I was struggling to write a race report for Western States 100, because I just have some many stories and memories that it was basically be a jumbled mess. So, I decided to do a Western States Q & A as my race report. I think y’all will enjoy this. Grab a beverage, sit back, and enjoy.
Neal – Was it everything you expected it to be?
Western States 100 is a magical race — I’m not exactly sure what I expected it to be, but it was a great experience. The race was awesome, but the whole build up to it really made the experience.
Brandon—Did anything go wrong in the race and what did you do to correct it? Also, how did you train for the elevation, especially the decent, in Ottawa.
The race went almost flawless. I really didn’t have anything go wrong, I just needed a few more things to go better. I was having some stomach issues around mile 65, but nothing that some ginger ale and ginger chews couldn’t fix. Training for elevation and downhills in Ottawa is a challenge. Training for the climbing was less of a challenge — I do this leg matrix daily, and do some treadmill climbing. For the downhill, I do quite a bit of speed work, and that helps get some of the downhill speed. Also, I go up to Wisconsin and do a lot of stuff on the Ice Age Trail.
Anthony — Could you have gone faster? How were your pacers? 😉
I think I could have picked up a few minutes here and there. The one area I think I could have been better on was getting out of the Canyons quicker. I think getting out of the heat/climbs a little quicker would have saved quite a bit of time. All three of my pacers, Anthony, Jeff, and Bo were great. I could not have asked for a better group.
Seth — Have you ever wanted a personal photographer to come take photos behind the scene and during races? 😉
Sure, come with us!
Ray — What was your darkest moment during the race?
The darkest moment for me was the descent to the river. I was coming into Cal 2 (Peachstone) and got extremely cold. I was trying not to spend too much time in aid stations, but I think I took 5 minutes in that one. I was trying to take in a lot of strawberries, ginger ale, and red bull. But, even in the darkest moment, I didn’t feel *that* bad. I guess the hardest part was knowing I should be making up time on this section, and it just was not happening.
Ryan — what did you learn?
Ice is king, stay on top of your fluid/electrolyte intake, and the first 50k is more technical than most people tell you.
Where do you buy the speedos?
All over. Swimoutlet, Bam Bathers, QSwimwear.
Matt — How much beer did you consume the week of?
Hmm, I don’t know. I really didn’t drink much beer in the final weeks leading into Western States. I think I went through 4 bottles of wine and 2 6 packs of beer in June, before Western. After — I made up for all of the lost time lol.
Would you rather claim an Olympic Qualifying marathon time, or a roster of top ultra finishes?
Such a tough question. I have run 2:26 for the marathon. I think I could get down to a 2:19 for the Olympic Trials Qualifier if I would focus on it for a year or so, but I can’t imagine getting down to 2:12-2:14 to make the team. However, I do not think putting together a great ultra resume is out of the question. So, I guess I would pick the ultras: it’s realistic and I enjoy racing over the marathon distance.
Tony — What is it like being that deep into a race and running in 100 degree temps?
Honestly, I didn’t think it was that hot. One of the dudes asked me how warm I thought it was, and I said, “Oh, I don’t know. 80?” What I didn’t know it was 100+ at the river crossing lol. I like it warm, and we trained for heat.
Alexis — What exactly do you eat differently or do to prepare differently for these types of races in unbearable heat?
I don’t really change anything to prepare for the race. I am a big believer of “Race the way you train.” So, I just make sure to stay on top of nutrition/hydration/electrolyte intake. I guess the biggest change for race day is the use of ice. At aid stations I would refill the ice in my hat, neck buff, and even some in the speedo. As far as what I eat daily, nothing changed. I never change my “diet” on race week — the body knows what it needs.
Tim — What was the biggest hurdle for prepping for the race and completing the race?
As a flatlander, the biggest hurdle is probably preparing for all of the downhill. There are some pretty long descents that will beat up the quads if they are not ready. As for during the race, the biggest hurdle was probably the decent from Pointed Rocks to No hands Bridge at night, when tired. I fall a lot even in the day, descending at night is just asking for a fall lol. That section is very smooth, but has a few little bumps that will take you down.
Paul — What was the biggest obstacle during the race and what was your biggest win? What’s your next hundo?
The biggest obstacle during the race was probably descending the Pointed Rocks to No Hands Bridge at night. As a someone that falls a lot, downhill running with a headlamp is not my strength lol. The biggest win was probably when I discovered that Red Bull mixed with Ginger Ale is a great thing to settle the stomach and a little energy boost. I’m not sure what my next 100 will be, but it will be something working toward Badwater qualifying.
Scott — How successful do you feel the trail camp was in preparation for the race?
