Saturday, February 21, 2009

Running On Fumes

Last week's theme song was Against The Wind by Bob Seger for my run at Montana de Oro 25K. More appropriate for this past Saturday was Jackson Browne's Running On Empty as I joined about 150 other runners to do the first WS100 training run that started at Green Gate and covered the last 20 miles of the Western States trail to Auburn.

We gathered at Placer High School where it was a bit chilly and some dark clouds were gathering. I met up with a new friend, Frankie, who I volunteered with at Rucky Chucky last year. At 8:00am we loaded up 3 buses and headed out for the curvy drive out past Cool. Soon we were unloading and starting the downhill run toward the Green Gate. I ran into my friend June and we were able to catch up a bit. Unlike Auburn, the start was clear and warming nicely.

There's a lot of singletrack and it's all new trails for me. Part of next month's Way Too Cool 50K will be run on these trails so I tried to really pay attention to certain landmarks. The views down canyon were incredible, especially knowing we were going to be running about 20 miles downstream.

Looking downstream at our destination
The singletrack led to a lot of "trains" of runners but everyone was polite and moved over when they could. I found myself at the "head" of one of these trains and it was stressful! I kept thinking I was going too slow but no one seemed to want to pass so I just found a good rhythm and enjoyed the beautiful day.
One of many stream crossings on the trail
At 14 miles we came to our first aid station. I had been able to keep up a pretty steady pace but I was definitely fading. After last Sunday's race and then training all week, my legs were tired. I grabbed a few snacks and some Pepsi and started the climb up to Hwy 49. Frankie and I had joined back up but I soon found she's a very strong hiker and it wasn't long before she had left me behind. I was able to catch her again on the descent to No Hands Bridge and the company gave me a boost because I was running on fumes.
Running through Cool
After another chance to refuel at No Hands Bridge at the second aid station, we started the last climb out of the canyon and into Auburn. It was hard enough to do after 20 miles, I can't even imagine doing it after 96. It seems like a cruel way to end a 100 miler but then again, 100 mile events are not for the faint of heart.
The infamous No Hands Bridge
I started getting twinges in my lower back at this point. I have a previous back injury but it usually never hurts me while running so this pain came as a surprise. Once I hit the pavement at Robie Point, every step sent pain from my lower back and down my leg. It was quite annoying. I decided to suck it up and continued my slow jog uphill until it finally turned downhill toward the stadium. As the track came into view I was excited to finally step foot on it but alas, it was not to be. All runners were stopped just short of the entrance to enjoy a great post-run buffet of pancakes, eggs, and bacon.
Frankie and I enjoying some post-run food
I was disappointed to not be able to run on the track but after thinking about it, I have to say I'm glad I didn't get to do it. That special moment should be saved only to be savored by those who have earned it by running from Squaw Valley.

As tired as I was last night, I was ready to rip up my confirmation card that I just received from Leadville Trail 100. But after spending a long night in bed and a long rainy day with my family recovering, I'm ready to hit the trails again on my long road to Leadville.

No comments: