Lead up to the 2017 Western States 100 & the Lake Sonoma 50 by Jared Burdick

This was supposed to be a race report for Lake Sonoma 50, but it’s been about two months since then so the race recap is probably not too relevant anymore. I’ve decided that I’ll include some of my thoughts on my training for Western States 100 and if you are interested in how my Lake Sonoma race went you can read the recap at the end.

An Empty Cup for Western States

It has been noted that of all the golden ticket races, which there are 6, the people who have gotten the tickets at Lake Sonoma have performed the worst at Western States, so I got that going for me!  The other thing that I have going for me is that this will be my first 100miler! I don’t have any anecdotal or statistical evidence or but I’m guessing that

a. First time 100milers don’t perform as well as they should

b. First time western states 100milers don’t perform as well as they should

BUT everyone’s different and now a day’s people are doing more and more incredible things to break stigmas and barriers that open up a whole new avenues for the imagination.

With that all said, I’ve kept my nerves pretty much in check, though it’s probably due to the fact that I’m too overwhelmed that I have to run 100miles both logistically, mentally, and physically. I have placed self-imposed a ban on my emotions towards running a race this big. I just need to get my game plan set and once I arrive in CA I might implode, but right now I’m ok.

I once read a story of a chipmunk (or maybe it was a monk) that poured tea in a student’s cup until it overflowed. As the student was being burnt by the scalding water, Thelonious calmly said, “You must empty your cup in order for you to learn fully.” I definitely butchered the story but the point is that in my preparation, I’ve been consciously been taking a step back from seeking advice from people leading up to Western for the purpose of being able to learn as much as I can during the race. This may prove to be a tragic mistake 80miles in when I see people wearing a portable slushy machine that was gear tested in an article named “5 things every runner should wear during Western States” posted on irunfar or some other gadget that will wick away the sun. But the truth is, I have read some things to prepare but I haven’t been fixated on doing everything to the tee, like in past races. I’ve taken a step back to gain some perspective and hopefully that will help me out in the long run.

Numbers-wise, my training has been moderate. I’ve averaged ~70miles/12800ft for the last 4 weeks. Part of this is due to the fact that I was hampered by a slight hamstring issue after Lake Sonoma. I took some time off and had to ramp up but not too much in order to stay healthy. My coach and I used Lake Sonoma as a big fitness gain and I think that plus the training I got in the last few weeks will help me prepare for Western the best I can.

The last thing that I have to say about my lead up to Western is the puppy factor. A week after Sonoma Lauren and I got an 8 week old puppy and it’s been extremely fun but also very tough! It’s hard to get home and have to leave to go out for a run. I’ve never owned a dog and it’s been so great. I can’t imagine life without Mayvie!

Goals for Western States (by priority)

  1. Finish under 30 hours – I believe I can do this
  2. Finish under 24 hours – I believe I can do this if I run smart
  3. Finish in Top 20 – I believe I can do this if I execute a great race (ie my nutrition is on point and I run smart)
  4. Finish in Top 10 – I believe I can do this if I execute a great race and some things fall into place

My Bib # is 40, to follow on Ultralive.net, click here.

UPDATE! Jared finished in 20:23:49!

Lake Sonoma

Pre Race - I arrived in San Fran Thursday afternoon and took the rush hour traffic to Healdsburg. I was able to go under the Golden Gate Bridge and see the sun for the first time in 6months so I didn’t really mind arriving an hour after the ETA even if it meant being in the car while soaking in the sun.

I picked up my bib, some groceries, then ate and went to the house where I was staying. I relaxed for the night. The next day I ran a little of the course, ate, and relaxed again.

Race Morning - *The night before I was asked by my roommates what time I was going to get up. I said 5am (for a 6am race), thinking that it was kind of early. I asked them the same and they responded with a 3:15-3:30am! My mind was pretty blown by this. I usually roll out of bed eat a little something then head to the start about a half hour before the race. Anyway, I decide to get up a little earlier than I was going to just to make sure that I had time to get there and stuff.

The Race - The course was beautiful, the volunteers were awesome, and the racers had so much energy! I definitely want to come back because I think I can go much faster. I played a conservative strategy from the beginning and pulled a rookie nutritional move a quarter of the way into the race.

I decided to take the energy drink from the aid stations instead of using my drop bags. This definitely saved on transition time, but it ultimately left me thinking that I had more calories than I thought I was getting/needing, and I failed to listen to my body. I started to feel hungry about two and a half hours into the race, which I thought was strange. I ignored it fully, through about 28miles.

During this time I was passing and yo-yoing with a couple of the racers so my focus wasn’t necessarily on my nutrition. Then I noticed that my energy levels were getting very low around 30miles and I was on my way to bonking really hard. I backed off the pace and was feeling very depleted. I decided that once I got to the 38 mile aid station I would take a moment to eat and get in calories.  

At mile 38 I took in 5 gels, a couple handfuls of potato chips, a banana, and a half quesadilla, in about 3-4minutes. Yes, I overcompensated for how I was feeling. I left the aid station in 6th place on a sugar high and ran the next 7miles feeling great! I caught Chikara Omine who was running great all day, but I later found out he ran low on calories as well.

I came to the last aid station within a 1-2min of the 4th place finisher, Zachary Szablewski, and I really wanted to make a push to the finish from there. The finish was up hill and I was climbing decently. However, my body started to stabilize itself or rather didn’t know what to do with the massive amount of calories that I took in an hour earlier. I couldn’t make the hard push like I had hoped.

I ended up 5th place and since neither Sage or Dakota took their golden ticket into Western States, and being eligible for a ticket goes down to 5th place, I was offered a spot! All in all, I really enjoyed the Lake Sonoma course. I definitely want to go back and have a better race. It was just so beautiful out there and I think I can execute a much better race/nutrition plan to have a strong second half.