About knevinger

Ultra-runner, MBA Grad, Full-time adventure seeker

What a Wednesday

“Don’t worry about the future, Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing Bubble gum.  The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind. The kind that blindsides you at 4 p.m. On some idle Tuesday,” Baz Luhrmann

The day began like any other Wednesday, or similar to it.  I was taking my quarterly half day to get another long run in before Way Too Cool, so I had a bunch of extra stuff with me….and one side of my throat had started to hurt, so I made some tea for my drive to try to help it.  But, other than that, pretty ordinary.

Traffic was traffic….maybe not as bad as usual, maybe just as bad.  I don’t really remember.  Typical backed up places, typical nightmare 280/380 interchange, but since I do it everyday, I’ve learned to handle it.  Then came the interchange on to 101….

At first glance, it looked like things were moving, which isn’t always the case.  Great, we like that.  As I drove down the on ramp, I noticed something that looked like a cloud of dust or smoke or something.  However, as I saw other cars swerving to get out of the way and about ten of them pull over, I realized it wasn’t smoke or dust or anything other than an SUV rolling across the freeway.

It came to rest in the median between my on ramp and 101 just before I passed by.  It seemed like for a moment, maybe more, everything just stopped.  The cars on the on ramp came to a standstill, people poured out of the cars that had pulled over, running to help.  A great showing of human kindness amidst the chaos.  I remember thinking I should call 911 and digging out my phone, but just as quickly tossing it away when the line was busy.  There were several people on phones on the median – I would assume doing the same thing I was.

Before the traffic on the on ramp began to move again, I watched a woman climb out of the SUV.  Her look of terror, relief, and confusion, is not one I will soon forget.  Hopefully she escaped with minor injuries and was the only one in the car.

As I proceeded down the road, I saw the emergency vehicles coming from the opposite direction.  And, then life moved on.  Cars kept moving…..cars merged on to the freeway from further south none the wiser to what occurred only a few miles behind them.  Me, it just got me thinking.

Who knows where anyone involved was heading this morning…..work, school, picking someone up at the airport.  But, I can pretty much guess that this wasn’t anything that they planned on.  Then life changed…..in the blink of an eye.  Scary.

For only a short while ago, I was headed out of work early for a holiday weekend.  I stopped for gas and was heading to join the gym.  And a truck tried to drive straight through the back of my car.  Thankfully, this was a far lower speed (compared to the freeway….I still maintain the guy never slowed down), but nothing I was expecting.  I was excited for the long weekend – a race on Saturday, something fun on Sunday and Monday, maybe a couple of runs in there somewhere.  And in the blink of an eye….I’m dealing with insurance and driving a rental car for six weeks.

“I really regret that run,” said no one….ever. 

After spending half the day at work, I continued with my plan to get out on the trails.  I was hoping for 16-20 miles, and I know a great 18 mile course at Horseshoe Lake (conveniently located near the office), so the clock hit 12, and I was off.  I should have known it wasn’t going to be my day when I got parked and tried to set up my watch.  Of course it’s locked…..and of course, no matter what I press, I can’t get it to unlock.  Not annoying at all.  Luckily, I had my phone and my Strava app, so I could still track my run.

Things started off just fine, I planned to run the half marathon and five mile portions of the Horseshoe Lake race course, both of which I had done before and I had a map, so I knew where I was going.  Kind of.  Sort of.  Basically follow the Bay Area Ridge Trail.  Some climbing, some rolling, good training.  But, for some reason….not sure if it was my morning or because it was the middle of my work day or because my watch didn’t work or because I was already sore and tired, but I just wasn’t feeling it.

I ran along the half marathon course, quickly finding my way through the Christmas Tree Farm and on to the trail, up to the point where Ksenya and I turned around a mont ago (back when I started to get sick….who knew I’d still have remnants of it a month later).  I paused there to admire the beauty of it all….the trail, the sunshine, the fact that I’m able to get out there.

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Shortly after that, I hit my stride…at least for a little while.  Music was good.  Trail was run-able.  I was in it.  Until this happened….

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Now, it says the trail is open for hikers….if that’s the case, why are both the gates locked? It’s bright and sunny…it can’t be that muddy.  And, I’m little, I could always fit through the gate, right?  After some brief contemplation, I decided that fence jumping onto a closed trail was probably a bad idea and there were just as many trails back towards the car, so why not head that way.

I was able to run most of the way back to the car.  Hopefully that means I’m getting stronger and Orange Theory and the back to back shorter days are paying off.  Once I got back to the car, I headed up the five mile route, but at this point, I really wasn’t feeling it. Again, maybe it just wasn’t my day.

But, not to be outdone by the beauty of the first lap, the second lap was just as nice and included some friends.

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These two came flying down the trail and off to my left quick enough to scare me a bit.  They get close here too!  I feel like the deer in NY would run away if you so much as walked by the window, but here they come right up and walk on by.

I turned around shortly after seeing the deer and headed back down to the car.  I ended up with eight miles…not the greatest, but eight miles more than I would have gotten had I not hit the trails.  The shorter day today combined with the sick I’ve been fighting forever, has me a little worried for Way Too Cool.  And, really more than that, Lake Sonoma.  I can probably pull 30 miles out of somewhere….I did in late October/early November, but 50, as I’ve learned is a whole different ball game.  But, Way Too Cool first…let’s focus on that.  I’ve still got this weekend before I need to taper and the back to back training day thing is new for me.  Hopefully it gets me there.

