Western States Training Camp. Lessons and highlights.


Erica, Spencer and I went down to Auburn California to be a part of the Western States Training Camp this past Memorial Day weekend.

We ran long, trail miles for 3 days in a row.

It was fantastic.

Life-changing.  (Not being cheesy. It really was.)

I loved every minute of it.

OK.  Maybe not every single moment.  (Lightening, snake, exhaustion, etc…) But the less than fun moments are some of the best teachers. Looking back less than a week later, I can tell you that I do love those less than happy/perfect moments.  Those hard/un-fun moments in particular are the ones that I plan to draw on, learn from and use to help make me a better person and stronger runner over time.

This was all about experimenting, taking some risks, learning and growing.

This was my first time running this kind of distance. There were some important lessons handed my way.

One category of lessons I would have to call ‘boring running crap’.  The other category is more along the lines of life lessons.

In the ‘boring running crap’ category I either learned or re-confirmed the following:

  • Good socks rock.  Wick moisture, protect your feet. They have a really hard job to do!  Buy good socks.
  • Shoes are your main ‘tool’. No new shoes on race day. (I did not pull that rookie move.) I was entering new territory with terrain and mileage and discovered that not all of my shoes work for the kind of running I like/get/want to do. (This means… SHOE SHOPPING! 🙂 )
  • Fueling. Huge thanks to Erica for her persistent help. We worked for many hours to figure out and practice timing/quality/quantity of fuel during runs.  When we got it mostly figured out/implemented on day three – I could TOTALLY tell the difference of having gotten it right. HUGE SUCCESS!
  • Compressions sleeves are magic and not just for recovery. This big-calfed girl is a new convert to wearing them WHILE running.
  • Chafing.  Boob chafe to be specific.  It is as miserable as it sounds.  I have no idea what got me; the heart rate strap, my bra, my hydration pack… Was WAY more careful day two and three to use body glide. Liberally. Everywhere. On everything. Body glide is cheap insurance.
  • Pooping and coffee. Both are important. BEFORE the race.
  • If there is a photographer on the course they will be a) at the most significant uphill portion where EVERYONE is struggling to even walk upright/uphill… b) when you chose to blow a world-class snot rocket or c) even if you are running and feeling like a million bucks the picture will show both feet planted firmly on the ground. 🙂

In the ‘life lessons on the trails’ category?

  • Study up on poisonous plants in the area you are running in so you don’t accidentally squat in a patch of something that will remind you for DAYS that you should have avoided it…  Just sayin’.
  • When you are offered water — take it.  Top off bottles and packs every chance you get.
  • NO better sight towards the end of a cold, soaking wet, lightening storm filled run than friends waiting at the nearest accessible trailhead to make sure you are OK… And being able to tell them you are OK. 🙂
  • When someone takes a moment to say hello, say hello back. The trails were FULL of cheery greetings and encouragements.  Every single runner I encountered was friendly. Be a positive part of these temporary communities that spring up during events on the public roads and trails.  Everyone wins.
  • Say thank you to ANYONE who spends their time to volunteer. For anything.  They’re giving up their time to help YOU.
  • Laughter calms nerves.
  • Share. If it won’t leave you in a bad spot; share what you have if someone needs it.  The kindness will be returned to you in some way, at some point.
  • Never pass up the chance to use a porta-potty.  Even if it’s on a trailer, hitched to a truck.  And the truck engine is idling. 🙂
  • Stop and take a picture of the things you are enjoying in life.  You aren’t in that big of a hurry.
Proof that Erica and I ran on these historic and storied trails!
  • You (OK me….)  WILL have moments when you aren’t comfortable or don’t feel great or are scared or aren’t happy or you wonder WHAT you have gotten yourself into. Don’t judge the entire effort by ONE single moment.
  • Everyone (OK… me again…) should know some basic survival skills. Especially if they have a strong desire to spend their life running long distances in the woods. 🙂  (Lightening, snakes, poisonous plants, etc.)
This little bandit slithered across the top of my foot as I was running (screaming!) past…
  • Watermelon is the best fruit in the world. Period.

Epic adventure.

Great weekend of learning in the safety of friends.

Memories made, miles run and training for some really big things this summer/Fall are now underway.


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