Western States Adventures - Part One

It is hard to put in words everything that happened during Western States weekend. Harder still, to give the perspective from the background. Only a crew member living vicariously through the triumphs and the pain of one runner, I write this blog in two parts.

Part One - Will be my story. My experience crewing UMM in his first hundred mile journey.

Part Two (and certainly what you will be waiting for with bated breath) - UMM's Western States race recap.

We started in Squaw on Thursday morning where we participated in some of the pre race Western States activities, chatted with friends, and took in the Western States atmosphere. Every corner we turned in Squaw Valley held a runner. It was an ultra runner convention and I got to experience it all.

That's us in Squaw
Friday went by far too fast where I was able to squeeze a run in on the beautiful Truckee River Bike Trail before UMM picked up his race bag swag and attended the mandatory meeting. As we settled in for the evening, UMM’s nerves started to set in. As a forest fire fighter, UMM is use to battling fires all day and all through the night. I reminded him of this and told him that without the fire, it is just running! This seemed to put him at ease as he was already use to physical activity all through the night.  It’s just running!

Truckee River Bike Trail

How could I not stop to take a photo?
UMM’s plan was to run his first 100 miler conservatively. He  trained hard at running at a slower pace.

Once UMM started the race, I jumped in the car and headed to Auburn where I met up with my crew at the cabins we had rented. Quick hellos and hugs, and then Ruben (who was UMM’s pacer) and his girlfriend Vanessa, jumped in the truck and we were on our way to meet UMM at Robinson Flat that was at 29 mile aid station. UMM looked great as we greeted him with rice cakes and sunblock. I had no cell service for quite some time and was not able to text the other half of the crew. Lucky I trust them completely as they are my dear friends; Shannon, Paulette, and Kevin who dedicated their whole weekend to making sure UMM’s 1st 100 miler went without a hitch.

UMM at the start line!


It was Michigan Bluff where we all united, hanging out in the shade, cheering on the front runners. We spent quite a long time at this Aid Station as I would rather be early than stressed out and late. UMM strolled in looking strong and happy. Laughing it up with volunteers. If I could only look that fabulous after running 55 miles! Now that’s talent! He spent hardly any time at all with us (which is expected of course) and away he went.

Paulette is awesome at capturing these landmarks!

Passing the time at Michigan Bluff.

Foresthill was where the party was at. Friends from the Folsom Trail Runners were volunteering, UMM’s cousin was there to cheer (on her birthday no less), and positive energy was flowing. Kevin had hiked a steep hill with UMM from Bath Road and upon seeing them run into Foresthill, I was able to run UMM into the chute. The volunteers were amazing and oh so caring! Gotta love the hundreds of volunteers it took to make the race happen!
UMM had mentioned to me in the planning stages that in Foresthill he wanted to soak his feet.When he was actually in the moment, he felt so great that he did not want to stop. He had a goal in mind and was determined to see it through! He got a bit choked up when he saw his cousin and then just like that, him and Ruben were off!

I had to. I just had to!

Photo credit goes to Janelle - the only photo you will ever catch me attending to UMM's feet.

Janelle trying to capture #TeamUMM shirts and not my armpit stains!
GreenGate was yet another fun aid station. After dinner and a much deserved yummy beer in Cool, we headed out to the 79.8 mile marker. As usual, I was worried about missing UMM so I made my crew run down the dirt hill for over a mile with all our gear! I ended up grabbing a ride with a stranger volunteer down to the AS just because I was worried about being there on time. Upon arriving to the AS and finding a spot to settle in, I realized I had left Shannon’s sweater in the strangers car. I panicked as I could not remember what the stranger looked like. In all fairness, I was in the backseat and only saw him from behind. I ran up the hill to his truck in hopes that he was still there. I ran down the hill back to the aid station. I ran back up still looking for him, and down once again. I found him finally and together we ran back up the hill!

Pizza & Beer!
Once the sweater was saved and all sweat had been removed from my forehead, I received the following text from my good friend Katie -

“You’re wearing a red shirt and black shorts?”
“I am watching you on the live stream at Green Gate RIGHT NOW!”

Because I did not have the best cell service, I received the following texts from Katie hours after.

“I wish you could wave to us.”
“This is hilarious watching you run around.”

In true Alisyn fashion, I was caught running around trying to save Shannon’s sweater like a crazy person. Of course the live feed couldn’t catch me doing something productive like saving lizards from the runners path or looking refined drinking tea and eating crumpets. Nope! I am glad I was able to provide the entertainment for that brief moment in time.

Back to UMM, he flew through the AS and Ruben decided to pace him to the end. Our crew job was done and we headed to the finish line to wait UMM’s arrival.

Paulette also is awesome at capturing decorated porta potty's!

Love my new camera phone! Look at how sharp the night pics are!

At the finish line at the Placer High School track, I hung out with the Folsom Trail Runners and my crew. We drank beer and cheered on the finishers. If I failed to say this before, I will say it again - The Folsom Trail Runners are an awesome group of people! Not only are they super supportive but so much fun to hang out with. Very happy and honored to know such a great group of folks!

Folsom Trail Runners and Crew!
Well after midnight, the natives were getting restless, so we all threw a dollar into the piggy and took bets on UMM’s finishing time while others of us took a snooze.

Winner! Clint won! He guessed the closest finishing time!

My friend Theresa had the fantastic idea to run in with UMM once he hit the track to the finish line. We headed to the entrance where UMM came running in strong. He was shocked to see so many of us cheering him on, got excited and started to sprint around the track. I of course tried to keep up. Yep! There I was, trying to sprint in my oversized yoga pants and oofos. Clearly, I could not keep up and UMM crossed the finish line in 22 hours and eight minutes.

Note me pulling up my pants!

UMM sprinting so fast, he is a blur.
I was so very proud of him! UMM had a goal to run conservatively within a certain time and he did it allowing him silver buckle status! I really believe that UMM was not running at his fullest potential and of course told him so. Instead of debating with me he agreed. I have a feeling this won’t be his last 100 miler!!!

Photo courtesy of Barbara

Clearly, running a 100 miles is no easy feat. And UMM and I are so grateful to have the support of such fantastic friends who were there for him crewing, pacing, cheering, volunteering, and also to those who were supporting him from afar, tweeting, and texting. Much love to you all!

Hugs & cheers all around!

Paulette also captured her adventures crewing UMM. And just like her, I am in totally in awe of each and every runner who ran Western States. So inspirational! But let it be known, that I have no desire to ever run 100 miles, but will continue to crew and support those who do!

Two days after the Western States race, UMM was sent out on a fire assignment. His Guest blog recap will be up as soon as he returns. It might be a two week wait but what else can we do? The life of a forest fire fighter during the summer months!

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