So, after giving myself a pep talk during the car ride home and a nap once I got there, I leave Wednesday with two thoughts.  One, a day in the sunshine on the trails, no matter how tough, beats the office any day.  Two, I need to stop stressing about this race.  Life is too short, 2016 is a new year, and it’s supposed to be fun.  And I’m a stronger runner than I’ve ever been….I’ll get through it.

Until next time….

Who Knew Getting Lost Could be So Much Fun…

Since I’ve spent most of January sick (maybe that’s why it feels like it’s been such a long month…), I’m a little behind on long runs, so I knew the 30 miler I had previously planned for today was not going to happen.  So, I decided I would head to Lake Sonoma and see what happened.  I was more comfortable doing a shorter run if I’d get to see more of the race course.  And, I’d already planned a run for Sunday as well, which was a good way to make up the distance and get a double day in.  Anyway, on to the adventure that was Lake Sonoma.

I made a plan over a hot toddy last night.  I’d park at Lone Rock, just beyond No Name Flat where I parked for my last adventure.  From there, I could access a portion of the course I had yet to see, run a few miles out, then back to the car, and then head out towards No Name.  I’d seen those trails before, but there’s only so far I’m willing to limp back to the car if I break myself.  Not that its happened before or anything….

Before stopping at Lone Rock, I drove the extra few miles to Liberty Glen to see if there was any day use parking – it’s another good place to access the course, but all I had read about was camping parking.  Good news!  There was day use parking.  But, I already had a plan, so I headed back to Lone Rock.

I got ready, paid the parking fee, grabbed a map and headed across the road to the trail.  After that, it took approximately three miles for my plan to fall apart.  I found the first trail I was looking for, Outcrop, pretty quickly.  And then what I thought was Madrone.  So, down I went.  The whole time thinking, it’s really going to suck to come back up this.

And, then it ended.  Just got down by the lake and stopped.  There was a short, steep, downhill that I thought might lead to a trail….nope just goes right into the lake. So…now what.  I decided to make my way back up the trail and see what I could find.  If all else failed, I just needed a trail to run on.  Rolling hills look like rolling hills, and at the end of the day, I just needed to get a run in.  Oh, what’s this…Cove Trail.  Not on the map.  Oh well.  That works.

So, off I went….and really, so much fun.  Since I didn’t really know where I was, I focused more on time (run out on a trail for a half hour, run back), rather than how many miles I had run or how fast I was going.  So, I splashed through creeks and slogged through mud without too much of a care in the world (I mean, it is still hog hunting season)…and I actually felt really good (Orange Theory is going to be worth every penny if it’s already making me feel great after two weeks), when I wasn’t hacking up my lungs.  That part wasn’t too much fun.

After about four miles, I decided to turn around and see what else I could find.  Didn’t want to get too much further from the car.  I got back to the service road and hiked back up to Outcrop where I had come down.  At this point, my lungs were pretty sore (stupid sick), so I briefly thought about heading back then, but curiosity got the best of me and I decided to see what happened if I continued to head up the fire road.

That led to Liberty Glen, which I knew was part of the race course.  That took me to Serpentine, which according to the map, would take me to Rancheria.  I enjoyed the trip down a rocky descent and arrived at a junction…..Rancheria….’hey there trail…I’ve been looking for you all day’.  I pulled out my map again to see which way I should go, and that was when I flipped it over.  And realized there was a detailed layout of the Rockpile Road trails on the back….I’m an idiot.  haha….oops.

I made a right and planned to follow Rancheria out until about 2:30.  That would give me a half hour to get back to the fire road and I’d be on my way back to the car by 3.  I ran more than I thought I would….it reminded me a lot of Matt Davis and my run out to McKennan….until I came across a recently downed tree.  Apparently that was my cue to turn around.  Since one side was a cliff down to the lake and the other side was a hill up, there wasn’t a safe way to get around it.

So I turned and headed back toward the Wulflow shortcut….once I got there, I decided I’d try to take the long way back up.  Since I now had the map and all.  And the more of the course I saw, the better.  After about a half of a mile, I thought better of it and turned to head back the way I came.  I didn’t know how far it was that way, I didn’t have a good track record with not getting lost, and my lungs were just about done.  So, up I went.  It was actually a lot further than I remembered, and at some point I realized I didn’t really know exactly how to get back to the car.  I mean, there was always the road, so I wasn’t completely lost.

And that’s where the adventure began.  At one point, I thought I was at the fire road that brought me down to the trails (conveniently named fire road….as was the other one), so up I went….of course it wasn’t the right road and I just ended up in someone’s campsite.  So, back down I went.  Lots of time with the map…..of course not all the trails are on the map, so lots of potential for some brief wrong turns.  Finally, I got back to where there were some markings and an exit to the road….and other runners.  Of course, rather than ask them if they knew where Lone Rock was, I just picked a direction and started jogging down the road.  After spending the last two miles trying to get off the trails, I was all set with guessing games for now.

So, down the hill I went.  Past a closed parking lot/event site…I think I remember passing that on the way in….around several more corners, I kept thinking I would see the lot, to no avail.  Until…..there was…..

No Name Flat.

Really?!  Seriously?!  I had only run about a mile in the wrong direction.  Ugh.  Poor lungs.  Across the road and back I went….a couple of cars went by…for a fleeting moment, I thought about flagging someone down for a ride.  Let’s not pretend it would be the first time.

