Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Western State(s) Course

How many "States" does the WS race cover? One, I thought..

This past weekend I flew out to California for 48 + hours to spend a bit of time training on the WS course, but also to spend a day looking for a place for the brood to live for the next few years.

I flew in around 11 am Saturday, and proceeded to grab a rental car. (don't use Payless Cars: they're like the sore tooth you just can't not keep touching. Ouch. I should have learned my lesson last time I was out there.) Headed right up through the city, stopped in the Mission to grab a tuna sandwich to go, almost was run over on 19th st, then across the Golden Gate bridge. I had a about 30 minutes to kill I reckoned, so I did what I'd always dreamed of; I stopped on the other side of the bridge in the packed tourist lot, changed stealthily into my running clothes in the rental, and ran back across the GG bridge. Dodging many tourists of many nationalities, I made it across in the thick fog, turned around at the tolls and came back. I'm glad I finally did it! It took about 30 minutes RT and felt somewhat like a christening in the fog coming to our new home.

Popped back in the car and headed up to San Rafael, saw one potential rental, then on to Novato, where I saw about 6 places, then on to American Canyon and Vallejo to see some more and drive through campus. We are still deciding what town to live in, as Vallejo is where school is, but Marin rules all trail-creation (besides Colorado, of course), so the Marin towns of Novato and San Rafael are in the housing lead for us.

Being very sleep deprived in the afternoon, I kept going East on I-80 ("the 80" they call it out there for some reason; how cute) past Auburn and parked at the famed Hwy 49 crossing on the State trail. Having made plans with Mark Richtman to pick me up in Auburn, I ran the final 7 miles of the Western State course to meet him at Robie Pt.. It was very nice that the run was flagged already for the race 1 month ahead of time. Anywhere else, especially in Boulder, those flags would have been pulled down faster than you can say OSMP. I had a good tempo run on those 7 miles mostly in the dark and refamiliarized myself with the course. I sure don't plan on running that section, or any section for that matter, in the dark during the race.

Mark Richtman, my pacer, who is a a fantastic runner and great guy, met me at Robie Pt and followed me up the mile hill to the Auburn track, where I proceeded to run a 45 second lap...well, 2/3 lap.. of the track in the dark. He shuttled me down to my car, then we drove up to Driver's flat, which is 3 miles walk above the Rucky chucky rapids (mile 82 of the WS course), where we bivied for the night in the grass.

Next AM, we hooked up with Erik Skaden and Mark Lantz and shuttled a car up to Michigan Bluff (after coffee in Foresthill (mile 62), and started running. It was nice and cool at first in the morning, and these awesome tour guides showed me the course that I hadn't seen in 5 years. We had a fun time getting to Foresthill, and could feel the temps rising as we got there in about 1 hour (7 miles).

Topping off our bottles at the car we'd left there, we headed down the hill into what I see as the crux of the course; Cal Street. 5 years ago, I had hard time after Foresthill, given the heat I wasn't ready for and the wrong diet of high protein and fat. I lost an hour to Jurek on that section and don't want to make that mistke this year. My race fuel is completely different this year, and I hope I can heat-train these coming weeks.

So, we had an excellent time running the 16 miles down to the river. It is so cruiser on that section, with enough hills to make it interesting and break up the muscle groups a bit when your downhill muscles get tired of the repetitiveness.

After a 15 minute soak in the river, we walked up. Richtman had disappeared, ahead of us we thought, but after 15 minutes of walking up driver's flat, make comes by in a tourist SUV car going up. Sandbagger!

Anyway, a fun weekend and I think the first place I found in San Rafael will work well for us. I don't care where we live as long as there are trails!


  1. Wow. Course recon. Serious stuff. We are going to miss you here. But maybe it will make it fair for us when you return here after living at sea level.

  2. Dave,

    Pretty sweet! Glad you were able to get a bit of time on the course. And, you're right, Cal St is the crux of the race. See you in a few weeks!


  3. I thought you were fit and focused when I met you at the end of last year. Somehow you've managed to turn those both up to a level I've only witnessed a couple times in elite athletes.

    Considering you managed 16:30 at ws eating avocados and steak (or whatever Roch was feeding you), I'd say you're going to do fairly well (read: crush the race) on Charles' rocket fuel.

    I'll definitely second GZ's statement that you'll be missed here; you exemplify what Boulder is. Boulder isn't so much a place but an energy created by the amazing people who live here. That energy will take a huge hit when you're gone.

  4. Good luck trying to get the Californians to refer to the race as "State." Sounds like the high school track meet.

  5. I can't believe I got two comments from Thornley and AJW. This is great!!! Hypoxic marmot and footfeathes too..what good fortune.
    Yeah, I agree AJW about Cal st. It seems most other runners hit it when it is cooler and maybe a breeze.
    Well, Craig, if I can't change the name of WS, at least I am moving from Boulder and closer to the endurance capital of the world. The air alone makes you stronger in Auburn, I hear. (Boulder's motto is "highest per capita shaved legs in the world"... so we have that going for us, which is nice.)
    Come out and visit, GZ and FF. FF may be living out there anyway I guess.

  6. Hey Mate! I'm lost in Australia and now feel even more lost knowing that you're leaving Boulder. It can't be!!! Just when i was thinking of returning home no less.

    No better place in the world to move to though, in my opinion. I hope you have a guest bedroom in your new pad.

    You are going to kick butt in WS!

  7. Just don't get lost on the course, or state(s)then may be implied. You sound fit and ready to get this show on the road. Wishing you and your family well. You still hold the record for most Chinese food I've ever seen anyone eat in one sitting.


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