Sunday, June 22, 2008

Is Anyone Else Freaking Out Right Now?

The Western States 100 is six days away and I am now officially freaking out. I keep reminding myself I shouldn't be worried...I've done the miles, I'm running faster than ever, and even my heat training is going well. It's not like I'm trying to win the damn thing. So why am I waking up in a cold sweat each morning like a death row inmate scheduled to walk the green mile come Saturday?

I think the main culprit is tapering, a process with which I am not very familiar. To honor the taper means to give up the long and/or hard runs, both of which are my main source of stress relief. I'm doing that, down to about 1/3 or my high miles just a few weeks ago. In place of it, I now have big spans of time to worry and fret. It doesn't help that I'm planning drop bags, finishing final steps with my crew, and by nature of doing both of these, thinking of every possible thing that could go wrong. Even Rocky the Pug senses I am nervous, curling up next to me as I sit on the couch and stare into space.

"It's all part of the process," I tell myself, "and only acknowledges how epic this experience will be." Then I swallow hard, and repeat the phrase over and over. ;-)

About the only thing that gets me sidetracked is to think about it as a race I'm not in, and pontificate about the battle for the Top 10 Men and Women. This is going to be an incredible year for both, that's for sure. For the Men, you have the following:
  • Proven Western States competitors that have placed well in this race before, such as Hal Koerner, Erik Skaden (running faster than ever), Graham Cooper (same), Andy Jones-Wilkins (ditto), Jon Olsen (yup), Brian Morrison (with something to prove), Glen Redpath, Jean Pommier (I bet sub-2o this year), Jeff Riley, Kevin Sawchuk (going for his 1000-mile buckle), Craig Thornley, and more.
  • Proven Ultra Gods like Karl Meltzer, Anton Krupicka, Lon Freeman, and top ultra runners who have done well in Tahoe before like Sean Meissner.
  • Road and Trail Speed Demons like Michael Wardian (2008 50k/100k Road Champ), Todd Braje (WTC 50k winner, sub-2:30 marathoner), Michael Buchanan (Helen Klein 50m record holder), Chikara Omine (many 50k/50m course records), Scott Wolfe, and Dom and Wade Repta from Canada (top Miwok finishers).
For the Women, it's just as crazy:
  • Proven Western States competitors like Nikki Kimball (3-time winner), Bev Anderson-Abbs (3-time 2nd place), Caren Spore, Meghan Arbogast, Annette Bednosky (former winner), and more.
  • Ultra Goddesses such as Jenn Shelton (sub-15 hour course record at the Rocky Raccoon 100), Jenny Capel (faster than ever), Michelle Barton (who has won just about everything she entered in the last year), and the list goes on.
  • Speed demons like Devon Crosby-Helms (marathon, 50k, and 100k champ) and Susannah Beck (2:34 marathoner who crushed WTC 50k this year).
I've heard that so many of the Men and Women are running in top form this year - it's going to be a serious honor to crack the 2008 Top 10. Not that it wasn't any other year, of course. ;-)

Okay, time to relax and try and get some sleep. Heading up to Tahoe soon to get a bit of acclimation rolling, and I hope to see y'all up there. In the meantime if you have some taper relaxation tips, I would love to hear them!

Cheers, SD

20 comments:

  1. Scott - one thing that helps tame the taper heebie-jeebies is chocolate. Seriously, 79% variety. Obviously, taper OFF sugar completely the last two days - sorry, don't know how to get through then - Gaba Calm? Best of success to you at WS!

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  2. scott - I think you are ready to go for it. Stop talking about the other awesome runners, and go make your own mark. "Seize the day". That's one of your favorite movies, isn't it. Well, this is your chance to prove to yourself that you can be in the top 10. I will be volunteering at the finish line this year. So I will be waiting there to take your picture as you cross the finish as one of the top ten. Good luck!

    Marco Denson

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  3. scott- Do you remember this scene?

    "Now I'd like you to step forward over here. They're not that different from you, are they? Same haircuts. Full of hormones, just like you. Invincible, just like you feel. The world is their oyster. They believe they're destined for great things, just like many of you, their eyes are full of hope, just like you. Did they wait until it was too late to make from their lives even one iota of what they were capable? Because, you see gentlemen, these boys are now fertilizing daffodils. But if you listen real close, you can hear them whisper their legacy to you. Go on, lean in. Listen, you hear it? --- Carpe --- hear it? --- Carpe, carpe diem, seize the day boys, make your lives extraordinary."

