TALES FROM THE TRAIL (AND SOMETIMES THE ROAD TOO)

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Sunday, February 28, 2010

Loosen Up Run

I drove down to the marina for a loosen-up run this afternoon.  I was feeling a bit stiff after the Silverado Footrace.  Mainly my shoulders and upper back ached. 

There was not a parking spot to be found, so I parked across the street and ran into the wharf.  The skies were blue, pelicans hung out on the boat ramps.  People lined the walkway with luggage in their hands for a trip to Catalina.   I felt good, light on my feet.  Then somewhere after crossing onto the island, at about mile three, a shrieking pain suddenly hit my hip.  I didn't shriek.  My hip did.  It felt like someone had stabbed me there with a knife and was twisting it as I ran.  I stopped to stretch, walked a few steps, then took off running again.  Stopped to stretch a couple more times and ran all the way back to my car.

Miles logged:  3.61

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Great Silverado Footrace

Rain began to pour about 2AM last night, and I awoke about every hour.  5:30 AM, I finally said, "What the heck" and got out of bed.  I felt like I slept very little.  Rain continued to pour all morning.  6:45 or so, I hopped in the car to pick up donuts for the boys, and my Dad arrived soon after to take care of the household while we were gone.  That's right WE.  Dave was doing this race with me.  : )

I really wasn't too thrilled about running in the rain.  But at the same time, I wasn't gonna let The Great Silverado Footrace pass me by.  So, we left about 7:20 in the POURING RAIN, and the downpour continued all the way into Silverado Canyon.  We even hydroplaned on the freeway.

Waiting for the start (clean and warm), rain has ceased or at least slowed to a drizzle, maybe, just maybe the rain has stopped for good.  I've got 2 shirts on, a tank and a t-shirt, plus sleeves, a camelback full of water and two running belts (one in front, the other in back) -- in them a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, chapstick, gum, motrin, endurolytes, camera and phone, bandaids and a couple papertowels.  This is a self-supporting race.  No aid stations. 
Waiting to go, standing with Chris Diaz (who I have met on a few occassions, 09 Silverado Footrace & Calico, plus running Santiago Truck Trail in 08)

Me and Race Director, Chay Peterson

Me and hubby, raring to go -- rain has ceased!!  Why, you may wonder, the nerdy socks?  So that I don't end up with scratched and bloody calves.

Chay giving race instructions

At Start Line -- still no rain : )))))
















The race began on the road, rain still refraining from falling. Then after hopping the guard rail, we went for a very short downhill stint, and the steep, muddy climb began. Being toward the back of the pack made the climb more difficult with the slippery terrain torn up from the front runners. Relief came with the down hill. We squeezed through a barbed-wire fence. We climbed down a rock face, with the aid of a rope. Wearing gloves, I found going down that rope much easier than climbing it last year.

Heat built up inside my rain jacket. Finally, I stopped to tie it around my waist. Dave folded his up tight and tucked it away neatly somewhere (I'm still not sure where : ). I'm not like that, I'm quick and sloppy -- just get the job done. But that hanging jacket annoyingly caught on the thicket, and I wished I had taken the time to fold it away. I really had no such place to tuck it though. The socks however, worked out great. While sticks poked into my face, and knees, they also tore at my socks. And my calves took no harm. : )
Breath Taking! Looking back on Holtz Ranch, Silverado Canyon (notice the picture at top of my blogspot, same scene, different year : )

So, so slippery

Racing thru the forest, crawling at times beneath branches, feet sinking in mud



Branches/trees thin out, mud coats the shoes

And then the rain began to fall. The climb seem to go on forever. There were spots were I crawled like a cat, the climb was so steep. And there were times, when I could not get a grip on the land, I kept sliding downhill when I was supposed to go up. One point was so tough, the sweeper (I believe his name was Jeff) directed me around the slippery climb, where I could grip my feet into the leaf litter. It was tough, tough, tough. I had to use heavy duty uppper body strength to pull off the feat. Dave pushed me from the rear to get me up one slippery slope. Other times, as I slid backward, I grabbed onto trees and shrubs, hoping I wasn't going to yank them right out of the wet dirt.

