We agreed (me, begrudgingly) to meet at 6:45 somewhere in the middle and carpool ourselves to ADO (Auburn Damn Overlook). It was the day after the Fourth of July! Granted, we (meaning me), did most of our celebrating early in the day and on the evening of the 3rd of July, but I wanted a few more minutes of sleep. Luckily, Pigeon let me sleep a few extra minutes and pushed our run back (she originally wanted to be IN Auburn and running right at 6:45 am).
When we got to Auburn, we hopped out of the car and pretty much just took off. I wore my Ultimate Direction Jenny Vesta because the past few weekends I have been testing out how I want to use it when I am pacing Pigeon in two weeks. I think I have decided on a plan of attack. I’ll use the hydration bladder and one bottle (jug) to allow myself some extra storage room.
Almost immediately into our run we hear something off to the side and not 5 feet from us are a couple of beautiful deer having some breakfast. I just knew it was going to be one of those days on the trail. The kind of day where it is just gorgeous out and I find myself smiling from ear to ear no matter what.
The first couple of miles Pigeon and I talked, a lot. We talked about the recent happenings in our lives and also about TRT and what lies ahead for her.
The trail was dry and very dusty. When we approached the first “stream” crossing waterfall or watering hole, (however you want to describe it), Pigeon immediately got down and doused her bandana to wear around her neck. Even at 7 am, the temps were getting pretty warm. This SHOULD have been an indication or warning to us that the day would be a hot one, but we both sort of just shook it off and kept running.
We ran down towards No Hands Bridge, across and up towards K2. I knew where we were going without even having to say it. I didn’t mind. There is a porta potty at the end of No Hands so I decided that was the perfect time for a quick break.
The climb up K2 felt pretty effortless for both of us. We’d climb, talk and stop on occasion but for the most part we hiked pretty solidly all the way up.
I was pretty excited that I was feeling really well. I had some tummy troubles in the beginning but I always have tummy troubles. Once that subsides, I am generally a happy camper.
Pigeon always tests me out on the trails. She’ll ask me ‘which way’ at every turn or corner. She knows that I am generally looking down (trying not to fall) instead of watching where we are running. I think I can safely say, that I can park at ADO and run to No Hands, across and up K2 and possibly even the full loop without getting lost.
Which is kind of funny because if I park at the Cool fire station and you ask me to run to No Hands, I’d probably get us lost. 🙂
As we were coming to the point in our run where we could go back down towards No Hands or go straight and head to the Cool fire station we decided to hit the fire station. In my head I was thinking porta potty.
When we reached the parking lot though we both took some fuel and just stood there. We emptied our trash in the bin and pretty much just turned around and headed back out on the trail. We knew there was fresh water at the fire house but neither one of us thought to stop and fill up our packs. We thought we’d be fine with what we had (aaaah, hind sight IS 20/20).
When we reached No Hands Bridge again, Pigeon turned to me in the dead sun and said, “So I completely underestimated how hot it would be today. I have very little water left. This is going to be a long hike back.” I also felt like I didn’t have much water in my pack, but I also hardly use my hydration bladder, normally relying on my water bottles up front.
It was warming up pretty intensely on our way back and the trail was getting pretty crowded with hikers, runners and horseback riders.
Our pace was slowing considerably as we hiked more than we ran. At times, it felt like we were running from shaded section to shaded section. Finally, Pigeon tells me that her pack is completely empty. So I take off mine and I pull out my hydration bladder and realize that it was still pretty fully and I happily poured half of my water into her pack. Another runner was passing us as we were doing this and asked if we were good on water.
Off we went. This time, I knew that when we approached that waterfall, that I too was going to dunk my bandana in and rinse myself off a bit. I was sweating a lot. As we ran down the hill approaching the waterfall, we noticed that it was pretty crowded. It was full of hikers who clearly looked like they had taken on an adventure without realizing how hot it was outside. Many of them were sitting IN the waterfall.
Pigeon and I ran up, not really noticing too much and just squatted down in the water and took off our bandanas. We rinsed our faces, necks and arms. I looked up and I realized that everyone in the waterfall was glaring at us like we were some wild animals in a zoo who had approached them and were going about our natural course of wild life business.
I wanted to pull out my camera SO bad and take a photo but I didn’t. As we climbed out of the water and back onto the trail, quite a few more hikers were splattered around the trail. I turned to Pigeon and said, “Did you feel like you were an animal in the zoo back there with everyone sort of just staring at us as we cooled off?” She looked at me and busted up laughing, “Yes!” she said.
