Where’s Waldo 100K
August 19, 2006
Willamette Pass, Oregon
By Tom Riley
#14, next year.
Where’s Waldo 100k is my favorite race of the year. Why? The organization, trail, volunteers, just everything. I have to admit, it was harder to get up for this years race because States was such an emotional high for me. But come race morning I was looking forward to another great day on the trail.
I had talked to Kyly before the race and she was doing the early start with Michael Christiansen. I am not sure why, Kyly was having a great year. And she has been running very strong lately. But she agreed to hand me a few things from my drop bag at Charlton.
I had written down my splits from last year I my goal was to get into Charlton about 15 minutes faster than last year. I wasn’t quite sure if my legs have fully recovered from all the races this year.
I have to admit I was quite nervous doing the regular start. I was instructed by Jeff that I couldn’t do the early start anymore. I have never finished under 16 here. 16:17, two years ago, 16:18 last year.
I have my normal pre-race breakfast, beans and a bagel and coffee. Yea, not too appetizing in the morning but it seemed work in the last seven months in training and races. Not changing anything now.
Getting ready to start, a couple of people ask me if I have seen Lewis, I hadn’t. Then the gong is rung and we are off. Low and behold Lewis goes flying to the front. Good, he made it. Heading up the trail I tuck in behind Ronda. Why? I always start off with smart runners. Did the same at States running with Olga, Ronda, and Stacy. After all, women are smarter than men, they never go out too fast. Ronda keeps a fantastic pace heading up. I notice we are running sections that I have never ran before, I like this. After running about an hour we start the first downhill running. I notice Ronda is having great leg turnover and running really well in this section. Such a good pace she is setting. She eventually pulls off and I am on my own for a bit but soon latch onto two other runners. They pull me up to Fuji.
On the climb up Fuji I see the front runners coming down. Lewis and Hal are flying. Krissy offers encouraging words, how nice. Meghan is two minutes behind her and tells me to have fun. I am wondering when I will see Jeff and Craig? Just before the summit I finally see them coming down. Man what is going on here? I am far to close to the summit to see them. Well, they were just having a good training run. Not racing today. I get to the summit and look at my watch, 30 minutes faster than last year. That will help.
Running for the next few hours was fairly uneventful. I just look at my watch and make sure that I’m eating on que. I check my splits between aid stations and they are about the same in years past. I do notice I struggle again from the Mt. Ray aid station to the Twins aid station. I just haven’t mastered running well through there.
Look at my watch as I get close to Charlton. I’m way off my mark. I know Kyly won’t be on the trail prior to the aid station liked we talked about. So, I cruise into the aid station looking for the drop bags. I can’t find them. They were in different spot from last year. Somebody directs me in the right direction. I get to the drop bag area and there is Kyly sitting on a log. “Tom you are 45 minutes early!” She scrambles frantically to help. I open my cooler to get my beans and Pediasure. Others notice that I had stashed a few beers in there also. No, they are for Kyly not me. Kyly makes sure I drink the Pediasure first, thank you Kyly. I hate burping that stuff up if I drink it after eating the beans. I slam the Pediasure and ask Kyly to walk me out as I eat. She obliges. I switch to a new race belt before leaving. I eat and walk. We talk. She askes me how I’m doing. I say I have been “pushing it a bit”. “Yea!”, she says. She notices I am looking a little warm. She has me douse in the lake to cool off a bit. I hope I can repay the pacing and crewing duties for her someday. She was such a big help at States and again today. Thank you Kyly. I down the beans and she bids me fair well. I thankful for her and the calories.
I just try to maintain a good pace into 4290. Not pushing too hard. After all, I need the stomach to work for a bit. I get to 4290 and know that I need to hydrate well before leaving. The next section can be a long haul and could be warm. I drink up and just before leaving I grab a slice of watermelon. I am going to prove that I won’t hurl again after eating some melon. This is where it all started at States. Thirty minutes down the trail it started all over again. “The projectile vomit show”, crap, just like at States. Once it starts it just keeps on coming. Can’t run the car without gas in the tank, I thought. I catch up to Chris Thornley just after the first episode. We talk and he seems to be doing well. He tells me to get going after hanging out for about 10 minutes.
I forget about my splits now for hours. My goal is to run as much as possible from here on in. My other goal is to get up the Twins and Maiden Peak with good effort. If anybody knows me, I am about the worst climber on the trail. I am just pathetically slow compared to most. So, I was just going to try to do better than in years past. The Twins climb seem to go well. Just wanted to get to the top and get onto the next aid station as my bottles were bone dry by now.
I am just in awe at the volunteers at this race. Again, at the Maiden Peak aid station they are running out to me on the trail grabbing my bottles and asking my needs. I get into the aid station and Micheal McCarthy is there after running his leg of the relay. Way to go Micheal and Stacy! He helps me with my waist pack and fills me up with GU just like the year before. Thanks Micheal. Now I look at my watch, 4pm. Let’s see how long it takes me to summit. In years past it has taken me about 1:45! Snails pace I tell ya. Today, 1:17. Much better. Still slow but I’ll take a 30 minute improvement any day.
On the way down I see Penny McDermott and she says “Tom, you’re still running!” Penny, so are you! I tell her to catch me. I see Mike Burke and ask him if he is o.k. I know something is wrong because he should have passed me hours ago. He says that he will finish. I jam down the leap of faith. I love the challenge of this section. I hammer it into the last aid station. I’m thinking, “gotta love FREE SPEED!!!”
Into the last aid station I see Barbara and Jason Moyer. I apologize to him for not saying much to him at HWY 49 at States. I was kinda of out of it then. He told me to go catch Sean. I said that I think he is having a rough day. I look at my watch again and I have 1:24 to get 14 hours. I have never run this section faster than 1:44, how is it possible to make up 20 minutes from years past?
I run as much as possible. Not walking like in the past. I catch up to Sean at the second Rosary Lake. He is going after the Wet Waldo award. He said that he just wanted to make the race fun after struggling a bit. Way to go Sean. I can’t keep up after the third and last Lake. I’m feeling it by now. I make my last fall of the day. Kinda hurt actually. Thank goodness for handhelds, they always break the fall.
I run the best I can on a sweet downhill finish. I come off the trail and can see the finish line. I have five minutes to get there. Man, that looks like a big hill right then. Don’t laugh, that is what I thought. I can’t muster any faster than five minutes. I finish in 14:00:03. Not in the 13’s but that is o.k. This was a 2:17 PR! My 6th PR of the year. I was happy.
My brothers are there to greet me. How nice, John, Jeff’s twin brother came to watch his first ultra. He said he had a great time. I’m glad he did. Kyly was there. She had an awesome first leg of the relay. She had great day on the trail.
What hat would I like? “Vanilla, please.” It will be worn proudly along with my “blueberry” and “tomato” hats from years past. What a relief to get under 16.
#14 will be worn next year in what hopes to be the 100k masters championship.