I kept that rain jacket tied around my waist for a long time. Branches tore at my limbs as I braced my foot on rocks in the mud.   Dave and I switched off who led.  I hoped for the rain to cease.  Though it did not, I didn't feel cold.  I continued to snap photos, and I continued to offer words of encouragement to Dave.  Though, I don't think that helped.  I think it would have been better to shut my mouth.  Things like, "we're almost to the top," "don't look at the top," "put one foot in front of the other," or "breathe through your diaphragm," he didn't need me to tell him that.  Hubby was very kind though and took this from me.  I'm a teacher by nature (& profession) and I'm always trying to find ways to make things easier for people -- which is how I get through these physical feats.  I come up with ways to make it easier.  Like DON'T LOOK AT THE TOP OF THE HILL.  Just keep going forward.  Have some mantra to repeat again and again.  It can be, "forward, forward, forward," or something more complicated, like a poem or a song.

Anyway, we joked and even sang a tad, remembering lines from movies as we slid up and down that mountainside.  And the rain came down more.   And the wind blew cold.  But it was a beautiful sight, a beautiful, slippery, grinding sight.

More Climbing Ahead


What we've been through, where we're going back to



Self-portrait -- I'm looking pretty ragged and old here, but I'm gonna put it in anyway : ) 

Downhills weren't always easier, because it was so slippery and muddy (notice orange ties in bottom right corner -- we followed these)  HOWEVER, I think that I am mistaken -- this is an uphill, I am looking back to take this photo.  Still, the same holds true; the downhills were tough as well.

So close, but yet so far!

These were the easy parts, when there’s leaf litter to dig into and rocks to grip onto.




The terrain got a little easier, that is the climbs were less steep.  But the hillside was much muddier.  My Salomon shoes held up great.  Toward the end though, I plunked my foot directly in the creek.  From then on out, I had a few pieces of gravel in my shoes.  Ouch.  I also fell twice toward the end of this race.  Once flat on my back, but it was more of a slide than a fall, so I'm not adding it to my fall talley.  I twisted my shoulder some, but nothing terrible.  The next time I fell was on that final descent, homeward bound trip.  I just slipped going downhill, again which is why I'm not adding it to my fall count.  I'm not adding it, because eventhough I ended up on my back, it wasn't an actual "fall" that got me there -- it was a slip due to the mud.  That second "slip" I don't recall injurying anything. 

When we finally hit the road, I ran it in all the way, because I just gotta cross the finish line running.  But I'll tell you, I really wiped out my hip.  It's like I'm back to square one with my injury.  (Hopefully, it will be better tomorrow -- more about that then tomorrow :)

Back at the community center they had an awesome spread of food laid out for all of us -- pork and chicken fahitas, cookies, drinks, etc.  We both filled up our plates.  Dave however said that he didn't even feel like eating.  I however, was famished and ate up. 

Just after crossing the finish line


Can you believe, after all that, more than three hours in the mountains, we only traversed five miles!  Anyone who is local -- you've got to do this race -- it's the toughest around.  Seriously.  I have been in some tough races.  Calico was tough.  But I've done that NINETEEN  miles in less than 5 hours.  Bulldog 25k was tough, but I did those FOURTEEN miles in less time than these FIVE miles today.  My best 5 miles is around 48 minutes.  Hopefully that gives you some kind of idea of the difficulty of The Great Silverado Footrace.  I highly recommend you do it if you can.

To borrow someone else's words, I'm sure, HAPPY RUNNING.  (That's right, those are Jessica Deline's words : ) 

Miles logged today:  5
Injuries:  Minor -- scraped and bruised left knee.  Not-so-minor:  my hip, it's red and swollen and hot to the touch and aches (I contribute the setback to my hip from slidding downhill)  Ice, ice, ice -- that's my remedy tonight.  That, plus motrin. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Always an Adventure