Thankfully, it didn’t take too terribly long to get back to where I was and then literally around the corner was Lone Rock.  Steps from where I’d come off the trail.  Awesome.  Only me.  Despite being desperate to be back at the car, I looked down to see that I was at 13.8 miles.  Can’t have that, so I took a couple of laps around the parking lot to make 14.  And of course as I was doing so, I thought about what a great day I’d had on the trails.  How much fun it was being caked in mud.  And how I couldn’t wait for next time.  All of this now that I was back in sight of the car of course.

The best part, once I got home and looked at Strava, I was actually on the race course, if not all day, close to it.  So that’s good.  The giant hill I ran down – definitely Madrone.  The Cove trail….it’s actually Rancheria.  Apparently Strava decided to call it something else.  Or the course map did….or something.  Oh well….was a fun adventure and I’m glad I saw a lot of the course.

I also came home to an email from the race director – there’s the potential for a training run that will let me see all of the course.  Hopefully it works out…..not too close to Way Too Cool, not too early since it’s two hours away, etc., etc.  He’s also planted some water on the course for people training and let us know what local water is potable.  It also looks like one of the creeks is 18 inches deep….good times.  Sounds like I’ll be running in shorts.  I never wear shorts.  Hopefully it’s warm.

Now, I’m hungry….where is my pizza.  And that hot toddy I’ve been thinking about since about mile six.

Next up – three hill repeats on fox trail tomorrow…because I hate myself or I need to get ready for goat hill.  Or maybe both.  And, barring any madness, I should hit 100+ miles for January.  Not bad for the sick girl ;).

Trying New Things

Before I get to the point of this post, I have to call-out the new site.  I’m learning to use WordPress at work (they also host our public work website), so I wanted to set up a site of my own that I could play with during downtime.  After learning in last week’s training class that I could import multiple blogs, I thought, ‘what a great idea – I can combine the two blogs I have into one site, sweet!’  Then, as an added benefit, my Asia travel blog was already a WordPress site making the combination even easier.  Really though, even importing from Blogger was painless.  I’ve had fun over the past week creating the new site and I’m sure I’ll be playing around with it as I learn more….so many links and widgets and gadgets and such.  Anyway, on to the real stuff….

Yesterday I had one of the best workouts I can remember having in a long time.  My 24-hour Fitness membership expired last week, and after getting over the plague from earlier this week, I decided to check out the gym that opened in the same plaza as my office.  Orange Theory.  I had never heard of it, but read a little bit about it online and popped down during lunch to check it out.

It’s an instructor led, hour workout, generally half cardio and half weights/abs/etc.  They showed me around – very nice looking gym, and signed me up for a free class later that evening.  I was a little concerned that it might not be the best way to train for my lottery of pain later this spring, but I like new things and the concept was pretty interesting.

Before class started, they gave me a little heart monitor and the instructor showed all the new people (two of us) how the machines worked and explained how the class would go.  I liked this – definitely took out the worry of feeling dumb because I was new.

I got to start class on the treadmill, which was nice – I’d much rather start with some cardio to warm up.  I did notice that the other group, who started with some of the weight exercises, did warm up on the rowers first…I think that would have been ok too.  It started out simple enough – get to a pace on the treadmill that you could run for about a half hour.  Then we spent the next six minutes taking that pace up and down and back up again.  Because the speed was constantly changing, the time passed really quickly and it was on to the weights.

Well, the weights and the rowing machine.  The rowing machine and I, well, we’re not friends…it became a joke between the trainer and I, but I’m sure I can learn it over time.  After the rowing, the floor set involved a couple of different weight lifts; curls and flys and stuff.  I haven’t really done weights since bootcamp, so it was a welcome change to my workout routine.  In hindsight, I could probably use heavier weights (channeling my inner Cat ;)).  Something I can definitely change for next time.

Six minutes later, it was back to the treadmill….this time and the next time (there were three treadmill rotations total) were all about hills.  I’ve never set the treadmill at a ten percent grade….until last night.  There were definitely times that I thought I’d slide right of the back of it, but I managed to hold my own.  ‘Running’ up the hills made the one percent grade feel like a downhill.

The other floor sets consisted of TRX (another favorite I haven’t seen since bootcamp) and ab work.  Halfway through…a quarter of the way through….I don’t remember.  I was dripping sweat.  The other new girl and I kept looking at each other in disbelief or something.  What a workout!  It kept changing, so I never got bored and the hour passed so fast.

After class, the instructor took a few minutes to explain the monitors and the results.  Pretty interesting.  And I was in the acceptable ranges, so I did something right.  Haha.  And burned approximately 600 calories.  In an hour.  Crazy.  Ending verdict – I am still sore today and have plans to make this part of my regular routine.

In other news, my present…the purse I ordered last weekend, has arrived.  What a great ending to the week :).

Until next time…

Lake Sonoma Adventures

Since I am the proud winner of not one, but two spring race lotteries, referenced before as the lottery of pain, I decided I needed to get my act together. Mainly for Lake Sonoma, the 50 miler, but 30 miles on uncharted terrain is no joke either.

Let me back up…why was I even in two race lotteries to begin with?  Well, back when I thought I’d conquer North Face and I realized I didn’t really want to swim a half ironman distance again (let alone a full), and realized how much I loved the trails, I entered the lottery for Lake Sonoma. It’s worth noting that I thought I had to be in before North Face.  Post North Face debacle, I thought that maybe I’d need some time before another 50, and that I’d enter the lottery for the Way Too Cool 50k and pull out of Lake Sonoma.  Great idea in thought, not so much in practice. Turns out, entering Cool was no problem….however, there wasn’t a way to get out of Lake Sonoma. It won’t be a problem, I thought….I never win anything, I thought….

