Sunday, January 11, 2009

Nichols Birthday Run...A Long Day on the Western States Course

Total Elevation 13,311
Elevation Gain 6,654
Elevation Loss 6,656

The annual running of the Nichols Birthday Run took place yesterday on the Western States Trail. This marked the 4th year I have particpated. I should note that I did not RUN the Tradional Total Birthday Distrance of 40miles. Just too early in the season to load that mileage on for this average ultra runner.

Lets Review the facts...Thank God it was not too cold at the start with a safe and sane 8am start temps where not bad to begin..but there was frost and ice on along the shaded spots. Ten of us meet to take part in this run...Nichols being the most generous had stached at the Hwy 49 crossing at Cool a Cooler filled with a wide assortment of aid station goodies...from red bull to goldfish and some chicken jerky if anyone brought a dog for a treat..I actually did eye the jerky and thought about taking somethen I recalled the association with jerky and dogs nichols has..and thought better of it...

Short digress there. Lets frame the group...Nichols, Mark Lantz and Rob Evens where the lone group to tackle the full 40. There was a tough group of women runners headed by Karyn Hoffman, Karalee, Lisa,Karalee, Elizebeth..sorry for being bad on your last names..They had committed for a 28mile total. Rena and Charlie Jones...Had 30miles on their mind...ME....I had set a total run time for the day over miles and wanted to keep this between 4 and 5 hours...That said off we went.
Sunny Skys and today must have been like spring fever on all sections of the traile from Auburn to NoHands Bridge, HWY 49 to Browns Bar and Browns to ALT...A consistant stream of runners..getting ready for Way Too Cool, etc...Riders and their Horses...(I always find these folks very friendly and they have bailed me out from time to time)...and a ton of general type folks out on a hike..It sure is different than a few years ago...The most interesting group we saw along the way was one that included Jennifer Phiefer and she is back to some ultra training after her time away to have a child and olympic marathon trails last year in boston...she had on some bright green brooks trail shoes and seemed pretty happy..Her goal was to run AR50 again..with her in the field it would be easy to see her win or place in the top three...

For the second week in a row the climb from 49 to Cool got my lower back tight..I was also breathing way too hard..I have some lingering effects from a cold still and that has to pass..I let Rena use her strong hill climbing to bridge up to Karyn and the group. I was not concerned today with competing or testing fitness levels..just time on feet was the goal. I did take Vespa one more time as a gauge..My overall results are that I feel a bit more focused, not wanting to lag around much, better overall endurance and legs not to wasted after the run. So I think I will rate it a sucess and try it on races etc...

It was warming nice and as we got to Browns Bar, Rena asked me if I wanted to go the full route to ALT and 30miles..I nearly said yes..but I was feeling good and used my stay the plan instead. Nichols and the 40mile group where way ahead. Charlie for all his injuries was running this point I said good by to everyone and only ran another mile past browns since I would be at 2:15 then..I was feeling good but slowing down a bit on the way to browns and back down to quarry road..strong though from the road and to the Hwy 49 junction where I did take time to have some food...The bad part of my run is that I had only had one full bottle of fluid to that point...I ended my total run of 4:30 with consuming 2bottles...gotta change that. At 49 I had planned to cruise fast down to Nohands bridge but I was hitting a wall of sorts and did not have strong leg turnover..passing nohands I was thinking glad to have turned when I did knowing I was about to start some more hiking than running. Up through the black hole to robie point had me hiking..I had enough for the day. I was pretty impressed though that I was spot on and finished in 4:32..A good run!

It was now time to wait for all the other distance groups it was nice to sit in the sun and listen to the playoff game Ten vs Baltimore on the radio and wait it was a long afternoon when Nichols made it in...he was tired and beat but we got him to go out and grab some food...It was a long day for all..I had left my house at 7am and got home at 7pm..Tired now..I hit the bed I think by 8...I need to finish this weekend with a 2hr recovery run on the AR trail in a few...lets hope the legs get me through this...


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