Tuesday, I planned to hit the trails as soon as I dropped my oldest boys at school.  Turns out my oldest forgot his violin and I had to run back to the car, drive home, get the violin, drive back to school, and run to his orchestra class to get it to him.  I was fuming -- that detour cut at least a half hour into my trail time.  But boy did I pull back on the reigns.  Yes, he knew that I was annoyed.  But I didn't go on and on about it.  I don't want him as a thirty-year-old man remembering how Mom used to freak out over little things like him forgetting his violin.  What I did was this:  arriving to orchestra, I handed him his violin and kissed and hugged him, told him that I loved him, have a good day, etc., etc., in the sweetest voice ever in front of the whole orchestra (I am a devil -- I even debated calling him "Pookie," but decided against it).  That was about the worst thing ever for him, he squirmed, scowled. (I figured the embarrassment will help him to REMEMBER his violin next time : ) 

I started off my run with the notion that I'd use the hours to think up a title for a short story I wrote the day before.  It's for a contest and I was squeezed for time, since it's due today Feb. 24 by 9 PM.  Well, about FIVE minutes into my run I came up with the title.  So, I had about 13 miles to think about absolutely nothing.  I like that.  Thinking about nothing.

My run on Tuesday was an out-and-back, through the canyons, up to the ridge to Top of the World, and then back the same way (Aliso to Wood Cyn, up Cholla, up Westridge). Generally, I don't like out-and-backs -- I find them difficult mentally, mainly because when I pass something, I know I have to do it again.  I like passing things for good.

My hip felt good, though a bit achey -- it really has improved lately.  I've been keeping up with the same regimen, but increased the icing dramatically.  Basically, every time I think about icing, I do it. I was getting worried, being that I'm registered for a marathon in April.  Now, I'm hopeful.

At Top of the World, I phoned home and learned that the spouse had a deadline looming and was stressed about picking up the boys (it was early-out-day, plus the littlest gets out even earlier being he's in preschool).  Seven miles out, that is, the entire return trip, I decided to run fast enough to make it in time to pick up the boys.  I was gonna really have to push it.  I took that first downhill at that fun "flying" speed, focusing hard not to fall.  Then there at the Mathis/Westridge interesection stood an elderly couple with a questioning expression.  They looked directly at me and said, "We're lost."

I stopped.  I asked how they got there, they weren't sure.  I said, holding my hand at a steep slant, "Was it like this?  Or, like this?" I moved my hand up and down like a ridge route wave.  Turns out, it was a ridge.  "But," the woman added, "it was like this at first."  She held her hand up at a slant. (I communicate with my hands often.)

Ok, they came up Cholla then hiked Westridge.  They were good!  That's no easy hike.  I almost sent them off the wrong way, because he said they wanted to get to Aliso Creek, which turned out to be the exact opposite way they needed to go.  They said that they entered through a grassy park, and pointed off toward a neighborhood in the distance.  I knew exactly where they entered.  I suggested a couple routes, they decided on Mathis to Wood Canyon.  I warned them to stay on Mathis, that if they didn't cross a stream, then they probably turned off on another trail (I was concerned they might turn off onto Dripping Cave).  "Cross the stream," I said, "then make a left on Wood Canyon."

They smiled and set off happily.  The man turned back just to make sure he had it.  "Go down Mathis and turn left on Cholla?"

(LOL)

"Wood Canyon.  You can't miss it, it's just after the stream."  : )

So, after that delay, I hauled *** up and down Westridge, and had a delightful fast run down Cholla.  Wood Canyon was fun as well.  Though I was growing tired, I kept up the speed.  And then for some crazy reason, I ran hugging the edge of this bowl-like portion of the trail and nearly had a head-on collision with a cyclist coming the other way at a crazy speed.  Yikes.  Fortunately, I jumped out of the way without him correcting in the same direction.  Actually, he was going too fast to do any type of correction.  At first a little annoyed,  I realized my fault.  I should have never been hugging the edge on a corner, especially not there.

A little over a mile on Wood Canyon, I realized that I hadn't seen the lost couple and thought -- there went my chance at making it in time to pick up my boys.  If I didn't see them by the time I reached Mathis, I had planned to stop by the ranger station and ask them to take a drive up Mathis.   But then I saw the cute couple wearing smiles on their faces -- "It was Aliso Viejo," the guy said, "not Aliso Creek."  I let them know that they were only about a mile and a half away from Canyon Vistas park, and I was on my way. 

