I made it to the Western States Course this weekend for 82 miles of training. Friday I did two shortish runs between Foresthill and Devil's Thumb and then on Saturday ran from Cal 2 to the Swinging Bridge and back. All in all it was excellent training. Here are the stats:
Foresthill to Michigan Bluff: 1:00
Michigan Bluff to Foresthill: 0:57
Michigan Bluff to Devil's Thumb: 1:29
Devil's Thumb to Michigan Bluff: 1:17
Cal 2 to Swinging Bridge: 5:20
Swinging Bridge to Devil's Thumb: 0:33
Devil's Thumb to El Dorado: 0:38
El Dorado to Michigan Bluff: 0:41
Michigan Bluff to Foresthill: 0:57
Foresthill to Cal 2: 1:14:40 (with Craig Thornley leading the way)
Now, here is the story:
The highlight of the entire weekend was the group I ran with. An intrepid band of quasi-successful Oregonians have been doing the Ice Cream Sandwich Run ever since they poached the idea from Tim Twietmeyer years ago. And, as much as they moan and complain about just about everything, they are actually pretty good people.
Of course, they are also a highly sensitive lot so in the interest of privacy they shall remain nameless. However, I should also say that I was quite happy and relieved to be joined by two Californians who proved to be pleasant company throughout the day. So, the run:
We started at a very relaxed pace up from Cal 2. It was cool and sunny and I was exhilerated to be out on the Western States Trail. We passed the time swapping stories of past Western States Runs and I enjoyed telling some of the new guys about the splits we were making. You know, stuff like, "from this bush it's 6 minutes until the second creek crossing where I usually eat a gel." I think they thought I was a bit obsessed. And, the truth is, I am.
We got up to Foresthill in 1:48, topped off our bottles and ran steadily to Michigan Bluff in 1:07 where our Aid Station was. The "womanfolk (Craig's title!)" had stocked a cooler with cold sodas, turkey/avocado sandwiches and my personal favorite, sugar coated S! Caps. After fueling up we began the trip through El Dorado. Running a relaxed pace we got to the bridge in :22 and then up to the pump in 1:20. Then, it was off to The Thumb and down into Deadwood. This would be the last stretch of easy running all day.
It was warming up nicely by the time we re-grouped at the Swinging Bridge and the smack talk had started in earnest. I will not go into details but let's just say the Idaho/Oregon Challenge is going full tilt.
I wanted to get to the Thumb in :33 and a steady walk got me there. I was still feeling tired but was ready to push the downhill. The drop into El Dorado is by far my favorite part of the course and I wanted to see what I had in my downhill legs after 6 hours of running. I got to the creek with two other anonymous Oregonians at my heels in :30 from the pump. Four minutes faster than my race day split. I got back to Michigan Bluff in :41 and was ready for another break. More sandwiches, sodas, and S! Caps before we were off to Foresthill! I got there in :57.
At that point, we were at the crux of the workout. Everybody ate an Ice Cream Sandwich and drank a can of Coke. That is Tweit's requirement. No exceptions. Then, we had to run to Cal 2 in 1:15. Doing so without puking makes the run a success. Losing your cookies, means you are a pathetic failure and a DNF is the likely outcome for the race. With Craig's able leadership, we made it to Cal 2 in 1:14:50. A virtuoso performance by a true trail running legend.
After hiking to the car and driving back to Michigan Bluff we assessed the damage. All was good. Time to rest, or whatever...
My conclusion from the weekend:
I think my 16:34 goal is possible in benign conditions and I am ready to give it a try this year. If the weather on race day is more like 2006 than 2007 then my time will be more like 18 and change. Now we'll just see how the next six weeks go.
And, as for those pesky, anonymous Oregonians: There are a couple of superfast first timers in that bunch who need our attention. Then, there are the crafty veterans in the bunch who have both worn "M" numbers in the last five years. Also, there's a really fast "F" runner in there who is really fit and just returned from the Olympic Marathon Trials. And finally, there are those Californians. As usual, watch out for them!
Time to train. This is the best time of the year!