I didn’t get into Western States this year.
And I’m relieved.
This was my first year trying to gain entry so I bought a few tickets to the raffle rather than putting my name in for the larger and more talked-about lottery. The raffle was appealing because it was for entry to the 2015, which would have given me more time to prepare and plan.
Oh yeah… I also entered the raffle instead of the lottery because I haven’t run any races that would have qualified me for the lottery drawing. In fact, I haven’t yet run a 100 mile or 100k race, and I’ve only run a pair of 50 mile events in my life; one of those was back in the early 90’s (the Mountain Masochist Trail Run), and the other was the 2012 Tahoe Rim Trail Run (where I had some problems and ended up rather unsatisfied with my finishing time).
Let me say that again – I was trying to get into Western States even though I’ve only once raced longer than 50k in the past 20 years.
So when I checked the raffle results the day after the drawing, my first thought at seeing that my name wasn’t chosen was “thank God.” Now that we’re a couple weeks past the drawing, I can see what happened, and why I bought those raffle tickets in the first place.
With the recent talk of ever-worsening WSER lottery odds, and shorter lists of qualifying races, I think I got caught up in the notion of “gotta try go get into Western States now, before it gets harder next year (and even harder for the year after)!” This thought overtook all other thinking on the issue, despite the fact that I’m not ready for that distance right now, and quite possibly wouldn’t be ready 18 months from now. And even though I MIGHT be ready for a 100 miler by 2015, I probably wouldn’t have a particularly high level of confidence in my ability to finish the course (and a race like WSER deserves to be honored with participants who are well prepared).
Western States is undeniably special. But I suspect that running just about any 100 mile race will be special. And there will probably be more 100 mile events run next year in the U.S. than ever before, and each of them will offer a unique and special experience. Heck, I’m sure if mapped out a local 10 mile loop and ran it 10 times I’d have a powerful experience and learn a lot about myself. Instead, I got caught up in the hype, and put the race cart before my training horse. I let myself get impatient and push the issue with regards to this one particular race, and that was a mistake.
Perhaps there will be a time when I can toe the line in Squaw Valley, and if it ever comes I’ll be grateful (and hopefully well prepared) for it. But if it never happens then I’m sure I’ll still be running — quite happily — somewhere else instead.