Tuesday, March 12, 2013

On My Way Too Cool

The fat, wet snowflakes blustered without direction as they fell. I watched from the terminal window as the snow lazily deposited itself on the wings of the plane. Not much accumulation with temps slightly above freezing, just a thin layer starting to build.  My day started at 5am EST, waking to start my trip to the airport and eventually to California. A half inch of snow covered my car, which required clearing before heading off.

The Eastern Snowy Planes
I get to travel for my work a large amount. Flying has always been an excitement for me and, even now, I really enjoy the takeoffs and landings. It had been a long time, though, since I spent time looking out an airport window. As I watched the snow, I checked again the weather projection for Cool CA on my phone and smiled. Perfect conditions still on the horizon. The snow seemed to be heavier now.

The trail gods smiled upon me and I became one of only a few East Coasters fortunate to be selected by the Way Too Cool 50K 2013 lottery. Not sure if it was pure luck, or if there was some non-CA quota the gods had to meet. Whatever the contributing factors, the outcome has had me revved up for quite a while! Getting the chance to run this legendary race is quite a privilege!

Do You Know The Way Too Cool?
Since winning the WTC lottery, I had consumed any blog posts, podcasts and videos I could find about the race. I tried to learn as much about the course as can be gleamed from the virtual world.  Scott Dunlap’s post of the 2012 race, with all the wonderful pics, had me salivating to be there. I regularly run trails in NJ , yet they are short, not more than 10 miles. Nothing like the super abundance of unending, beautiful, single track that  California is blessed with.

Ahh, The Running Life!
Flight departure display didn't show any delays or cancellation. No emails or text from United indicating up to the minute schedule changes. Though the flight pushed back on time at 8:15am, the line for deicing the wings was a wait. At 9:33am we finally took off, without event or angst.
Landing in San Fran it was a different world, with no possible thoughts of snow.

The drive up to Auburn was under cloudless skies and helped to fortify the weather predictions for race day. (Excitement rising!) My destination, the Auburn Running Company, to pick up my race packet, get some extra swag, and learn the scoop of the course from the locals.  

ARC, Trail Running HQ
Several runners became perfect trail consultants and blissfully shared their knowledge. I introduced myself to Gary Gellin (2012 WTC winner), who had responded graciously to my emails about course questions. The WTC team was there to hand out the packets and  offer some additional WTC gear for sale. 

Get your numbers HERE!

The ARC employees were quite busy helping runners trying new shoes and restocking their trail gear. June, the cashier, recognized my east coast, NJ accent (what accent?) and admitted she was originally from NJ. We had a good talk about NJ and the Auburn area. She gave me some recommendations for dinner.  Thanks June.

Cool Swag Supervisors

After hanging around ARC for a long while, soaking up some trail karma from the experts, I decided to drive down to Cool and check out the start. The road out to Cool was a real treat!. My smile grew bigger as I maneuvered through the drive. It was an exciting, windy mountain road, with amazing views of the canyon and mountain around every serpentine curve. I wished my mini SUV was a Porsche that could take the curves at 60 mph, barely holding the road. (Go Speed Acer!)

When I got to the start, there was a bustle of activity building the WTC Village and setting up the start and finish. My pulse started to rise as I pulled past the fire house, thinking was I really here?  Was I dreaming, only to wake up to shoveling the snow?

There Snow Place Like Home
Yes! It was real and I could hardly wait until the morning to join 1000 runners taking on the famed Way Too Cool 50K course.

WTC finish is waiting for you!
Headed back to Auburn (holding back on the serpentines) to have some dinner. Enjoyed some great authentic Italian cuisine at Tres Pazzi. My waitress Kristi was enthusiastic to hear I was running the race. Her coworker was also running. By serendipity, I bumped into her after finishing the race, while she waited at the finish shoot, to cheer on her friend.

Mom, waitress and  trail running cheerleader
It was time to head to the hotel, lay out my race gear and running grub, go through the prep list and once again, check the weather predictions for tomorrow. This was going to be brilliant!

1 comment:

  1. Mike, you made the race come alive. Very interesting for a non-runner to read and see through your eyes. Your photos were spot-on and beautiful. Thanks so much. Pat Acer Polkowske


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