Cue the Monday I have the flu and try to work anyway.  After a scary drive home from Redwood City, the realization that I can’t keep anything down, and an overwhelming desire to sleep forever, I check my email.  Two Ultra Sign-Up confirmations book-ending an email from the Lake Sonoma Race Director…..I had won the lottery….two lotteries, to be exact. Yup….time to get it together.

Since the 50 mile scares me way more, I decided to focus on that. Thought process being, I have to run a couple 30+ days to train for that anyway….might as well use Cool as a training ground. And people seem to really like that race….and it’s on part of the Western States course….and I saw something about frog cupcakes. I’m slow, but I better get a cupcake….haha.

Anyway, I digress. I emailed with a friend who has run Sonoma three times and planning for a fourth.    She gave me the lowdown on the course….rolling hills for approximately twenty miles, headlands
like hills for ten, back on the rollers for another twenty. Throw in some (12) creek crossings and some really good swag at the end, and you have the most fun 50 miles ever.  Well…I just had to check it out for myself.

I took a trip up to Lake Sonoma right before Christmas….I mean, I had to pick up wine anyway, why not?  I think I only missed one turn on my way to the park, and really, I was already in the park.  Pretty good for me. Haha. As I pulled in, I passed several signs about drowning and not being next…thankfully (I think), there’s only been one. There were also several signs about paying at the marina….ok, sure. If I’m going to pay for something, it might as well be a park or a trail, etc. I drove down into the marina to pay, but no one was around…very Deliverance or something.  I guess that’s what happens in the off season. I wandered for a bit…looking for a map or a person or something. Didn’t really seem like there were trails or anything near there. Luckily someone (marina worker, maybe) found me and was able to provide some directions and give me change for the parking fee.

I headed up to what I thought was the parking lot for the trail, but turned out to be a field of soft mud and gravel. Well, it’s supposed to be rugged, so I thought I was in a parking lot. Turns out the lot was the next turn off the main road, but, no one cared. Haha. I put on my awesome ankle braces, loaded up my pack, and headed towards a trail. There was only one, so I assumed it was the race course my thoughts were semi-confirmed by a few stray course markers I found (strava would later confirm that I was correct….and don’t get me started on races that can’t seem to clean up after themselves).

The trail was….excellent. I quickly understood why people like this race and why it’s fast and rugged. The trail was overall runable.  Very rolling….nothing like the walk up, jog down I was used to in the headlands. Sad, because I’ve become a great hiker, but good, because maybe I can learn to run more. At some points, it almost felt like an obstacle course….lots (ok, two, maybe three) downed trees to climb over.  And then there was the man with the crossbow. Really??  Where am I and what did I sign up for?

Unfortunately, I was tired. My body had been through a lot in early December – North Face debacle, the flu, life….and my thoughts of 15 miles quickly became 13 and then 10 before ending at 9.  But, I’d gotten a good preview of what 4/5 or so of the course would be like. And had an adventure. Tough to beat that.

Shortly after the holidays, I decided to head back out to Lake Sonoma. I didn’t feel the greatest and couldn’t decide if it was tired or sick. But, I figured, might as well go explore something new if I’m going to be slow anyway. After a quick stop at SF Run Company (fewer things burn a hole in your pocket faster than a gift card from there…), I was on my way.

Once I arrived, I headed back towards the marina, where I thought I was supposed to pay. Not before passing a sign about boar hunting until March 23rd and sharing the trails. Now, are the hunters supposed to share with me or me with them?  At least that explains the crossbow from my last adventure.  I become thankful that I just bought a bright orange running shirt with my gift card. At least I wont be mistaken for a boar. I drive down to the marina to pay and unfortunately no one is there….oh well. I remember where the envelopes are. But, before I can get out of the car, a giant truck pulls in right next to me….almost close enough that I can’t get the door open. And they have a confederate flag license plate. Awesome….sometimes I make great friends…..

I jump out and quickly pay the fee. I wasn’t planning on staying, so hopefully my new friends have plans that involve the marina. Just as quickly as I paid the fee and dropped the envelope, I got back in the car and was off to my destination – the turn around point for the race. Of course the scary truck decided they needed to leave then too….followed me halfway up before stopping and I never saw them again. Maybe they decided to stay at the marina….maybe they decided they should pay to use the park. Who knows. I was just glad they were gone.

After crossing a bridge, I found my destination pretty fast – no name flat parking area. After my previous run in, I was pleased to see several cars in the parking lot. I got ready (que awesome ankle braces) and was on my way. I didn’t have a ton of water, but it was chilly and only ten miles….ugh….bad idea. Someday, I will learn.

The first piece of trail was similar to my earlier adventure.  Rolling hills and pretty runable. I did a loop and a half or so, then realized I was doing the same thing twice. Strava later confirmed that I’d also gone in the wrong direction on the loop – how else would I get a course record ;). Oops…at least I found it. There are no names on the map and the trail markings leave much to be desired. Part of why I love it, but not conducive to easily figuring things out. Haha.

Once on the fire road out and back (appropriately titled fire road on strava), I definitely found the hills. I turned just before the Madrone fire road, but I think I saw the worst of them. Good news, with some training, they didn’t seem that bad. Bad news, I understand why Marissa suggested Fox trail repeats as part of training.

