3:30 a.m. June 26th 2021
There was a sense of calm and joy to realize that my debut 100 miles at the race of my dreams was about to begin. It felt like this day had arrived in a blink of an eye. You see, during the 2020 pandemic, I spent most of my summer lacking motivation and running minimal milage. Nothing out of the ordinary to an extent. The only difference this time around was that before the pandemic shifted everyone’s lives upside down, I had plans of going after a WSer ticket entry.
I was sure that due to the pandemic, racing a GT race would be out of the question, and didn’t get my hopes high. Despite everything pointing to a race cancellation, I signed up for the Black Canyon 100k 6 weeks before race day, and training began. Long story short, I raced and got an entry into WSER.
My goal after gaining entry into WS100 was to train hard and ensure a top 10 Female finish.
My training leading up to WS was very conservative, partly because I’m new to Ultra training and racing. And also because I began to develop left quad tightness discomfort. This was an issue that became a limiting factor in how I approached my training, and even had me wondering whether the quad would handle 100 miles without giving out. Fortunately, my husband Rene Dorantes, guided me through this build up and my runs were modified accordingly.
I felt a deep sense of gratitude as I waited for the race to begin.
Due to the quad discomfort I had been dealing with throughout my build up, I knew it was not going to be the goal crushing day I had envisioned. The plan then became to approach the race the way I had done in workouts. I started conservatively at a super easy pace to get the quad warmed up and ready for the long day ahead. I trusted that the three weeks taper, and the intensive massage therapy I received in the prior days leading to race day would be enough to help me run free and happy!
START- 2,500ft. 4 MILE CLIMB UP EMIGRANT PASS
I couldn’t help but smile as I reached Escarpment Pass and was greeted by the gorgeous sunrise, and the cheerful spectators. The High Country was free of snow, yet I ran the first 10 miles of the race at a very slow pace, and pretty much maintained an easy steady pace all throughout the race.
This race is known for its quad crushing course, so it was important I made sure my quad would handle the whole distance without issues. When I arrived at Duncan Canyon AS (24 mi.), I was greeted by all the wonderful volunteers who refilled my water bottles and sprayed water all over my body.
The quad was feeling good, (thank God!) my legs felt relaxed, and I couldn’t stop smiling because of it all! I kept reminding myself how fortunate I was to be running WS100! Climbing into Robinson Flat, I questioned whether I should run or hike that section. I usually always run those grades comfortably during my training runs so it seemed awkward to hike it. I ended up doing a little of both.
I was so excited to arrive at Robinson Flat (30 mi.) and see my crew for the first time since the race began! The ice cold sponge shower was a welcomed reward as the day was getting warm. I wouldn’t see my crew again until Michigan Bluff (55 miles). Thankfully the outstanding volunteers at every aid station took good care of me.
Once in the canyons (44-55 miles) I spent most of my time running alone. I was feeling great, yet jogged/hiked most of it. The heat didn’t feel bad at all, but that’s probably because I wasn’t moving fast enough. When I arrived at Michigan Bluff (55 miles) I was ready for another ice cold drench. I did great at staying on top of my hydration and calories throughout the whole race, never hitting any lows or cramping. Yet by this point, I was getting very hungry and my stomach was in need of solid food.
I was hoping my crew would have the chicken soup I made for myself the previous day ready for me to eat, but they figured I wouldn’t be craving it during the hottest time of the day. I settled for a banana, watermelon, a smoothie, and continued on to Foresthill.
I arrived at Foresthill (62 miles) and was happy to finally pick up my pacer and husband Rene Dorantes. I changed shoes, grabbed a couple of sandwich bites, and eventually left. I was so excited to finally have some company along the way. All my training leading up to WS was done with my husband. So I felt right at home to have him accompany me to the finish. Running with my husband felt like we were doing an easy long trail run, and I was chatting away, appreciating his company.
By Cal 2 aid station (70.7 miles), I noticed my right knee began to get sore, but I was confident it was nothing to worry about. I had told my crew to meet me at Rucky Chucky (79 mi.) but once I arrived, I didn’t really feel the need to stay as I was doing good energy wise, and was running well. I ended up staying, had some snacks, hydrated, and then remembered I needed to fix my hair and put the headlamp on before crossing the river. I asked my friend Nelva to accompany me to the restroom to help me fix my gear. As a result, I wasted too much time at this aid station. By the time I was done, I had wasted about 40 minutes at Rucky Chucky! Once we made it to the other side of the American river, my body had cooled down from the long break at Rucky Chucky, and the knee had stiffened up too.
I tried running the climb to Greengate AS, and noticed the knee was too stiff and needed to warm up. I spent about 20 + minutes hiking before I was able to run again. After realizing how much time I had wasted unnecessarily at Rucky Chucky AS (over 1 hr), I got a bit discouraged in seeing that the sub 21 hrs I was certain we would run slipped away. Nevertheless, I absolutely loved my first 100 miles journey at WS!
My race strategy and training leading up to WS100 might have also been less than ideal, but I made the most of what I could do! And I showed up ready to soak in the moment, fall in love with the distance, and learn as much as I could from this experience for future improvements! It was surreal to cross the finish line of my first 100 miles AND at Western States 100!
How can I not be grateful for this experience?! I finished healthy and more inspired than ever to challenge myself! Thanks to everyone who helped make this day so special for me. You are all appreciated!