I had the opportunity last weekend to train at the Western States training runs, which as always, provided excellent trail training. I am pacing Shannon Farar-Griefer at Western States this year, so we were there together with Jorge Pacheco and his wife, as well as Jenn Shelton.
The first day (from Mosquito Ridge to Green Gate) was quite an experience. It rained the entire time, and we even had sleet at the start up in the mountains. The trails were goop by the time I ran through them, mud everywhere. We were all slip-sliding away up and down the single track trails through the highlands and into the canyons. I got in a few extra credit miles when I tracked back up out of the first canyon to Last Chance with an injured runner. He ended up being air lifted out with hypothermia. He's fine and recovered without incident. Hypothermia was the biggest scare that first day of training. And, of course, other injuries like a simple ankle sprain, could lead to a more serious problem like hypothermia, which is what happened to this runner. Most runners, however, were able to manage the rain and slop and had an exciting first day of training.
The second day was much nicer. It was sunny and warmed up nicely but never got hot. Great running weather except for those trying to heat train. This second day of running included the very well-groomed California Street section. We ran from Foresthill to the American River and up to White Oak Flat, about 19 or 20 miles.
The last day - on Memorial Day - I had an afternoon flight to catch, so I just did an out and back from the Placer High School track to just past No Hands Bridge. Most of the remaining runners a full 22 miles. It was another beautiful day. I was taking quick Jenn to the airport and she decided to try to get in the full 22-mile run in 3 hours. I packed the car and was waiting for her at the school in Auburn. Sure enough, to my delight, she sped in to the finish in 2 hours 59 mins, and no worse for the wear. She's a great runner. We made it to the airport with time to spare.
I ran a total of about 62 miles. My ankle held up and I am so happy for that. The poison oak that I get every time I am on the Western States Trail got me good though. I had forgotten my Ivy Block and am now paying for it! I should heal up in just enough time to head back for the race.
I rested - at least from running - Tuesday through Friday, and yesterday ran the 20th Century 100k Trail Run that started in Snowqualmie, WA. It's a low-keyed, very-well organized run with a 50k option. The route climbed on the John Wayne Trail up the pass for 25 miles, then decended and leveled off for the rest of the course. The flat wide trail was packed with gravel which, while easy to run on, really beats up the legs and joints pretty good.
(pic from the website)
(pic from the website)
I ran with Tim Englund who is training for the Bighorn 100 miler in 3 weeks. We broke the race down into ten 10k's, and ran the first 50k in 5:02 and the second half in just over that. Fairly good pacing. Our finish time was somewhere around 10:11. I'm sure results will be out soon.
I wore my Drymax socks again and am absolutely convinced that these are the very best socks for me. They do the job - whether in the slop and mud of the Western States Trail or on the hard-packed flat gravel surface of the John Wayne Trail. No blisters. None. My feet are fine, as if I never took 100,000 steps to cover the 100k distance. My ankles are good. My knee, on the other hand, is a little sore. I iced it today and despite wanting to go for a bike ride, will rest it instead.
The other thing that worked very well were my Moeben Sleeves. It was perfect weather for them. Actually, it always is, and that's the cool thing about them. I wore a t-shirt in the morning with the Sleeves - the bamboo ones - and pushed them down when it warmed up and pulled them up when it started drizzling and the wind picked up. Despite the changes in the weather, I was always perfectly prepared...without having to use my drop bag for clothing changes. It saved time and I was always comfortably dressed for the weather.
I feel very good about this 100k. It was a PR for me. I did expect it since my only other 100k's were at Miwok, a tough course for sure. I wouldn't change a thing about the race. It was perfect.