A Long and Winding Road

It’s a great treat to get to run a new trail once in a while. I’m extremely fortunate to have so many amazing trail close to home in the Folsom-El Dorado-Auburn-Cool area, but traveling a little further affords me the opportunity to see some completely different trails.

I’ve gone on plenty of motorcycle rides in the Mokuolomne River area and the scenery from the road is beautiful, but it doesn’t come close to the beauty from the trail. I got to run the upper part of the trail a few weeks ago and experience a trail called the Longest Mile, to which name it lives up to very well.¬†The Mokuolomne River 50k covered the lower end of this same trail. I would have had to run the 50 miler to get the full effect, but I’m not ready for another one of those just yet.

The extra distance meant waking extra early, so I made most of my preparations the night before. Two water bottles (one with diluted gatorade), my spi-belt with a couple extra gu packs, and my Conner shorts (RypWear) and Patagonia tek shirt… I was going minimal today. I ended up more minimal than I had expected! Bolting out the door at 4 am to meet up with Edd, I forgot my water bottles and my trail permit. Yes, I said trail permit. Apparently East Bay MUD requires that you pay for and carry with you a trail permit, as well as pay for parking. I thought I would be clever and pre-purchase mine, but I left it at home. Fortunately Edd had cash and fronted me both fees, as well as a spare water bottle.

FTRs running and volunteering

FTRs running and volunteering

At the start we learned that the second aid station would not be there and that the water drop at the halfway point may also not be available. Again, lucky for me, a fellow FTR (thanks Lisa) was working an aid station and had an extra water bottle I could use. Two bottles should still be enough if I managed to not get lost.

Oh! Did I say the “L” word?

Edd and I started together, neither of us really in a hurry, just taking a pleasant run on

take a picture on the run

take a picture on the run

these beautiful trails. I stopped too often to take pictures. and got a little behind, but we were maintaining a pretty even pace. The first aid station was manned by FTR peeps, Carina, Hassan, and Lisa (aforementioned water bottle donor), so I filled up and continued on towards the next aid, 8 miles away.

Trotting along, a little behind Edd, I could still see him

mystery mine entrance

mystery mine entrance

just a curve or two ahead of me and I seemed to be gaining on him. Our plan was to just run the whole thing together and enjoy the day. I caught up to another runner and we talked for a while as we looked out over the river and the canyon at the mine entrances and caves on the other side. We came to a T in the road and noticed there were no ribbons. In fact, we hadn’t seen any ribbons in a while. We started back the way we had come until we saw the left turn we were supposed to make when we were looking right. A bonus 1.2 miles and now I was considerably behind Edd. Time to turn on the music and enjoy the trail on my own.

It had started out a little brisk at the 6:30 start (OK, 6:45 because for some reason it started late) so I had on a Hoo-Rag and some arm-warmers that were a little too large for

canyon views

canyon views

my lack of biceps, but they were free. The temps were rising quickly, however, and I soon had both looped through my spi-belt. The Mokulomne trails are made by cattle, rather than intentionally made by equestrians or mountain bikers like those around Sacramento, so they have a lot more up and down. I enjoy that kind of running and I found myself in and out of the shade. I ran out of water about a mile from the aid station and I was feeling hungry, in spite of sucking down a gu on the way. I was grateful for the out and back feature of the course because I came across Paulo on his return trip (I swear he doesn’t even touch the ground when he runs) and I got a better idea of how far I had to go. I gobbled down some chips and some peanut butter on tortilla sandwiches, as well as a salt tab and coke. They were already out of potatoes and gu, even though this was only the second aid and everyone needed to pass through it twice. Even if I was DFL (and I wasn’t) they still had served only half the traffic.

The next 8 (approximately) miles saw the turn-around, the non-existent water drop, and

The OK Corral - no, really!

The OK Corral – no, really!

everyone else in the race (including Edd) as I either passed them on their way back if they were ahead or my way back, if they were behind. I hit the turn-around point at 15.66 miles, which would be perfect, except that I had done that 1.2 bonus and so this wasn’t a full 50k. It doesn’t really matter because, in trail races, the variation in terrain is so great that you can’t really compare one race to another.

It was warmer now and I was a little concerned about water, since the final aid was 8 miles away, but I wanted to keep moving because I thought I might still have a chance to catch Edd. A couple shots of coke, fill up on water, some electrolytes and another peanut butter sandwich and I was on my way. My legs were burning and I was tired from the week of touring San Diego, but I felt really good and hoped to pick up the pace a little.

Top of the world view!

Top of the world view!

I didn’t! The downhills were tough on my toenails and the uphills were killing my quads, but I was moving and feeling good for the most part. I ran out of water again about a mile short

orange smiles

orange smiles

of the aid station and I had to stop like a bear in the woods. The too-large arm warmer came in handy there as I had not yet seen Ben’s t.p. trick… like I said – they were free anyway. By the time I got to the aid station and saw Lisa, Carina and Hassan again, I was starving and dehydrated. I filled up on water, electrolytes, coke, oranges… and PIZZA!

They said I was still about 30 minutes behind

PIZZA! The perfect aid station food!

PIZZA! The perfect aid station food!

Edd, so I got on the move again. I may have been further behind than that, because I finished 45 minutes behind him.

My only time goal was to finish ahead of the 50 milers who were going almost 20 miles further. I knew Ben would catch me with my extra 1.2 miles and he did. Half a mile to go and Ben went by me going up hill like I was standing still. I checked! I wasn’t… quite.

Truth be told, I was really happy with this race. I’m still recovering from AR50. My plantar fasciitis did not bother me. The trail was beautiful. The time I spent with friends was great. The time I spent alone with nature, with my music, and talking to God was ideal. Most of all, I am much closer to my goal of running for the love of running again.

If you would like to read about the 50 miler and a much faster pace, check out Ben’s Blog. Also, check out his post on trail t.p.

 

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