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December 5, 2007

To Catch an Ultrarunner

Sorry, you’ll have to humor me for a little bit longer on this whole Western States thing, which continues to occupy a large portion of my brain today. On the plus side, I won’t make you read through a Harry Potter quote to get to the post. We’ll get back to regular programming – at least, as regular as it ever gets around here - soon, I promise.

In the meantime, I’ll remind you to go to raceAthlete and
cast your vote for the Best Endurance Blog before reading today’s post. It’s your civic duty as a blog reader. And if you’ve already voted, thank you – now go vote again. (Just kidding – sort of.)

OK, on with the post …

Have you ever been in a position where something so good happens to you, that you halfway expect to find out that there was some sort of mistake? In the two days after the Western States lottery, that’s exactly how I felt.

Even after seeing my name on the lottery list, I must have hit the “refresh” button at least 20 times over the weekend, just to make sure there hadn’t been one last update where I had been bumped in favor of somebody else. I guess it hadn’t quite sunk in yet that this whole process was actually starting.

Thankfully, those thoughts were put to rest on Monday afternoon, when a large envelope from the WS committee arrived on my doorstep. Inside it were a little bit of swag (more on that in a second), and the race participant’s guide.

Less than 2 days after the lottery, and we’re already in Game On mode. I guess no one will ever accuse the race committee of procrastination.

Here’s the first swag gift they sent me:

A pair of arm warmers. The ideal accessory for long training runs on cool mornings that promise to turn warm several hours later. They’d be perfect for the start of any ultra, and particularly useful for the first several miles through the high altitude and snowpack at Western States.

Unfortunately, I’m NEVER going to wear them. At least, not until after the race. It’s simply bad juju.

Before I started this blog, I wrote a newspaper article on “bad juju”, which described several ways that runners invite cruel misfortune upon themselves by carelessly disrespecting karma beforehand. I’ll find the article and reprint it here someday.

Anyway, Rule #4 on that article was to never, ever wear the logo of a race you hadn’t yet completed. And now I’ve got Western States sending me logo clothing like a young female decoy on those Dateline NBC “To Catch a Predator” shows, just to see if I’ll take the bait and walk into the house. Sure - if I decided to wear the gear, I could claim entrapment, but that wouldn’t be enough to excuse me from committing the offense in the first place.

So the arm warmers will stay in the back of my sock drawer until at least next July. And if my forearms have to shiver a bit in the early mornings, that’s a price I’m willing to pay to keep my conscience intact.

As far as the participant’s guide goes, it’s a 31-page affair with trail descriptions, pacer and crew guidelines, and about 100 different variations of saying “This is a very dangerous race.” Some of the topic headings include Getting Lost, Signs of Renal Failure, Leaving the Canyons on a Medevac Helicopter, How Will I Know If I’m Getting Heat Stroke, as well as the overly descriptive title Why Can’t I Stop Puking?

Um ... OK then. Message received. It’s a dangerous race.

If nothing else, flipping through the participant’s guide helped reassure me that this thing is actually happening. Yes, it put the fear of God in me, but it also got me to quit refreshing the race roster every hour – so I guess I’ll just learn to take the good with the bad when it comes to approaching this race.

It’s a lesson I’m sure I’ll employ more than once over the next seven months.


rick 12/6/07, 12:48 PM  

Some tough competition on the blog voting thing. I actually got there from another blog but saw your name and voted for you. Tough going though, whew. No offense but those arm warmers, um kind of hideous. Bank Card USA, what the?... Anyway let the fun begin. I'm sure you'll do your best to get ready.

Makita 12/6/07, 2:04 PM  

A year ago I had signed up for the local Jingle Bell run... w/o going into details, I DNS. I thereby gave my shirt away at a 'Bag Lady' exchange with my book club. The woman who took it was surprised... she didn't understand my reasoning.

I'd be interested in knowing the other rules of "bad juju". : )

robb 12/6/07, 5:05 PM  

I really need to know... why are you puking?

Nat 12/6/07, 5:07 PM  

I'd love to read the rules of bad juju too.

