The kids are all hopped up and they're ready to go - they're ready to go now!
Run On The Sly Race ReportI've never done the old ROTS course, but the new one, starting at Fresh Pond just outside of Pollock Pines (which is just outside of Placerville which is just outside of Sacramento, east along Route 50 is awesome - highly recommended if you like scenic runs on a great trail surface, and don't mind a few hills. The event offers multiple distances on a looping course around Jenkinson Lake and out into the Fleming Meadows area - 8 miles, 20 miles, 50K, and the 50 miler done as a giant figure-8 shaped out and back.
While our wives sensibly settled for the 8 mile fun run, Brian and I, using the same more-is-better logic that has led him to complete the Western States 100 twice, selected the longest available distance. Since he's got a lot more experience at these things than I do, my first step was to be sure to dress exactly like him, as you can see in our cheerful pre-start photo.
A bolt of lightning and a clap of thunder over a distant hill signaled the start of the race, but the weather in our immediate vicinity seemed fine. We shuffled off on a 4 mile climb, which would of course turn into a nice 4 mile descent at the end of the day - man, that would have been great except for the part about running downhill on quads trashed by the preceding 46 miles.
Aid stations were plentiful, amazingly well stocked and staffed by cheerful volunteers. A key resupply point on our course was at the middle of the figure 8, which we would hit at every 10 mile interval. I was mostly running on Gatorade/CarboPro, water, some gels, pretzels, melon, bananas, and PB&J, with a few cups of Coke as the day wore on. Strangely enough I never touched my emergency stash of Hot Tamales - I guess I never remembered I had them.
The course was thoroughly marked with ribbons, chalk, and signs, and though neither of us had trained quite as much as we would have liked, we made pretty good progress, mixed in with some 50K runners, and reached the turnaround after about four and a half hours. At this point the 50Kers continued on around the lake toward the finish and we commenced to doing the course in reverse. Bri and I had run together to this point, but my jokes and stories were few and far between not to mention lame, so Brian pretended he was getting really tired and cramping and sent me on ahead to suffer alone while he presumably found some cooler people to run with.
The way back was just as scenic, runnable and well supported as the way out but definitely a little lonelier and more challenging when it came to my internal dialog, which went something like this: "dude you really should run this part" (repeat over and over).
With about 6 miles to go, the once-faraway thunder boomed right overhead, and the real fun started, with rain and hail the size of...well, the hail I saw was only the size of peas but others were claiming to have seen marble sized chunks. Anyway, it was clearly time to get this thing over with so I scampered up the final 2 mile climb, through the last aid station where I accidentally swigged a cup of dark beer that I thought was Coke and very nearly chundered, then on down the hill as quickly as my beat up legs would allow, in search of warmth, dryness, a hamburger and a massage, all of which were found at the finish line. As I approached the finish I came upon a totally drenched Cathy and her mom Linda who had been out at the first mile marker spectating when the got caught in the downpour. They clapped politely and sent me on down the hill to the finish chute where the race staff was also battling the elements. Brian followed along not too long after and said something about wanting to sit down for a few minutes, as though he was fatigued, which I didn't understand at all.
If you are looking for a low key but very well run trail race with a smorgasbord of distances, maybe we'll see you at the ROTS next year. That is, if this picture of my post-race feet doesn't scare you off. Really, ultra running is not that bad! Hardly any of that is blood!