I started my journey back, and in no time rolled my left ankle. Ouch…I was walking. Grrrr….hiss.  Luckily, I was able to walk it out, but it still hurts now and it’s a little puffy. Hopefully I can get some healing or strengthening suggestions from the doctor next week. It seemed like forever – running when I didn’t feel too hot was not one of my better ideas, but eventually I saw the car from afar. Not before another runner passed by and wished me a happy new year and some hiker failed at peeing in the woods. Really….we were maybe 200 yards from the parking lot. With a porta poty. Try that. Or learn to actually hide….

Oh what an adventure I’ve gotten myself into. Until next time…over and out….

Life in Overload

So, at the beginning of 2015, I promised some sort of New Year’s update….ringing in the new and casting off the old, or something like that.  And, I intended on it, but as always, the time got away from me….life got in the way….things happen.  A lot happened.  After awhile, it felt like I’d been writing this entry for at least six months, and then I realized I had.  And then I backed off…and then it was almost 2016, so I decided to wait.  And reflect.  And now I have pages of randomly typed thoughts and feelings….semi-sober, deep down, and at times heartfelt/heart wrenching thoughts and feelings.  What a ride it’s been……

It started with a race….

I rang in the new year doing the thing I love most….which ended up being my first 50-miler and fourth ultra of 2014.  It was fun and tough and boring and great all at once.  And, somewhere along the way, I learned that AIDS Marathon friends are some of my best friends.  Something that I think I’ve always known, but forget to be thankful for.  I also learned that 50 miles on pavement and gravel takes its toll on the human body and ended up staring down a knee injury for most of the year. That was an adventure in and of itself, a nagging, not-that-painful-but-I-know-its-not-normal adventure, requiring rest and PT, and two rounds of prolotherapy and a platelet injection.

Then, life threw me a curve ball…or kicked me in the shins…or both.  I thought I knew the trajectory I was meant to be on, but turns out – life had other plans.  And, sometimes, as hard as it is, knowing when to let go is just as important as continuing to hold on.  I feel like there is so much I could say, but, as I also learned, some things are better left unsaid.  Things happened and it wasn’t ok and in my opinion, unforgivable.  But, sometimes it’s all about letting go and moving on.

Because, you never know what adventure you’ll find once you do.  Right now, I’m still not sure what that is yet.  But, I get to figure that out, and I am so excited for that.  Sometimes you have to let go of the planned finish line …just like a race.  You’ll still get to there, it just might look like Coyote Ride or the North Face in 2014, and be a little different than you imagined.

It continued with a race…

Starting out the year with an injury and a healthy dose of stress was no fun, but I quickly found a way to stay involved with running and started volunteering again.  It was something that I’d loved, but had given up in the craziness of work and school.  As I got more involved in my free time over the summer, I learned to mark and sweep courses, and drive a giant van up and down some winding roads.  I had so much fun exploring new trails and helping other runners…In the absence of all I knew, I found somewhere new to belong and something to focus energy on.

And, not to be out done, the back half of the year had to give the first half a run for its money.  Whether I was getting re-acquainted with a certain fashion novel or finding out what happens when slimer gets in a fight with a Toyota Tacoma (nothing good), I began to anxiously await the arrival of 2016.  I’m not sure why, something about turing the page, casting off the old, and bringing in the new felt fresh and necessary.  Then, when I thought it was over, I had the opportunity to cross driving down the freeway with the flu off my bucket list (also not good).  Since it’s not 2016 yet, I suppose I should knock on something…..

It ended with a race….

I plan to end 2015 (and then begin 2016) with the same race I ended 2014 with. Though this time, I’ll be working at it, not running it. Racing for me is on hold until March and then April – the race lottery odds were somehow in my favor and I ‘won’ entrance in to both Way Too Cool and Lake Sonoma, hopefully an omen of good things to come in 2016.  I’ve spent the past week and a half (feels like forever) resting, so my silly ankles could heal, my body could get a much needed break, and I can get back at it in the new year.  Bring it on lottery of pain, bring it on.

This year is nothing I’d sign up for again, I might dare say it’s been the toughest of my life.  But, looking back, I’m amazed at how much I’ve learned and how differently I look at certain things now.  The importance of taking things one day at time….celebrating the small victories….forgiving yourself…standing up for yourself. Stopping to smell the roses….climbing up one more hill…taking the long way home.  That wine just might be a food group – sometimes it needs to be, and that’s ok.  The importance of surrounding yourself with things and people that make you happy.  And if you just keep moving, eventually you’ll be moving forward.

And, above all, the biggest thing I learned is that I have a stronger support network than I ever realized and I will forever be grateful.  I had listening ears when I needed to talk, advice when I didn’t know what to do (or just needed confirmation), and smiles when all I wanted was to frown.  I always had a rock, a safety net, and everything in between. Perhaps that cheesy car commercial has a point – when it’s dark enough, you can see stars.

So, here’s to 2016.  Here’s to good times with family and friends.  To new adventures and new races.  To my continued understanding that everything happens for a reason….and hopefully to understanding what that reason is.

