Thursday, December 04, 2014

Western States, Hardrock, CIM, Oh My!

It’s Saturday morning, 8:30 AM, and the Placer High School auditorium is packed with skinny people chatting excitedly to each other. On stage, a handful of people sporting silver belt buckles double check their laptops, paperwork, and the functionality of the PA system. It’s probably the best non-running running event of the year: Western States lottery day!

I’m crammed in the seats with friends, iPhone in hand, keeping a close eye on the Twitter feed of @Hardrock100, where they’re updating the results of their own lottery. Occasionally I flip over to check on iRunFar's coverage of the TNF 50 where Rob Krar and Magda Boulet are already churning up the mud out front. Jamie is sitting next to me, constantly clutching my arm, the suspense of the whole day causing her to bounce constantly in her seat.

Both Jamie and I are in both lotteries. Certainly, the chances of either of us getting chosen for either race are slim. But who cares? The electric air of possibility fills the room. We’re not out of the running yet!

I know this scene will be pretty accurate for the first part of our morning (well, except for who's in the lead at TNF, but that's my prediction), but how the lottery results will play out is obviously unknown. (According to this guy, I have a 29% chance of getting into Hardrock! Information on the Hardrock site says 25.6%. Regardless, either is better than the 9% chance I have of getting into States.) I know that some of my friends will get chosen in each lottery (maybe some in both!), and that I will be pretty darn excited for them. I also know that I will not be disappointed to walk away empty handed myself. I certainly go into the endeavor hopeful because that’s part of the fun, but with the odds so slim, I like to keep my actual expectations realistic. I’ve already made my plans for what I’d like to run should I get into neither Western States nor Hardrock, and I’m aware that’s the most likely scenario.

The only thing I really want to avoid is any of the whiners. I don't mean the people who feel disappointed - that's fair enough. I mean the people who are always bitter and pissy because they didn’t get chosen. I think (hope!) most people are over this by now and have accepted the reality of the situation. But there’s always someone! Someone who thinks the rules are unfair and aren’t afraid to let you know. I want to slap these people and tell them to get a grip, but what I really want to do is simply not talk to them at all. Take it somewhere else if you’re going to bitch and moan. Lottery day is for fun!


I also have a great distraction from the probability that I won't win a lottery on Saturday – Sunday I will be joining many friends at the California International Marathon!

I’ve run CIM twice before, and neither was an amazing experience. The first time, in 2001, I drove from Truckee through a horrendous blizzard, ran injured through hurricane-force wind and rain to my slowest road marathon time ever, and spent five hours driving home through an even worse blizzard. Thank God I had Charlie to run the race with and Andrew to drive the car. At least we have good stories to share with each other!

The second time was in 2009. I remember I was freezing during the race, and I had to drive home through another blizzard, this time by myself. The most memorable part of the weekend was that I had my first experience peeing in a water bottle in my own car. Fun! Right? At a dead stop on I-80 for over an hour with the snow gathering fast and thick around us, and of course I had to pee desperately. Thank god I had a wide-mouth Nalgene rolling around in my backseat, and the snow covered windows provided plenty of privacy. Still, the awkwardness of trying to squat with my marathon-tired legs and the steering wheel in the way made me certain I would pee all over my car seat. I didn’t! Thus, I considered the weekend a reasonable success.

Home safe after CIM 2009. Praying for a non-snowy drive this year!

I truly hope that the third time’s the charm for this race. So far, Sunday looks like the only non-rainy day in the forecast, so I am keeping my fingers crossed. As usual, I’ve had some really strong individual workouts, but not a lot of consistency in my training. I know I’m in pretty good shape, but it’s hard to tell if my goal of running a PR is realistic. I ran 3:11:42 at Eugene in 2013, with a pretty significant negative split, and I recall it feeling almost easy. (Memory is funny that way, isn’t it? Kind of like how after I finished Hardrock in 2012, I said I would never run it again!) I don’t know if I’m in quite the same shape I was in at Eugene, but I’m setting my sights on 3:10 anyway. I guess we’ll see what happens!

The fun part about CIM this year is that I know so many people running the race. This is a big change from my last two experiences there. I feel happy and reassured that regardless of how fast or slow I run, I know I will have fun with my friends.

In fact, that thought sums up the entire weekend nicely. Things may or may not go as each of us hope, but whatever happens, we will all be there to support each other and share time together (and maybe even a few beers, too).

Looking forward to the weekend and to seeing you all out there! Good luck, everyone, and have fun!


  1. Good luck on booth days!

  2. Great attitude Gretchen....good luck on it all!

    1. Thanks, Scott! Hope to see you out in the San Juans in July!