North Face Endurance Challenge

So, let me preface this with the fact/thought that I should have done a training run (or six) that were longer than 15 miles.  But, I do what I can.  And, I was able to finish and have a great time doing so.  That being said, race report…

The start line was a pretty cool experience.  It was cold and somewhat windy, but they had heat lamps and fire pits going, which was a nice touch and made the cold bearable. There was also a welcome tent of sorts that had coffee and hot water and snacks (and more heaters).  I thought that was really nice, and not something I’ve seen at a race before.  I was nervous about drinking coffee before running, since I didn’t know how it would affect my stomach. But, one of the volunteers offered me a cup of hot water to hold, which was a great help with the cold.  While we were in the tent, we looked at the course maps and Brian talked me through the flow of the marathon. While we had run or hiked most of the course, we hadn’t done it all at once.  A couple of other runners joined us and we chatted through the course with them too.  The hour or so we spent there went pretty quickly, and was overall low key.  By the time we started the race, the nerves I had about not finishing had been replaced with the thrill of another adventure.

The course was a kind of figure 8 with a couple of loops.  The first loop went from the start line near the visitor’s center at the headlands, up miwok hill, then down the back side into the Tennessee valley, up marincello hill, over to bob cat and altar before dropping back near the start.  The first hill climb was tough, especially on my calves, especially so early in the race.  But the decent into Tennessee valley was fabulous. I ran all of it, despite the run walk I usually do.  The only drawback was the rude runner with the headphones who yelled at me once I started running after a walk break….I’m not sure why.  Maybe she thought I didn’t want her to pass me?  Whatever, wasn’t going to ruin my day.  Coming into the Tennessee valley, I said good morning to a couple of guys tending a stable, had my photo taken, and ran into our friend, Drew.  He said hello, I told him I was feeling good, and he said, ‘great! Now you get to run up the big ass hill’.  Haha….I think I told him I had just come down one.

The next part of the course began like the first, but after going up miwok a second time (ugh), we made a different turn at  Tennessee valley and headed out toward pirate’s cove and muir beach.  This was when I started to get the Fun song, ‘put one foot in front of the other….lalalala’ stuck in my head. It remained there for most of the rest of the day. I met two other runners on the second trip up miwok.  Up until that point, I felt like I was pretty much in no man’s land. They thought they were lost, but since I had talked through the course that morning, I reassured them we were on track.  Pat was from Connecticut and Holly was from LA.  It was nice to have some people to chat with on our trip up the hill.  However, I lost holly on the way up the hill.  But, I did trade off position with Pat until we hit Pirate’s cove.  This was the one part of the course that was on pavement.  It was also where we started to see 50k runners coming back. I looked out for my friend Toby, who was running the 50k, but he was way ahead of me.  This was also a fairly easy portion to run….or run walk in my case.

The next part of the course went through pirate’s cove, out to muir beach, and then back to the Tennessee valley.  That was by far the most difficult part of the course.  I think the hill up to pirate’s cove was pretty rough, but quite honestly, I don’t remember it.  I remember the descent was pretty scary.  At one point, I stopped to dig a stone out of my shoe, mad had my feet fly out from under me. Luckily, they crashed on to the next step, and I was able to remain upright. Thank god for small favors.  The course between pirate’s cove and muir beach was pretty, but also pretty rough. It was a single track up hill, followed by a steep descent to the beach. Of course, it was an out and back, so all I could think was – I can’t wait to run back out if this. There was an aid station at the turn around, for those do us that turned around. If you’re me, you keep going and over run the turn.  Haha…luckily, I noticed the pink ribbon course markers had disappeared and I asked a volunteer, who turned me around, and I was back at the aid station shortly.

My friend Ed was working the aid station and gave me some water and electrolytes, as well as some Mountain Dew, which I hadn’t had since college, but was amazing at mile 15.  He asked how I was feeling, and I’m pretty sure I told him I had muscles I forgot I had hurting.  Then I finished my stretch break, grabbed some pretzels, had another drink, and took off.  I saw Pat on the way back, gave him a high five and told him we were getting it done.  I also saw Holly, she had hurt her knee and was glad the aid station was only half a mile away.  And, that’s where the course got ugly. After climbing the rollers out of muir beach, there was another never ending hill.  It felt like miles. Luckily, at this point there were plenty of people on the course since the 50 mile runners were on the same course. Most said hello as they jogged by me, and it was great to hear some friendly voices – even if they were running twice as far….

Upon returning to the Tennessee valley, I was glad to see the rest stop, and stopped to grab some more Mountain Dew and a pb&j.  I don’t think it’s ever tasted so good. I also overheard a pacer asking where he could meet his 50 mile runner.  So, of course the wheels started turning, and as much pain as I was in, I wanted to train better and do that one next year.  From the rest stop, we headed up marincello for the second time (ugh), but I knew what to expect, and I love the alta and rodeo trails.  And after that, less than a mile to the finish. And my Fun song about one foot in front of the other was back. Going up marincello, I walked by a couple of other runners, and was able to say hello.  It was nice to have some friendly faces through the final miles. Hitting the rest stop at the top of altar was nice too…great to see the friendly volunteers and have another mini sandwich and soda.

Coming out of the flat end of the rodeo trail, a volunteer at the last water stop let me know I had less than a mile to go, and offered me any last minute aid items.  I knew I was close, and didn’t want to stop moving, so I thanked her and told her I was good. Then, despite the finish being just across the
street and up a small hill, I started singing my song from the Honolulu marathon….’this is the race that never ends’. Approaching the finish line, there was a lady cheering, who told me to run like I was Black Friday shopping. Haha….then I entered the finish line chute, and heard Brian and our friend, Drew, cheering for me. The announcer got my name from Brian and said, ‘we’re all cheering for you, Kim’.

And, like that, it was over.  Am I thrilled with my time, not really.  Am I happy I finished, definitely.  It was my first trail marathon, and my first marathon in at least two years, and I didn’t train.  But, wow…so much fun.  As much as I knew I would be sore, and as sore as I am right now, I can’t wait to sign up for the 50 mile next year.  And train for it….that too.

 In other news, I had my last team meeting for school ever today. So exciting and surreal…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s