For the life of us, we couldn’t stop laughing about what had just transpired which for me, made the remaining sweltering miles, fly by a little faster.
When we finally reached the horse staging area, we decided to head straight for the canal. We were pretty overheated at this point and our nice little 15 mile run that should have taken us 3 hours or less, had taken us over 3.5 hours.
I have talked about the canal before but I am not sure I have ever posted a photo of it. To many non runners, this probably seems pretty gross …
For trail runners however, the canal is the perfect place to cool off during the hot summer months and in the cold winter months, it provides an amazing full body ice bath for recovery.
I am incredibly excited for TRT in two weeks. For starters, Be-Well-Run is flying all the way from Whistler Canada to help myself, Missouri and a few others crew for Pigeon. I love when she comes to visit. Second, just being in Tahoe for TRT is probably one of the most exciting times for a runner. I have crewed for Pigeon a few times (you can read about them by clicking here (2010) and here (2012)Â and here (2013)Â ). Â In 2011 I skipped but I had an excuse (Squeaker was only about a month old), but Pigeon ran the TRT 50K in 2011 as well, read about that here.
I truly believe Pigeon is ready. Not only is her training spot on, but her mind is in the game. Not that her mind wasn’t in the game before, but I think having experienced this race at the 100 mile distance once before, has put her in a whole new realm of readiness.
The support she has behind her as well, no matter the outcome, is beyond amazing. There is no denying the Pigeon that I met in 2010 is not the Pigeon I run and train with now just four years later. Some of that change comes from life experiences and some of it comes from her amazing and supportive wife Missouri. Most of it though, I think comes from Pigeon’s desire, drive, confidence and diligence in making sure she is 100% ready to conquer her goal. She is a goal driven runner. Someone I’d admire and feel lucky enough to call my running partner and friend.
…to old habits … don’t worry, Trailmomma.com is not going anywhere. 🙂
This week seemed a little less crazy and hectic than the week before. Sure we had a bunch of random activities and things to attend to almost every night of the week, but either they seemed less stressful or maybe we are used to the crazy train routine now. Who knows. The Summer has definitely been jam-packed with all sorts of things lately which generally makes us happy, but it also makes us realize how quickly the days are flying by.
The one thing that happened this week that was sort of a surprise to me was the fact that the place I have been going to every morning at 5 am for the last two years closed its doors. Breakout Fitness Folsom closed on Friday. Diane, the woman behind the gym, has decided to go back to coaching and training outside instead of inside. She wants to coach fewer days too. So while she is still coaching, the park where she is now going to hold classes, is a bit too far for me to manage and be able to get to work on time each day.
At first I will admit, this made me angry. I am normally okay at adapting to change but this was MY thing. This was what I did each morning that I absolutely loved and that has changed my fitness in ways I cannot describe. It helped me fall even more in love with TRXÂ and showed how important core work can be (and how far I have to go to get a strong core). So to have this part of my day removed from my routine was a tough pill to swallow.
I want nothing but the best for Diane, I truly do. She has always been one of my biggest cheerleaders whether it was training for something, encouraging me to step outside the box and pursue some things I am passionate about or just improving my fitness she always was a voice of encouragement.
Needless to say, I did some research on my own and located a place closer to my house (I think) that has 5 am classes that are similar to what I was doing at Diane’s. You would be surprised to find that many places (gyms included) do not have early morning class. I guess many people just go to work later or work out after work but those are not options for me. I need 5 am. I also need more sleep but that second part is my own fault.
Wednesday I will be testing out a new gym with new people. Stepping outside my comfort zone a bit and trying something new. I hope it works out. I’ve been talking with Gold Country Girl too about potentially doing our own workouts in the mornings that would involve the same type of things that I did at Diane’s. Gold Country Girl is a personal trainer and has her own clients, but like most personal trainers, she doesn’t get to workout herself if she is coaching others. She, like a lot of women, has to squeeze in her workout before her hubby goes to work in the morning.
Speaking of Gold Country Girl, the Peanut had another swim meet this week in Loomis and once again, Gold Country Girl’s family let us crash in their tent while at the meet.
The Peanut has been struggling lately with diving. She wants to do it, but cannot get over the fear of the belly flop. Finally, towards the end of the week while at practice, she managed to figure it out. She was determined to try it at the meet this weekend but not from the starting blocks (they are really high).
