Friday, I drove down to San Diego to visit Bud and train on 30 miles of the race course on Saturday.
Friday night, we loaded up on sushi and rice, hit the sack, and before I knew it, my alarm was screaming at me at 4:30AM, we were up, stopped for coffees, and headed out an hour's drive to the start/finish area.
Fires had stripped about 500,000 acres in the forest about 5 years ago, and the damage was still quite evident: Burned out and fallen trees, not a lot in the way of shade or cover, and singed, blackened and brown mountainsides. It was awesome, in one of those, "Seeing that violent car accident was really...awesome," kind of ways.
We packed all the water and food we could carry, course descriptions and a map, and off we trotted, starting out at 7AM to beat the heat.
The starting elevation of the course is 4,000 feet, and both of us, living at sea level, felt the altitude change immediately. We were running what will be miles 30-50 and then, on the second loop, 70-100. We gained about 1700' in the first 5 miles, and BOY, I felt it. I was short of breath, slightly (barely) nauseous, and exhausted the entire climb. The terrain was, for the most part, very rocky due to erosion, but the views were stunning, and as we wound our way down from the steep climb, I was better able to enjoy them, as oxygen, apparently, makes me happy.
The course rolls steadily for the most part, and I was glad to run what I'd be adventuring on mostly overnight, now, in the daylight. But then the daylight turned into the noonday heat.
We were really hydrated, and there were plenty of water refills along the way, so no problem there, but the sun slowed us waaaaay down, and it wasn't even all that hot (82 F). We'd stopped periodically at trail junctures and rechecked the direction, and at one point, took a little "detour"...also known as getting "lost", which added about a mile to our journey. Finally, after 7 hours 22 msn on the trails, and a bee sting to the thigh during the last 1/2 mile, we returned to the finish area dusty, exhausted, and smelling not unlike a goat wrapped in camel crap (I'm guessing). I figure we did the 50k in 6:30 of actual running, subtracting our map-stops and little side-adventure, and I must admit, I got a little panicked by the thought of how beaten up I was after only 31 miles. But Bud reassured me, explaining that it's a whole other deal when you have a crew, pacers, are power-walking every incline you hit, and know that 100 miles is the final destination.
We stopped at a store at the foot of the mountain and drank the best two, God-damned Cokes® I think 2 human beings have ever slugged back in the last 100 years. Well, at least since they removed the cocaine from the recipe.
So next week, another 50k up north with Ann, then a down week, and then possibly (maybe, if it's not shut down due to fire hazards) the Noble Canyon 50k.
Then, the taper.
Then, the panic.
Then, the 100.