Malibu Canyon Adventure

I’m always excited for a weekend adventure – especially if that involves a new place with new trails.  Enter a 30 hour trip to Malibu Canyon.  
The drive to Malibu was pretty uneventful (other than an accident that resulted in an extra hour and a half or so).  Especially once I hit the 5.  I talked to my parents….joked with a friend about how I needed an uneventful fifteen mile sweep after last weekend’s craziness….sang along to bad 80’s and 90’s pop….all the things you typically do on a solo road trip.  
Thanks to the traffic, I got to the hotel at least an hour and a half later than I planned.  But never fear, it was in plenty of time to watch the poor desk guy deal with two girls under the influence of something trying to figure out if they’d checked out of their room or not.  And how to use the wireless….and something about her ‘friend’ from ‘last night’.  Good times.  Can I just have my key?  After dealing with the girls and a broken computer, I finally had my key.  Then I was pretty sure I was asleep in moments.  
The next day started with an early Starbucks run and a joke about me even sleeping at the hotel.  Thankfully the hotel, Starbucks, and the park were all pretty close, so it wasn’t that early – at least when you consider last Saturday I started running at 5.  We got our caffeine and headed out to the park.  As we were unloading and setting up, I noticed that the finish line was a mine-field of potholes.  All big enough to see, right?  
Or not….at some point once the runners were off, but before I was supposed to start sweeping, I was walking over to the finish line.  I avoided all of the holes in the dirt.  Only to find the one in the grass…I love hearing my ankle pop.  Almost as much as I love grabbing ahold of the ropes holding up the finish line arch before stumbling into the arch.  Really?  Right now?  I tried walking it out and it was just sore, not really swollen.  Nothing an ankle brace can’t fix.  Perhaps I should have wished for an uneventful weekend….
And now for the course.  I love getting to see new trails in new places – especially places I wouldn’t necessarily go to on my own.  I had seen photos and heard it was hilly, so I strapped on my super cool ankle braces and was off.  Luckily, I wasn’t feeling too sore from last weekend’s debacle of a race or from my tumble and stumble at the finish line.  
The first few miles were pretty gentle – some rolling hills and some flat.  A lot of course markings and thanks to someone’s ‘help’, a bunch of them were gathered in piles at one of the trail heads….
Just after the two mile mark, I came across a creek.  And, even with the drought, this one was flowing and probably would have come to mid-calf had I jumped right in (like I do with Redwood Creek).  Somehow, I managed to navigate through on the rocks without falling in and was able to keep my shoes dry for the most part (save for my right toes….ooops).  
Shortly after the creek, I hit the first aid station and then began a climb that I thought would never end.  Beautiful views and a nice trail, but nearly seven miles of climbing with no reprieve was a tall order.  
And then I was told by a mountain biker that I was at the top.  So, of course I stopped to take a photo and captured the below photo.  Looking back, I think the ones on the way up were better.  
The next few miles brought place that I could definitely jog between ribbons and observe some cool rock formations.  
Despite being told I was at the top, I came upon this monstrosity pretty quickly.  I was pretty sure it was straight out of The Hills Have Eyes, if you’ve seen it.  If you haven’t, don’t….At first, I didn’t even think it was a trail….then I saw the pink flags lining the way up it.  Really?  That’s a trail.  Well, ok.  I’m up for an adventure.  And the way up actually wasn’t too bad.  The way down….let’s just say I’m just glad I didn’t crash and burn.  
Surviving the land of The Hills Have Eyes, I came up on the second aid station.  They were just as glad to see me as I was to see them.  After getting high-fives from the volunteers and the ranger, I refueled and headed off on what was pretty much the last climb before a nice descent back to the finish.  
After what really was a nice gentle descent, the last section I hit was pretty flat.  Not sure if this was a good thing or not – right around mile 13 my foot (and the rest of my body), started to make it known that they were done with this running thing.  haha…almost legs, almost.  
Near the 10k turn around, I passed through the MASH site.  It was pretty cool, despite not having watched too much MASH.  I don’t think I really watched any of it until after Alan Alda was on ER and I’m pretty sure those were reruns.  Anyway, I digress.  I paused for a bit to get some photos before the volunteer asked me if I was planning to get in before dark.  Right.  Dark.  Yeah, I should probably keep moving.  
After departing the MASH site, it was a quick jaunt back to the start/finish.  A quick load of the van and I was off on the long journey home.  
Once I got out of LA, I was ready for some food.  Enter my second Carl’s Jr. fix of the weekend.  I’d also warmed up enough to want an Oreo milkshake.  Yum.  While I waited for the drive-thru, I decided to check out my foot again.  It had been out of the brace for about an hour and felt pretty stiff.  Probably because in the time it had been resting it decided to start swelling.  Awesome…well, at least it wasn’t my driving leg.  
I stopped for gas in Kettleman City.  At that point, my feet had been shoeless for several hours and the thought of having to put them back on was worse than the thought of being barefoot (or in my case, bare-socked) at a gas station – especially with my now swollen left ankle.  So, I channeled my inner Britney Spears (circa 2004) and pumped gas sans shoes.  But, I did have socks on and I didn’t go in the bathroom.  Haha…

The rest of the trip passed uneventfully and I made pretty good time getting home.  Home, showered, beered, and in bed by 12:30.
Until next time….over and out.

Life Doesn’t Require that We Be the Best, Only that We Try Our Best…..North Face 50 Race Report

Ahh…the start line of the North Face 50.  After a year plagued by ankle and knee injuries, it was one place I didn’t think I’d be.  But, after a few injections, and lot of PT, somehow I’d gotten it together enough to be there.  I was nervous about the time cutoffs, but based on my 30 mile training run, I’d be fine.  Especially since I was picking up Ksenya around mile 30.

