I got an extra hour of sleep last night, since today's run didn't start until 8:30, and there was no pre-run bus to worry about. It was a chilly morning again, with temperatures hovering in the mid-40s, but the sun seemed to promise an appearance. I snapped a picture of the terrain below that would host many of my 19 miles just as I entered Foresthill for the second day of our weekend training runs. It was one of those mornings that reminded me how much I love being a runner.
My legs felt good after yesterday's workout, and I gave myself enough time to stretch for a few minutes as we milled around the Foresthill Elementary School. The talk of the morning was the snowfall that occurred near Tahoe again yesterday, with Squaw Valley receiving another six inches overnight. One thing is clear: we're all going to get the chance to run through a few miles of snow next month.
I met up with the guys I found myself running with yesterday, and after the pre-run instructions again (this time including a few words about both mountain lions and trail pooping--no joke!), we were off along the paved road to California Street.
My coach wanted me to hammer this run, since it was mostly downhill and runnable. We hit the location of the Cal-1 aid station now known as Dardanelles around 26:30 in for the nearly 3 1/2 miles. I knew the next stretch had even more of an opportunity to abuse the quads, and without looking at splits, the effort felt like we picked it up a notch as we arrived to Cal-2, now known as Peachstone, in 1:04. That aid station was manned by a who's who of ultrarunning, including Tim Twietmeyer (who apparently is EVERYWHERE this weekend), Craig Thornley, and last year's second place female Meghan Arbogast, though with the last two, I didn't realize this until later when someone mentioned it to me.
The next stretch down to the American River included a huge climb along a fire road, but we managed to keep up the pace. I arrived with my fellow entrant Chris from Monterey to the Rucky Chucky aid station an hour after Peachstone in 2:04 from the time we left Foresthill.
After refueling for two minutes, we started up a steep road for three miles to White Oak Flat, the day's endpoint. This stretch was part of the historical Western States course, but featured a downhill run to the Rucky Chucky crossing rather than our slow hike along the soft dirt road. Chris continued to attack the hills with a slow jog, while I mixed a fast walk with my slow jog and fell behind him a bit. Two miles up the road, we bumped into Chris's girlfriend as we took a right turn onto a rocky, rooty singletrack path. Before long, though it felt like an eternity, we emerged at White Oak Flat. The buses scheduled to take the runners back to Foresthill weren't scheduled to arrive for another thirty minutes, but we fortunately had a ride with entrant Dave's wife. We ate a few slices of watermelon, enjoyed hot dogs hot off the grill, and then loaded up Dave's car in all our sweaty glory for the ride back to Foresthill.
19 miles in 2:44, with 40 of those minutes in the three plus mile climb out of the canyon. Time for a drink at the Auburn Ale House!