magda crossing the river

Mental Drop Bags

2017 Western STates Pre-Race Reflections

Post by Magda Boulet
2015 Western States 100 Winner
GU Energy Labs VP of Innovation, Research & Development

Planning to run your best 100 mile race involves lots of different factors.  Beyond the physical training, which included back to back long runs, my favorite hill workouts and many early morning miles before work, I also know that executing my nutritional plan can make or break a race.  Having the right equipment will make my race more comfortable, and the strategic assemblage of my crew will light my fire.  The final piece of the puzzle this week is my mental game plan, and putting together my “mental drop bags” for different parts of the course.

I know at some point, there will be suffering.  Actually, there will likely be many points that will involve suffering.  The trick for me is having specific memories, thoughts, or mantras to reflect on so I can get myself through each low point.  I’ll prepare several, and use them for different reasons at different parts of the course…

magda at the escarpment
Photo by Myke Hermsmeyer
Early Course 

This part will be all about sharing the natural beauty, sunrise, and smiles with my fellow competitors.  I look forward to this part of the course the most.  The butterflies will be there at the start of the race and I will keep telling myself to relax, smile a lot and look forward to reaching the top of Escarpment to peek at the sun rising over lake Tahoe with my favorite girls.  This year we will have a lot of fun running through some snow in the high country and I will fully enjoy this added challenge.


Oh there will be climbs, many climbs.  The canyons are relentless and my game plan is to reflect on early morning Tam summits chasing my favorite Marin runners and my weekly hill sessions, which give me confidence to tackle the evil Devil’s Thumb. 


One of my local ultra-runner mentors (Mike Palmer) told me that this year will be the “Ice & Fire” type of a race.  We may be running through some snow in the beginning of the race and it will be nice and cool for a while, but don’t be fooled, the heat in the middle of the race is unforgiving.  This is where I will think of my Mt. Diablo training days with co-workers at GU.  I am still amazed by one of my co-workers who biked up Mt. Diablo twice on a single speed mountain bike a few weeks ago while I also ran up that hot mountain twice.  I will draw inspiration from the people who I trained with because they got me through the last final weeks of heat training having more a lot more fun than if I trained all on my own. 

Late race 

This is where you run with your heart.  I will be looking forward to sharing the last 40 miles with my pacer Fernando Steta.  I know Fernando will keep the pace honest but more than anything, he will keep a smile on my face.  We have been waiting to run WS together for some time.  When you smile, you hurt less.  I will also look forward to seeing my crew, Ken Michal, my husband Richie and of course my son Owen. Owen is the reason why I want to reach that finish line one more time.  When parts of the race get rough, I picture Owen at the finish line, tired but anxious to see me finish, after crewing all day.  My desire to do my best is unmatched and I will always try my best.  For him, I will go to where most don’t care to go.  

finish line


I wish all the Western States runners an incredible journey.  Trust the process and make sure you have a mental drop bag of your own.  Remember that racing is a celebration of all the hard work you have put in.  Now it is your time to shine.  We got this.  You and I. 

Magda's Race Day Toolbox

Nutrition: Eating is Training!


  • GU Gingerade Stroopwafles with homemade almond butter. (I love my Gingerade Stroopwafels with a small cup of coffee!)
  • Roctane BCAA Capsules to prevent exercise induced muscle damage. 


  • One 21 bottle of Roctane Summit Tea every hour + extra water during the hot sections of the course.  I created this plan for my 2015 Western States 100-mile debut and have been racing on it ever since.


  • 2 servings of GU Recovery Drink Mix – Chocolate Smoothie is my favorite thing after all races.
  • BCAA Capsules (my muscle insurance!)
  • 20 grams of protein and some carbs to replenish lost nutrients.  

Paying attention to recovery nutrition will allow me to have a life after Western States.


Vest & Bottles:


  • STANCE Run Mood Crew because they are created at the interception of art & science


  • JULBO AEROLITE because they are light as air


  • GU Western States Fedora because it is all about having fun, right?


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