Saturday was finally here!!!! I have been looking forward to this day all week. The Western States Training Run from Robinson Flat to Forrest Hill. Trailmomma and I met up at the school and our adventure continues from there. We did see the Fleet Feet crew were out in force. Here is our adventure of 28 treacherous miles (Fun).
Trailmomma and myself at the start, just jumped off the bus. There were 7 bus loads of ultra runners. The first bus loads of runners took over while we were busy taking photos, but that is O.K. they compacted the snow for us.
Very excited to run in snow! All smiles
The first 4-5 miles we ran uphill in snow. Surprising though it wasn't to cold! It was exciting to be running in some new conditions, but also a little nerve racking because running in snow is no easy task. I was trying not turn an ankle or go knee deep in the snow. The first aid station was at mile #2, GU and water only, they told us to hydrate because once you got in the canyons is was going to be hot and the weather today was warmer than originally predicted.
Approaching Aid Station #1, next aid we didn't know. But it ended up being at mile 15. That is a long ways away, with lots of climbing and down hills so steep you couldn't run them for fear of losing control and going over the cliff. We didn't spend much time at this aid station but once we left a mile or so up the snow I had to use the bathroom. I have a confession to make, during my entire training for AR50 I didn't ever go in the woods. So this was my first time.
I did it. Not so bad! I also have to say that when I woke up that morning I was having some stomach issues and that didn't resolve until I got home well after 5pm. First and only pit stop for me.
We climbed for a long time and the old saying is true what goes up must come down. These entire portion of the course was up, down, than up some more and than down some more and when you think you have had enough there is another down followed by another up. But the views were to die for.
At the top of our first major climb. It was worth it.
While we were running today trailmomma and I were relatively quiet. I think we were both so focused on staying on the trail and enjoying the stillness of it all that we didn't need to talk to keep us positive. Just being out there and in the moment was all I needed. We did occasionally bump into some other runners but for the most part we were alone. Which was great. I never would have thought that at the start with 7 bus loads all full to capacity.
It was great being able to enjoy this with someone. The picture don't do it justice, it just gives you a small taste of what we saw, what you don't get is the smell of the pine trees, the snap of twigs, the tussling of the leaves as we ran through them, the roar of the river-you could here it but not always see it-
After the first climb it started back down again on a fire road of some sort. This was a great opportunity for some off trail adventure. But be careful when off trail because things can get tricky. Just ask trailmomma.
Trailmomma down!!!! Let me tell you what happened. Going "off trail" was needed, she emerged and was telling me her bag wouldn't zip. Huh, that interesting. While I was waiting for her to come maybe 15 feet she just feel over, it happened in slow motion. Of course I didn't want to miss out on this perfect opportunity and told her not to move, I quickly ran over and at the same time pulled my camera out and was ready to take the picture when I paused and asked "are you alright?" and just as the last word came out of my mouth I snapped the picture. This moment was needed and kept me laughing throughout the day. Trailmomma brushed herself off and we went on our way only to see this....
A old tractor, we had to take some photos. During this stretch I kept thinking were is that aid station. It has to be getting close. The miles were ticking away quickly, so fast that I thought my Garmin was broken. But it wasn't I was just enjoying the run so much. I really had no clue where we were. We were going down hill and sure enough before we knew it we hit the river and crossed the bridge and started the accent without a aid station in sight.
There was a sign that read -No more than 5 runners- but of course more than 5 went across and all I hear is trailmomma saying hurry, hurry. The bridge swung back and forth, luckily we all got across alright and started the accent up Devils Thumb. This climb took a lot out of me. We passed a few runners or should I say walkers and we were also passed, but that was o.k. All I was hoping for was a aid station at the top. We climbed and climbed and climbed but it never ended. This must have been what coach Nikon was talking about. The never ending climb.
As you can tell I am way behind but I do have two thumbs up and a smile on my face. On this climb at some point I took in a salt tab and was drinking water. I wanted to do a GU but thought that it wouldn't stay down. Around every switch back up the mountain we went, and went and than some more. Finally we did it we made it up devils thumb.
yes at the top, wait.....No AID.....All I wanted right now was a coke. I was running low on energy and spirit but onward we went. About a mile or two done the road at mile 15 was the second aid. I downed 3 cokes, 2 payday chunks, and grabbed a handful of animal crackers than filled my pack with water and off we went. Once again we headed downhill. At least this downhill was more runnable than the previous. We were going down into Michigan bluff and down we went. I would take the lead for a bit than trailmomma would take the over. It worked out great taking turns. While we were running we discussed how we would tackle accent this time because devils thumb took to much out of us. We decided that at the bottom we would take a GU in and a salt and head up. That is just what we did. It helped for a bit. But all of a sudden I heard a rumble in my stomach and than again another rumble only this time louder. Ugh ooh. I was empty and I mean empty not good. It was mile 21. I didn't realize how much this trail was taking out of me. I was pale also which is not good. I told trailmomma and she thought that maybe around the next corner was Aid station #3. Nope nothing, I was in trouble. I inhaled a GU and a cliff bar and washed it down with water. Luckily everything stayed down.
Taking photos of the view on the ridge line. Don't fall.
After climbing we came upon this.....
Aid station #3. YES!!!! Only I didn't eat, I learned from AR50 the food takes too long to process so I skipped the food drank some coke ate a payday for the sugar and took in a GU and off we went after filling my pack again with water and ice. Thank you!!!!
6 miles to go or so. I was expecting no more big climbs but I was wrong we climbed some more and came upon this gorgeous view.
After climbing we went downhill for a few miles. Taking turns in the lead.
It is amazing we started running in snow, than rivers of mud, than mud, than pine needles, than leaves and now just plain dirt. In the canyons it was extremely warm. I just baked in there. We heard the roar of the river and soon enough we came upon it. A stream crossing, but the current was strong enough to take you away.
Trailmomma went first and I followed. The water felt really good on my legs and it also lifted my spirits by cooling me off. I had dunked my hat in previous crossing in hopes of staying cool. We crossed with no problem and continued up yet again. Only this time it wasn't so bad because we knew we were nearing the end of this journey. We powered up the hill.
Of course once we hit the pavement we still had to climb. I was smiling though because all I was thinking was this reminds me of AR50. We would walk some and than I would say "want to try running?" and sure enough we would, we gave ourselves goals to reach before we would walk again. it seemed to really work because before we knew we were up that hill and only had a bit to the end.
We had made it. The end was great reward. We both a had smiles on our faces just like when we started. 28 miles in 7hrs and 44 min. Wow!!! I ran AR50 in 10hrs and 27 min. That just tells you how hard this section of trail is. I am glad I did it and who knows maybe one day the actual Western States 100. One day I am sure!!! I have a taste of it now and a tiny thought in my head.