Good news! Despite the injuries and being sick all week, I can still bang out 30 miles. Bad news…I have to find 20 more in six weeks. Yikes!! North Face.
I had somewhat planned out my day….park in Tennessee Valley and do a loop towards Rodeo Valley and then a loop in Pirates Cove and some junk miles in TV before, during, and after. And of course, hit my car as an aid station each time I passed. I will say, Slimer makes a great aid station.
I started with a loop out and back to the beach, pretty uneventful, but probably should have put on the ankle braces. Oh well…gotta get stronger somehow. I returned to my aid station to restock before heading up Marincello. And to the lady who felt the need to stalk me for my parking spot. First, I gave zero indication I was leaving….Second, you can always ask….and Third, try the one in front of me..or behind me…or on the other side of the road. There’s plenty, I promise. But, I do hope you enjoyed watching me get ready to run.
Anyway….so I headed up Marincello, took that over to SCA, past the steps I tripped down, down Coastal, and out to Bunker Dr. I really like Coastal….nice, gentle, down hill, very little to trip on. Then I spent about a mile trying to get on Rodeo….due to trail construction, all the entrances had changed. I never found the right way to get on the trail, but I did find the trail blazed by all of those before me who must have gotten annoyed trying to figure out the routing. One jump around a fence and I was on my way. Going up Rodeo was tougher than I remember, but not too bad. I was well within the pace I’d like to main for the race, even though today was all about getting the miles in.
Once I got to the top of Rodeo, I decided to explore a bit….kind of tough now since I know the headlands pretty well. But, regardless, I decided to take Oakwood…or maybe it was Oak Valley, back down to TV. I didn’t think I had been on that trail before, but quickly learned that I had. Except, I had climbed up it, rather than run down. The first part of it wasn’t too bad – nice, easy jog down. Similar to running down Coastal. Then I got to the rocks and the steep and the gravel. Good times….well….not really. I went down once and then gave up and crab walked down the next part. I’m done taking chances.
Got down, got back to slimer…..mile 16. More than halfway. Re-stocked, refueled, swapped the sweaty tank for a dry t-shirt, and I was off to Pirates Cove.
Now, Pirates Cove was more treacherous than I remember it. Maybe it never recovered from North Face last year, maybe I’m just afraid of falling. I’m pretty sure I was crawling through parts where Kenya and I used to jog last year….somehow, I will have to find a way to get over this trail fear. As I made my way down to the scary stairs, I did have to stop and pause, and admire the beauty of where I was running. I was also really looking forward to getting on the far less steep single track you can see in the distance.
I followed the single track past the bridge I crashed out on during this run
, and noticed the edge where my foot slipped had been patched. The single track leads up a bit and then out to a fire road and down into Muir Beach. The descent into Muir Beach wasn’t as bad as I remember (now if I could just get over my fear of every other descent….), though I did have to navigate around a group of four and a dog that managed to somehow take up the entire fire road. Really, people?!
I got down into Muir Beach and could smell people grilling….mmmm….grilling. At mile 22ish, I was really wishing I was coming up on the BBQ and beer that was at the finish line last weekend. But, no such luck. I stopped at the picnic table to grab a snack – afraid for a minute all I had to eat was the Margherita Pizza Cliff/food/whatever it is, but found a cookie and some GU I didn’t realize I had. The Margherita Pizza thing will live to save me another day…..
After a brief snack break, I headed up Middle Green Gulch – North Face goes all the way up Coyote Ridge, which is steeper, but Middle Green Gulch is longer, and I was really looking for the miles. Going up that was….a challenge. I was tired, but I guess I’m supposed to be at mile 24, 25, etc. It was long, but looking back on it, not that long and soon I was at Coyote Ridge. Just had to clear the top part of that, and I’d be in for a nice descent into Tennessee Valley.
The last push up Coyote Ridge wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be, so I guess that’s a good thing. The descent is another story. The first part was fine, easy fire roads….but Miwok cut-off, that I used to love, terrified me for some reason. Again, I used to run down most of this….why am I so afraid?? I’ve really only taken two noteworthy falls, despite running out there how many times?
On the up side, the sun was starting to set, making for some really nice colors in the sky. On the downside, I turned off my watch and forgot to turn it back on. Ooops. Definitely ran more than 30 miles….
I briefly contemplated stopping at my car after getting back down from Coyote Ridge, but decided against it. I had just about four miles to go…silly to stop now. And I knew I didn’t really need to take off my super cool ankle braces. So, I continued down Rhubarb Trail and back for an additional mile and then headed on a three mile out and back to the beach. I was surprised at how much I was able to run. It was flat, but still….
And, just when I thought I’d been on the most uninteresting, uneventful run, I met mile 28.5. I was on my way back to my car from a three mile out and back to the beach. Really junk miles, but at that point, who’s counting. Anyway, I decided I should jog a bit, because, well, I felt like I could, so why not? So, I’m jogging along, excited I’m only a mile and a half from the car and what do I see down the trail…Mr. Coyote. He’s hard to see in the photo, but if you look down the trail on the left, he’s there. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get the phone to magnify and take the photo before he started RUNNING AT ME. Yes, your typically skittish coyote decided to run at me, rather than in the bushes. I was caught somewhere between….’I am at mile 28.5 of a 30 mile run and you are between me and the finish line’ and ‘holy crap, what do I do if he gets to me. I don’t have it in me to fight a coyote at mile 28.5’. Luckily, after charging a few feet down the trail, he jumped off into the surrounding brush.
After my coyote sighting, the rest of my run was uneventful. I passed by a man I had passed on my way out, and he said, ‘you did it’….I looked at him and said, ’30 miles…damn right, I did’. I’m sure he thought I had just run out to the beach and back (4 miles) or something. The look on his face was priceless. He was like, really?? You ran 30 miles today? Yup…yup, I did.
Now to find those other 20……