July 1, 2014

Western States 2014 - The Thread that Runs Through

Photo courtesy of Bob Szekeresh
Sometimes it takes longer. No, it always takes longer. But when it comes, it is all that I need. All that I reach for. And more. But it isn’t easy. To wait, patiently, with my head down, doing the hard work.

When I started writing this post, I just had to get up and walk away. The words weren’t there. Then I remembered. And how could I forget? I just completed Western States 100. This time, finally, on my third try, the lesson was learned. What did I remember? That if I really want something, I cannot go to it. It has to come to me. And when it does, I best be ready.

It wasn’t until I saw the lights of No-hands Bridge at mile 97 that I realized it had finally come to me. And, this time, I was ready. I ran with a single plan. One purpose. To get through this menacing trail without letting it consume my spirit like it has in the past. To run into all its elements, its traps, its deceptive descents, and then run out of them, on my terms, all the way to the finish line.

I chose to run Western States solo this year, which is without a crew and a pacer. I’m glad I did it this way, because of the volunteers. There was an older man at the Robinson Flat aid station, his name was Perry, and he took me to a chair so I could sit for just a minute or two. He helped me with my drop bag and told me that he too had run the race several years ago. He was proud of that. We talked for a while as I fiddled with my supplies. Then he sent me on my way. And I thanked him. There were many other moments like this one.

To put yourself into the hands of others, people you’ve never met before, and let them help you when you are at your weakest, with no other motivation than to just help you, well that is really something. And to see an acquaintance you barely know waiting for you at the finish line at 3:30 in the morning, who stays with you for several hours to make sure you are ok, well that is really something too. It is this thread—to help others—I’m finding that runs through our sport. This is what I will remember the most about Western States this year.

As I ran toward the finish line, I raised my arms into the air. It had to come the hard way. It always comes the hard way. But when it came, it was all that I needed.

Thanks to all you out there who helped me.


11 comments:

Cris said...

Will, congrats on a superb finish at WS100. I'm so proud of your efforts. Rest up and recover well, my frined.

Will said...

Thanks Chris. I hope your training is going superb...and you are ready for AC!

Trail Plodder said...

Congrats on your super performance at WS100!

jake247 said...

Awesome job ... what was your time? This year is the 30th(!) anniversary of the first (and only) time I ran the WST 100.

Peter said...

707Nice post Will.....congrats! now keep the animal fats high (read Pate and calves liver) and the carbs low for a speedy recovery....

Will said...

TP, thanks, and how is your UTMB training coming?
Jake, my time was 22:28, good enough for first in the 50 to 59 age group.
Peter, you read my mind.

Dawn said...

Nice job. It is interesting to do this alone and make peace with the experience.

From Ice Cream to Marathon said...

You inspire me. Absolutely amazing. Congratulations!

Jill said...

YAY!!! You did it. So happy for you, truly!!

One down...keep fighting!

Anonymous said...

Willy, you are my motivator, AWESOME work this year at WS. I have to get going again and try to be ready for Saltwater. Life's crazy busy, but you are proof there is always room for running, just have to find it...big hug, proud of you!

joe

wcooperjr said...

Thanks Joe...hope to see you out here on the trails again soon!