When her first event (25 yard free style) came up, she looked nervous but she stood on side of the blocks while a lot of the other kids stood ON the blocks. When they said “take your mark” she bent over like a pro. When the buzzer went off, she dove! She actually did it! While probably not a 10 on the dive scale, she actually did it and then she started to swim. You can tell she wasn’t give it her all but she was doing it and she ended up in 2nd place for her heat!
Vans and I were super proud of her and you can tell, she was proud of herself. Next up was her 25 yard back stroke (which in real-time didn’t happen for another hour or so after the freestyle swim). Not sure what went on in her little head but her mood changed. While standing in line, another kid from the opposing team bumped or hit her (I am sure it was accidental) and this set her off. She started to cry and couldn’t regain her composure. When it was time for her backstroke, she got in pool. When the buzzer went off, she just swam. She didn’t kick off the wall, she barely even moved her arms. You would have thought she was just floating down the pool instead of racing. This killed Vans and myself. No matter what we feel like, we always try andÂ give it our all. I know the Peanut is still young and she can care less about competition (even if it is with herself). As a parent though, it just breaks my heart (and lights a fire in me) because I want to see her succeed. I want her to see herself the way WE do. She is a pretty good swimmer, I would say better than average and even at such a young age, the mind games are playing with her.
She has a week off from any meets so I am hoping this down time, even though she has practice still, will recharge her batteries.
Speaking of recharge, I needed to recharge myself with a little trail run. Gold Country Girl and I had decided that we’d attempt a super early run on Sunday trying to make it home before our kids were awake. I also had to work at the store so I wanted to be home in time to have some down time before I went to work.
We agreed to meet at 6 am at the trail head down the street from my house and conveniently, hers as well. She invited her friend, Mom in Motion who is also going to run this 50K in November. Our plan simple, a two hour run however far that would take us. One hour out and then one hour back so we could all be home.
We decided to run towards Folsom Lake, my usual jaunt these days when running local and it was beautiful morning for a run. The trails were quiet, no dog walkers and just a few mountain bikers.
The lake was pretty as always but the area surrounding everything is dry and brown. We have had some fires recently in the area and things are getting a little dangerous because all the brush is just dried up. One little spark, and everything could go up in flames.
When we got to the point where we were going to turn around and run back, I decided we needed to take some photos. Pigeon is used to my “selfies” on the trail but both Gold Country Girl and Mom in Motion had not experienced running with me yet (and becoming blog victims).
After I snapped one of them we decided to try and get a group shot. I personally cannot stand the “arm stretched out let’s take a selfie shot” because no matter what I do, I look like I have a tree branch for an arm and a double chin.
Gold Country Girl looks likes a creeper in that photo so we decided try it again ….
Okay, not only do we have mega large heads, the flash went off ….
That would be the weird arm in the photo trying not to have a double chin pose … this is when I decided that whoever is on the OUTSIDE of the group, needed to hold the camera …
We’ll get there. We are new at running with each other but come September, our miles on the trails together will increase tremendously as we start training for our 50K.
When we finished our run, we parted ways and I made the trek up the hill to my house. My tummy had started to revolt so I was happy to be done as I don’t think I could have made it another mile!
I guess this is a good start to a week of new things. A longer run with two new friends, trying out a new gym on Wednesday and the Peanut learning to dive. We all need to step outside our comfort zone a little I think once in a while. Try new things. Give it your all no matter what otherwise, you’ll never know what you might be missing.
As I mentioned in my last post, the Peanut is now on a swim team which makes finding time for long trail runs a little harder to manage. She practices almost 4 sometimes 5 days a week (whether with the team or at Steve Wallen Swim School) and has a meet every Saturday until August.
This past weekend was her second swim meet and her very first “away” meet (visiting the Sierra Sharks in Cameron Park). What is new for the Peanut is also new for Vans and myself. We are not used to this sort of thing as neither one of us was ever on a swim team. Soccer? Sure! I know all about traveling to tournaments and playing two games in one day (3 or 4 on a weekend)Â but I was never the PARENT in that situation. Dear Dad, I am sorry for all those crazy hot tournaments that you drove me to … luckily you didn’t haveÂ a 2 (almost 3) year old Squeaker to drag along with you. Poor kid!
