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

Photo by Paul Nelson Photography.

Photo by Paul Nelson Photography.

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. 

Photo by Paul Nelson Photography.

Photo by Paul Nelson Photography.

Photo by Paul Nelson Photography

Photo by Paul Nelson Photography

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.