Monday, October 22, 2012

Weaver Basin 50k, October 13, 2012

I started out with this long-winded dissertation about Weaver Basin 50k, but thankfully (mostly for you, the reader) I realized I wasn’t giving this race the justice it deserved, nor was I coming even close to conveying how much I enjoyed this race.

(That's where all the fun will be happening - the Trinity Alps)

(Very runnable first half)
I chose Weaver Basin as the last race of my running season mostly because it was so close to home, practically in my back yard at only 2 hours away (normally, I have to drive anywhere from 4 to 8 hours for a race).  The race was a benefit for the Trinity High Athletics Department, and even as I type those words, I find it slightly depressing that our schools have to have fund raisers in order to have activities as character building as athletics.  But I digress . . . .

I drove over Friday afternoon, checked into my hotel room, got my bib number at Main Street Shoes and met the very nice Roxanne (who I think was the co-RD or at the very least was one of the sort of sadistic minds behind the course), and topped off the day by attending the spaghetti feed at the Fire Hall, also a fund raiser for the athletics department.  In doing so, I was privileged to meet a woman who was celebrating losing 95 pounds and a guy who had lost over 100 pounds (both running the 30k the next day), as well as Wayne, who is from Eureka, too.  (Yea! Another local trail runner!)  Wayne and I ended up getting engrossed in our own tales of trail running (he’s run Western States three times), and soon it was time to mosey on back to our respective lodges to get ready for the next day.
(Prepared for the  next day and representin' the 3NJs!!)
Thankfully, Gus Kormeier, the RD, had set the start time at a respectable 8:00 a.m., so I got to sleep in, somewhat.  By the time I arrived at the high school parking lot at 7:30, a number of runners had already arrived.  The 30k and 50k would start at 8:00, and the 10k at 9:00 (I think).  All total, there were close to 70 runners signed up for all three races.  Did I mention this was the inaugural race?  I suspect that once word gets out regarding what a fantastic event this was and how great the trail is, they’ll end up with more participants than they’ll know what to do with (at least I hope so).
(T-shirts hot off the press!)

I had already decided I was going to take my time running this race.  It was the last after a long training season, and I just wanted to enjoy myself.  In talking the night before, Wayne and I figured since we were both going slow, we might end up running together some.  At the end of the first 3 miles (a lollipop loop), I was at the back of the pack (not a surprise), and as I left the first aid station, Wayne was slightly ahead of me.  He slowed down so I could catch up and in that silent agreement that happens between trail runners, we running the next 9 miles together.  At about Mile 12.22 I stepped off the trail to get some salt pills and didn’t catch up with him again until approximately Mile 22.
(Me and Wayne at Jackass Ridge Aid Station)

In the interim, I accidentally went off trail, but only for about 1/4 mile total (um - there are no other shoe prints in the dirt.  I don’t think I belong here), got to feel like a champion for a moment as I climbed the trail to AS#4 to the theme from “Chariots of Fire,” stuffed my face throughout the race with bananas, potatoes, Pepsi (BPP), and red vine licorice (my stomach was happy with this combo), and had the pleasure of interacting with wonderful and helpful aid station workers, all of whom I can only ascertain were friends, family, and parents of the RD and/or the kids of Trinity High.
(Jackass Ridge Aid Station Crew)

I called the RD sadistic earlier, didn’t I?  It was all in jest, but the reason is because of how he laid out this race.  There was approximately 4700 feet of elevation gain, and almost all of it is in the second half.  He sucks you in with a very runnable first half, then at Mile 15.25 begins throwing the climbs at you.  The first is half a mile and full of switchbacks.  However, at the top you are greeted with a sign that says:

followed by another sign telling you you get a  brief reprieve

 After that, it’s an up and down fest that tests your will, but never feels insurmountable.  Your quads get a workout, but what do you expect?  It’s a trail race!  In grading the trail on a scale of 1 to 5 ala Ultrarunner Magazine, I’d say the first half is around a 2-2.5 and the second half is around a 3.5.
(Halfway up the first major climb)

The only time I felt slightly uncomfortable was during the 2 ½ miles at the top of the first climb.  There were a lot of shoe prints in the dirt, but over the top of some of those prints were the paw prints of a large cat.  The question: When were those paw prints made?  With 13 people ahead of me, I doubted the prints were made over the shoe prints of those who had marked the trail the day before.  It was just a matter of whether the cat had been through there moments or a couple of hours before me.  This was incentive to kick it up a notch and get the heck outta there.

At about Mile 19, I hit the 5th aid station and the high point of the race, elevation-wise.  There was an older gentleman and a teenage boy working this station, and they were happy to see me since I was the last runner to come through.  The man couldn’t have been more helpful and was concerned about me getting food while he helped me refill my fluid bladder.  I grabbed some more BPP and red licorice, thanked them for being there and took off.  Wayne was leaving the station as I was climbing up to it, and about 15 minutes after I left, I caught up to him.  Unfortunately, he was having a some significant knee issues and was having a hard time running down hill or climbing.  I stayed with him for about 15 minutes or so, but soon we had another silent agreement that I needed to keep going, so I wished him luck and took off.

There was a lot of downhill after leaving the 5th AS.  It wasn’t extremely technical, but neither was all of it smooth sailing.  Plus, I was getting tired and had to work hard to not use my quads as brakes.  I was happy to arrive at AS #6 and stuff my face with BPP and some potato chips.  As I left, one of the workers told me, “You have 9 miles left.  Cross the road and you get to climb.”  Me with a grin: “Well, that’s disappointing.”  The next five miles was a combo of some good climbing and descending.  I could hear the creek down below me, and at one point if I had been willing to go slightly off trail and climb down some rocks, I could’ve gotten wet, but I just didn’t have it in me. 
(Perty, ain't it!)
About an hour later after descending some rutty service road and starting a little bit of a climb, I saw a guy and dog who had been at the start.  He yelled, “How you doing?”  Me, smiling: “Pooped, but not defeated!”  Him: “The last aid station is just over that rise.”  I had been on the move for around 7 hours and this would be my third and last time through my favorite aid station, Jackass Aid Station.  These ladies were fantastic, and we had the honor of coming through this AS three times.  My third time through, they were packing things up, but were still full of enthusiasm and asking what I needed before I got to them.  I asked if they had extra water, which they did, and I had dumped a couple of cups over my head when one of the ladies walked up with a gallon of water and gave me a good dousing.  It felt so good!

It was four miles to the end, and I’m not ashamed to say I was getting tuckered out.  I walked more than I wanted to, but I can honestly say I was still thoroughly enjoying myself.
(Almost there!)
 The last couple of miles, the course took us back down the initial service road we’d run up, then off to the left on some craggy road (or wash or something), then up to a point above the high school football field.  By then, I could see the finish line down below me, and I hustled as fast as I could down a grassy hillside to the dirt track circling the field, and ran my heart out around half the track to finish in 8:03.  To top it off, I came in third female and actually got some swag!  As I told the RD, “There must not have been very many of us.”  He smiled and said, “Three.”  Hey, I’ll take a placement wherever I can get it . . . especially since the only placement I’ve had before is DFL.

lthough I was worried about Wayne and if he’d be able to finish, I needed to clean up and get on the road as I had a 2+ hour drive ahead of me.  The results show he finished about half an hour after me, and I tip my hat to his determination.

This was a great course that I highly recommend.  It was extremely well marked, and all the volunteers get an A++ in my book.  Because the first half is so runnable, it makes for a fast course for the right runner, like Winner Ryan Ghelfi who finished in 3:48:12. (Say, what??)  I'll definitely go back.

No comments: