I ran one long trail race last year and it gave me a little taste of what ultra marathons are like. They are very different than marathons. Marathons are done on roads (typically) and all about speed and pounding pavement. Ultra-marathons are typically on trails and more about getting through the distance. And, the trails are just gorgeous! Challenging but you get some stunning views! The aid stations are more than people shoving dixie cups of water or gatorade at you but tables with all kinds of food and kind volunteers. So, after my marathons, I wanted to try an ultra this year. And as luck would have it, I got into WTC!
On this day, there was a special FREE Cool Fun Training Run. A couple hundred runners came out for this organized training run. There were various distance options for people. I opted to do the long run (which was supposed to be 23 miles).
Me and some running friends (some Java Joggers and some Folsom Trail Runners) carpooled out there. Met many more other running friends (from both groups) at the Cool Firehouse. We then headed off for our 20-something mile journey around Cool. The first few miles were easy paced as there was quite the line of runners. We get down to Quarry trails and the trails widen so people start spacing themselves out more. I was running with some fast guys but we were laughing and having a good time.
We hit one hill and some of the guys just flew up it. I opted to take it a little easier rather than chase them as I had a lot more miles to cover. My buddy Scott opted to do the same. Scott & I have been running a lot lately and we seem to run about the same pace. So, it was nice having a running buddy during these long training runs.
We got through Quarry trails and headed on the Dead Truck loop, some new trails for Scott and me. They were beautiful! Again, how I just LOVE LOVE LOVE trail running! There's just something wonderful about being out in nature, running these trails. It wasn't until I become more of a serious runner that I come to realize that I live so close to amazing running territory.
Around mile 11-12ish, I start getting a little weary. I take some GU and keep trucking along. I am glad Scott is with me to chat with and keep me going. There's a special bond that develops when runners run together. And, I feel like Scott & I definitely further bonded on this run!
Then, we hit the aid station. There's some snacks, which I was grateful to see as I was getting hungry. I drank a little coke too (I am a major coke addict so this really helps!). After this, we head along some of my favorite trail sections out there. They're single track, windy with little rollers. Some of it you can just go flying on, like a roller coaster! And again, the views are gorgeous!
Around mile 16ish, I can tell I am getting weary. I try to make sure I am fueling every 30 minutes but I can tell I am a lot more tired than previous times I have run through this section. Of course in the previous times, I had not run quite so much when I got to these trails.
At mile 18, we hit the dread Goat Hill. This is a beastly hill. Everyone pretty much trudges up it. I have gone it at mile 12ish or so. But, not at mile 18. And, boy was it much harder. Towards the top, I was wishing I had a rope that I could use to pull myself up it.
After the hill, I was so wiped out, I could not keep up with Scott anymore. I was just dragging my way through the rest of this run. A couple miles later, my hamstring cramped a little. I took some GU and drank more electrolytes hoping it'd pass (which it kind of did). I also wasn't going to push myself too much. This was after all, just a training run.
The last couple miles were uphill again. But, I kept going. Around mile 21, I felt like I was close to the Cool Firehouse. As I was running in, I realized the route was going to be less than 23 miles. I was not going to complain! I was ready to be done!
I finished and saw a bunch of my running friends! Everyone brought food to share so it was this giant potluck afterwards! It was AWESOME! The soup someone had made really hit the spot. I downed a bunch of cold cokes. All that really helped. And, it was good fun hanging with my running friends. Since I started training for WTC, I have been running a little more with Folsom Trail Runners (FTR) and have made some new friends as a result. There are just some fun people in the group. Some I find are even crazier than me. I love it!
Despite the training run being a bit brutal towards the end, I had a lot of fun. Great company out. Another wonderful sunny day out on the trails. And, I was glad to get the training in and get myself even more familiar with the race course. I think I need to play around more with my fueling plan. I still have about six weeks or so before the race to get myself even more trained up. This is my longest trail run to date! Going to keep coming out!
Thanks James Barstad for putting on such a fun, well-organized event! I thank all the volunteers out there! You were great! All the runners for bringing wonderful food/drinks to share after the run! And, great fun running with many of you Folsom Trail Runners today, especially you Scott Engquist! :)