Thursday, May 31, 2007

My Buddy Gordy Ainsleigh

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!

George Koski
No Hands Bridge / Bad Ben



Jenny, Maniac #401 said...

Scenery looks beautiful. Too many cute girls in short skirts. :) You will have once in a lifetime experience. Woo Hoo!

olga said...

Oh, the memories...I loved the camp too! All the trails and people and no pressure:)
Good plan! Now add some time goal, man!

Meghan said...

This was a rockin' write up and photo documentary of a really cool experience! I'm glad that you came around to feeling well by the end of the first day. It sounds like heat is going to be one of your biggest enemies!

Now, you taper, right? Right?


Darrell said...

A no pee zone? Really?

This is going to be one epic race. The scenery is just beautiful. You are very well prepared.

Ben, aka BadBen said...

Great photos and report, Eric.

Again, it was nice running with you, and I'll see you at Western States in 20 days.

Happy trails,
Bad Ben

Sarah said...

What a great experience and confidence builder! Your preparation has been awesome. You are going to have the time of your life! : )

Jon said...

Wow!!! If that's what it looks like during the day, what is it going to look like at night? :-)

That is some gorgeous terrain. I do envy you!

I would have probably turned all fanboy if I saw Gordy and Tim.

I know I'm going to be glued to the WS100 site on race day to keep tabs on you, tc, sushi, and the rest of the hundred mile happy bunch!

wendy said...

How wonderful George was able to run with you!

Great pictures, and the dip in the lake sounds just like something you would do.

It sounds like you are more than prepared, and I do hope your plan works out perfectly, especially the having fun part!

shawn said...

Eric - it sounds like you had a lot of fun out there...i.e., running out of water, sloggy legs, tough hills, pounding hammies ;-) Lots of fun alright! You are so well prepared and this preview is just the icing on the cake of your well, well rounded training. Just around the corner now. Definitely remember to have fun!

angie's pink fuzzy said...

hey! i recognize keira from octrailrunners in one of those photos!

sounds like you had fun - can't wait to hear all about it when you actually run the race!!!

Bruce said...

Looks like some great terrain there. Have an awesome race.

aquaasho said...

Eric those photos are super! The weather is so grey here in Dublin today and it rained all day yesterday too so it's great to look at those photos and see somewhere beautiful and warm. What a great place to run! Great account of your adventure!

runliarun said...

Of course you will do it. This is going to be a grand and daring and larger-than-life thing. The course is beautiful. I have no doubt you can run 100 miles. The temperature though would kill me. Staying cool seems to be crucial here.

Wes said...

Those are such great pics. Thank God they marked out the no pee zone. I don't know about you, but I'm liable to whip it out and go anywhere! The momentum is building. You are so ready!!

Steve said...

Great pics. I'm glad you got to see and run the sections during the day we will run at night. It reminds me of central Oregon around Sisters and Bend, beautiful.

King Arthur said...

Fun stuff! I can almost feel the heat from here. I hope CCC is hot again this year.

robtherunner said...

Thanks for the pictures of the OC trail runner girls. How did Michelle like those? Looks like an awesome time.

Meghan said...

Oh yeah, well, soon you're going to be in the throes of taper madness and it will be me saying, "neener neener neener." In due time, my friend, in due time. :)


Donald said...

Excellent post, Eric. From now through race day, I'm printing all of your posts in hopes of learning from them next year.

Start tapering now, dude!

mtnrunR said...

sweet eric. looks like you had a blast and got some great course knowledge along the way.

mtnrunR said...

Oh Eric,
I just want to say that I am getting super excited to see everybody do well from Washington and Oregon at States. I think this is the highlight of the year for me. I will be cheering you on the whole race. Everybody is running super well here in the Northwest. You have prepared yourself well. You will have a great time. Know that you have done the work. Now the fun begins.

Addy said...

yay! I was so looking forward to this report, and it was everything I hoped for :)

Sounds like you had an amazing time and are so ready for you adventure in a few weeks!

I'm so excited and happy for you that WS is almost here. You've put in such great training and are going to rock the course :)

Enjoy the taper (or just don't go too crazy!).

Can't wait to run on that course myself someday!

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed the pictures and the post on the training camp Eric. Looking forward to checking in on your progress on race day.

Lisa B said...

Hey Eric - I was curious about how your training runs went and stopped here to find out. Wow! Sounds like they went GREAT! What a fun time you had and great pictures. It's one of the best things to do to train for that race. Sounds like you are READY!

I can't believe the perfect training weather (warm) you had and also that you guys were able to actually start at RF. Where's all the snow?? It's going to be a nice year for running. Maybe a little dust though. You might want to bring an extra bandana to cover your nose if dust tends to bother you. And always bring SUGAR for the Devil's Thumb and MB climbs in case you start to bonk. The famous Rob Apple taught me that and I owe my fast ascents to him and his advice. ...Not that you asked me for mine...

Oh, and one more thing. You wrote:

"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."

I did the training runs 6 years in a row. In 2002, a few of us gals started the "Rucky Chucky River Babe" club. At the end of training run #2, some runners choose to bypass that wonderful River and just proceed on to make that 4-mile hot and steep climb to the finish in the interest of time(?). Others, however, take the time to got the the River to cool off, but they just dangle their feet into the icy waters taking care not to get too wet. Other runners dip in, clothes and all, but don't take off their hats and sunglasses and are careful not to lose them to the currents. The RUCKY CHUCKY RIVER BABES, however, JUMP IN...HEADS UNDER FULL matter how icy the River (and there are years where it has been ICY). Each year, we christened a few more Babes.

But, don't worry that YOU only went in up to your pits; one of the membership criterion is that you have to be a girl to be a BABE. So, next year, maybe you can start your own club, like the Rucky Chucky River Dudes club or something.

Things to think about late on a Tuesday night...

-Lisa :)

Phil said...

I still think that it's incredible that you can go out and run these trails day after day and live to write about it. The pictures were fantastic.

Gretchen said...

It's so key to the confidence to put in a weekend like this. The hardest work has been done and you are prepared. Yeeee Haw!! There must be nothing else like the excitement for this historic race. Don't forget to enjoy every minute!It's funny, the weather here in Tahoe has just plumetted, and the mountains got a small coat of snow last night. This would be great weather for States, chilly even at night, with no heat training necessary. I doubt it will last though, so it's good that it was warm over training camp weekend.
You sound totally prepared Eric, I'm excited for you!

Bruce said...

Hey thanks for you comments Eric, appreciate it. The tip on stengthening the stabiliser muscles is a good one which I will use. I had been doing this but not with the eyes closed. Makes it a bit tougher.

miss petite america said...

a no pee zone???? for why?

your posts always leave me utterly amazed.

Ryan said...

Thanks for sharing your Western States weekend adventure. What a great opportunity to run the course. Sure looks like a great time even though that 1st day was tuff but you continued on a got some key training elements. Keep up the hard work Eric...almost time to shine!

Gotta Run said...

What an honor to meet George. That must have been just awesome!!!!

Your runs and trails sounding fantastic and makes me want to go and hit the trails right now.

Your mind set sounds right on target for WS!!!

Thank you for all the details and photos

Julie B said...

What a great training weekend! Some heat, some canyons, some river canyons; wonderful. A two mile no pee zone? I've never heard of such a thing. Of course, that is when I'd have to go. I haven't been selected 2x so next year should be the one. Have a great race, I look forward to reading all about it!

Anonymous said...