It was one HOT weekend but the TrailmommaÂ family rallied like troopers. Thank goodness for GCRS Girl and her family. They are veterans of the swimÂ meet and truly help us out in a way that I cannot even describe.
We arrived at the pool, found GCRS and family and set up our little camp. The kids immediately go into “what cool snacks did we pack” mode. Swim meets = eating lots of random snack and junk food.
The Peanut was listed in two events again, the 25 yard freestyle and the 25 yard back stroke. When it came time for her freestyle event we made our way down to the pool. Unsure of the set up, we noticed that they had regulation diving blocks instead of the mini-ones the 6 and Under kids are used to.
Vans and I separate and each move to one endÂ of the pool. This race, the Peanut was swimming towards Squeaker and myself. I saw her shake her head and refuse to get on the block … that’s ok, they are not required to jump from there.
When the buzzer blew, she jumped and started swimming. I was cheering so loud hoping that she could hear me under the water. All of a sudden, I notice that she’s one of the first few reaching the wall! She touched the wall and the timer turned to me and said “She got first place!” What?! My Peanut had swam FIRST in her heat!! She came out of the pool and I told her that she may have won AND that she beat her previous time by almost TEN SECONDS!!! Huge accomplishment. She was glowing.
She was given a bead from the coaches for achieving a PR. I think she was more happy with the bead than the new time!
Next up was her back stroke. Once again, all four of us made our way down to the scorching hot pool. Poor Squeaker was barely hanging in, she was so hot.
Starting in the water, the Peanut was put into lane 5. We were told by GCRS Girl that lanes 4 and 5 are reserved for the “fastest” of swimmers. When the buzzer went off, the Peanut pushed off the wall and started her back stroke. She stayed almost 100% straight and I saw her looking for the wall near the end. Instead of giving up and kicking (like she has done in the past) she reached and moved her arms another stroke touching the wall! She was first place AGAIN! She also got another PR by just a hair this time too! Who IS this kid? 🙂
Apparently losing a tooth and gettingÂ a short summer hair cut made all the difference in her strokes this race.:)
When she got her bead, we also treated the kids to smoothies and icies (the post race ritual now I guess).
Once we were home, I blasted into full force mode. Lunch for the girls, nap for Squeaker and a hot hot run for me. I just needed to get few miles in and it was blistering hot outside so I picked what I thought would be the shadiest route.
6 miles later I arrived home completely drenched but I felt better. It was probably the toughest 6 miles I have done in a while.
I saved some energy because I knew on Sunday I would be running with Pigeon and we were planning to do 10 to 12 miles.
Our goal was to start at 6:30 am and run some of the same route I had on the day prior. Pigeon was kind enough to come run in my hood knowing that I had to work at 10:30 am.
When she arrived I was having some shoe difficulty but soon we were off and noticing how warm it already was at just 6:45! Ouch.
We ran a few local trails over towards Brown’s Ravine. The first thing we see as we entered Brown’s was aÂ gaggle of turkeys. TONS of them. All over the place and they had babies with them. Great, baby turkeys. The local turkeys are procreating, just what I needed to know!
As we ran I noticed neither one of us was really running like our usual selves. It just seemed like “work” to run. Folsom LakeÂ looked gorgeous though and is definitely filling up with water (slowly).
We saw quite a few FTRÂ runners on the trail too. When my GarminÂ Buzzed 5 miles I stopped. I told Pigeon that we were at 5 and if we head back now, we’d have 1o. “I said 10 or 12,” Pigeon replied. “Ok, are we doing 12 then? We can run to the levee and that might give us a enough,” I say.
“What do you want to do?” Pigeon replies. “Man, if I had a quarter I’d flip it and let that make our decision.” I say half jokingly. “I have a Gu packet!” Pigeon says “Let’s flip that.”
Yes, that is totally a scientific way of making a decision when out on a trail.Â PowerGel side up we continued on (aka Powering On) if it was the back of the packet, we were turning towards home.
Onward we went, all the way to the levee (which really wasn’t much further than where we had flipped the packet). 🙂
The run back was a struggle. Our energy was low, the temps were rising but we still had our sense of humor. We talked about our plans for Tahoe Rim and for some future runs. It as nice to reconnect with Pigeon as it has been a few weeks.
