Another weekend, another race with Coastal Trails. It was early, but I was excited for the race – whether I’m volunteering or running, Coastal always puts on a good race. My knee still wasn’t where I wanted it to be and life, well, life continues to be assessed one day at a time. Based on that, it was safe to say I wasn’t in the physical or mental shape to complete a 50k. But, I forced myself to get up and go to the race….I always have fun and I didn’t really care what distance I did, it was all about getting out there.
I managed to get to the start with minimal issues. I’m pretty sure the gps was confused with all of the highway over passes, but I made it. I parked and checked in with no problem. I picked up my 50k bib and changed it to the 30k. While I hadn’t been specifically told not to run, I figured 30+ miles on a knee that was MRI’d last night wasn’t the best decision. It was colder than I had anticipated, so I took my shirt and bib and hunkered down in the car for a bit. Got my shoes and ankle brace on, and all of my stuff out – gloves, headphones, phone, etc. and packed up my pack. Didn’t grab any food….that would have been far too easy.
I decided to swing by the bathroom and then come back to my car, grab my stuff, and head out for the run. I had twenty minutes….should be fine, right. The line did move quickly, and I was back at my car with about three minutes to spare. However, either my gps clock was off or the race started early….I was maybe thirty seconds from the start and I heard Wendell’s telltale count down ending at ‘1’. The race had begun! Luckily, I was close and not too far behind. I also knew with the knee injury, I’d be walking a lot.
I had come out to preview the course twice, but I really didn’t recognize the first few miles. I think I was still settling in from being late and mentally preparing myself to run. It was a lot of gentile up, if I recall correctly….but, I made it to the golf course before I knew it and was able to grab some electrolyte drink. Of course I was feeling like my sugar was low on the day I forgot to bring gu. But, the electrolytes did the trick and I was off….I jogged a lot more than I thought I would, down Selby, to Redwood, to Tower…..how quickly I had learned the names of new trails and gotten used to the rolling hills. I jogged most of redwood and walked up tower pretty easily. I was in a groove and feeling alright. Knee was a little sore, so I had 95% decided I would stop at the half – probably a good idea to stick to that distance until my knee and life are resolved.
I got to the top of tower and turned down grizzly peak….at some point, I started passing people. I never pass anyone….but it was fun to be with other runners – say hello, or good morning, or nice job. I was also surprised that I knew where I was going, after only a few trips to these trails. After grizzly peak, it was more rolling hills and a really steep, rocky descent. There were so many times I was sure I was going to tumble to the bottom, but I made it. I had a guy pass me and say, ‘these stones suck’, why yes they do, my friend. Then there was a guy coming up the hill towards me…all I could think was, please let this man be looking for the quickest way back – don’t tell me I have to climb up this too. No such luck…..the closer I got to the bottom, the more people that were coming up.
Just before I got to the bottom, I had a guy tell me I was at the bottom – thank god….my knee did not enjoy that. I stopped at the aid station to grab some more electrolytes and was off up the hill, and down the hill, and up, and down. Lots of rolling….it almost felt like I couldn’t settle in and I thought I preferred the somewhat more predictable, longer hills of the headlands, but looking at Strava later, I ran pretty well, so, I’ll take them.
The rollers ended on the fire road I ran with Ksenya and Arielle last weekend, so I felt good about that and was able to run most of it. Walk the uphill, jog down, became my mantra. The views were amazing and it was a nice ride for the most part. Close to the aid station I came up on another runner who had fallen. A lot of people had stopped to check on her and help her up….trail running is such a community. It seemed like she was more starteled than hurt, and I was happy for her when I saw her blow by the finish line later to start her second lap.
I got back to the aid station and grabbed a hammer gel – yay, they had vanilla! I didn’t eat all of it, but I definitely felt like I had ingested a bunch of frosting…..perhaps the caffeine in gu mellows that piece out. Haha. Either way, I began making my way up the steep stone hill….I was glad for two thing – one, the other runners I was with and two, the fact that I didn’t have to climb up this again. And I guess three, this was the last big climb in the race.
I got to the top, and from that point, it was pretty much down hill to the finish – maybe four miles or so…..a bit of rolling, but then, I decided if i was doing the half, this course was mine. From there, I was able to run down most of grizzly peak, other than jumping out of the way of some horses, until I got to the golf course aid station. Stopped to grab some more electrolytes and off I went. Past the golf course, past the bench I had lunch on last weekend, across a street…..passed a guy, back into the woods. At that point, it had to be about a mile back I and I went for it….one of my fastest trail miles to date….other than that moment where I thought I would bite it. Haha. Only funny because I didnt. Around the corner, and to the finish.
I got my medal and found someone to change my distance from the 30k to the half, chatted with some of the other finishers, and grabbed a recovery beer while I waited for the sausages that had just started grilling. While I waited, I met a guy who’d done this as his first half (doozy course for the first time) and was waiting for his wife to finish hers. It seemed as though he has caught the bug and will do more races in the future.
I enjoyed the sun and got my sausage – it was delicious. Great time, great race, kudos Coastal Trails, Wendell, and volunteers, for such a great race.
Until next time!