We have a great trail here in Sun Valley that is pretty much the only early season training ground with decent vertical and a predominately snow-free surface. It's on Carbonate Mountain in Hailey and is known affectionately as the Vorberg Loop. It's eight miles long and features about 1500 feet of vertical.
Over the past three days I have spent quite a bit of time running the Vorberg. On Friday I did two clockwise loops in about 2:20. On Saturday I was back again for three counterclockwise loops in 3:41. And today, Sunday, I completed another three clockwise loops in 3:32 (clockwise is generally believed to be faster as you get the "wall" of the Carbonate Face on the ascent and the long gradual descent through Vorberg for the descent).
The reason I bore you with these details is not because there is anything particularly noteworthy about these three days of training (64 miles and 12,000 feet of vertical in three days is quite typical for many Western States veterans) but rather to point out the beauty of this time of year for the Western States athlete. As spring emerges and the race day nears (54 days from tomorrow, in fact) the excitement becomes palpable. Combine that with the pure joy of spending time on the trails and this is, quite simply, the best time of the year.