Thursday, July 2, 2015

Western States 2015 - June 27, 2015

"Persistent Patience" 

A race that has been on my mind for the past year. The day to prove to myself that I had learned from last year's implosion at Western States. I had three main goals for the day. Goal #1-Finish smiling. Goal #2-Improve upon 20:07 from last year. Goal #3-Finish in the top 10. I can happily say all of the goals can be checked off. 

Once again like last year, 3:44am the alarm goes off and I am up like a shot out of a gun. My stomach  was already in knots and my mind was racing through all the last minute details to prep for my day long journey. Waiting at the start line I felt a rush of emotions come over me. I remember turning to Miguel and saying, "I feel like I could cry". My pain and agony from last year was staring me right in the face. To say I was scared was an understatement...I was petrified. However, I was ready to prove to myself that I can finish this race stronger than before. 

I said a prayer before the gun went off and I set foot on my journey. Ascending up Escarpment with Stephanie and Aliza was exactly what I needed to start my day off right. My nerves settled and I was enjoying the present moment I was in, not worried about how my day might unfold. At the top of Escarpment we paused to see the sun rise, and with that moment my breath was taken away and I knew no matter what it was going to be a great day. I was doing what I love.

Photo Credit: Allen Lucas
Traversing down the back of Escarpment I found myself alone and just running in my own world. I kept it relaxed and comfortable, not even caring what place I was in. I was going to make sure I ran my own race and didn't get caught up in what was going on ahead or behind me. I was feeling sleepy and tired, however my body felt fine. I hadn't had my normal caffeine in the morning, so I attribute my sleepiness to that. I soon found myself sandwiched between two Seattle guys! How on earth does that happen?! It was great chatting with Matt and Ian and it woke me up. The miles and time ticked by. Matt and I had the same game-plan, to be able to run the last 30 miles. So steady patience was the name of the game. 

Photo Credit: Gary Wang
I soon found myself moving up towards Aliza and Michelle. I luckily got to run with Aliza for a big chunk of the race. I enjoyed getting to know her and how sweet of a person she is. She and I grinded up Devil's Thumb together...making it more pleasant than it could have been. We reached the top where the AS was and I was starting to feel 'off'. I got cooled down and grabbed a popsicle and left. I was eating it and feeling more and more nauseated. Finally, my stomach said NO MORE. And I felt like I got sucker punched right in the stomach. Trying to descend a canyon with stomach pains is not ideal. I had to pull back and walk it out as Aliza bounced down out of sight. She had given me a couple TUMS to see if it would help before she left (that is what community is all about). I just kept feeling worse and worse. I walked so much to keep from jarring my stomach anymore. I started feeling this panic and thought to myself, "is my stomach going to keep me from continuing...heck legs still move and don't're fine...push on!". So, I did. I soon noticed that my breathing was getting ragged and my heart was pounding as I went up any ascent. I stopped a couple times just too get my body under control. I then noticed that my nose was full of dried blood. I must have had a pretty good nose bleed and it had been draining down into my stomach. That aways makes me nauseated. So, the combo of heat, canyons, and the nose bleed had been wrecking havoc on my stomach. 
Photo Credit: Jeff Allen

Finally, I reached Michigan Bluff! I came into that AS looking worked. I yelled out to my coach, Jason Koop, what do I do for a bad stomach? He advised me to get ginger chews and to cool off. I grabbed the chews and before I could get them down I was finding the nearest trash can. The stomach said, "Heck NO!!". I walked over to my crew, Chris Hall and his nieces, coach, and Ann Trason! They took me under their wings and got me in the right mindset. Ann told me her story about her stomach turning and when she just wanted to sit on an ice chest and rest, but someone told her that her legs still worked and she wasn't going anywhere by just sitting so she continued on. And that is exactly what they did to me! Coach had made me an OSMO slushy to take on my way, which I nursed as I made my way to Bath Road. Within that section I was brought back to life. I felt better and my legs started running again. Bam! The smile on my face returned!!

Photo Credit: Kevin Willett
I saw Ann and Jason again on Bath Road just before reaching my Ultra-Pacer and best friend, Miguel Ordorica! I was almost 25 minutes slower reaching him this year than last year, but this year I was ready to RUN the next 40 miles...not slog. This was exciting to both of us. We ran through Foresthill and down to Cal-1. Throughout the next sections to the river we ran like we do on any training run, just chatting and goofing off. It was a blast. 

