After spending 2 days traipsing the Hills of Tejon Ranch at the California State Broadhead Championship, I drove to Gold Country to take part in the Third Day of The Western States Training Camp. I would be joining my training partner Shawn Sullivan, who had completed the first two days of 32 and 19 miles. Saturday was Robinson Flat to Foresthill and Sunday was from Foresthill to White oak Flat. Our WS qualifier, Lori had done the first two days along with another trail running friend, Ericka. She wished us well in a text from Starbucks before she returned home.
Monday Morning we met at Placer High school (the site of the Western States Finish line), where we caught school buses to a couple miles above Greengate.
The Road down to Greengate was designated a NO PEE zone, and signs every few yards reminded us. When the Sign said “Bathroom OPEN,” I felt obliged, as did nearly half the group. It was amusing to hear the conversations and comments the next quarter mile.
The Trail was mostly downhill for the mile after Greengate.
along this stretch we cruised pretty well. the single track was smooth and fast.
We were counting on the First aid station to be at Mile 15 where the trail crossed highway 49. We were surprised when we came to it at Browns bar, mile 12 of the day’s run ..
After the Aid at Browns Bar we ran along the Quarry Road along the river. At this point I started feeling fatigued. It was to be expected since the most long run mileage I’d done in the last 6 weeks was 13 miles.
The Wide open Road and Valley made it feel like I was not making progress as opposed to zipping through the single track. After, a mile along the river a single track trail climbed up to Highway 49. I struggled mightily at this point.
After Highway 49 we hit some more downhill and I caught my stride once more.
It had been overcast all day with very scattered misty rain. I was grateful that I didn’t have to endure the heat that this trail is known for during to run.
We had some Coke, and Brownies, and Oreos and conversation at the No Hands Aid Station The wide flattish road was good running for a half mile then turned up the canyon wall for a steep hike to Robie Point.
I trudged uphill thinking about how hard this would be with 78 more miles on my legs and felt a huge amount of respect for the folks who made it to this point in the race. At Robie, Shawn found a gear, even with having run the two days prior, and left me in the dust. He sprinted into Auburn on the last two miles of pavement, while I walked the slightest hill.
As the Road turned downhill I was able to shuffle into a run and arrive at the High school where the volunteers cut off my bracelet to confirm I’d returned.
I immediately went to the buffet line where volunteers were serving eggs, hashbrowns, pancakes, sausage and bacon. Along with a couple of cups of Orange Juice, I began to feel back to normal. After a change of clothes, Shawn and I re connected, and made our way downtown to talk about our day. We sat on the patio of the Auburn Alehouse and sampled the local Brews.
Shawn has the Western States bug BAD now. His opportunity to qualify will come in October at the Dick Collins Firetrails 50. I am sure as long as he stays healthy, he will do well.
Now I know more about the trail, and I hope I will be able to be more effective as a crew member for our 100 mile runner, Lori. I really understand the romance of the trail and the distance. While I never want to run the race, I am considering doing the 3 days of training run next year. The camraderie of the runners exceeded anything I’d experienced anywhere else.