What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger and having what should be a short easy run turn into something that feels like a marathonÂ in a sauna while breathing through a straw is a good thing. It brings your brain and your body to a low point and it is how you reactÂ to that low point that matters. We could have given up and called Vans for a ride home but we didn’t. We hiked onward trying to lift ourselves up. Pigeon is not training for an easy race in July. She will hit low moments and who knows where those moments will strike. They could very well be on a flat easy section. It is how we handle those moments that matters.
As the Peanut has demonstrated recently, hard work in practiceÂ will produce good results. So get to work. 🙂
So in my last post I said I was excited for my run this weekend and boy was I ever! I went from being “ho-hum” about running this week to having a day on the trails where I do not think I stopped smiling for even one minute!
In the four years since we last ran this training run, Pigeon has excelled as an ultra runner. She is officially training for a 100 mile race (again) and I have run my second 50k and my second 50 miler in addition to quite a few marathons. When we ran this run in 2010, we were naive. We both had run one 50 mile race and pretty much signed up for this training run on a whim and decided we could handle it. We did but we were complete novices out on the trail climbing mountains that are pretty intense. While we finished in 2010 laughing the whole way, we had no idea what we had gotten ourselves into on that run.
With quite a bit more mileage under our belt, this time around would be a little different. We both have a lot more respect for this trail. In my mind, there is no better place to run than on this trail as it has a little bit of everything and if you are not careful, the trail can rule your day.
Pigeon and I carpooled to Foresthill Elementary School and checked in with the people putting on this run. We paid the fee to run this organized training run because that not only provides us three fully stocked aid-stations along the way it also goes towards restoration and maintenance of the trail itself.
In 2010 Pigeon and I rode the yellow school buses along with hundreds of others doing this run. This year, Pigeon coordinated with a friend to get us a ride to Robinson Flat so we could avoid the bus. The same ride in a bus takes an hour (and it is a curvy road with no shoulder) … in a car that ride took us a half an hour. That means we’d have a good jump on all the hundreds of other runners headed out for a long day out on the trail.
I agreed to the ride, although I admit I was a little bit worried when she told me who else was coming and the car we would be in Â (a Rav4). The numbers didn’t add up in my head. Where would I sit?
While I was sitting nice and illegal cosy in the back of the Rav4, I listened to everyone talk about their past 100 mile experiences whether in races or on training runs. The whole car was training for a 100 mile race whether it is Western States or Tahoe Rim … and then there was me, in the back. 🙂
When we arrived at Robinson Flat we all got out and stretched and used the facilities. In 2010 there was so much snow on the ground that we could not ride all they way to Robinson Flat. I had forgotten about that and quickly realized that the first 6 miles that I was about to run, I had never seen before!
The excitement started to grow. The girl who drove us was waiting for another person to arrive so Pigeon and I decided to follow some guys who had also avoided the buses and started our run. I didn’t know which way to go and Pigeon had a pretty good idea but we wanted to start out following someone just in case.
Once we left the camp ground and started on the trail following the yellow ribbons, I was in awe. At first we climbed a bit and were behind these guys who seemed equally excited to be out running. At one point they all stopped, not sure which way to go. One guy said he thought we should go right. I looked to my left and saw about 3 yellow ribbons so I said, “I think we go left, there are the ribbons.” Even Pigeon was thinking it was to the right. Luckily we went left. 🙂
Pigeon was cruising pretty fast. She was sticking close to the guys. While I was feeling fine, I could not pass what was before me! Every which way that I turned was the most amazing view I have ever seen!
I was slowly getting left behind because I kept stopping to take photos. I also knew we had a very long day ahead of us and I didn’t want to blow up my quads running down hill racing after the boys. Pigeon was on fire and sticking with them. Me? Nah, I’d rather have a photo op. 🙂
At one point I caught up to Pigeon and the terrible pacer that I am I made her stop. I reminded her that I had never been on this section before and that I was just blown away by the trail and the views … and then I made her take my picture. 🙂
I tucked the camera away (finally) and we kept on running. I knew that I had lots of photos from the second half of the run from 2010 so I needed to make sure I captured all that was before us on the first few miles.
My Jenny Vesta Hydration pack was FULL of fuel and water. I knew there would be aid along the way and mostly I was thinking I would only need water and maybe a few potatoes here and there at the aid-stations. I have been experimenting with my fuel lately and have been relying recently on ProBar products. I am more inclined to use real food instead of gels or chews but the ProBar Bolt chews have been working nicely as well as their ProBar Fuel bars. I prefer the bars most of the time.Â So when Pigeon stopped to find a tree, I had a snack and of course took another photo.