Photo Credit: Stephen Ingalls
Upon reaching the river I saw a woman just ahead. I saw it was Emma Roca. I crossed the river before her and started up to Green Gate. I was wondering if she was going to catch me. Soon after Green Gate AS, Emma and her pacer flew past us. I told myself to hold on and run your race. There was a long ways to go yet. Unintentionally, I always find myself reeling whoever is in front of me in when I am in race mode. We were right behind them going into ALT AS and we left just ahead of them. Then I saw Aliza and her pacer working through a tough patch. Aliza now had stomach related issues. I felt for her, as I knew what she was going through. 

I decided that it was time to turn and burn. I told Miguel that I felt great and wanted to start ripping off some miles in the sweet single track, that I had to walk last year. I was ready to enjoy this section of runnable trial. Cruising along in 3rd was beyond my imagination. I had been 5-6 most of the day and to be up to 3rd was unreal. I had no idea where the women were behind me, only that I wanted to try and race to the end. I was running scared thinking at any moment they would catch me. 

I found myself passing by Stephanie and her pacer/husband Zach, and it broke my heart that she didn't have the race she was hoping for. I tried to give her some encouragement as I went by and some motivation telling her there were a couple women close behind. I was in disbelief that I was in 2nd place, holy smokes! Now, I was ready to do what I had to, in order to keep that position. That meant running harder than I ever had at the end of an ultra. Miguel was all for it and he knew I was on a mission. We got to No Hands Bridge AS, where Miguel quickly got water and I was told by coach to bring it home and to keep racing! That is what we did, I told Miguel that we had to dig deep and push our limits. A moment I will never forget was when Miguel started hacking up Robie Point and I asked him, "how are your legs?" and he said "they are fine" and I said "good, since they are working you are going to have to keep moving even if your stomach doesn't want you to". He was a great sport and did just that. We got to the top of Robie Point and cruised up the road. We listened for any cheers behind, but heard none. We knew we could make it now...we can run a mile. Hitting the track knowing I was going to be in second place I couldn't be more than grateful for God granting me the race I set out for. I was elated beyond words. Running under the WS sign hearing John Medinger say my name and 2nd place female made me raise my hands to God and grant him the glory. Praise be to God. Then we stopped and I looked at Miguel who looked frantic and the next thing I saw was him puking. I couldn't help but say, "Eww go over there or find a trash can!! Not on the track!!". He and I are still laughing about that. I couldn't have done it without him. 

Photo Credit: Allen Lucas
Reliving that day in my mind, I am proud of the way I raced. I completely stayed within myself and made sure that I finished with all three goals intact. I now have the fire to see if I can push myself to a faster time, now with more course knowledge and how I know myself more. I am already thinking about next year...oh Western States you have stole my heart. You are a part of me.

Photo Credit: Chris Jones
Thank you God and to everyone who allowed me to experience this opportunity. Nike Trail running for your support and encouragement. My best friend and pacer, Miguel Ordorica, who endlessly trains his butt off with me day in and day out. I couldn't do what I do without you. My Coach, Jason Koop, who believed in me and got me healthy and ready to race. My outstanding crew, Chris Hall, Lexy, and Josylyn, who tirelessly were there to give me everything I needed during my journey. My family and friends for believing and supporting me. Ann Trason for being my mentor and saving grace. Your words of wisdom is without a doubt something I took to heart. The aid station volunteers, Craig Thornely RD, Tropical John, John Trent, and all of the veterans of this sport that I look up to. My sponsors, Nike, Carmichael Training Systems, CarboPro, and Honey Stinger. Thank you all!! I can't wait to #seeyouinsquaw 2016!!

Much Love, 

Kaci ~Pixie Ninja
Photo Credit: Chris Hall
Photo Credit: iRunfar


Trail shoes: Nike Zoom Terra Kiger 3's
Tank top/shorts: Nike Trail Racing top/Nike 3" Modern Embossed Tempo
Bandana: Howard Nippert's Ice Bandana (super awesome!)
Handheld: Nathan's 18 ounce
Hydration: CarboPro Hydra C5 (watermelon flavor)/OSMO slushy from Jason Koop
Nutrition: Honey Stinger waffles, Gels, AS food.
Salt: CarboPro MetaSalt tabs (I had no cramping issues)


  1. Great run Kaci! So happy you met all your goals for WS. What's next?

    1. Thank you Raul! I am thinking about TNF 50 in Wisconsin and TNF 50 in Cali!

  2. I don't know you and just started reading about your racing in the last year but, WOW, you're AWESOME! I think you've got some big and amazing race adventures ahead!

    1. Thank you very much Steve. I am just following my passion and where it is leading me. :) Thanks for following!

  3. Well done Kaci! You are such an inspiration for me to keep going in my running.

  4. Awesome, a true inspiration to us aspiring runners! Definitely one of my favorite runners! :-)

  5. Such an inspiration to all female runners!