I sit here in Reno (this city is a rat hole, at least there's free wifi at the airport!) waiting for my flight, ready to head back to Maine after my Western States preview weekend. It is really nice knowing that we'll be back next year. The general area where the race start is and also what I saw of the course is absolutely beautiful. Can't wait to come back!
I was musing that if I talked to a genie a few weeks ago...
"Excuse me, umm, sir. How am I going to do at Western States?"
"You will not return home with a buckle," he might reply.
I definitely would have been shocked and probably not even considered it wasn't the result of a DNF, but of the race being canceled. Hee hee.
But to recap from where I left off last: After my run on Friday, I took a nap and my brother and I met up with our old friend Brooke who lives in Tahoe City. Great to see her as it's been a while, and after catching up a little we hopped on some bikes (she has a full arsenal) and rode about 8-9 miles to Squaw Valley for the WS dinner.
As we were locking up the bikes, a woman in a truck asked us if we were going to the dinner. Turns out she was Nikki Kimball's pacer, and she introduced us to Nikki. Didn't talk with her long but it was nice to meet her.
Unfortunately, it was a bit crowded and the line for grub was long, so we opted to skip out and get pizza and drinks at one of the nearby restaurants (sorry I missed you there Damon, see you in a few weeks). After eating, we biked back and hung out on Brooke's patio which overlooks Lake Tahoe and chilled for a bit while enjoying a few more drinks.
Biked 17 miles @ ???/pace.
Paved bike paths.
Upper 70s, sunny.
Shorts, short sleeved shirt.
On Saturday, my brother and I headed back over to Squaw Valley. I had forgotten what time the flag raising ceremony on top of Emigrant Pass was, but it turns out we got there just in time. Cool! I ended up talking with the brother and sister duo of Paul and Kathleen Braun in the parking lot and hung out with them on the summit. Cool folks. Kathleen was to pace Paul, who was going to run the Grand Slam. Kathleen herself is also an ultrarunner and one of the few dozen people to finish the Kettle Morraine 100 in some very insane weather conditions. They'll both be at the Vermont 100 in a few weeks and we've made plans to exchange microbrews when we see each other again.
While waiting with the group to go up, I was privileged to meet and talk briefly with Tim Twietmeyer and Cowman A-Moo-Ha, two well known WS veterans. The group then headed up and I ran (well, power-hiked) up with Chris Wight from Australia. Really nice guy, and I learned a lot about the "land down under" after barraging him with questions.
Four and a half miles and 2550' of vertical later we were at the top. My brother took the sky tram up and met us there. While the smoke didn't seem that bad down at Squaw Valley, it still looked VERY thick to the west where the course ran. It actually got worse during the time we were up there and nearly totally obscured the views of even some of the closer ridges. It was reassuring that the race officials had indeed made the right call.
After the ceremony, I flew down the mountain, almost literally. I don't think I've ever run that fast downhill for that long in my life. Not exactly sure of what my time was down, but I think I covered the 4.5 miles in a little over half an hour. That was fun. Was pleased with my downhill form and it was good reassurance that I'm becoming stronger on the downhills, though I still think I have some work to do for downhill trails that are more technical.
Ran 9.0 miles @ ???/pace.
Upper 80s, sunny, smoky.
After I got back down we headed back to Brooke's and went for a swim in Lake Tahoe. Water was cold, but refreshing. Grabbed lunch, chilled in the hammocks in her backyard, and then bid farewells to Brooke and headed over to Reno for the night due to my brother's early flight. Looking forward to getting back to Maine, doing some quick crash work in my training for the Vermont 100, and also relaxing a lot when I'm not running.
I'll post pics soon.