Prelude: Arlington, VA to Park City, Utah
After flying into SLC, Steve and I arrived in Park City around 10:30 Thursday evening. I eschewed extending my daily running streak beyond two weeks in favor of pizza and beer at the Side Car on Main St.
Day 1: Park City, Utah to Alta, Wyoming
After a glorious 8 hours of sleep, I awoke and went for my first run at altitude in nearly a year. The run was to be a test in many regards. I was afraid that due to lack of training and my lowland living I couldn’t handle running on trails, up hills, or at altitude, let alone tackling all three in combination. Why afraid? Because I’d have to do all this with ultra stud Andy for 25 or more miles the following day! Turns out my fears were all for naught. I found could maintain maintain a steady running pace up trail inclines at 7,000’+. That said, I am assuredly off my fitness – even if I was running easy, I was 30 or 60 seconds per mile slower than I was on the same trails last summer. (Maybe some of that was due to the fact I stopped to take lots of pictures.) Speaking of which…
The run started quite overcast and cool. Given the fact that I planned to run 5 miles once I hit the Grand Teton course later in the day, I decided to run 3 to 5 miles in town starting on the Lost Prospector trail. I shifted into first and ground up Aire before turning south up the gradual grade. The faint smell of dust and sage hung in the air as I crossed the road to the 10 minute climb up the Gambel Oak trail. While trekking up the GO trail, some light rain started following. After letting letting loose a barbaric yawp and taking in the breathtaking views atop Masonic hill, I shifted into neutral as I rolled down the Solamere trail. Just then the rain intensified, water splattering on dust and leaf. The dormant resins awoke in a watery revelry – loosing an aromatic barrage upon the countryside … and me. Wow, I was back West! What a smell! It’s the smell of freedom, of endless possibility, of peace. Deep breath. Repeat. Ahh…..
It’s hard to explain, the difference I felt during that run. Of late, I’ve run to get in shape, to have some me time, and to luck out on occasion when I enjoy the simple act of running. Out on those trails, I wanted to run… simply to run. To run endlessly. Running was not a means of attaining or finding something else… it was the something. A visceral, soulful experience of gliding over the earth or winning the epic struggle up the side of a mountain. Different. Awesome.
After the great five run, Steve and I packed up, picked up some eats at Wasatch Bagel, and got the hell out of Dodge… err, Park City. A beautiful drive up to the Grand Targhee resort got us here just in time for the pre-race briefing. After dinner I hiked up a ski slope to take in an awesome sunset. Most of the evening I spent volunteering for the race.