While we were running there would be the occasional runner who would catch up to us and chat for a bit. At one point, a guy who had originally missed the turn but heard us chatting off the trail, ran up behind us and thanked us because we had made him realize he had gone the wrong way. He joined us for a bit.
Now I have shared before that sometimes when Pigeon and I are off running deep in the woods, we will hear the occasional gun shot off in the distance. It sounds miles and miles away and is just the echo throughout the canyons that we generally hear. Not on this day. The three of us are running at one point I had looked down to my right and saw what looked to be a shotgun shell. My brain did a mental pause when all of a sudden we hear BAM! BAM! That wasn’t miles and miles off in the distance that sounded like it was just 15 feet away! The three of us jumped. BAM! again and we looked to our left. We couldn’t see the shooters but they felt way too incredibly close.
With our heart rates pumping, we just kept moving. We came across the first aid-station at Dusty Corners. I didn’t need anything really. I don’t recall what the heck I did at this aid-station other than fill one of my bottles with water.
The temps were definitely rising and in some sections it was down right hot. I felt good though. We just kept trucking along. I knew soon we would be coming to the long descent at Last Chance. It was this section in 2010 leading to Devil’s Thumb that I rolled my right ankle pretty severely and twisted my knee.
It is a very technical descent and the trail is covered in dry leaves so you can’t quite see what is underneath. Pigeon was not bombing the descent like she normally does so I was able to stick pretty close to her. All of a sudden I see her right toe get tripped up on a rock and what followed was in complete slow motion (for me, not sure about her). She trips and starts to fall forward and I go, “oh no!” and as I do, she rights herself almost catching herself from falling. However, out of no where it is as if gravity was pulling her and Pigeon just falls face first down the trail. Her hands didn’t pop out to protect her, at least not from my view but her arms were scrapped and she also ended up with a mouth full of dirt and her feet kicked back behind her like a scorpion’s tail. I did ask her if she was okay but my second question was “can I take a picture?” 🙂 She immediately snapped “no!” and popped up before I could even get my camera out of my pocket.
She had a few minor scrapes on her however we had quite a ways to go until we reached the bottom. Luckily there was a mini stream half way down and Pigeon was able to wash off some of the dirt and blood.
This fall took a lot out of Pigeon. When you fall on a trail run, it is more than just the injury or scrapes that you might end up with. You all of a sudden feel more exhausted than ever and your mind starts to play games with you. Thoughts like “oh, you must be tired” or “I fell because my legs are tired” start creeping into your brain. I was trying to not let Pigeon get down on herself about the fall because we were quickly approaching the toughest climb of the entire day, Devil’s Thumb.
Between Last Chance and Devil’s Thumb is a bridge called The Swinging Bridge. I posted about this in my 2010 post. It was old and scary but it thoroughly did its job of getting runners across the river. However, with the massive fires that this area had last year, this is all that is left of The Swinging Bridge …
Of course I completely forgot all about the bridge or the lack thereof. I had been watching the posts on Facebook over the weeks and I totally confused the construction of “the new bridge” as the replacement for the Swinging Bridge.
So how were we going to get across the river? Not to worry! The Western States crew had thought of everything …
Now the river doesn’t look that high in the photo but those men standing there to help us cross, were standing on rocks. In between those rocks, the water was almost up to our chest! I even asked one of the volunteers to take my photo because you know, I was still smiling.
That dip in the water was SO refreshing. It really cooled the body temperature down which was a good thing because the next item on our agenda was to tackle Devil’s Thumb.
I have only climbed “the thumb” once before. I’ve been to it a few times but the only other time that I actually hike up was back in 2010 with Pigeon. I remember it was tough and I remember going up switch back after switch back.
When we started the climb, Pigeon was leading as usual. I noticed she was getting more and more quiet but we were climbing and I know she was still thinking about that fall. I just stayed behind her and tried to offer some words of encouragement. Occasionally a few other runners would catch us and pass and I know that mentally, it bothered Pigeon. She’d ask to stop a few times and take a breather and that was totally fine with me. I didn’t want to tell her but I was feeling really good on the climb. Of course I was tired and of course my legs were burning, but overall, I just kept putting one foot in front of the other trying to make our way to the top. The top was very far away.
