Over the last week I was lucky enough to get onto the Wasatch course for four solid days of training before settling in to the start of school here in Sun Valley.
On the first day I drove up to Lamb's Canyon and ran over Bear Ass Pass and back. The trail was in good condition and the climbing was stout. As usual, I felt myself thinking how great it would be if I felt this good on race day.
Day 2 I drove up to Brighton and ran over to the Upper Big Water Aid Station and back. This is a section that has haunted me ever since the race in 2006 and I spent quite a bit of time on the first half of the run checking intermediate splits and analyzing some of the more intricate sections of the course. On the return trip (in the direction of the race) I concentrated on keeping my effort under control and hitting the splits I thought I could. Again, the trail here was pretty buffed out due to all the mountain bike traffic and I think, if I play my cards right, I could make up some time on this section during the race.
On Day 3 I started again from Brighton and ran Tempo Pace to Pole Line Pass. The goal here was to set a hard standard for this section so that the slower pace on race day would feel respectable. I know it sounds strange but if I have run a section of a course hard in training it somehow helps me mentally go slower and be OK with it on race day. So, on this section I got to Point Supreme in :41, Ant Knolls in :58 and Pole Line in 1:30. That was sweet! Then, on the return trip I enjoyed the scenery, ran The Grunt out-and-back twice, and generally just enjoyed a relaxed hang out pace. I threw in a trip up to the top of Sunset Peak at the end of the run to get a little more altitude (I think that peak is around 11K)
On the 4th day I broke camp early to join Roch and his buddy Dave at Brighton for a Brighton to the Finish classic. After dealing with the car shuttle we started off over Catherine's shortly before 7AM. My goal was to run about 15% faster than 21 hour race splits and enjoy the company on the trails. I also wanted to test my now tired legs against the crux of the course. We nailed Catherine's in :45 and hit Ant Knolls in 1:03. We pulled into the dust bowl of Pole Line in 1:42 and made it to Rock Springs in 2:30. Then it was time for the toughest section of the course, "Irv's Torture Chamber". I was ready for the pain and agony of the Dive and the Plunge and the other descent that really deserves a name and it was, indeed, real pain. However, the trail seems to be settling in and if I am ready to take some risks on race day I may be able to match our split of 1:25 from Rock Springs to Pot Bottom. The hike/run in from Pot Bottom was great and we nailed the entire thing in 5:20. Of course, 6:20 would be great on race day but it was nice to go with the flow on this day.
Sitting in the shade at the Homestead with Roch and Dave post-run made me think about how great it is to be able to do this thing we call ultrarunning. I also reveled in the fact that I had enjoyed a solid long weekend of training without feeling totally wiped out. At this point, with some fine tuning at altitude and a few tempo/speed/hill workouts, I just may be able to take a stab at the Master's Record my friend Leland set years ago. A worthy goal, indeed!