Once the car pool shuffle was complete we started our 18 mile adventure on the Western States Trail. (One day the entire trail) Joining us also was Chuck, Trish and Jack and his dog Abby. What a group of solid ultra runners. I was honored to have the chance to run with them today.
Power Girl working it on the trail
Jumping Bean who just ran Boston and PR
The Cal Loop as it is called takes us to the Ruck A Chucky river crossing. And you would think that this is all down hill, but it is not. There are a few challenging climbs in there just to keep me on my toes, but the descents are bone jarring and steep, but FUN!!!!
Captain Kirk AKA Junior and Wonder Woman the Happy Couple
As we started down I settled in just in front of Power Girl but behind Wonder Woman, Jumping Bean and Captain Kirk. It was a fast run down one that could thrash any one's quads if one is not careful. Let me just say that my Garmin which was fully charged died within 4 minutes of this run. So I was running free, running what my body told me and not looking at my watch to see what mileage we were at. I really dislike that Garmin.
Anyways, we were going down, down, down and then up, up, up. A monstrous descent followed by a huge climb. Soon after I don't know how many miles I let Power Girl pass, I needed a moment. More from frustration because my legs were feeling dead and not doing what I needed them to do which was run. During this alone time I focused on fuel, I took in some GU and a S-cap and then I was off.
The trail was beautiful today, it was fast and tacky the foliage was a bright green and at times I could even hear the river. Once I focused on where I was things started to click for me. It was almost like I needed to take a moment and really enjoy what I was doing instead of looking at it like work. This isn't work, running on these trails is fun to me and I needed to open my eyes and calm my racing mind so that I could really take in this run. To be one with the trail. Once I was one with the trail and appreciating it I really began to settle into a nice rhythm on the trail and I could also smell the pine trees and hear the rustling of leaves as I ran over them.
Look a water bottle, a fuel belt and Jumping Bean is eating!!! OMG
As I was focusing and having my moment the group was nice enough to wait for me before a big climb. I hiked and ran what I could and just focused on moving forward. I knew after this climb we would have a nice long descent about 1.5 miles or so and it was going to be steep with a ton of loose rocks and a very technicall section of trail.
On this descent Power Girl was behind me. I had to take it a little easier on the descent because my right knee was screaming at me. It was like someone had taken a ice pick and was stabbing me with each solid step I took and each push off. I gently made my way down the trail and caught up with the group at a nice opening before we continued on a much more runnable descent towards the river.
Still having fun, I can till by the smile on our faces
Two killer climbers and
Captain Kirk I mean Coach Nikon Junior
This next descent has a ton of switchbacks and as the front runner -Captain Kirk- made his way down I could hear him just below me and I am sure he could hear my thunderous foot steps above him. There was nothing light about my feet today. It was switch back after switch back and it didn't take very long for us to spread out. As I neared the base the next part of the trail was 6 min. hill-Training Hill-.
Time to climb training hill
I think I heard laughter the entire time
We powered up 6 min hill like we owned it. Or that is what I recall as I was Garmin less and didn't have any clue on time. It did feel like that this third time for me was a lot easier then my previous times on this climb. Just keep moving forward, hiking with a purpose and soon enough it opens up and we hit the single track again. of course the climbing wasn't over but it was more gradual. I knew that we were getting closer to the river but first we had to make our way back down.
Down we go, but not before a photo opp.
Thanks for the photo Opp. Not use to being in photos :)
Soon the river is a just a few feet away, I can hear it. It is right there. But there is still a few more climbs we have to tackle before Ruck A Chucky. Up I go, the front group is animals and runs off in the distance. I do what I can and eventually make my way to the top. Then back down and the tall grass that is up to my waist. It is getting closer with each step. I can feel the excitement building up inside and then I see it. The fire road and the camp ground. Just a bit more my knee was still screaming at me with every step I took.
As we hit the fire road we could smell campers BBQ'ing, it smelled really good. The campers I am sure were pretty excited when they saw 3 ladies run by as Captain Kirk was running with me. The fire road is long and involved a lot of power hiking because there were still some nice hills to climb. Soon though the climbing was going to get tough as the last 2.5 miles could best be compared to the Dam Hill from AR50. It is steep and when it looks flat it is not. I eventually caught up to the front group/because they waited for me. Once we were near the finish we hit the single track again.
I have never been on this single track so I was doing my best to keep but I fell behind and when I emerged in the clearing the rest of the group was on the far left while I was on the far right. Crap!!! Did I miss a side trail. I yelled to Power Girl, but she didn't hear so I blew my whistle and she turns and waves. I yell "How did you get over there?" From the top of the road I hear Captain Kirk yell "Follow the trail" umm OK, but it is not making sense. I follow the trail and maybe 5 feet ahead it bends to the left. I was a bit embarrassed. I am literally 100 yards from my car and I can't figure it out. Maybe I was running on fumes I don't know, but it was pretty funny thinking that I just came 18 miles with no problem. What I thought the trail SHOULD have done was continue on and not make a switch back. Just saying!!!!
The most dangerous part of the run was here. The highway crossing. It is dangerous because those cars are speeding at 65 mph and my legs are pretty toast so it is a interesting shuffle across the highway, but we all made it safely and with smiles on our face.
I had a great time, see still smiling
Trish and Chuck! Good Luck Next Weekend
Power Girl and Jumping Bean
What a awesome run today. I ran it in 3:51. The last time I ran this section of trail back in August I ran a 4:18. Nice!!!!!
A beautiful day on the trails with a great group of ultra runners.