Adam Kimble and Jeff Brown, Tahoe Mountain Realty’s Athlete-in-Residence and Broker respectively, are chronicling their journeys toward the Western States 100-mile Endurance Run in June. Western States, commonly referred to as the ‘Super Bowl of Ultrarunning,’ is the oldest 100-mile trail race in the world and runs 100 miles from Olympic Valley to Auburn, CA.
With under four weeks to go, it’s hard to believe that race day is so close! It feels like we were just six months out, and the next thing you know, we will be standing on the start line in the early morning hours on June 25th. Last Saturday I attended the first of three “Western States Training Camp” runs, together which cover 70 miles of the 100-mile course. The only other time I’ve attended this camp was in 2018 when I ran the race for the first time. The training runs take place over Memorial Day weekend every year, and they serve as that palpable reminder that the race is only a month away!
In the last month, I’ve focused on getting in longer time on feet sessions, running a couple of races, and putting myself in the heat as often as possible. I ran the Wild Wild West 50-miler the first week of May, and the Greenhorn Ranch Trail 50k two weeks later. Those races resulted in a second place and first place (with a new course record) respectively, but more importantly, they were a great chance to dial in my nutrition and gear for Western States. The rest of my time has been spent getting in quality sauna and hot yoga sessions, as well as driving down to Auburn to run on some of the hotter days. I even ran a few of those runs with a sweatshirt on! The crux of the Western States course, referred to as the Canyons, is notorious for oppressive heat on race day, so preparing the body to be acclimated to hot conditions is vital.
The other thing I’ve been doing in this final build-up to race day is working on my mental game. I’ve been visualizing race day, how I will problem solve and overcome obstacles, and focusing on the journey instead of the outcome. I believe very strongly in my ability to get the Top-10 finish I so deeply desire, but I also recognize that the experience and the journey from the moment I began training for the race until I reach the finish line is beautiful irrespective of my finishing place. So, I’ve been training the mental game to be ready for anything, while also being grateful to be in this prestigious race, doing what I love and hopefully inspiring a few people along the way. I’m already dreaming of seeing my eight-month-old daughter out with my crew on the course on race day!
My Western States journey began an implausibly long 18 months ago upon being drawn in a small raffle. With an absurdly long period to prepare, there was always more time for my fitness to peak. Now, just weeks from the event, it is easy to look back and wonder what more could have been done. Should I have run more rather than cross-country skied all winter? Should I have spent more time on the course rather than at higher elevation in Reno this spring?
Fortunately, most of that can be rationalized as typical pre-race anxiety that is quieted by simple confidence that the many years and thousands of miles of running will carry me to Auburn in one piece. A relatively strong 50-mile effort at the Silver State 50/50 in late May is validation of strong endurance and the ability to compartmentalize time over an extended period of time.
Adam talks above about his mental game – the fortitude necessary to maintain focus over 100 miles. Adam’s character and ability are such that he is not only maintaining focus but the intensity of elite performance over this period. For me, it is keeping out the thoughts of whether this is feasible and the myriad of other doubts. The ability to view time through a warped lens through which hours of running to get from one aid station to another – spans that would constitute a satisfying day’s run for most people – are simply no big deal.
The inevitable specter of COVID has arisen leaving a gap of 10 days in training at a crucial moment. Nonetheless, I have so many built-in advantages including home field awareness, an intuitive and adaptable coach in Peter Fain, a knowledgeable and compassionate training partner in Adam, and crew comprised of dear friends and family that are ready to support this journey.
Stay tuned for final thoughts ahead of June 25th and detailed recaps of our respective journeys in the weeks to come.