Sunday, February 20, 2011

An Epic Western States Training Run

Yesterday's Western States Training Run was an epic one at that. It had all sorts of weather from snow on the ground to it actually snowing, to rain, to sun, to numerous stream crossings, and rivers flowing on the trail itself. Epic is how I would describe it.

The day started early for me (like usual), Miss P. was going to pick me up and we were going to car pool up to Placerville high school. As we neared Placerville it had a surprise for us. Snow was on the ground and I am sure the temperatures were in the low 20's. I was expecting snow but I wasn't really expecting snow. If you know what I mean. I immediately hit the Porty john as soon, enough there was going to be a nice line and I didn't want to have to wait in line. Slowly the Fleet Feet Training group arrived.

The biggest decision and probably the toughest decision was what was I going to wear? I didn't want to have to many clothes on in case it warmed up and I also didn't want to have to few layers on in case it stayed cold or rained heavily. I finally decided on a short sleeve with a long sleeve over that and my light weight runners rain jacket, gloves, and hat and shorts.

Before getting onto the warm buses there was a pre-run briefing. Basically the buses wouldn't be able to drop us off at the original starting point and we would be dropped off 2 miles or so up the road. But no worries because we were going to stay on Quarry road instead of hitting the single track which would cancel out the additional 2 miles at the start. Sweet!!!! But that also means the first aid station wouldn't be until mile 15-16. That is a long ways to go, but I had packed enough fuel in my Salomon pack that it wouldn't be a issue.

Pre run briefing

The bus ride was about 45 minutes on a very windy road. Miss P. and grabbed the first row seat as I didn't want to get bus sick on the drive to the start and it was a bit warmer up there sitting in front of the heaters. As we drove to the start we noticed that the snow was getting a little thicker on the ground and it was really white out. This is going to fun. Before arriving at our new starting point I ate a Honey Stinger Waffle as it had been a few hours since eating my breakfast of oatmeal and I knew I needed to get some solid food in me before this run even started.

On the bus

car pool buddies!

Check out that snow!

Once at our new starting point we jumped off the buses. I noticed right away how cool it was and knew that I needed to get moving before I became any colder. I started running on the pavement trying to stay out of the snow that was on the ground, I didn't want to slip and I wanted to try to stay dry before hitting the single track. Soon enough the trees started to drop a few snow flakes and then the snow flakes became rather large and it was then that I realized it was actually snowing. Wow! I felt like a little kid seeing snow for the first time.

Just off the bus getting ready to run

Of course with it snowing and already being cold I had to quickly decide if I was going to hike the road hills or run them. I knew I didn't want to get cold so I decided to run some and hike the others because 21 miles is a long ways to go with some great descents and climbs.

Partner Jim in red! It is white out

Soon enough I came to the fire road which is a bit gnarly. It is an ankle turning for sure, but I safely made it down and onto the sweet single track. I was maybe 4.5 miles in this entire run when I turned my ankle and felt a pop. Immediate pain and then a noticeable limp. Crap!#@$ My ankle was hurting and I had at least 12 miles to the first aid station. I decided to keep running because if I stopped it would probably would have blown up on me. The limp eventually went away but I knew any wrong footing or loose rock could be it for my ankle.

The first hour flew by. I started fueling an hour in, I took in some Gu. I wouldn't have any solid food until about mile 15. The single track was very tricky yesterday. It was mud soaked, where some spots were so muddy I couldn't find a proper footing to climb. There were streams coming down the trail and stream crossing it felt like a few per mile. The terrain could have mentally defeated me, but instead I embraced this new challenge to push myself and see what my legs could do.

One of the many water falls on this run!

One of numerous stream crossings

Just as quickly as the first hour went by mile 10 was upon me. Miss P. and I had been playing hop scotch with each other taking turns on the lead. She is a awesome trail runner and when I run with her she may not know it but she pushes me because I want to keep up. I was in the lead with Miss P. right behind and then at least 5 other trail runners hooked onto us. Miss P. asked if any one wanted by, but they refused saying the pace was good. In this group was Power Girl and her husband. It was fun running with them and it also challenged me again. I challenged myself during this section of trail. I knew this section was very runnable with only a few minor climbs. I tackled those climbs with what felt like new legs. My legs were feeling really strong and my pace felt very consistent. I did walk a larger hill, but I used this as an opportunity to fuel with some Gu. It was time for more fuel and fuel I did.

The group and I made good timing from mile 10-15. We hit Quarry road and the group split up. Around mile 15 I ate my first solid food of the day. I enjoyed a honey stinger waffle. It tasted really good, I knew the aid station was near but I also knew that I needed something in my system before I arrived at the aid station. I hiked and ran Quarry road but I was finding it hard to get any sort of rhythm. I continued on just knowing the aid station was near. I wasn't sure where, but I had to be getting close. Just as I started to have doubts go into my head a group of hikers gave me the greatest news, the aid station was near. Yeah!!!! Just as I crested over the hill and rounded the corner, there it was, the tents and the aid station. Here I had 2 cokes, the best thing ever, a quarter of a peanut butter sandwich and a handful of gold fish. I didn't stay too long just long enough to get some solid food in me.

Aid Station #1

After leaving the aid station I had a new life. Sometimes it is the small things that can brighten any run. It made me feel happy, I had enough fuel on me but there is something about the aid stations.

Look the sun came out

I continued on Quarry road and after a few rollers my legs started to ache a little bit. I took in a salt and that seemed to help. I arrived at the 49 crossing and I saw 2 crossing guards. No need to be the unofficial crossing guard today which means no whistle. I safely crossed and had just a short distance until the no hands aid station #2. I arrived into this aid station feeling really good and grabbed a square of peanut butter sandwich and walked and ate. Just 3 short miles to the finish at placer high.

Aid Station #2

I had a challenge this section of the run I wanted to own it. I wanted to run as much as I could including the climbs. I did a pretty good job with Stan's help. He is running States this year. We both tackled this section and ran as much as we could before we had to hike. The water fall was unbelievable and was flowing heavily. I could hear it before I even came to it. Just a few more miles, but first the climb up to Robbie point. Then it is all pavement from there. I hiked the first initial hill as fast as I could. Then I started running, then another hill and I hiked and then I was running. I wasn't going to stop running I could smell the bacon and pancakes I was close. Stan passed me which sparked another gear in  me and I was off.

I finished this run 30 minutes faster then last year. I know that bypassing the 2 miles of single track and staying on Quarry road had something to do with it. But for the trail to be as tough as it was I was excited with my time. It was an epic run indeed.

Captain Kirk and Coach Nikon waiting for the group to come in.

I feel that I fueled properly. I probably could have drinking a bit more water but overall I was pleased with my fueling. I am definitely working on the getting the fuel in because without fuel I wont make it very far.

Thank you to all the volunteers for being out there today. It was a great day had by all but especially by me. Here is to proper fueling, an unbelievable run and to enjoying the day and trails with some great ultra runners.

Photo by Kathy AKA Boss
Feet Feet ultra Trail Running 2011

1 comment:

  1. Wow. Crazy run. You had all the elements it seemed. How is your ankle? I had chills when I read your ankle popped. Ugh.

    Rest up! Great photos too by the way!