Friday, June 3, 2011

Western States Regrets?

The official trailer for the Western States Endurance Run has been floating around the last few days and it's pretty intense.  It will definitely get you motivated if you're looking for a little boost.  A Cincinnati running buddy, Kyle Fahrenkamp, asked me if I regretted my decision to pass up the automatic entry I earned last fall at JFK.  Seeing as how I haven't written a blog post in a couple weeks, I thought this would be a good place to respond in detail.  But first, here's the video:

It was definitely tough to give up my spot in the country's premier 100 mile race especially knowing how difficult it is to gain entry through the lottery.  But the short answer is, no, I don't regret my decision, and there are several reasons why I am happy with my choice. 

1)  I didn't want to end up injured.  JFK was my first race over 50km and I was happy to have performed well, but felt like 7 months was too soon to move up to 100 miles, not to mention having to deal with the elevation change and summer heat of WSER as well.  I have been running competitively since the 7th grade and haven't had a serious running injury yet.  I'd like to keep it that way.  I think numerous guys have proven that you can still be a top-notch 100 mile runner at 40 years old.  I want to still be competing in ten years and rocking it Dave Mackey style.   There's no rush.  That was probably the most important factor.

2) But, I also had a very worthwhile goal that presented itself after JFK as a nice alternative to Western States: running the US 100km champs to try and qualify for the US 100km team.  This was only 62 miles as opposed to 100 miles, so it was a more gradual step up.   It was also a flat road loop, which I thought would really suit me well since I do most of my training in Cincinnati on the roads and still have good leg speed for an ultra guy.  That race was in April and I finished in 2nd place, running my goal of just under 7 hours.  The team is due to be officially announced later this month, but it still appears that I have qualified based on time and will be racing in the Netherlands this fall.  It's hard to regret not running WS when I successfully achieved my alternative goal.  Could I have done both?  Maybe, but it's a moot point because I don't have enough vacation time to run both.

3) The wife wanted to go to Europe.  Need I say more?  This probably should be #1.

Anyway, my decision also allowed me to run the Flying Pig Marathon a few weeks ago, and now I get to play around in some 5ks for a few weeks.  Speaking of 5ks, you may be wondering how my training has been going the past couple of weeks.  Last week I did 16x400m and even surprised myself by cranking the last two out in 62 seconds a piece.  This week I did 8x800 @2:23 w/800m jog recovery + 4x200m.  The 400s were fun, but the 800s were tough.  I did 6 mi marathon pace runs for my second workout each of the past two weeks.  Long runs were 16 or 17 miles and total mileage was 75-80.

I'm looking forward to a fun long run tomorrow morning with about 120 friends, some of whom might be racing a 50k.  I, however, will not be racing, just looking to get in some time on my feet.  Looks like it's going to be some good hot weather training as well, with a highs forecasted in the low 90s.  And then Friday, I'll be racing in a little 5k we're having at work.  It's a certified course, and there are a few speedy guys that work around here, so it should be fun. 

I know I'm walking a fine line trying to do both speed and mileage.  I can usually do one or the other, but it's hard to combine them in high volumes without getting injured.  I'm having fun though, so I'll just try to be smart and listen to my body and hopefully I'll make it to this fall healthy and faster than I was before.


  1. No regrets Dave. It's real simple: if the WS100 was resonating with you, jumping out at you screaming "I want to run here", then you made the right decision, period. It's best to look at your own internal motivations for various racing venues (and marriage events?) instead of external influencers. Besides the fact that WS100 and other similar races ain't for the faint of heart, I know of man of your talent would regret being out there half-assed trained and not totally focused on it as a goal, esp. when you see how many people are there and what it means to them

    Give it time: somehow I doubt this will be your last automatic entry to Western. When the wheel comes 'round again and you find yourself longing for it, then it'll be time to pull the trigger and fill out the app. And when that happens I want to be standing at the river crossing watching you kill it.

    In the meantime, continued good training in prep for the 100k championships. What a tremendous experience that is going to be!

  2. That's great advice Josh.

    Someone asked me, "Can't you just run it for fun?" And the answer to that is simply no. Sure, I could finish with my current training, but my competitiveness would inevitably take over and I'd end up racing. When I run it, I want to be prepared to race with the big boys.

    And if I'm not in good enough shape to earn another auto entry in the future, I'm probably not in shape enough to want to toe the line at Western States.

  3. Hi Dave

    Finally, I have a chance to comment here.

    Good running with you last weekend (as short as it was)...I wanted to chat a little more, but the group separated and I had no need to run under 7s that day. (My fun run at the Mohican 50 is coming up Saturday)

    Anyway, like I said, I was happy to provoke a thought and there is no doubt you have good reasons for not going to WS100, but #3...I am guessing had a little more weight to it than you mentioned. Besides, I agree with Josh, I am sure you will have another chance. Me, I will hope for a lottery pick sometime going forward. Plus I am sure I will be running for different reasons, but that's what's good about the sport and there are plenty on the bucket list. In no particular order: Leadville, WS, Badwater, UTMB,Spartathalon and Barkley - yes, oh yes, this is a must do! Perhaps, the year I get in to WS you'll be there...if so, I would like a fresh cold beer at the finish please! Assuming I stay healthy enough for all...oh, and I need a sponsor! HA! is a little WS100 fun froom a very fun blog. Make your picks:

    Mine (I think): men - Jornet, Roes, Koerner,Clark, Braje, Bragg, Mackey, Wolfe...Masters, Jones-Wilkins
    women - Ortiz, Semick, Liza Howard, Kimball, Nypaver, Garneau, Arboghast, Sprolston