The Journey to Western States 100 (vol. 1)
"We find after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us." -- John Steinbeck
245. That is the number of names that were drawn in the Western States lottery last Saturday before my name was picked. Like most people, I did not expect my name to be selected. There were many other people in the lottery equally deserving of the opportunity and still others with many more tickets than I had. Still, I hoped. With every fiber of anticipation, determination, passion, and love, I hoped. My dream to run Western States stems not simply from the history and notoriety of the race, but from the profound connection I feel to the landscape, from the relentless canyons and red dirt to the towering trees and Indian paintbrush. Every time I have the privilege of running in those mountains, I'm reminded of how much my dad loved that landscape, and I feel a piece of him live on through an indescribable connection that only the trail understands.
As I sat in a brew pub watching the lottery with friends, I accepted a little more with each selection that this would not be my year. "It's okay," I would tell people. "I'm prepared to wait as long as I have to." As the lottery neared its end, people started to congregate near the door, preparing to make their way to other weekend obligations. Trying to fight my disappointment, I looked down at my phone. I glanced up one last time at the screen where the lottery picks were displayed and, as I started to look away, I saw the name Desiree. "Funny," I thought. "Another Desiree." Then I saw the last name. Then I saw that this Desiree was from Oregon. Like a puzzle, all of the words in front of me suddenly fit together and I started shaking. I turned to Sarah, who had also stopped watching the lottery at this point. "Sarah," I mumbled in a voice so shaky I could hardly utter her name. "We're going to Squaw Valley." She looked at me with confusion. "What?" she asked. I lifted my shaky hand and pointed toward the screen: "I...I got in." Soon, I was surrounded by the arms of friends and it finally sank in: I'm going to Squaw Valley!
To those who have supported me along the way and believed that someday I would make it to this point: thank you. I will not let you down. My journey to Western States 100 starts now, and I plan to savor every single step.