Montara Mountain Race Report

I know I promised a new year’s update, and at some point it’s coming….really.  But, in the interim, a race report from my most recent trail adventure.

Awhile ago, I decided to get back into volunteering at races, something I’d really missed since AIDS Marathon closed and I’d gone back to school.  After helping out at the Steep Ravine race a few weeks ago, I received a coupon for a race entry and decided the Montara Mountain 50k would be a perfect training ground for my 50 miler at the end of March.

What I didn’t count on was life getting in the way, a lagging injury, and a cough I couldn’t shake. My knee had been healing since my 50 miler during the 24 hour race on New Years, and I’d come down with something at the start of February, and to say that life has been crazy lately would be a huge understatement. Based on all of that, I had already decided to scale my planned 100 in March down to a 50, if anything at all. But, I’d already singed up for the race – might as well get myself out there and see what I could do. After all, the physical therapist told me I should try some longer distances.

I arrived at the race about 30 minutes prior to the start, plenty of time to get ready to get out there….much of the reason I love these races so much, so low key and easy. I got my bib and shirt, and then of course realized that I’d left my ankle brace in the car. Of course I did….luckily, it was just a short walk back to grab it and I was good to go. I made a short attempt at hitting the bathroom, but alas, the line was too long. Oh well, I knew I’d be passing through that area in a few short miles.

The race started out with a climb up the North Peak.  Much of the course was new to me, but I had run a piece of this section a few weeks prior to get a feel for it, but had to stop when it started pouring. The first four or so miles were an uphill climb to the peak.  It was tough…even with the headlands, that are anything but flat, being my main training ground.  Not only was it tough from an athletic standpoint, it was a single track with lots of people….traffic jam!  Luckily, everyone was in good spirits and very courteous to one another.

I knew I’d be walking all of the uphill and potentially some of the downhill.  My longest run since the 50 mile had been 11 miles….really, all bets were off. I started the race with one of my coworkers and we walked the uphill to the peak where we picked up our rubber bands to prove we were there. We walked part of it with a couple who told us about a friend of theirs running across the country a marathon at a time – I can’t imagine. We ran most of the way down, which was good for me.  Legs felt pretty good….knees were a little sore with the downhill and the rest of me was feeling it, but nothing out of the question. However, I had realized I’d probably be settling for the half that day.

I came through the finish line/aid station area feeling pretty good….said hello to one of the guys I’d volunteered with who was working the aid station, grabbed some electrolytes and was on my way.

The second hill wasn’t too bad, maybe a mile or so up and a mile or so down.  But, by that point, things were hurting, I was definitely not in the same shape I was at the end of December.  As I began the third climb, I was glad I had decided to tackle only 13.1 that day. It had also gotten warm, so I stopped at some point to pull off the long sleeved shirt and attach it to my pack, careful to rope it in so it didn’t meet the same fate as my shirt last weekend and slip out.

Climbing the third and final hill, I realized I really needed some sugar.  I ate a gu and continued making my way up, up,up….feeling muscles hurting that I’d forgotten I had for the past month or so. By the time I got to the top, I was definitely feeling it and walked most of the way down.  I jogged across a bridge and around a corner, and there it was….the finish!  The volunteer directing runners noticed my bib and tried to direct me to the 50k course.  As sad as it made me, I thanked him and told him I was just going to do the half that day.

I finished the race and enjoyed some time just hanging out at the finish line. It was a nice change to be there for the beginning of the grilling and the good beer rather than roll in at 4….haha. I asked the volunteers about changing my race distance and Wendell took down my bib number and asked about my 24 hour race based on the t-shirt I was wearing.  Asked if I had received my coaster, which I had, along with my third place award…fun package to get in the mail.

Happy with my efforts, I enjoyed a grilled sausage and a beer while chatting with some other runners.  Not a bad way to spend a Saturday morning.

As usual, Wendell and Coastal Trails put on a wonderful event – looking forward to next time!  Until then, over and out.

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