For those that haven't heard of the Western States Endurance Run, it is a 100 mile trail race starting from Squaw Valley and ending in Auburn. One of the oldest ultra trail races and one of THE races for ultra runners to run. You have to qualify to get into the lottery and then hope you get picked in the lottery to be able to run this race.
Now, they had some training runs set up and even those not running Western States could sign up. So, I did. For this February training run, we were running the last 20 miles of the Western States.
Numerous runners gathered at Placer High School in Auburn (where the race finish is). This morning, I park down the street and was having trouble finding all the things I needed, namely a water bottle and my gloves. Knowing that it is nearly 8:00 a.m., I run from my car to the school. As I turn the corner to the parking lot, I see the first few buses start pulling out. Good grief, I begin sprinting to where the last couple runners are checking in, praying the bus would not leave me behind.
Fortunately, they got me checked in real quickly and told the bus to wait just a moment for one more runner. I am the last runner to get on the last bus. Whew! There isn't even a seat for me. I had to squeeze in next to two runners in the first row. And, we are no longer kids anymore so three people don't exactly fit well on the seat but I didn't care. I made it on the bus!
The bus drives us out to the middle of nowhere (by some green gate) and drops us off. Now, we have to run back to Auburn. 20 miles on some tough trails. I find some fellow Folsom Trail Runners and off we go. Most of the run, I run with Sophia & Scott. They are great running buddies. We have a lot of fun together as we trek along the 20 miles. Some sections were particular tough and we have to hike it. As we trudge along, we think about how there are people who just fly up this section, in the dark, having already run 80-90 miles! Amazing but crazy!
The trails are beautiful and it is a rather nice, cool-ish day out on the trails. A ton of runners out. Some runners traveled from far off places to run these trails. I feel lucky that these amazing trails are basically in my backyard and I can run them anytime I feel like it.
After we cross No Hands Bridge, there's the second aid station. I eat a couple potatoes with salt (which really hits the spot) and get my coke fix. Then, we start going uphill. Up and up and up. When we finally are done going up on the trails, we turn to go up on the streets through the neighborhoods in Auburn. We continue going up and up and up. It feels like we are going up forever! Finally, at one point, we see the "mile 99 sign" and that we have one more mile to go! Geez! It's hard to imagine people those that are running the race having to drag themselves up this endless hill! We're only 20 miles into the run and we're beat!
Finally, we get to Placer High School (we don't run on the track where the actual finish line would be in the race). I see a few other running friends and we all hang out for a bit. A few runners had seen me earlier running after the buses so were happy to see that I had made it on the bus. The organizers have set out a great breakfast for us. I get into the line and the guy asks me "what would you like?" I say "everything." I get some potatoes, bacon, sausage, and two pancakes. A nice guy opens up a can of coke for me too! oh, that just hit the spot!
For a training run, this was a rather well organized event. Everyone was friendly. The aid stations were great with some great snacks and soda! The post-run was really nice too! And, it was fun to see so many runners out on these trails. There were some points where we were like a long congo line, a single file line of runners all trucking along for miles on end.
Now, the most painful part of my day was not the run. After eating, I see a few running friends getting massages so I decide to get one too. This older couple is giving the massages. I should have known what I was in for seeing the runners before me squirm and yelp. I ran 20+ miles today, with a bleeding blister on my heel, rolled an ankle twice...even with all of that, my massage was the most painful thing of my day! Seriously, the guy had to hold me down and I was gripping the massage table for dear life. But, I guess it was good. Most painful experience ever! Not the run, the massage! After the massage, the guy handed me a business card...it said "Monsters of Massage"...how appropriate! lol!
All in all, a very fun day. Not sure how I became this crazy person who thinks it's a fun day to go running/hiking 20+ miles on some lovely trails out in the middle of nowhere. But, I have become that person. And, loving it! :)