We got to the start line in plenty of time, checked our drop bags, and then it was 5am and we were off.  The first few miles were fine…it was just me and the mountain and a few hundred of my closest friends.  As I made it up bobcat, I realized that my new watch had somehow reverted from miles back to kilometers.  Awesome….so I had no idea where I was.  Well, I knew where I was….I knew the trails, and I knew the two cutoff times, so I was good.

As I jogged down Rodeo, I met Becca, a woman from New York City who would stick with me until approximately mile 20.  She was great….friendly….and we had a ton to talk about.  She said hello to just about everyone, and listening to their conversation made the miles up Miwok and Coastal pass like nothing.  At one point, we were talking about how I’d never been stung before and it would be really bad to find out I was allergic on the trail.  She assured me she’d chase down the lady we met earlier with the bee sting meds.  We shared the journey through Pirate’s Cove, and she celebrated with me when I realized I had made through Pirate’s cove and Muir Beach and had yet to see a sweeper.

I jogged from Muir Beach to Cardiac, before beginning the slog up the hill.  At this point, two things happened – first, we were joined by a lot of 50k runners, so I wondered if I’d see any of my friends that were running that distance, and second, I had some weird acid-refluxy thing going on.  Apparently the potatoes and Mt. Dew I’d had at Tennessee Valley and Muir Beach hadn’t solved that problem as I had hoped.  Ugh…well….onward and upward, I suppose.

Thanks to Becca, Heather Cutoff passed pretty quickly (and there wasn’t any out and back traffic like last year).  We got to Coastal, and while there were places I had planned on running, I realized it wasn’t going to happen with the acid issues going on.  Oh well….I was still right where I wanted to be pace-wise, so I wasn’t worried.  Just sick of climbing.  Thankfully Becca was still on my heels and chatting with everyone….then, it happened, I recognized a voice.  Yay!  A friendly face at just the right time.

My friend, Liz, had come up behind us.  She was looking great running up the hill, and had I felt better, I would have tried to tag on and run up the hill with her.  She mentioned her boyfriend wasn’t too far behind, so I kept an eye out for him and that took my mind off the horrible feeling for awhile. He passed by shortly after, I mentioned I was worried about being slow, and he told me to just keep moving.  So, that’s what I did….one foot in front of the other, with Becca behind me, we made it up the hill.

I paused at the aid station to try to cure the acid problem along with the nausea that had started to pop up.  One of the volunteers suggested Coke, but I already was working on some Mountain Dew.  Then I heard my name being called, and behind me was my friend and fellow AIDS Marathon Coach, Toby.  So many friendly faces at just the right time.  I told him I was nauseous, and he told me to keep at it, and that it would pass.

And it did, as I made my way up to Matt Davis, I started to feel a lot better.  Becca and I jogged the out and back where we could (lots of jumping out of the way of oncoming traffic), making our way to McKinnon Gulch – the first hard time cutoff….and I was still ahead of the sweepers.  Then…ouch!  Sharp, stabbing, pain in the back of my thigh….if had been an inch higher, it would have been my ass.  Who gets stung by something in their ass?  Me.  Of course.  Guess. I can cross getting stung by a bee off my bucket list.  Great….hopefully this doesn’t cause too much of an issue.  But at least I can concentrate on that pain rather than my hip flexor that had started to ache way too early.  I paused for a moment to pull whatever sharp object had impaled me out of my leg.  Becca asked if my hamstring was ok.  I told it was, but something had stung me.  Could have been her opportunity to chase down our friend from earlier. Somewhere between getting stung and the aid station, I lost Becca.  The people at the aid station there were great.  Handed me a cup of hot broth, a welcome change from the PB&J I had been eating.

As I made my way back, I was surprised that there were people behind me.  I wished them all good luck as I jogged by.  I ran a bit with another guy who had run the race the past two years, but hadn’t been able to finish.  He, like me, was very excited to ahead of the sweepers and on pace to finish with time to spare.  We jogged together for a bit before he took off.  Unfortunately, I came up on him with the sweeper….he’d fallen and split his knee on a rock.  He desperately wanted to continue, but the sweeper seemed to think otherwise.

After that, I made my way down the longest descent ever into Stinson Beach.  It was technical, I was skittish, but I was feeling good.  It felt like hours, but I got down to a flat section and my friend Mark was running up to meet me.  Some volunteers greeted me by what I think was the fire station and sent me along my way to the aid station where Ksenya was waiting to run with me.  She helped me refill my pack and I grabbed a sandwich (it was only peanut butter and hard to eat, so I dumped the rest of that quickly….).

We made our way up Dipsea to Cardiac, a mere 2.3 miles, but 2.3 tough climbing miles.  But, I actually ran some of it.  Big change from Brian dragging me up that hill during my first 50k.  I don’t remember a ton of it, but I’m pretty sure I was crying at some point and then there was a ladder on Steep Ravine.  It wasn’t good.  But yesterday, yesterday was great.  According to Strava, I even had a PR going up that hill.

And, then I got to the second pass at Cardiac and it all fell apart.  The acid-refluxy crap was back, along with some nausea and dizziness.  Going down in to Muir Woods was ok, but climbing out, not so much.  I did ok until I got to Fern Trail?  Lost trail?  I think it was lost.  Wherever I started to climb again….and then there were the stairs at Canopy View.  I passed two ladies with kids in back packs, and all I could think was, please don’t let me puke now…..

