May 26, 2009
After last year's oh-so-soggy training camp I was a little reluctant to sign up for another memorial day retreat into the Auburn foothills. Now that I'm back, I will say it was worth every minute. Even though it was just three days, I got in 78 miles of running, learned a ton about the trail and race day strategies, saw some old friends and made a few new ones.
Day One: Robinson Flat to Foresthill. This was the most valuable day for me. I have never been to RF before (last year the buses couldn't get access) so just seeing and running this part of the course for the first time was worth the trip for me. Simple subtleties became roaring realities, such as the mile long climb out of RF that rises to over 7,100'; or the winding, rocky single track trail out of RF that I did a face plant on; or the nearly 4,500' decent over 15 miles from RF to the base of Devil's Thumb; even the three pb&j's, several paydays and brownie I ate at a single aid station that made me feel like bloated chicken ready to blow on trail.
Day Two: Foresthill to Rucky Chucky: This was another helpful day, but it went by quickly. By the time I hit this section of the course on race day I'll be sitting on 60 miles and hope to have some legs left. After beating myself up last year on this section of the training run I calmed down a little. This must have helped as I felt strong right through to the finish including the 3-4 mile climb out of the canyon that we had to do to get back to the buses. I even tacked on a 6+ miler after this run by running the last 3 miles (out and back) of the course that afternoon.
Day Three: Greengate to Finish. 20 miles. This section of the course will be run in the dark and it's the last 20 miles of the course. Oh well, not to worry. After running 58 miles the two previous days, I still felt human. I have no idea how I'll feel at this point on race day so I'm not going to invest a whole lot into what I learned here. It was just a good day running and chatting with others on trail.
For the record, running the Western States Training runs is much more than "training" for the actual race. Its more about getting to know other runners, getting to know and really appreciate the trail, and, ultimately, getting to know yourself. Having come by myself I was able to reflect a bit more on how things worked, or didn't work. I also feel really fortunate to even be in this thing, and running with so many other people I've met along the way makes it all the better. Yes, I had the opportunity to talk and/or run with many: Michelle Barton, Kyle Hoang, Brian Krogmann, Kevin Sullivan, Jen Shelton, Luis Escobar, Jean Suyenaga, Stacey Bunton, and so so many others. I wish Rob McNair, my pacer, was here over the weekend, but sometimes even life gets in the way.
Keep it real runners!
Posted by Will at 5:42 AM