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Well what can I say, I was hellbent on making Western States and this time I wasn't going to stop for anything! Not even insoles that slipped and bunched in my shoes (super glue people!!!), a detour due to course vandalism, a zipper that was jammed with my delicious protein bar inside (no plastic bags in zipper pouches-noted!), or even that daunting postpartum pelvic pain (I stopped last time and it was okay, let's see what it does this time if I keep going?!). To my surprise, (given how the day played out), I came out on top. The steady, strong Joelle Vaught would lay the hammer down all day long. Honestly, I wasn't even thinking about first after the turn around, I was just thinking you can't get caught and you HAVE to hold on to this second place! Lindi Ortega's song "Fall down or Fly" is appropriate for this race and life in general. I could have given up at the very disheartening detour myself and the men took (WHICH BY THE WAY.. I DID NOT RUN THE ENTIRE MOUNTAIN ALL THE WAY UP...THE GUYS WERE NICE ENOUGH TO TURN ME AROUND, I did however loose my lead/cushion from this...although I didn't know it until shortly later). When we were finally rolling again in the right direction, I had no idea whether or not other women were in front of me or really how much time I lost. Joelle would catch me on the section from Cascade Locks to Wyeth (the turn around 31 miles). She made a quick getaway at Wyeth, while I took my time. I struggled badly going back in that first section (most likely due to lack of calories from the stuck zipper). I had a solid next section after resorting to coke cola! The one absolute life savor throughout the entire race were my GU Energy gels. I learned from the hilly course at TNF SAN FRAN in 2013, that I would be pretty hungry and tried to prepare for that with extra, quick acting gels this time. My fall due to multitasking over technical terrain in AZ would be another thought lurking and I therefore had to have easy access fuel for this race. I had a report of being 10 minutes back from Joelle (actual was 11:30), this got me motivated in fear of the other women running up on me and losing my top two position to qualify for WS. The next aid station it was a 6 minute behind difference. The last and final aid station before the last 6 miles with a 1500 foot hill climb in it... 1 minute back. 1 minute back I thought?!!! Everyone was excited. The "Ginger Runner" was thrilled and encouraged me to go after Joelle. Although I wasn't thinking the clearest (who thinks in the last few miles of a 100k anyways?) body new what to do. I ran relentlessly. Digging the deepest I have ever dug before, and yet.. this was nothing like I've been through in the last 4 months with given birth and my beautiful little blessing, Maya. Maybe 3/4's of the way up the hill, I caught a glimpse of Joelle on the rocky switchback. It was on (still not knowing where the 3rd place lady was, I kept that in mind too and didn't want to lose either first or second position at this point and down right wasn't going too!). I can't even remember what I mumbled when passing by Joelle, I hope that I encouraged her too, I know that her pacer asked me how I was feeling, I replied "like hell!".. and just kept going. :) I actually thought Joelle had come with me, but I guess it was just a guy trying to pass me breathing down my back. Thanks to him though!.. it was an extra push. Once I approached the downhill, I executed in true Michele Yates form... BOMBED IT!.. Those endless switchbacks seemed to take forever as I finally panned out into the parking lot and through the grassy field. Finally being greeted by those wonderful little colorful flags tunneling me into the finish line. 11:03. 1st place female, 15th overall. New Course Record. Of course I'm extremely happy to qualify for Western States, but that weekend, I found a whole new side of if you think you have dug the deepest you can, you haven't.. there is more, dig deeper.. keep going and come on over to this side. It is more gratifying than even a ticket to WS, a win, or a course record. Excited for the future when I am 100% (I'm 4 months postpartum on Friday 4/3/15), I can only hope to crush some of the goals I have in my soaring sites! HUGE THANK YOU TO MANY:... 1. The volunteers at the aid stations for this event- I was crewless this go-around, and needed them more than ever- so thank you!!! On another note, thanks to RD James Varner- even he was out there helping!!! Ginger Runner and Kimberly for their help and encouragement. 2. MY SPONSORS- GU ENERGY, ULTIMATE DIRECTION, ICESPIKE, ELDORADO SPRINGS WATER, AND A HUGE HUGE PART OF MY SUCCESS AND THOSE WHO KEEP ME OUT THERE... BARNES CHIROPRACTIC 3. Friends, family, and clients..for all of your unwavering support!

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