If you look closely at the above photo, you will see little specs of people up the hill. Way up high, between those two trees, is a person and that person is barely half way up this climb. Devil’s Thumb is no joke and we were soaking wet from the chest down (yes, including wet socks and shoes). While it was nice to cool off, it didn’t last long as parts of the Thumb are exposed and as you can tell from above, pretty steep. It was also sad because you can see all the damage from the fires and how barren and charred the trail now looks.
It took a while but we made it. Pigeon had completely sucked her hydration pack dry and finished The Thumb with zero water. She didn’t tell me until we reached the top and I had plenty left in my pack so I handed her one of my bottles that had a few inches of water left. That is what training partners do.
The next aid station would be at the water pump, which the organizers called Deadwood because it is close to Deadwood Cemetery. When Pigeon and I stopped, she filled her pack and I filled my bottles and pack as well. We ate a few things from the aid-station and as we were leaving I asked Pigeon if she wanted to soak the bandanas we had around our neck. We’d stop at a few streams and soaked them along the way putting them on our necks to keep us cool but the pump water is COLD. It felt pretty awesome to soak those and have a nice cool cloth around our neck as we continued on our way toward Michigan Bluff.
The rest of the trail is the same section that we ran just two weeks ago. You can read about that run here and see the photos. It felt like we were on the home stretch and I was still feeling really well however, I knew that we’d soon be entering the El Dorado Creek Canyon and that massive descent which murdered my knees just two weeks prior.
Up until this point, my knees and been feeling pretty good. There were some sections where I would feel a twinge or two but nothing that ever prevented me from moving. El Dorado Creek Canyon leading to Michigan Bluff is a 5.5 mile descent. That is five miles running deeper and deeper into a canyon that doesn’t exactly scream smooth easy trail. It is rocky, technical at times and down right painful when you are battling an IT problem (Iliotibial band). Pigeon’s knee was bugging her from her earlier fall so she wasn’t flying way ahead of me like she had two weeks ago but she was moving a helluva lot faster than I was at times. Occasionally she’d stop and turn and would catch me winching in pain every other step. I may have been wincing, but I was still smiling!
When we got to the bottom, we crossed the bridge and started making our way back out of the canyon towards Michigan Bluff where we knew another aid-station was waiting for us.
As we were climbing, Pigeon started coming back to life. She had a little more pep in her step. Maybe she knew we were close, maybe she had overcome whatever it was that was bringing her down but she was back to her usual self.
As we climbed, we came across two guys who were sitting on the side of the trail. They were not together but they were probably 5 feet apart. One was dry heaving and the other looked like he was dizzy enough to pass out. Pigeon asked the first guy (Mr. Dizzy) if he had any salt on him. He said no and was kind of wish-washy about wanting to take one. I handed him two salt tabs and we told him to take them.
Then Pigeon moved on to the next guy who when she approached, about vomited at her feet. Knowing my feelings about this, she quickly turned to me and said “you may want to look that way for a bit!” 🙂 This guy had a girl with him and she was trying her best to encourage him. He said he wanted something solid, no more gels (who can blame him). I handed him my last granola bar (gluten free baby!). Pigeon also told him that I had ginger chews so she told me to give him one and I did and then I quickly ran back down to Mr. Dizzy and gave him a ginger chew too.
So at this point, we said good luck and continued our way up the hill. I had a gel left in my pack and I think one more package of ProBar Bolts but I was done with wanting any of that.
When we reached Michigan Bluff we were greeted by Ann TrasonÂ (SO COOL) manning the aid-station along with some other women. There were a lot of stragglers who were hovering around this aid-station. I wanted something solid and I quickly dove into some plain potato chips and even and a few pieces of a PayDay candy bar which I have not eaten since 2010. This was sort of a slow aid-station so I ended up filling up my pack myself which was totally fine, I wanted to be on our way.
Pigeon and I started walking and eating at the same time. We were heading to Bath Road which would be our final climb of the day.
I had completely blocked out the section leading to Bath Road. It was a bit up hill with some definite run-able sections. We were moving along at one point, when all of a sudden we hear BAM! I screamed and jumped a mile. Then BAM BAM! Again. These were not shot guns, this was a regular gun. Don’t ask me how I knew the difference, maybe it is too much TV but I could tell, this was more of a handgun than aÂ shot gun and the sound was coming from in front of us and not off to the side.