The trail camp is probably the most beneficial thing you can do for Western States 100. You cover the final 70 miles of the race over 3 days. It’s a great. If you cannot make it to the Memorial Day Weekend Camp, The Canyons 100k is a great event and you get to see the harder sections of the course.
Carleen — did you put ice in the Speedo when it got hot? How did you train for the heat?
I did put ice in the speedo! Ice is important in warm races like this. I had ice in the speedo, hat, and neck buff. So, to train for the heat, I did a few sauna sessions, some treadmill running, and would try to do most of my runs mid day (sometimes with winter gear on). I have always been one that handles heat well, so I wasn’t so much worried about heat, but just be prepared for climbing/descending.
Alva — What was your favorite aid station at Western — please mention the one that stuck out the most. What was the most surprising thing about States? What was the most challenging part of the race?
My first answer is Robie Point, only because I knew there was 1/3 mile left of climbing, and then a downhill mile to the finish. The easy answer is Foresthill, because it’s a major point in the race and A LOT of spectators. However, I think the one that stood out the most is Quarry Road. It comes at a point of the race when it’s dark and you’re starting to be a little tired…then out of nowhere you see Christmas lights and hear the music. It’s a good boost.
The most surprising thing about States this year was how deep the women’s field was. 20:04 for 10th place woman is blazin’ fast! That is awesome!
The most challenging part of the race is probably trying to decide how hard to push early and when to back off. You will hear stories of people crushing the high country, and then struggling after Foresthill. I wanted to be competitive, and enjoy it, but I don’t think I nailed the effort level. But, it was a positive experience, and I look forward to making it back to Western someday.
Jason — Where did you find those shorts?
Carol — Did you have any “Holy Shit, I’m actually doing this” moments, and what was that like? What would you want high school kids to know about your experience? How did high school running make you, or get you on the path, to where you are now?
My “holy shit” moment was getting to No Hands Bridge (mile 97) and I was like, “I only have 5k left to run!” At that point I realized I survived the high country, canyons, heat, and only have 600ft of climbing and a little over 3 miles to go. The second was when I passed the “Welcome to Auburn” sign at mile 99. Anything can happen in the final mile, but I had no doubt I was getting to the finish line.
My career has definitely been an interesting one. I never made it to state in high school for cross country, and made it once in the 800m. In college I never won an individual cross country title, nor did I win an individual title on the track. The biggest thing is, if you love it, things will work out — stick with it. Since college, I have been to worlds 2x for the Half Ironman, run 2:26 for the marathon, won an RRCA IL State Title in the Marathon, finished many ultras including 2 100 mile races. Pretty crazy for somebody that was 200m/400m/800m runner. Don’t be afraid to try new things, and don’t limit what you think is possible.
Brian — Do you feel your time in Tahoe before the race helped your performance? Is there something you would have changed in prep?
Time in Tahoe was very important before the race. As somebody coming from the flatlands and 400ft about sea level, it is a struggle to train for mountain races. Our biggest hill is 150ft over 1.5 miles. I was at ~7500ft from June 1 until race day, with my lowest stretch not at altitude being maybe 6 hours. Adjusting to altitude was key for the first 100k of the race. The biggest benefit I got was being able to practice extended climbs and descents, like we would face on race day. I felt great on the climbs and descents. If I could change one thing, I would probably try to get to altitude earlier — come out for Quicksilver 50k, and then stay until Western States.
Andre — What will be the next hundo on your bucket list?
Bucket list — Badwater 135. But, if I had to pick *just* 100 miles, I would probably pick 100 Miles of Istria or Ultra Trail Mt Fuji.
Geri — What is your inner voice message that keeps you going when your body is screaming “stop!!”
“One foot in front of the other, it’s only 100 miles.”
Michael — What made WS100 different from other races?
Western States is different than other 100s/races, because the whole community gets involved. It really does seem like a Western States Family. The aid stations are all excited to see people, from the front runners to the last. The streets are lined at the major aid stations and it is so cool. You may not know it when you get there, but you leave as part of the Western States family. Another cool thing is that the Memorial Day Weekend Camp usually draws quite a few elites. It is a great chance to meet and hang out with some of the elites and legends in a non competitive environment.
Thank you all for the questions — it’s been fun. #SpeedoInSquaw
Also, Western States was not a solo effort — there are many people that were part of the journey. I would like to thank my crew: Tom, Anthony, Anthony, Bo & Sara, and Jeff & Heather. It is pretty amazing that 6 people that had never met, could come together and crew/pace. I had people flying in from CO, OH, and IL, and somehow it all came together. I would also like to thank sponsors/supporters: inov-8, rabbit, Down To Run, SWORD, Darn Tough Vermont, Vicia Energy Bar, Safety Skin, Squirrel’s Nut Butter. And, lastly, thank you to all of you that have been part of this journey. Thanks for following along.