Again, I pushed.  But my fast wasn't FAST.  Still, I ran faster than I would have been if I wasn't trying to beat a dead line.  Turns out, and this cracks me up, I made it back exactly when I told myself I had to in order to stretch and pick up my boys. 

Fantastic run.  Miles logged on Tuesday:   14

Today, Wednesday morning, I was giddy about my hip feeling pretty good.  After dropping the boys at school again, I drove down to the marina in my runnning pants and long-sleeve fleece.  But I live in California, and though it was dang cold at 6:00 AM, it was a different story at 8:00 AM.  The skies were gorgeous blue, with just a tad of whispy clouds. I was comfortably WARM (& getting warmer).

Pressed for time, I set off with about five miles in mind.  About a mile in, my ipod stopped.  I mean, instantly shut off.  A little bummed, I continued runninig on through the empty campgrounds and then the beach and marina.  What's funny is that the sounds amused me:  sounds of the birds, cars, people talking. 

Another delightful run, with only minor discomfort to the hip.  I wouldn't even call it "discomfort."  It was more like a strong stiffness. 

I'm keeping with the regimen, plus ice, ice, ice and more ice.

Miles logged Wednesday:  5.25

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Run between Rains

Poured rain all night, and forecasts indicated we were in for the same over the next three days.  So when I woke this morning, and skies were blue, and eventhough I didn't much feel like it, I laced up my shoes and ran out the front door.  White puffy clouds dominated the skies.  Gigantic flocks of seaguls swooped in and out of the river as it flowed into the ocean.  The breeze was slight, yet cold, as a multitude of runners and bikers and walkers took advantage of the break in the rain. 

Miles logged this morning:  6.65

Friday, February 19, 2010

Green Again

Feeling anxious over work-related issues, I hit the dirt in Aliso and Wood Canyons park on Thursday morning, a little later than expected.  I posted the run, so hopefully, I didn't miss anyone -- I'm sorry if I did.  About half-way to the park, I realized I forgot my water, and being that I had planned to run my butt off to help wash away this anxiety, I was gonna need my water. 

Well, it worked!  By the time I reached the top of Meadows Trail, anxiety gone.  I was feeling dang good (aching hip and all).  This is the route I ran:  I took the 1 1/2 mile Aliso Creek Trail, turned onto Wood Canyon Trail for just a tad.  Then I ran onto the trail to the left, Meadows Trail, which doesn't start climbing until about a half a mile in.  Everything was green, and the weather was cool.  I decided to photo document the climb up Meadows, with very quick stops to click, for those who have not yet experienced Meadows.  It's a wonderful trail, but quite gruelling for me.  After reaching Top of the World, I took the paved path to the dirt trail that runs behind the homes.  Then I ran up onto the street, where I ran about 3/4 miles to Westridge.  After running up and down Westridge (believe me, though this is the easier direction to take Westridge, it is still a little difficult in places -- but oh so fun :)  I ran Westridge to the end and ran down Cholla Trail (glory, glory!).  Then I ran Wood Canyon Trail in its entirety, relishing the shady parts, as I was already crusted with salt.  From Wood Canyon Trail, I took a left back onto Aliso Creek Trail and ran that last 1 1/2 miles into the ranger station, dead-dog-tired.  Wonderful.

Meadows Trail Pictorial:

The climb begins slowly . . .


So pretty and green


Running higher up Meadows Trail, looking back

Higher and higher (looking back again)


About here is when I don't think about the top AT ALL.



Climbing higher still, looking back, Aliso Creek Trail so far away.

Almost there!



OMG, I have got to be ALMOST THERE.



And it is finished . . . TO THE TOP AT LAST.  Hey!  Is that Stonehenge???

It was a delightful run in Aliso Wood Canyons Park on Thursday.  Green grass everywhere.  The beginnings of spring flowers are sprouting.  11.64 miles ran in total.  I felt so much better about the rest of the day.

First spring flowers I've seen this year (spotted on Wood Canyon Trail)

I can't help myself -- one last picture from Wood Canyon Trail

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

On the Trail Again

I finally made it back out on the trail, this time on a group run.  (Trail runs are far and few between nowadays -- I'm gonna have to bite the bullet and get to the doctor for this hip.)  It was great to see my good running friend Tom and meet a new running friend Jeff. 

