Tuesday, March 10, 2015

accidental finish

winter fuzzy ears
Have you ever just been trotting up the trail when a runner goes by? Then another? Then you're in the midst of one of the largest trail races in Northern California?

Yeah, I hadn't either, until this weekend.

I left the staging area intent on about 15 good hilly miles. About 5 miles in there was a man standing on the trail waving a couple runners on. There weren't many, I thought one of the local running clubs was just out for a day. Until a giant horde of them started coming down the mountain! We just gave trail, stood off to the side, let them pass. Moved on a bit, let them keep coming. We had to use shared trail for about a mile. I got asked if I knew the trail was closed about 50 times. Um no, or I wouldn't have come. It isn't technically closed, and I was very sorry to be in the middle of their race, but totally did not impede anyone's progress! I'm getting off trail as soon as I can!

two paths to choose, of course I picked the wrong one today!
I was so happy to see the turnoff for Pig Farm Trail (steep). That is literally what the sign says: steep. Yeah, steep, and nasty boot sucking mud. Up up up. Then stop, get off, fix boots. back on. Repeat. Fuck. I was not very happy at this point. And Major was raring to go!

Once at the top we headed to the staging area. Note: at this point I'm obviously an idiot.

And the staging area was closed. But not just closed, there were runner crews and cars and crazy everywhere. But I had to get through to get back to the other side of the trail, or detour back a really long way. (Stubborn or stupid, you decide. Probably both.) So I decided to chance it and led Major through the gauntlet of flags, streamers, balloons, blow-up finish line, blasting music and a timeclock. We crossed that finish line in 2:17.

previous finish line: add more banners this year, but fewer spectators for our crossing!

Except for one little jump forward Major didn't seem to mind the chaos. I don't think I need too many desensitizing clinics now! Once through the gauntlet, we headed to the other side of the staging area and left quickly!

tiny runner ahead, but not one of the racers!
ponds are full
but we still need more rain

I hate this part, Major too. Nasty footing.
crossing the creek, some salamander hanky panky,
The rest of the ride was the usual combination of lovely rolling hills and awful rocky trail. There is a spaghetti of trails out there, lovely ponds and creeks, though I always manage to get on the rocky, nastiest section eventually. There was one ridiculous moment when Major was stopped in his tracks. By a lost sweatshirt. On a bush. Luckily when we later saw a little tree wearing a lost hat he was fine. Major obviously possesses a fine fashion sense.

tiny salt creek

down, down more rocky trail
There was the nice pond trail, crappy rock trail, crossing Knickerbocker creek, more rocks, and going back down the hill. Major then lost all will to live and was convinced the horse apocalypse had come. I dragged him down the hill behind me for a couple miles, till I was annoyed and just got back on. At which point we encountered some riders heading our direction and Major had a miraculous recovery! Faker.

Major says "I think I'm done now"

All is lost...
going up Robie Point, almost home!

Ride up the Auburn side, one more death slog/hike down Robie Point, made a bit better with grass snacks (getting back on, damn, this horse has gotten taller.) Back at the trailer, four long hours later, 21 miles, unintentional overtraining. I wasn't planning such a long ride for at least another few weeks, but we had to get home somehow!

The real running trail race, 50k (31.2 miles) on super tough trail with tons of elevation, was won in a record-setting time of 3:04:48. That is seriously impressive! Major's real ride time minus stops: 3:27. Man totally beats horse. But I'm not trading in Major anytime soon. Except for the death slog/apocalypse sections, he was a star.

Training alone is hard, that motivation they get from other horses just isn't there. I do need more training with others, but that is a mental test for Major, not a physical one. Daylight has returned in the evenings, Spring is almost upon us (even though we never had winter) and we have many miles to go before we're ready for anything. But it's a start.

it's a hard knock life

Alternate titles for this post:
Many, many wrong turns later...
Do not enter, wrong way
Left turn at Albuquerque

P.S. As an aside, I was wandering old town Auburn that evening after dinner, and the Courthouse was just glowing. If anyone ever comes to town (like for Tevis), don't just drive by, but walk around it. The building, rock and brick work is just lovely.

Auburn Courthouse at night
impressive stairs


  1. What a champ.. Major going through all that chaos with no "major" moments!! Did you trot through to the finish line??I would have been tempted just to see the looks on the in- timers faces. lol..
    Salamander hany panky..?? hmmm, so that is what salamanders are doing when they all mooossh together like that?? I would have just assumed they were cold or something.. learn something new everyday..
    The pic of the hill with the nasty footing made me chuckle.. that is considered pretty good footing on the trails here! guess its all about perspective!
    What an eventful ride full of surprises from every direction. If not a great ride, alteast it will be memorable!
    The courthouse photos are just phenomenal.. beautiful lighting..

    1. I was not going to chance trotting through and a spook, as I had no idea how he would react, I was tempted though. I did one smart thing: got off and walked him through! A photo of us "finishing" would have been awesome.

      The salamanders you see are all males, going after one poor female in the middle of that ball. After a few weeks of random sex with strangers, they crawl back under a damp log for the rest of the year!

      The rocks are nasty for this section, which is mostly nice rolling hills. I actually prefer the big granite slab trail sections, these pokey rocks aren't conducive to much trotting, nor is how steep it is. I just get discouraged out there, along with Major!

      It's all memories, that's what I try to say as I'm dragging my horse down the hill... 8-)

  2. Major looks very fit and your trails look awesome.

  3. Bwhahahahahahahaha you got stuck in the way too cool race! (I probably wouldn't have remembered either).

    1. yes, mental note: first weekend in March is the race. Do not attempt again!

  4. Ahhh, that would have been surprising/annoying! But you two handled it well and nice mileage. Huzzah, spring!

  5. Ha ha! I can just see you two trotting through that blow up finish line thing and the looks you'd have gotten! Way to go for dealing with the unexpected :)