Running at 8,000 feet isn't easy. Throw in a horrific travel day on Saturday wherein the airlines incurred my wrath for their ineptitude and then an 8 hour drive from Salt Lake City to Mammoth Lakes, CA on about 5 hours of sleep on Sunday and they are even more difficult.
But worth it.
Running one one of the two major running meccas in the US came about for me as my buddy Jimmy was here to get some altitude acclimation for his shot at the prestigious Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run. With just a few days left in his stay, his schedule fit mine and away I went. Eschewing the seemingly faster Route 80 from SLC that cuts through northern Nevada I decided that I would go the road less traveled- literally and figuratively. I am speaking of US RT 6.
What should be known as the loneliest road in America, Rt 6 goes through only two towns in 306 miles of driving. Of that travel time there is about 4 plus hours of absolutely no cell phone reception. But I knew there would never be a reason I would feel the need to go through Tonopah or Ely ever again in my life (although going back to get a picture of me in the Inyo National Forest is tempting - this is a LOL Cats reference -feel free to email me if you don't get this) I decided there is no time like the present.
And I will tell you this: the drive was actually pretty darn fun. Great scenery, lots of long straight highways that make 15 miles go by in the blink of an eye and the feeling that I might actually be the only person to pass through a certain section of road for hours upon hours made the day fly by even if I saw a lot of this:
With my cell phone not working in any way, my GPS completely telling me I was driving about 300 yards to the right of the actual road, I was praying I did not get a flat tire or the West equivalent of Dueling Banjos would begin to play in my head and I would probably cry.
However, tragedy was averted, a trip that was supposed to take 10 plus hours took far, far less (and I also saw at one point that my car can go really fast) and I soon found myself in Mammoth Lakes, CA. Thirty minutes after arriving, Jimmy, a local collegiate runner and I donned our trail shoes (yep, I actually own a pair of those) and were heading up towards Mammoth Rock.
I was sucking wind fast. Besides the fact that at sea level it usually takes me 4 miles to even feel like I will enjoy the run, here I was on very little rest immediately hoofing it up the the Mammoth Rock Trail. As I mentioned above, it was well worth it. Here is the shot I took of Jimmy and Lindsey (who you WILL be hearing about, believe me) as we got ready to head back down the the valley below.
Just as I finally started to feel good the run was about to be over. 8.6 miles later we returned from where we started with 1,200 calories burnt, 1,500 feet of vertical climb and smiles from those who earned their dinners.
Time to eat! Five. Five Dollar. Five Dollar Footlongs!