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  4. If it's any consolation, I and a few hundred others are walking around with the Munch face this week, too.

    Have a great week and a great run! I hope to see you out there at some point.

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  5. I suggest yin yoga for taper time. It's low key, so it won't make you sore at all, and it focuses on deep gentle stretching. I love the classes at the Tahoe Yoga and Wellness Center here in Truckee, but there is probably a studio in Incline that offers Yin or something similar. If you go to Tahoe Yoga, be sure to go to Walter's Tuesday or Thursday class. Awesome!
    I'll be on the course cheering for you Scott, I know you're ready for this one. Have fun!

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  6. I'm also going a bit nutty during this taper. I've found that knocking down old ladies and running away is good stress relief.

    Have a great race. Maybe I'll run into you at some point. Take care.

    -Jamie

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  7. Best of luck Scott! I'm looking forward to following this on-line. It's a tough group this year. You'll do awesome. Just think, you get to run on the same course as those "ultra gods/goddesses." Not that you are some sort of slouch who just gets to watch from the back. :) It's going to be great, try to take it in while you are crusing over the course.

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  8. Scott,

    As short course runner (marathons and halfs) I don't normally feel I've got much to add to your blog, but I've read it with interest for a long time. However, I felt this was a good a time as any to let you know that HOW you run your races is even more impressive to me than how fast you run or where you place (although, obviously, you're no slouch in the speed department).

    I'm confident you'll have a great race because when the gun sounds, you'll approach it the way you seem to approach all your races --- with an open mind and a heart full of wonder.

    Best of luck to you.

    Dave

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  9. If you feel like a mess during taper, that just means you're doing it right! Remind me to tell you (in a smaller forum) what happened to me during tapering for TRT last year...

    Seriously, you're not going to feel great during taper. If you just need to let off some nervous energy, though, don't be afraid to do a few hard workouts. Just keep them real short. It's actually good to keep sharp with a few high intensity workouts.

    Best of luck. Race day will be here sooner than later, and then it'll all feel right.

    -J

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  10. Hey Scott,
    You've got the training and a great attitude; just go enjoy the hell out of the race.

    Regarding the top runners, from what I've heard, I think Annette B may not be doing so well with injuries.

    I caught a lot of heat for predicting Anton the day after he qualified for ws. It'll be nice when my "armchair quarterback" statements that he'll not only win the race but set a course record come true this weekend. Bring on the backlash, but be prepared to swallow your words, and I'll do the same.
    tl

    Have a great race, Scott.

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  11. Scott,

    You are in the best shape of your life and your PR in Eugene proved it. As for relaxing I recomend spending more time with your daughter, I notice that when I hang out with my kids my heart rate drops and I forget about things that bother me.

    If you are nervous is because it means that much to you and that is what is all about. after all, passion is a wonderful thing ;-)

    Good luck and I will be looking forward to your report of the race and how you cracked top 10. Hey, I am chilling the Champagne already

    Norma Bastidas

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  12. This years race throws in one other wrinkle. For those not in northern ca. we have been hit by many wildfires since Saturday. One fire near foresthill/michigan bluff is contained...reports from Calfire indicate that no fires threaten the course but there could be a lot of smoke. Not much sun shinning this morning and I live 10 miles from Auburn. Hope the fires can get contained and the smoke clears by race day...

    Tony

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  13. Great point. A friend of mine pointed that out to me this morning. Sadistically, it could mean for a cooler ws (clouded by smoke), and faster times.

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  14. You're so ready, Scott. When you get to the top of Emigrant, remember to look behind you to see the sun rising over the lake before beginning your journey down into the wilderness. It's gonna be a great day and you, my friend, are gonna rock!

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  15. Have a great race Scott...yeah no worries, you're ready.

    Will G.

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  16. Awesome tips, everyone. I'm eating chocolate, going for short runs, spending time with Sophie, and getting ready for the big day! Thanks for the comments everyone.

    SD

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  17. Looks like Annette Bednosky is out. Kami Semick is in though - not sure how I missed her. ;-)

    SD

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  20. Hey Scott! A quick note to say good luck at Western. Don't freak out too much about the taper. Remember that you should feel fat, out-of-shape and be chomping at the bit to run on Race Morning. That's a sure sign that you've done everything right.

    I'll be following you online!

    - Garett

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