The weather was beautiful for this President's Day run.  I dressed for a cold morning and by the first stop, 1 1/2 miles in at the Wood Canyon Trail entrance, I had to tie my longsleeves around my race.

We took Wood Canyon in a little ways, then up Dripping Cave Trail we ran -- gosh it's been ages since I've seen Robber's Cave.  Its roof was covered with lush green ferns. 

Tom turned back at the cave for a 5 mile round trip, while Jeff and I continued on out of Dripping Cave Trail to hit Mathis.  We ran down Mathis toward the creek.  Looking back up Mathis we could see a cluster of runners making their way up the steep climb.  That's something I hardly ever see.  Maybe a cluster of hikers, or cyclists, but not runners on Mathis (not unless I'm in the group).

Jeff and I continued running up Wood Canyon, crossed over the stream and passed the Old Corral and turned around at the bridge at the second stream crossing.  High school cross country runners were making their way in as we ran back on Wood Canyon, chatting along the way, agreeing on everything.  He has much the same philosophy as I regarding running and things.

Pleasant run indeed.  The bummer part was my hip ached a little more than usual for the rest of the day.

Miles logged on Monday:  7

Getting ready to take off
Me, Tom and Jeff

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Twin Peaks 50/50 Indian Truck Trail Aid Station

Woke at 3:00 A.M. Saturday.  Out the door by 3:15, arriving about an hour later to the Twin Peaks 50/50 (that is 50 kilometer / 50 mile endurance race) starting in Corona.  It was dark of course, as volunteers busily packed their cars for the first shift of the day.  Our crew was to "man" the station 6.5 miles into the race, the Indian Truck Trail aid station (where the 50 milers would pass by 3 times, and the 50 k runners 2 times).  In our "crew":  myself, Kathryn, Birgett, Mark Ryne (whom I first met at the '08 Get Your Kicks on Route 66 Half Marathon), the photographer, two charming radio guys (true gentlemen), and our favorite Forestry fire captain, who was once referred to as "Hollywood" (because he was born in North Hollywood -- I was born in North Hollywood too) -- anyway, we referred to him as well as  "Hollywood."  

We didn't all head off to the station together; no, it didn't go that smoothly.  We three women took off first under darkness, the back filled with supplies, water, food, etc.  Thing was, we couldn't take that 6.5 mile road directly up the mountain to our station, because it was closed to automobiles due to storms.  Word was, parts of the trail had "collapsed."

This is how it went:  We got onto the freeway, exiting in Lake Elsinore and headed up Ortega Hwy -- TO THE TOP.  The city lights view was spectacular, the lake a giant black void.  That cliff going up though, made me a little nervous.  It always has, which is why I never take that route anywhere.  Ever. 

We were looking for the "radio guy in a truck,  parked in front of a gate."  He would give us directions to the Indian Truck Trail spot to set up our aid station.  Searching the dark Highway 74, to no avail for quite some time, we suddenly came upon a truck, parked in front of a gate overlooking the city.  When Birgett jumped out of the car and ran up to that truck, I said "Man, I wish I brought my pepper spray."  I saw her tap on the window, then she rushed back to our car, jumped back in. 

"Not him," she said.  "Let's Go."

"Well, who was he, what was he doing?" we asked.  

"I don't know what he was doing, I don't want to know what he was doing, let's just get out of here."

We all nervously laughed.

Well, we finally found another guy in a truck parked in front of a gate (just how many guys park their trucks in front gates  up there on the mountain?  ; )  This time, we got it right.  He told us the way, and we were off -- through Blue Jay Campground on a paved road, then onto a dirt road, until finally, FINALLY, we came upon a locked gate.  Birgett and I jumped out, she with the key, we both pushed about the heaviest gate in the whole wide world open for Kathryn to drive through. 

We were off again, but not on a smooth ride.  The first runners were estimated to reach our station at 6:10 and we were fast approaching that.  The road was rocky, in some places steep, at times riding on the edge of a cliff.  We bottomed-out often and slowed at every turnout hoping to see that table for us to set up the station.  Nothing.  For a few miles, we climbed, the road getting rockier and rockier, until finally . . . we were STUCK.  Poor Kathryn's car would move no further.  It smelled of burnt rubber; her engine light went off.

