Meeting Gordy Ainsleigh the original runner of the WS 100 was just one of the highlights of my training run experience last weekend. We chatted the first day as the bus wound its way up to Robinson Flat. Gordy is definitely a free spirit. I may actually look taller than him on the bus but he has legs as long as a horse. Have a look at the pictures below of him sitting at the Foresthill Middle school cafeteria.
I didn't sleep very well the first night at camp after a 12.5 hour drive to Foresthill. Since I felt rushed I didn't eat very well the night before. I stopped in Auburn on my way up and had fish and chips. Breakfast consisted of oatmeal, a banana, and some tea. I loaded up my water bottles, nathan pack with hammer gels and cliff blocks and headed out to catch the shuttle bus.
We signed in for the 34 mile run in Foresthill Secondary School and loaded the buses. Gordy got on the bus and quite whispers started. He walked right back and sat in front of me. When we got to Robinson Flat everyone just wandered out for a pee and without any official start we all just headed to the trail head and started the run. A large conga line formed as we ran toward Dusty Corners. This section is primarily downhill for the first few miles through a section of forest that has burned in the last few years.
This first training run was all about the canyons. We would be running three major descents and three major climbs. Unfortunately the first few miles of the run were not going well for me. We all have those days when you go for a run and it's just bad from the beginning. That's how things started off. I was concerned so I made a vow to keep hydrated and fueled. We made the first aid station around mile 8 and I filled my two water bottles and ate potatoes and some pb&j. We started the downhill to Deadwood Canyon. By the time we made the bottom of the canyon I was out of water with a 1500 foot climb ahead of me at 85 degrees. Some of the veterans were jumping in the American River shoes and all. They were filling their water bottles from the river so I did the same. I didn't want to get my feet wet so I chose not to jump in.
I made the climb up to Devil's Thumb and really started feeling bad. I was tired, thirsty, hot, and lacking energy. It was a relief to make it to the top but as soon as we did we started back down to El Dorado Creek after stopping at the Devil's Thumb Aid Station.
Pucker Point Deadwood Canyon
We descended 2600 feet to El Dorado canyon. It was more gradual than the descent to Deadwood. This time I did not hesitate to jump in the water shoes and all. Whew! Sweet relief! After about 5 min in the water I started the 1,800 foot climb to Michigan Bluff. This climb went much better than the first. I attribute it to the cold dip before the grunt. I learned that you need to take every chance to douse to help you keep cool. These canyons can get up to 110 F during the race. My shoes and socks dried out quickly and I had no problems with blisters at all. I watered up at the Michigan Bluff AS and headed down into Volcano Canyon. Lots of quad pounding here as you reach the bottom and start the final climb to Foresthill which will be at mile 62 of the race. Our run for the day was over and my first reaction was "holy s#!t", what have I gotten myself into? I was hammered, or as they say in Ireland Knackered.
I ate dinner with the other campers at the Foresthill Middle School. After the dinner they had a panel of past participants go through the course from start to finish. They provided advice to first time runners for each section. Among the distinguished panel was Tim Twietmeyer who last year successfully finished his 25th WS100 in under 24 hours.
I was in my tent and sound asleep by about 9:00 PM. I didn't wake up until 5:00 AM when the birds got too loud. I got dressed for the run and made some hot water for tea until the breakfast was served at 6:00 AM.
I got a ride out to the Foresthill Grade School and signed up for the days run. No bus ride today as we were running from Foresthill. George Koski a member of the Y-Run Club met me at the sign up for the days run. We were going to run from Foresthill to Rucky Chucky which is a 19 mile adventure. This is probably where I will start running with my pacer Steve Stoyles.
This section is very runnable with a rolling descent to the bottom of the American River Canyon. It got warm when we were running along the bottom of the canyon. George chose to go jump in the river before we made it to Rucky Chucky. I continued on to RC and got in the water to my arm pits. We didn't cross the river on the training run but this is where they place a cable across the river and the runners cross over and then climb to Green Gate. Instead we climbed up the other side of the river for about 4 miles of very steep hiking. They had hot dogs and cold soda at the top for us along with all the other usual AS offerings. George and I caught the bus to Foresthill and we parted ways to clean up. After my shower I went into Auburn and met George and we went to Sacramento for lunch. George offered up the spare bed in his hotel and since the next days run started from Auburn I went back to Foresthill and broke camp. I had dinner at the camp with the other campers and then headed to Auburn for a good nights sleep on a pillow-top mattress! I slept very well and the next morning we got up at 5:30 and went to breakfast at Denny's. I said my goodbyes to George and headed to the Auburn High School to sign in and catch a bus to Green Gate.
They dropped us off at Green Gate and told us about a 2 mile no-pee zone that would be marked with a survey tape across the road. Once past the tape we could pee at will. The 2 mile section while remote did have a number of homes in the area as we worked our way toward Green Gate. This run of 21 miles was again very runnable with undulating terrain. We then started our climb to Highway 49 that once you cross you are about 7 miles from the finish. More undulating terrain and then down to No Hands Bridge. It's a climb up to Robie Point. I was able to run much of the lower section of the climb but I don't think I'll be able to after 90+ miles. There are some steep sections up to Robie toward the end of the climb and then you hit pavement. At his point you are about 1.3 miles from the finish. The road is fairly steep uphill so I did a lot of hiking until I finally got to the top. I saw a wild turkey along side the road in someones yard (see pic). Once you make a small bridge it's all downhill to the finish line.
I had a great time on this adventure and I'm really glad I was able to do so. I know what I'm up against and it will be a great challenge. But I can do it! I will do it!
The plan: Go easy, hydrate, fuel, HAVE FUN!, repeat as necessary.
Thanks to George for coming out for a run with me and the great room on Sunday! Thanks to all the great volunteers who made these training runs possible!