What better way to spend a long weekend than running 74 miles on the Western States course with tons of other people who think this is not only normal but great fun??
I stayed with my parents in Lincoln and then took off every morning to run. Camp was AWE-SOME in that the trail was great, the organization was amazing, and the food was fantastic. A mere twenty bucks a day for transportation, fully stocked aid stations, and a hot meal each day after the run - this is not only a great experience, but a great deal!
Day 1: 32 miles from Robinson Flat to Foresthill - a killer day with the two major canyons. The day was hot and I even splashed in a cool mountain stream for a bit, which is pretty rare for me since I usually dread cold water. I was dragging from Michigan Bluff to the finish and I started to worry that I wouldn't be able to handle the mileage over the next two days, so worried I even took a dreaded ice bath. Not sure why I am so loathe to take one - they never bother me all that much.
Day 2: 20 miles from Foresthill to the River. I started out slow and I was definitely feeling the previous day, but I seemed to loosen up quickly. I was just starting to feel good, when I hit my toe on the side of the trail and took one of my hardest falls ever, leaving me with a jagged laceration and some long scrapes down my shin. At the first Aid Station, Tim Tweitmeyer filled my water bottle and he says to me "You've got some blood running down your leg." I nonchalantly tell him I fell. "Well, you can wash it off at the river." That's kind of funny since the river is about seven miles away, but I agree this is what I'll do. I refrain from telling him he is my ultramarathon hero and that I haved put all of my faith in training for the AC100 on his 1996 WS training log. Instead I just thank him for filling my bottle and head off to the river. This whole section only has one little climb and a couple of steep downhills the rest is really runnabale the whole way. There's a party going on at the River Aid station and I take my time. I finally leave with Portlander Larry Stevens, whose done WS before and is in it again this year. Despite that we still go a half milepast the river crossing before we realize we are off course. So we head back and when I get to the river, once again I am in up to my thighs in an instant and splashing water all over myself. It felt great for the climb back up to the bus!
Day 3 (22 miles, green gate to Auburn): Day 3 was maybe the most fun for me because I spent the most time running with other people. I ran quite a bit with Rena Schuman, and by the end of the day I was completely in awe. She is running strong at 48 and going for her 9th WS finish in a couple of weeks. You go girl! I also ran a bit with Greg Smith, a fellow Oregonian, who I think was a bit surprised to see me hanging with him as he told me at least three times that I was running well that day. The highlight of the day was crossing No Hands Bridge. Despite how tired I felt after Day 1, I seemed to be doing OK and even passed 8 people on the climb up to the finish in Auburn.
The whole experience was great and I highly recommend the Western States training camp, even if you have no intention of running Western States. Be warned though: this is no cushy camp. I was completely drained afterwards! I took Tuesday off, swam for an hour on Wednesday because I still didn't feel up to running, and I Thursday I did 3.5 of the slowest and most painful miles I have ever run and that was after getting a massage! I took it easy Saturday, doing only one Mary's Peak loop (14.5 miles) while everybody else did two. I only just now feel like I am getting some zing back in my legs. It seems like I am doing OK with the running these days, but recovery is still hard for me.