I have certain misgivings about how much running I do on sandy surfaces. Certainly it makes you a stronger runner, developing both robust ankles and the patience to endure moments of slog, which sometimes seem interminable. But it probably isn't training me to be a faster runner. You lose the bounce in sand that comes with running on harder surface, and so, in sand, you're supposed to lean forward, engage your calves more, and lift your knees instead--great exercise, I suppose, that could pay off. But should it be a focus of marathon training, where efficiency is everything? I find that on a road like Goat Ranch Cutoff I weave restlessly back and forth from one tire track to the next in search of the most compact line (which often doesn't exist to my standard). At times, I feel like I'm grinding to a halt, but step sideways can get me going again. And I have noticed that the footprints I leave--some from weeks before, layered with tire tread, and the tracks of rabbit (a constellation of pads), deer (cloven), and snake (long-intestinal)--rock a bit too much. Dastardly heel strike! If I were smart, I'd make a point of running longer, harder efforts on pavement, since ultimately that's what the race will cover, and focus on my form on the sand for easy/"maintenance" runs. But, we'll see.
In any case, it's a good reminder that Mono Lake is always affecting me. Often it seems so distant, just a mirror reflecting islands (I never run right along the shore, though I'm planning to, soon, up at ten mile beach). But of course it lay down the old lake bed I run across day to day. It sits there, at the center of the Basin, and from eons ago dictates my training.
15 mi, 105 min; Conway Ranch loop + some ever sandy Goat Ranch Cutoff O+B, and a mile more through Mono City