Who knew how close we were to the station.  All we knew was that 1)  it was still dark but we had little time to spare, 2) we had too much equipment to carry it in, and 3) we had NO PHONE SERVICE.  But what did that matter?  We couldn't call the race director, because we didn't have her cell number!  Yikes! 

After hiking to a high point, we found service on our cells.  Kathryn phoned home, I believe, asking someone to look through her e-mail for the Jessica, the race director's number.   (How silly was I not to get her cell number before taking off -- mental note -- GET THE CELL NUMBER, ESPECIALLY WHEN GOING OFF INTO UNKNOWN, DARK MOUNTAIN ROADS :)

What to do, what to do . . . ?

"I know someone who knows Jessica," I said. 

"Well, CALL THEM," my fellow aid station workers responded in unison. 

It was 6:00 AM, when I uncomfortably phoned Tom's cell.  I felt awkward, not wanting to wake his family.  But then again, I was pretty sure he's an early riser.  No Answer.  I left a message. 

So there we were, three women, just before dawn, standing on a cold mountain, a car (stuck in the road) full of supplies for endurance runners, wondering what we should do.  I was for hiking it in.  We were three runners, we could hike into anywhere -- it could take us who knows how long (we still had no idea where the station was) and chances were, we couldn't get much of the supplies in by foot.  But what else were we to do?  We were concerned about missing those first runners.  That really was the top issue.   

And then, there was a rumble in the road, and headlights appeared. The radio guys!!!  We packed all our gear into the back of their truck.  As we discussed how they would push Kathryn's car out of the road with their truck, another set of headlights appeared!  Rescued.  The forestry service drove up, and he ("Hollywood" -- I don't recall his actual name) stoically got Kathryn's car out of the rut, and backed it into a safe spot.  There was no way her car was going to make it to the top.  It just didn't have the clearance needed. (In hindsight, I'm guessing we were about 6 miles from our station at that point)

I saw the writing on the wall -- there was one extra space in the radio truck and one extra seat in the forestry service truck.  That left one person walking.  So, I zipped up my coat and headed up the mountain.  Believe me, I felt happy, at home, to hike up a steep trail.  What I didn't feel happy about, nor did my fellow aid workers, was that we probably weren't going to make the station by the time the first runners made it through.  Big bummer -- and on my first volunteer!  (It was Kathryn and Birgett's first volunteer as well). But what an adventure, I'll tell ya!  What an adventure!

Car stuck, aid arrives as clock ticks away 



  













Racing against the clock, the first and second wave of runners have already left the start line : (

"Hollywood", Birgett and Kathryn (after getting car to side of road)


I enjoyed that hike as the sun  began to show its face above the horizon.  The radio truck passed me near the top of that first climb, which I cleared before the Fire Service even started his truck.  They caught up with me on a level portion.  They slowed, when the Fire Captain (I don't know his official title, but he was a Captain to me) called out, "Get in, if you guys don't mind sitting on each other's laps."  After walking a good mile (I'm sure more with the elevation), I hopped on in. Kathryn and I shared one bucket seat with the promise not to tell anyone.  Shhhhh!  Things are official with the Feds.  There was only ONE PASSENGER IN THAT TRUCK, AND THAT'S ALL I'M SAYING : ))

Then not too soon after that, the front runners started passing us on the road.  (Big Bummer -- there was no aid for them at the first station!)  Birgett doled out water from the radio truck up front, as well as, attempted to record the runners passing her.

One of the front runners was Larry G. (see Bulldog August 09), whom I have run with on a occassion.  Of course, I haven't really run "with" him, being that he is a far surperior runner.  But we have at least started off on runs together.  And then travelling upon that rocky, cliff road, we came upon another group of runners.   One of those runners that I wanted to see cross my station was Catra (Dirt Diva) . She was travelling in that cluster of runners as we passed, smiling of course as she does in her blogs.

