Be A Diesel: On the Eve of the Western States Endurance Run

A man running down a trail with a backpack.
Running a section of the Western States Endurance Run trail, a few weeks back during the training weekend.

As I sit here in the “before time,” just a few days before my first Western States 100, my thoughts and feelings are somewhat in a state of disarray.

On the one hand, I have sincere and deep gratitude for being able to move about the earth under my own power. On the other hand, I can’t help feeling a little aggravated that my lower back has decided to get out of whack the week of my first go at the Western States 100. Due to an old injury from falling out of a tree years ago, my back is known to do this without much warning about once a year or so.

For this year, the timing couldn’t be much worse.

I‘ve taken all the restorative measures I possibly can, including yoga, massage, active release therapy, passive stretching and chiropractic therapy. I will still show up for the shotgun start in Squaw Valley no matter what. After those first few steps, it’s all unknown.

The past few weeks have been challenging, as it sometimes goes when you are leading up to something that really matters to you. My body has had a series of tweaks and strains, and more recently, I’ve been dealing with the emotional fallout from the death of my coach, Steve Pye on June 8th. I think the combination of stresses contributed to the timing of my back issue.

That said I will not give up the dream of crossing over finish line in Auburn on the high school track.

As I make the final preparations for Western States, I can only control the things that I can control. I know this quite well from years of racing and training–and living. This is not my first set of challenging situations. I will fall back on my past experiences and dig as deep as my crooked back allows.

I have the chance to pursue another dream. If I cannot cross that finish line, then I will get up and try again. And again. I know that I will never quit, but I will not risk my long term health to just get a buckle – even if it is the one of the most coveted buckles in ultrarunning.

It could be a fine line between glory and defeat with the challenges presented. But, I welcome those challenges because that is when we learn the most. I am willing to suffer to accomplish the task at hand. I have done the preparation work mentally and physically to run 100 miles in the mountains and heat. Will this little set back stop me? Only time will tell.

In the end, all I can do is show up and race to my body’s ability in the conditions Mother Nature presents. This extra variable of a sore back is just another opportunity to learn.

The following are the last few notes my coach Steve posted in my Training Peaks account. The words mean a lot to me and I will do everything in my power to get this thing done.


racing-days-400x533-5248394I feel lucky to have worked with Steve, even though it was only for 8 months. I will sincerely miss our conversations about life, Maria, scuba diving, Colorado and lastly racing.

Steve almost always made me smile, and I have gratitude for the gift to have him in my life.

I will have an extra special angel on my shoulder in Western States this year. I look forward to whatever happens good–or maybe not so good.

This life is a gift, and how we live it is up to us. Steve has taught me a great lesson, but it stings to no end. His life is a solid reminder that we should live with gratitude for tomorrow because it is not guaranteed to anyone.

See you on the other side.


Be A Diesel: On the Eve of the Western States Endurance Run
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