Turkey adventure -- Day 1

(Show distances in kilometers / miles)

«You only ever grow as a human being if you're outside your comfort zone»
— Percy Cerutty

As I wrote before I had a very bold plan for the long Thanksgiving weekend: Yosemite, 4 days, 8 runs and 100 miles.100 miles, (i.e. 160 kilometers). At least that was the plan. Whether I'd be able to make it; I really didn't know. The most I ever run in a week was 113km70 miles and now all of a sudden I wanted to do over 40% more in just 4 days...

Some of you may wonder why would I want to do such a thing, in the first place. Well, firstly I can hardly come up with a better way of spending those few days than running around in the beautiful nature of the Yosemite Park. Secondly, it was supposed to be a test of sorts. I want to do a 100 mile race next year and if I am ever to do it in just one day then I guess I should be able to do it over four, right?

So this is how the idea of the Turkey Adventure, with its reference to the Turkey-powered holiday, come to be.

Originally I planned to make those posts "live" as the adventure was unfolding, but, for a number of reasons, that turned out not to be possible... so, instead you will be able to read all about it over the coming few days. Ok, let's get started.

Pacheco State Park (Workout details)

I got up around 7am; in fact I was quite afraid of the Thanksgiving traffic and was considering getting up at some unearthly hour, like 5 or so. I'm glad I decided against that, as I needed all the rest I could get and, as it turned out, the traffic was less heavy than on my typical commute day.

But before I hit the highway, just as I left the garage, I saw that my street is completely blocked because of... Turkey trot, a Thanksgiving running event! How ironic, huh? I actually kinda felt bad that there was a running event just next to where I live and I didn't participate. But I hope running 100 miles in Yosemite was a good enough excuse ;)

After 1.5 hours of driving I reached my first stop: the Pacheco State Park, where I stopped for my first run. Perhaps not surprisingly the parking was totally empty and there was no one in the park, except for the ranger who seemed quite pleased to see me ;).

The park turned out to be a very pleasant place for running. Some of the trails were slightly more wild, than your usual California-style-trail in the sense that it was not unthinkable to loose the trail (surely, I did manage).

My general plan was to do two runs per day, both around 12 miles20km long with a couple of hours in between for lunch and rest. However, for this first day I wasn't sure where I would do my second run, so decided to make the first one longer, just in case. So after making a full 20km12 mile long loop around the park, I decided to do few extra kilometersmiles for good measure.

I finished at 1pm after 3.5h of running. I changed, got to my car and went looking for lunch. In fact, I looked up a well rated Mexican restaurant on Yelp and even decided to get a bit off the way to reach it. Of course, I completely forgot that it's a holiday and that restaurant, just like most of the others, was closed. I ended up in Burger King. Not ideal.

San Luis National Wildlife Refuge (Workout details)

After lunch and some more driving I reached the San Luis National Wildlife Refuge. Unfortunately by that time it was well after 4pm and the sign on the gate to the parking was warning that the gate closes automatically after sunset; and that would be around 5pm. I had some doubts whether that would really happen, but decided not to call their bluff; there was not a living soul in sight so if that really happened I could be in trouble. So instead I found a parking spot next to the road, some 1.5 kilometers1 mile away from the park.

The place itself seemed to be excellent if you love to watch birds, hunt or see nature from behind the window of your car (they had auto tour routes). As I'm not a particular fan of any of those activities, I found it slightly monotonous, especially that there were only around 10 kilometers6 miles worth of trails and all of it was completely flat.

But at least the sunset was beautiful. Yeah, right, sunset. I kinda didn't think about the fact that it was coming, so around 5pm it was quickly starting to get dark. Because of that I was thinking of calling it in early, after finishing the first round of the park, but not yet completing the full distance of the day. But thankfully the moon was shining and the trail was wide and easy, so I decided to do an extra round and do the planned mileage for the workout (16km10 miles). Still, it was certainly a good lesson for the future, as in Yosemite (i.e. in the mountains) I'd not want to be taken by surprise on the trail in darkness.

I got to my car and drove to Yosemite Cedar Lodge, where I'd be staying for 3 nights. When I got there it was already 8pm. I quickly unpacked, got dinner at their restaurant (quite tasty) and ended up in bed around 11pm, which was a bit late given that I wanted to get up real early. After all, I had some serious running to do :).

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