Saturday, April 18, 2009

Welcome to the Canyons-Michigan Bluff to Swinging Bridge

A Day in the Canyons...Last weekend was prelude to see where I am at with my climbing legs. Today had all the climbing and downhill to test the quads. Weekends this year have been pretty cool. On this day a little more heat. I had planned my run to be shorter than others that where starting from Foresthill this morning. I swung by the school about 6:30am to get some water from Ken Crouse that wanted me to drop it at Michigan Bluff. I had a cooler full of coke, water, gatoraid, ice and gels for friends today since my car was going to be at Michigan they could use it for the final 6 miles to Foresthill. At FH Jen Pheifer arrived shortly after for her first run on these trails in two years..hmmm Western States this year? Rena and Jamie Frink showed a few minutes three groups heading out from FH headed towards MB as I drove off...It was cool and sunny in Michigan Bluff..Archie the unofficial mayor of the dogs at MB greeted me. Michigan Bluff is a old gold mining settlement with about 15 houses dogs wonder the streets and you can always have a coverstation with the handful of residents. Its is also a major aid station come Western States day so everyone there seems really friendly towards runners.

Michigan Bluff to El Dorado creek is 2.8 miles of downhill and is a nice warm up...but let me tell you the return is hard! I forgot all the climbing to the abandoned mining down of Deadwood (all that is left is a cemetary). I was not comfortable running at all from the creek to Deadwood and the water pump that is there.
The Community of Michigan Bluff--Mile 55.7 Western States

But I kept thinking I wanted to do the hard work today which meant getting down devils and back up. The stretch from the creek to deadwood though all it does is climb is stunning and quite...I was moving slow but that was ok. I hit the water pump and as I was heading to Devils..I heard voices was Jenn and her group...they started about 7 from FH and had 6 extra miles to run..there they where. That was cool they where turning back at the pump for about a 26mile training run.
Temps where starting to rise now as I headed to Devil's Thumb and the descent to Swinging was going to be tough coming back up.

Devil's Thumb-Western States 47.8--A tough climb

The run down to swinging bridge via the Thumb is switchbacks and very rocky, roots all over..It is slow running downhill here and took me over 28minutes to make it down the approx..1.5 miles. At the bottom you are awarded a stunning bridge and roaring spring runnoff of the american river. As I stopped a rather attractive young women came blowing past me to the bridge! I am thinking dang she is moving fast. She stopped long enough to say hi and exchange running plans..I was amazed since she only had two bottles and a few gels for her run from MB to Last Chance and back. Sure would be nice to see her again! I turned here and started the climb back up to Devils. This is the steepest climb on race day at Western States so I best get really used to this. I was alone pretty much to this point but then a ton of runners (about 12 I lost count) where all heading down as I was going up. I said hi and kept on my running at all on this and it took me 43minutes to the top. I was tired but felt good still..I geled up at the top and took off for my return to the water pump and the downhill to the final climb from El Dorado to MB.

Swinging Bridge-At the base of Devils Thumb

The run back was slow and the quads where shot on the long downhill to El Dorado. I saw a few runners here but kept moving. The final climb up to Michigan Bluff had me whinning internaly as I approached the last half mile. It had been a long day.
Today..still a bit tired but thinking this should be my long run on Saturdays for the next couple of weeks..Get very comfortable with this stretch and build the climbing legs...Tony

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