Western States 2015 has been a focus race for me since I «won» the lottery in the beginning of December last year. My training has been solid, I have had decent success in other ultras this winter, and I have prepared well here in the US the last eight weeks. Therefore, I guess my A-goal was similar to many of the other runners; to finish in the top 10. I knew that it would be very difficult to reach this goal, but I wanted to give it a try! I didn’ travel all the way here to play it safe.
Just before the gun went off at 5AM in Squaw Valley, I got some very exciting news from Lavaredo Ultra Trail in Italy. My good friend and training partner, Didrik, won the race! I knew that Didrik was in great shape, but it was super inspiring for hear that he had been aggressive and controlled the race from the halfway mark to the finish line!
I felt very good running/walking the first uphill section (the Escarpment). I checked my split at the summit, and saw that we were ahead of Rob Krar’s splits from last years race. This worried me a bit, since I really didn’t want to start the race too fast. So, I slowed down a little and joined the «chase group» with Krar, Varner, Grinius, Swanson and Bowman. I ran at the tail of this group for a couple of miles before I decided to slow down even more and run with Paul Terranova instead. I have met and run with Paul before, and knew that he would be a good pace setter (this was Paul’s fourth Western States). We ran together until after the second aid station. I made a quick stop, and lost Paul as I left the aid station.
I saw my crew for the first time at Robinson Flat. My crew was Ingvild (my wife), Brit (Ingvild’s sister), Audun (my brother in law) and my two daughters. Audun was also my pacer (more on that later). When laving Robinson Flat, I saw Ian Sharman
. Ian is my coach, and I wanted to run with him for a while. I caught Ian at the top of the hill, but then he had to make a toilet stop. When he caught up, I had to do the same, and that was the last thing I saw of Ian. I later heard that he had made 12 minutes on me from Robinson Flat to the aid station in Michigan Bluff.
I felt pretty good the whole way between Robinson Flat and Foresthill, 50 km later. Justin Houck passed me at some point, but I passed him again on the climb up to Michigan Bluff.
I think this is the last push uphill to Michigan Bluff. Photo: Irunfar.com/Bryan Powell.
The canyons weren’t too bad, if you ask me. Yes, it was hot, but I felt that I managed the heat pretty well. I kind of enjoyed running alone in the canyons and appreciating the views and the solitude.
I picked up my pacer Audun at Foresthill. I was excited to show him Cal. street and hoped that his company could give my legs a bit more energy. I surely enjoyed the company, but my legs started to fade as we passed the second of the three aid stations on Cal street. It didn’t boost my moral when Paul Terranova (that I’d run with earlier in the race) passed me a couple miles before the river crossing.
Refueling/restocking at an aid station.
We crossed the river in 12th position and heard that I was two minutes off the guy in front of me (I think this was Paul). I decided that it was Now or Never, and that I needed to dig deep if I wanted a top 10 position. I pushed and pushed all the way from the river to the aid station at Brown’s Bar. As we put the head torches on, the aid station crew said that what was two minutes up to Paul 25 kilometers ago, now had turned into five minutes. This was tough for my moral, and I realized that I didn’t have any chance of a top ten position, and that I was better off trying to hang on to my 12th position (and some UTWT-points).
I honestly do not remember so much of the last 15 kilometers. But the fact is that three guys passed us on our way to Auburn, and that I ended up with a 15th position. Even though a top 10 was my «A-goal», I am happy with 15th position (2nd in the 40-49 category) and a time of 18 hours and 14 minutes. The race was stacked with talent, and I just do not have the leg speed required to fight with the Big Boys.
I hope to come back some other time, and see if I can improve my finishing time. I certainly know that there is things that I can do better.
Shoes: Altra Lone Peak 2.0. Worked perfect. No serious blisters and a well cushioned ride from Squaw to Auburn.
Apparel: Gore Running Wear. Used underwear, shorts and shirt from Gore Running Wear. Worked perfect, as it always does.
Socks: Injinji Trail 2.0. These are my favorites.
GPS: Garmin 920 XT.
Hat: Headsweats. A very good hat in the heat.
Leggings: CEP calf sleeves.
Hydration: Combination of a Simple Hydration bottle (in my shorts) and two soft flasks in a Salomon Ultra vest
Nutrition: Tailwind Nutrition and some gels (GU). I tried one bite of banana at the Highway 49 aid station, but that wasn’t a success. I had to make a toilet pit-stop ten minutes later… So next time I’ll stick to only Tailwind and some gels. I use gels when I don’t get resupply of Tailwind and therefore has to drink the sports drink at the aid stations. I find it difficult to mix Tailwind on the go. It takes time and I do not like to carry the extra weight of the mixing powder.
Heat management: I felt that my heat training paid dividends during the race. I never felt super hot or dizzy at all. I put ice in my white hat at most of the aid stations. I also used a buff that I filled with ice and last but not least; I soaked my self in cold water at most of the aid stations.
Thank you very much for all the support before, during and after the race! Thanks to my crew, Ingvild, Audun and Brit in addition to my brother Audun at home in Norway. Audun followed the race online and sent text messages to Ingvild, so that I could get reports on my position and my splits, as there is no internet connection along the course.
Thanks also to Altra Running, Gore Running Wear, Simple Hydration, Garmin Norway, Tailwind Nutrition and Injini for your support and that you believe in me.
We will fly back to Norway on Thursday July 2nd. I hope to start running again this weekend. It will be a slow start, since I do not want to push my self too hard when building up to the rest of the race season. The next big goal is Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc in the end of August. But before that I’ll run the Orobie Ultra Trail in Italy. Can’t wait to run in the mountains!
A tired runner, Mari, Ingrid, pacer Audun and Brit. Great crew!
Thanks for pacing me, Audun!