Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Silverado Canyon Loop: Training for Chimera

Last Saturday morning I had the pleasure of meeting with a small group of runners signed up for the Chimera 100K and 100M race. The purpose of the meet-up was to do some night running on the terrain we'd be covering on the Chimera course once the sun goes down.

We met at 1AM in the canyon. To get directions to our exact starting point, use these coordinates in Google Maps: 33.74767,-117.5831. Also, here's a map of the loop from, an extremely helpful website with all kinds of trails mapped out by my buddy LT... Lambert was the one who organized the run, and has done some serious running, in case you can't tell from his website.

There were 9 of us in total in our starting group, and we planned to meet another group at 6:30AM... we would do one 17 mile loop, then the rest of the group would join for a second 17 mile loop. It was a chance to get some good miles in 3 weeks before the race and meet some of the folks we'd be sharing the trails with.

Overall, it was a fantastic run. The climb starts right away on single track through brush, and gains close to 2000 ft of elevation in 2-3 miles. The trail winds and loops, keeping it interesting as you continue to ascend vertically. I was talking with a runner (Cris Francisco) who had done the same trail as part of the Chimera 100K the year prior, but in their case, they had to cover that section in the heat of the day. As Cris pointed out the points at which he had stopped to throw up, I felt glad we'd be covering it in the dark during the actual race.

After the first 2-3 miles we leveled out, then for the next 4 miles followed a fire road over rolling hills. We steadily climbed another 1000 ft vertically, reaching the highest point of the loop at 4800 ft, 10 miles in. From there, it was a 7 mile descent down a winding fire road that became an asphalt road once it hit the bottom of the canyon.

Following the road along the bottom of the canyon, we arrived back at our cars about 4 hours and 10 minutes after we left them, having covered 17 miles and 3900 ft of climbing in the dark.

Checking with the rest of the group, Cris and I decided to continue on with the second loop rather than wait an hour for the 6:30AM start group to arrive... I was feeling cold and slightly weary, and was (rather selfishly) thinking how hard it would be to restart after stopping for an hour. Along with Mike Epler, we decided to push on while the others rested and waited. After restocking our water and fuel, we headed out on loop two.

The second time around was tougher but more gorgeous. This time, our climb out of the canyon beat us up further, but upon reaching the top we were rewarded with deep reds and purples in the sky to the east as the sun came up.

Overall, it was great to run that section of the course, I feel like I am finally getting a good idea of what we will encounter out there. There are still big chunks of the course I have never seen, but that's part of the fun on the day! By night, however, I should be on familiar ground, and that will be nice.

So excited for the race, and looking forward to making new friends! It will be a blast out there.

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