Pigeon, the girl we were running with and myself were pretty petrified. I pulled out the whistle that comes with my hydration pack and started blowing. Pigeon told me to keep blowing my whistle and the girl we were running with started yelling “hey!” at these people. We could see them and their gun off in the distance. They were standing over a cliff and we couldn’t tell what they were shooting at whether it was a target or if they were just shooting over the cliff. Whatever it was, it freaked me out and when they saw us (and heard sirens in the distance) they stopped shooting and started getting into their car.Â Well that sure made me run faster!
When we reached the bottom before our climb up to Bath Road, there was a stream. In 2010 it was much higher and we needed a rope to help us cross. Now, the stream is not so high but it was pretty darn crowded!
Pigeon and I once again used our bandanas to wipe off our faces and put them around our neck. Bath Road is paved and leads us to the Foresthill Elementary School and ultimately the finish. In 2010, Bath Road and I did not get along. I was done at that point, completely toast (mostly due to the ankle and knee pain I had) so this year, I had some unfinished business.
We didn’t run up the hill the way we did in 2010 but I do feel like I probably could have run portions of it which made me feel good inside that I had the energy and the mojo. Instead though, Pigeon and I just power hiked our way up the road.
We were joined by a group of 3 who were extremely chatty and trying to be funny. Some times they were and sometimes, not so much but it was still entertaining and we just rolled with it. When Pigeon and I reached the top and got to Foresthill Road, we started running and we ran ourselves all the way to the finish.
We’d done it. We completed the training run again! It felt good for me to be able to finish and not feel so completely depleted like I did in 2010.
This year I bypassed the massage tent and instead we went to my car and just tried to clean ourselves up and we hit the road home.
We laughed on the way home about how naive we were in 2010 trying to do this run with very little experience under our belts. That’s how you learn though. That is how you do it sometimes and while the outcome could have been much worse, Pigeon and I are strong runners and when we are together, we seem to be even stronger. We help each other out and we motivate each other when the time comes.
Now, two days later, I have to say, I feel great. While two weeks ago, when Pigeon and I ran in the same canyon, I could barely walk for 3 days straight. I was much kinder to myself when I got home after this run. The kids were in the pool so I stood in the pool too all the way up to my knees. I rolled my quads on the foam roller that night as well. The next day at work, I used The Stick to knock out any additional kinks that I was feeling in my quads. I feel amazing. Stronger.
It was a great day and I couldn’t be happier with myself despite the sour weeks I’ve had leading up to this run. It really is a matter of mindset sometimes. If you talk yourself out of something, you are destined to have a miserable time. Reading my old blog reminded me how much I love everything there is about the Western States trail. While I don’t need to race and be competitive, I am most content when I can just have an awesomely fun day out on the trails with my ultra running partner.
And coming home to two awesome kids and a hubby who fully supported me and this run, was pretty awesome too.
Finally, here are the stats for the day (edited to add: 32 miles inÂ 8 hours). Check out the elevation gain AND the elevation loss. Pretty crazy.
(Edited to add: I hardly ever proof my posts before posting so please excuse the typos and terrible grammar. I do eventually go back and edit … eventually).
Okay, for weeks now I have been “ho-hum” about running. We’ve just been in super busy mode with the Peanut’s new swim team practice schedule and work has been busy lately. The weather is turning nice outside and the last thing I want to do is be inside in an office all.day.long but, it pays the bills, particularly swim team bills.
Now I would be completely lying if I didn’t say that I was totally dreading this weekend up until a few hours ago. I’ve been tired, exhausted and running around like a chicken with my head caught off mode for quite a while now. I even skipped my morning session at Breakout Fitness today because I wanted to have a few extra hours of sleep. It helped but I love my TRX.
I’ve also had some aches and pains and some pretty pathetic runs this week that all lead up to me just feeling pretty down and unenthused about Saturday’s run. Yet, it is a 3 day weekend and while I still work at the store on Sunday, I will have Monday off to be with my girls.
As I was walking outside on my lunch hour (in this 96 degree heat), I realized I needed to change my attitude around. So I read my old post from 2010, and that was it. Now I am excited to run. While the heat is going to be pretty intense (they are calling for 100 degrees), it SHOULD be a great day.
I will be running with Pigeon again and this year we are doing things a little bit different (more on that AFTER the run). She’s in super training mode but she knows how much I like to have fun on the trails so I am sure there will be some laughter along the way.
It will be a long day for Vans and the girls too but I am sure they will keep him busy laughing too….