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WS100: Essentially impossible or just highly improbable?

December 16, 2013

It seems that’s the question I’m asking myself daily regarding my attempt to even start the Western States 100.  It is unquestionably too early to know but lately I’ve channeled my inner Lloyd Christmas and have come to the place of “So you’re telling me there’s a chance.”

I’ve spoken with the head trainer of the Colorado Rapids, Jaime Rojas, who was incredibly generous with his time and expertise.  I also have been trading emails with WS100 finisher, fellow Rocky Mountain Runner, exercise physiologist and coach, Adam St. Pierre.  I got an in-depth response via podcast on a recent episode [10 minutes starting at 42:52 of the show] of Endurance Planet’s “Ask the Ultrarunner” (thanks Tawnee and Lucho!).  And of course, I’ve been talking with bunches of running friends, some with medical backgrounds and been reading online about achilles recovery.  The consensus seems to be that, if all goes well, I could be healthy enough to make it to the starting line of WS100.  That assumes no major setbacks, at least an average physiological ability to repair myself, a serious dedication to rehab, and virtually no legitimate training heading into the race.

If nothing else, this whole experience is an interesting experience and study of one.  Today is Day 1 of stationary hand cycling to work on my cardio, something I hope to do at least a few days a week the next few months.  It’ll be good to sweat from something other than hopping up the stairs.  Tomorrow is my first doctor visit since the surgery and I’m hopeful I can transition to a boot from the cast.  Wednesday is my first PT session, assuming the doc signs off on it tomorrow.  All in all, things are moving along.  The kindness of my friends and family has made a big difference, as has the seemingly endless content available on Nextflix (thank you, The Walking Dead and Sons of Anarchy).

I have done a little bit of grossly premature thinking about what a “solid” performance at WS100 might look like.  There’s frequent talk of a finish being most everyone’s primary goal in a 100-miler, with a good time/performance a secondary consideration.  That’s kinda true and kinda bullshit, I suspect, for highly trained runners spending $100s to enter a race for which they have trained months and often traveled great distances, dragging crew and pacers and gear along the way. This time, I can truly say that a 29:59 finish (the max time allowed) would be supremely satisfying.  To do so, I’d need to maintain an 18-minute/mile pace.  I think that, given the course profile and wild swings in typical conditions (mountain and trail terrain and temps varying from 20-110 degrees F), I’d need to be able to run at least 25-30 miles and efficiently hike the rest, without any significant stops along the way.  It’s like a puzzle I’ll have to solve with my feet.

Thanks for stopping by and I look forward to documenting the process in the months to come!


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