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).
- 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).
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!