We finally arrived at our aid site a little before 7:00 AM, approximately 2 hours later than planned!!!!  We set up the table ASAP,  sandwiches made, water and cups out, etc. etc.  I don't know the actual temperature up there on that ridge, but I'd say it was freezing.  I was layered good, three shirts, coat, wool beanie, gloves, even warm socks to my knees.  We were in time to aid the tail end of the first wave and of course all of the second and remaining waves.  Kathryn and Birgett pleasantly greeted them all at the table, while I recorded times.  The radio guys set up there radio and antenna, and began calling in runner numbers with times. 

There were periods of no runners, then occassionally, one would come through.  Then suddenly a small cluster of runners would come through that first approximate 7 mile stretch.  (I grew excited about running again, as my hip ached sitting in my chair).  Some time into this all, Mark and the photographer arrived (mental note:  get the names next time!)  And we all had a pleasant, quite cold, morning together, runners sparse on this mountain trail.  I saw lots of familiar faces, mainly from blogs I read.  I also saw fellow club member, Dave, (see Christmas Eve 09 run).  In all, there were 3 waves of fifty mile runners and 2 waves of 50k runners.
The Benchmark at our station spot (Elevation 3800 feet)

Sodas, water, electrolytes, skittles, m&m's, bananas, oranges, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, chips, pretzels, potatoes, salt / most popular items: water, potatoes, salt, and sandwiches.


Indian Truck Trail (what the runners see approaching our station)

Views from our station:

Runners coming into Indian Truck Trail Station (next aid 4 miles @ West Horsethief)
Walking down Indian Truck Trail a bit to take a look

"Sweepers" in their trucks drove by periodically.  Radio communications between stations and the start lines went on pretty much continually.  At one point, a young woman jumped out of the "sweeper" car and handed us three gigantic, beautiful submarine sandwiches.  The runners were all a delight, friendly, comical, and grateful.  Some ran up with gusto, others quite slowly, fatigued from the six and a half mile climb.  Very few runners ran past our station without stopping.  Some stayed for a minute or two, others for several minutes.  Some runners dropped their gloves, jackets and stuff beneath our table to pick up on their way into the finish.  And then there was a lull -- all waves had passed our stations.  The next time we'd see any runners would be the 50k racers on their way into the finish line, much later, we'd be seeing the 50 milers coming around for another loop. 
"Hollywood", Kathryn and Birgett
"Hollywood", Me and Birgett

Runners stopping for fuel

Indian Truck Trail Gang (from left to right): Me, Mark, Birgett, "Hollywood", Kathryn, Radio guys

At about 11:00 AM, we started getting the beginnings of 50 milers who had run off course. The first guy, turned around and headed back. Not all of the off coursers did that, instead, they said, "Heck, I'm switching to the 50k," and headed on into the finish line. They were all in good spirits about it. About half turned back, about half switched races. At about 1:00 the official end of our shift, but it looked like there wasn't going to be a shift change for a while, Birgett and I headed off to the 50M/50K split where the fifty milers were taking the wrong turn. "Hollywood" gave us some red tape and a black pen and with the report from one runner that it was about a half a mile away, we headed up a nice climb that was nowhere near a half mile. We laughed about that, taking in an amazing scene of valleys and forests. We stopped two runners we met on the way who had taken the wrong turn -- as they headed back to the split, they caught two other runners, who turned back with them.

About half way to the split, we threw our jackets to the side and marched on. While marking up the split best we could, we met another runner coming down -- an amazing runner, Greg who was hilarious. He had Birgett and I both cracking up as we headed back down the trail.

The shift change happened after 2 o'clock. Hank was also coming in for his shift -- he was "sweeping" by foot the trails inaccessible by truck. The mood was festive and gleeful, exciting, chaotic as more and more 50k runners made their way for the finish, and 50 milers began to cross by the Indian Truck Trail station for the second time (the 38 mile mark for them).  We caught a ride with a sweeper who took that mountain road at record speed. I closed my eyes when the road dipped and the truck tilted toward the cliff. We finally rolled on into the finish line about 3:30.

What a day! What a great crowd!  What a great mountain!  I am running Twin Peaks next year for sure! I better get working.

Another Amazing Runner (as she crosses the finish line just about the time we arrive)