Trail Runner Problems…

I set out today to run 20 miles and see the rest of the North Face course.  Unfortunately the crazy busy-ness of franchise work and holiday work over the past two weeks and being sick caught up with me.  I felt so sluggish and tired…ugh.  But, on the plus side, I learned so much and had so much fun over the past two weeks, I wouldn’t change it. I can handle a slow run….haha….

Going up the first two trails…way, way up, I was able to actually try some of the strategies I’ve been thinking about with those hills.  Went pretty well in a lot of places and was the fastest I’ve climbed some parts of the trail.  I didnt know that while I was running, and I still felt sluggish.  I figured I’d get to Cardiac, and go from there.

I got up to Cardiac, and decided to head down Dipsea, rather than do the extra Matt Davis/Dipsea loop.  I was still feeling pretty tired, and I still hadn’t figured out where the course went between Oceanview and Muir woods, so thought I would figure that out.  So, down Dipsea I went….almost literally…stupid mud…and, that’s where the adventure began….

I get to the Ben Johnson trail, which I’ve done one other time, that I can remember.  It was the one I thought maybe I could run down last week and rolled both ankles several times – lots of fun.  So this week, I thought I would take it slow…maybe last week was a fluke or something.  After I got through the part that was real crazy, I started to jog again…unfortunately, it didn’t take long to roll my left ankle again….awesome.  It was then that I realized something….I’m terrified of this trail.

After I rolled it and walked it out a bit, I realized I didnt want to run anymore and roll it again….at least until I was off this particular trail.  So, I walked (really awesome, since I already felt slow and sluggish)….and made sure I was watching where I was going.  Of course, I watched the ground so closely that I didnt see the tree branch I ran into….fabulous….stupid trail, I hate you…..and I hate it more that I’m afraid of you….especially since I don’t really know how to get over it.  I’m just hoping if I do it enough, eventually I won’t be afraid anymore.  I can handle the scary steps in Pirates Cove now, so I don’t think it’s impossible….I hope.

That terrible trail ended at Muir Woods, and picked up another trail that wouldnt have been so bad, if I wasn’t so exhausted.  I tried to run as much as possible, since I really wanted to get away from Muir Woods and all of the tourists.  As I was running up part of it, I’m pretty sure I came across a couple who had just gotten engaged…

I got up to Alice Springs camp (not sure if that’s what it’s actually called, but it makes me think of Outback and Cheese Fries, so let’s go with it) and began the descent on Fern Trail.  I really liked this one…easily runnable and very few spots that the trail could try to kill me.  This went down and met the Lost trail, except this time, I wasn’t lost.  Unfortunately then it headed up…and up…and up.  Hope you like stairs….I finally got to the top, and thankfully, the sign wasn’t broken, so I knew exactly where to head for the next part…..

Unfortunately, more up.  And some lady in wedge flip flops and an outfit fit for an office.  She looked relatively miserable….but looked at me like I was the crazy one, probably because I was covered in sweat and mud….it’s a trail…you’re supposed to be covered in mud…haha.  Anyway, once I got up, the view was beautiful.  And some how my foggy day had turned beautiful and sunny.  I went the wrong way on the next trail (why would the intersection have a sign…that would be too easy)….luckily, there was one not too far ahead and I quickly righted myself.  I found some more trails that I really liked….relatively flat, some slight descents…..and really interesting people.

The first guys were more annoying than anything.  Heard me come up behind them, and rather than share the trail like normal people they stepped into the middle of it so I really had no way around them. Annoying, but it was so pretty and they headed up towards the road pretty quick, so I didn’t really care.

Next, I came across a lady who thought I was a mountain lion coming up behind her….yeah…..nope…just me.  But, thanks, I think….

At this point, I was having a lovely time on the trail, but was a little worried about getting back on Dipsea.  I knew I still had to go down to get back to the beach, but who knows how Dipsea will get you there…..generally with a lot of up in between….At the meeting of Dipsea and Sun, I had a lady ask me where a bathroom was…..ummmm….yeah….so not the one to ask, let’s be honest.  I’m pretty sure most of the bathrooms I used in Nepal changed my opinion of what’s defined as a bathroom.  haha….well, that and the random port-a-potty I used at the meadow earlier.  Really, it’s the woods….there arent bathrooms….but, I was nice and told her there would be some at Muir Woods and Muir Beach, but I didnt know how far it was to either.  It was kind of fun to pull out my strava route and show her where we were and when those places were in relation.

The rest of Dipsea down to Muir Woods was pretty easy and pretty uneventful.  To the guy I almost blew my nose on, I’m sorry….

Of course, I get to the bottom, and expect it to be flat between Muir Woods and Muir beach…it was when I made up my own way last weekend.  But of course, this is the North Face course…and nothing is flat.  I pull out my strava and check the route….yup…cross the road and up Dipsea…..and up and up.  As I climbed and climbed, way more tired than I should have been, I thought about what might be waiting at the top…another good view maybe?

Or not….the trail literally t-boned into a fire road….a fire road that I was coincidentally heading back down.  Really??  Thanks North Face….I can’t wait to do this at mile 38….but, had I not climbed up, I would have missed the lady asking me for directions:

  • Her: Do you know which way to go
  • Me: Where are you going
  • Her: We thought maybe Stinson beach….
  • My Thought….well, that’s a nice thought, but based on the sign I passed a half mile ago, it’s five miles to Stinson, ten round trip…and it’s 3:30…that sounds like a long walk in the dark….
  • Me: Well, I’m not sure, but let me look at my route.
  • In the meantime, she shows me her map and points over way to the left (Muir Beach is in the bottom right)
  • Me: um….well, no….we’re here…by Muir Woods….and I show her the dot on my phone.  
In the end, she thought maybe they would head down towards Muir Woods….hopefully that’s what they did.  Or the guy she was with (pretty sure it was the guy I passed who was peeing in the woods…) has a better sense of direction or knows how to read a map…
I make it back to the car, grabbed some water….had I not been completely out, I may have continued to torture myself and climb up Coyote Ridge, but instead just walked over to where I had seen a water stop for a race earlier.  Was curious what the race was, but it was gone.  In the end, the run was about 16.5 miles.  Not too bad, and maybe if I schedule an early oil change next week, I can get out and get in a 20 miler…..and see the rest of the North Face course.
Speaking of North Face, they posted the course tonight….luckily, it’s what I thought it would be based on some strava courses.  Which means after next week, I will have hopefully seen the entire thing.  Unfortunately, I’m a little worried.  I dont move fast enough to be afraid of the Ben Johnson downhill….and I need to be faster overall….hopefully the additional day of running will help with that….and maybe I’ll add another…..we’ll see.  Hopefully there’s enough time to get as good at the muir beach/stinson part as I am at Pirate’s Cover, Marincello, and Miwok….well, good for me that is….and, I guess it’s a good thing I know those trails well, based on the course notes I’ll be covering bob cat, miwok, and coming down old springs in the dark (with a headlamp) on race day….eeeek….I feel like I should practice that…..
I think that’s it for now….over and out…

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