I arrived at the start line in the best shape of my life, having completed a fantastic 10 days of training at high elevation in Colorado, as well as enjoying some amazing experiences on trails throughout the Pacific Northwest. When race director Adam Hewey asked about my target in the calm before the start I felt comfortable to tell him about the 21:30 pace chart I was carrying. As a stretch target, I had also worked out a 20-hour pace chart to understand what that would entail in case I was able to pull ahead of plan.
Upon arriving in Truckee I started researching running options but was unfortunately limited by the fact that I was trying to taper my running. I generally try to avoid out-and-back routes so I started looking at trail running loop options. The chosen route that would fill in my training plan for my first day in Truckee would incorporate a section of the PCT (read a bit more about that famed trail here) as well as a loop to the top of Mt Judah for some views over the area, for a distance of around 5 miles (8 km).
I drove out towards Donner Summit, which is host to one of the many downhill ski parks in the area. From there I headed to the PCT trailhead and set out along that trail for only one mile before reaching the fork where I would follow the Mt Judah Trail. I climbed up towards the summit along a trail which was gentle enough to run for most of it so I was able to make good time. There were some pretty sections with alpine wild flowers as well as sections alongside the ski areas where the trail would run directly under chairlifts. I reached the top of the summit, and not unexpectedly the views fell short of some of the stunning one that I have enjoyed during previous runs. I took a couple of photos and then continued on my way.
I descended off the other side of the summit and commenced the descent that took me back onto the PCT, with around a mile back to my earlier turnoff, followed by a mile retracing my steps back to the trailhead. The very bottom section as I neared the trailhead was quite rocky and my mind started thinking that I should take it easy and ensure that I don’t hurt myself at this stage in my training. When I took a bad but recoverable step I realised that I was making the mistake of running too defensively and was actually increasing the risk of injury. I forced myself to run the remainder of the trail as I normally would, and reached the trailhead and my car unscathed.
For details of this run you can check out MovesCount.com here.
After spending a couple of days checking out Squaw Valley and the start of the Western States course I made my down to Lake
Tahoe. Once again I would get to enjoy a part of the Tahoe Rim Trail (TRT). I had dinner in South Lake Tahoe and then camped overnight in the Big Meadows campground that is right on the trail.
When I had made my way along the TRT a few weeks earlier (read about that here and here) I had intended to cover the section from Mt Rose all the way through to Echo Lake, but instead made the decision to turn around not long after Star Lake (read about that decision here). I would now get a chance to follow a small section of the course from Big Meadows in the direction of Echo Lake.
I set out from the trailhead in the morning, soon crossed Highway 89 which provides access to that part of the trail, and left civilization behind, at least for the remainder of my run. I was running an out-and-back route, turning around after approximately 5 miles (8 km) where the TRT meets the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). The PCT is a long-distance hiking trail along the Sierra Nevada and Cascade mountain ranges that stretches from Mexico to Canada over a distance of 2,663 miles (4,286 km). On this day I would turnaround exactly where the TRT meets the PCT so would not run the PCT at all, but I had joined short sections of it on a couple of my earlier runs and it will appear in some upcoming posts as well.