in the spring to get ready such as PYP, Seaton, Sulphur, Hynerview and NFC Bear Mountain and we should be good to go.
On Sunday fresh off of my Western States delirium I headed down to the beaches to pace the Tannenbaum 10k. I had a number of runners that I coach running it so I wanted to be there but with my ankle still a bit tender from a trail “mishap” I was not going to be able to race it. Instead I volunteered to be the 70 minute pacing elf.
I knew this would be a bit of a challenge as going that slow would force me out of my natural gait making it hard to keep a consistent pace. I figured a good start was to run with slightly tired legs so I ran a double on Saturday and then ran the 19km to the race start Sunday morning.
I have to say I had a lot of fun. The weather was really good for a December race and the course was ice free. I started with a fairly big group of runners and just tried to stay as close to 7 minute kms as I could. We ended up hitting the 5km mark just slightly ahead of schedule, 15 seconds fast overall, not perfect but acceptable. The section between 4-6km the group somewhat split up with a bunch of runners actually taking off ahead. From 6-9km I managed to keep a very consistent pace and chatted with the runners that were with me. It turns out that at least 4 of them were running their first 10k race which was very cool and they were all working really hard. When I hit 9km all my runners took off ahead of me and I was running alone but still stuck to the pace just in case anyone was trying to catch up from behind. At this point I was 20 seconds ahead of schedule so still pretty good. With about 500 meters left I passed a girl that was struggling. She asked me if I was on time, which I was, as she really wanted to break 70 minutes so I paced her / talked her into the finish with plenty of time to spare. Final time for the 70 minute pace Elf was 69:33.
Some of the runners that had gone ahead came and found me after to thank me which was nice but really they were the ones that did all the hard work. I think pacing at a race is one of those things that ever runner should do at some point, not only are you giving back but it can be a lot of fun as well.
Race day was not quite over though as I went with the rest of the C+C runners up to Mackenzies for brunch. I felt that it was part of my coaching duties to make sure my runners knew the proper way to consume beer with their breakfast.
Next up: Flash back - Beast of Burden 100(Summer) race report