21stCenturyMom 12/6/07, 5:36 PM  

Is there a chapter titled "What to do if you see a Mountain Lion Like the one We Show On the Arm Warmers?" Nice of them to slide that in there :-)

There will be no bad juju - just a lot of training and an experience that will change your life.

craig 12/6/07, 5:53 PM  

Civic duty fulfilled Donald. I can tell you are going to be a little precuppied until the end of June.

robtherunner 12/6/07, 7:30 PM  

I must say that the list is highly packed with triathletes. Obviously I voted for my favorite marathoner/triathlete/ultra-runner. I agree about never wearing a logo until you have finished the course.

the Dread Pirate Rackham 12/6/07, 10:21 PM  

your rules of bad juju have inspired me to post my rules of running.

I agree with the bad juju. I'm a freak about it too. I've taught my kids about it. They know - you don't wear the t-shirt until the race is over.

having said that, I have a t-shirt in my drawer I wear from time to time - a $60 t-shirt from a race I could not start. It's my most expensive t-shirt. I own it, though I hate wearing it - it's bad juju.

p.s. - did you know I nominated you to the list? It's true!

Andrew 12/7/07, 1:32 AM  

Your November 11, 2005 post was on "Bad Juju". A great post!

Thomas 12/7/07, 4:20 AM  

There have been countless runners over the years at WS that thought halfway through that taking part in that race was some sort of mistake indeed!

olga 12/7/07, 8:32 AM  

Interestingly, now that I think about it, I bought a t-shirt with WS logo at my first WS camp...and my girlfriend/crew chief sent me a long sleeve shirt from WS store the winter I got in...and I wore it all, and I actually finished my first WS100, and not too shubby either! OK, screw me, I am always rebelling:) I also wore CCC100 shirt this fall for runs even though I DNF'd. A tech shirt is a tech shirt, and I don't have many. Whatever.

As for the booklet - lighten up! WS100 ain't scary at all, nor is it dangerous! It is a moderately difficult course with heat the worst element of them all. That is if you train your quads to death for downhill. The rest is piece of cake.

BTW, looks like I might show up after all. I'll tell you details later. No, not running. In a more fun capacity:)

Deene 12/7/07, 8:48 AM  

my computer is giving me trouble with the voting, i'd vote for you though.
what's with the mountain lion the the arm warmers?

angie's pink fuzzy 12/7/07, 11:56 AM  

swag already?! too cool.

so, like, is this a dangerous race?

Coach Tammy 12/9/07, 10:27 AM  

Oh, I came THIS CLOSE to buying a super cute pink and grey Ironman hat yesterday... but I thought the same thing.. I'll be jinxing myself. Wait until April 14th to make that purchase. sigh.

Addy 12/9/07, 5:40 PM  

Good call on keeping away the bad juju. The race is hard enough already without that being held over your head ;).

I love those section titles. Though, I think a mountain lion section would be important too! Sure hope we don't run into any of those.

Do you think you'll be going to any of the training camps? As non racers are allowed, I"m thinking about perhaps checking them out, to be fully ready for my pacing duties :D

This race is going to happen, and you will be awesome!

Robb 12/9/07, 11:18 PM  

You got my vote buddy. Congrats on making the cut. 2008 will be a fun one to watch.

Nytro 12/10/07, 11:24 AM  

Hey there...

Wanted to let you know that I was glad that you didn't take offense to my post. My blog is always tongue in cheek... and I make fun of myself more than I make fun of anyone else. You'll note the "adult" comment and the tabloids comment... I was making fun of me, not you. That's how that blog rolls. There are a lot of pigtails pulled in Life Is Nuts. Most of them belong to me.

As far as Harry Potter... I was just really trying to come up with a logical (excuse) reason as to why you were spanking me in the poll... and yes, don't misunderstand - YOU. ARE. SPANKING. ME (and everyone else) in the poll. The Harry Potter reference was easy because the first two posts you had up had those quotes. That's what I went with.

I hope you keep reading and you'll see that it's all in good fun. Some of my best friends are Harry Potter fans. Seriously.

But I really thought How I Met Your Mother would be better represented!

Good luck with the rest of the race!


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