Once we got to Panoramic and Sun, it really went down hill.  I was looking forward to not climbing anymore, as the nausea seemed to dissipate if I stopped climbing.  But, since it was my lucky day, that’s when the dizziness took over and the trail started moving.  Good times.  At that point, I realized that running wasn’t going to happen, the last thing I needed was to crash and end up with some sort of lasting injury.  I slowly made my way down the trail, wishing the aid station was a lot closer than it was…..everything just felt fuzzy.  Ksenya told me if I was going to fall over, to make sure I fell towards the mountain rather than off the cliff….thankfully, it didn’t come to that.

Somehow, Ksenya got me down to the aid station at what we thought was mile 35, and found the medic.  They got me in a chair pretty quick and before I knew it I had a bag of chips, a cup of electrolytes, and a cup of water.  I choked down a couple of chips while someone wrapped me in a space blanket and Ksenya loosened the ankle braces on my legs.  Eventually they came all the way off and they ended up in a trash bag with all of the rest of the stuff I discarded…pack, braces…maybe gloves….I don’t know.  The medics took my blood pressure, which was high…and a little scary since I’ve never had high blood pressure….ever.  She continued to keep me talking and put a hot pack on the back of my neck.  I started shivering and ended up with another space blanket to wrap around my legs while we waited for transportation.  I’m pretty sure I was the abominable space blanket woman….one wrapped on my shoulders and another tied around my waist like a towel.

The aid station captain lived near Tennessee Valley and offered to take a couple of us there.  Since she brought me to the aid station where they took care of me, I will forgive the fact that she made a big production out of making people sit on trash bags and made sure I had a barf bag….

I don’t think I realized how much trouble I was in until we got to Tennessee Valley and I was wandering around trying to find my drop bag and then wandering around with it, but didn’t really know why.  Ksenya had mentioned grabbing some food, but I really just wanted to get in the car….never mind we still had to hunt down the key.  Ksenya got the key from Shannon, who I think was the aid station captain at TV.

Shannon took one look at me and in a matter of seconds had me on a bench with a cup of warm broth.  I just wanted to hold it, she seemed more concerned that I drank it though.  She started digging through my bag to find my warm clothes….asked me if I had warm pants….what warm shirts I had, etc.  While asking one of the other volunteers to grab an extra space blanket.  I asked her if I should just suck up the cold and change everything – new t-shirt, new hoodie, etc.  She seemed to like that idea just as the shuttle showed up.  So, she decided we were taking over the bus.  She grabbed two volunteers and we headed on to the bus.  Once we were there, she helped me pull off my wet t-shirts and swap them for the dry clothes I had in my drop bag.  Yay wool hoodie.  Best purchase ever.

Once that was done, she asked me what I wanted to eat.  I told her I wasn’t hungry, but she wasn’t having that.  Just proceeded to tell me the aid station menu; ‘We have oranges, bananas, peanut butter & jelly….’.  At that point, I realized I wasn’t going to get out of eating something, so I went for the PB&J.  She sent one of the volunteers she brought with her to get some PB&J and the other to get some more hot broth.  I ate a couple of PB&J squares while I continued to warm up…..then she sent the volunteers for more broth and M&M’s.  Of course I had to eat a bunch of those too.  At some point Ksenya brought my down jacket in (so glad I left that in my car after the Turkey Trot last week).  Shannon handed me another cup of broth and told me I could leave once I wasn’t blue anymore and asked me if I wanted to sit down.  I think I went through three, maybe four cups of broth and was handed one for the road before she let me off the bus.  I had on a running t-shirt, a wool hoodie, the down jacket I took to Mt. Everest last year, a wool headband, and two hoods.  And the moment I stepped off the bus, I was freezing again.  Luckily, it was a short walk to my car, which Ksenya had already warmed up.

We drove back over to the visitor’s center and somehow convinced them to let us park in the lot there.  I think Ksenya told them we were picking stuff up and I needed to get my bag and I couldn’t walk very far.  Anyway, worked in our favor, and we parked next to the flush toilets and didn’t have to walk too far.  I grabbed my stuff and headed over to the finish to wait for Brian to come in.  And, despite being sick all day, he did finish :).  After that, we crashed in the grass and split a beer.  I was still shivering, despite adding another layer of pants to my wardrobe, so Mark gave me his down jacket to put on top of my own.  And at some point, I had another space blanket added to the mix….I think that might have been Ann – thanks Ann!

In the end, I had actually gotten to mile 37, not 35….and I would have been fine with the time limits, and I did better than last year, but, just not my day.  Luckily, I will be able to finish another 50 miler another day.  Big thanks to Ksenya for running with me and taking care of me at the end; Mark for crewing; Dr. Hal, Dr. Wardwell, and Megan, for putting me back together so I could even get out there; and the amazing aid station volunteers.

Until next year, North Face, until next year….

30 Miles + a Coyote = Typical Saturday

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……

Coyote Ridge – Take Two

It’s my one-year anniversary with Coastal Trails….sort of.  This weekend is the Coyote Ridge race – the first race I did with Coastal last year (read all about it here!).  It was so much fun, I never left.  This year, I spent Saturday marking a good chunk of the course and Sunday working the race and sweeping the course.

Since I’m pretending I’m going to train for the North Face 50, I wanted to get a run in prior to marking.  I made sure to check on sweeping for Sunday before deciding on the additional mileage – I didn’t need a forty plus mile work out over two days….well, I do, but unfortunately I’m not ready for that.  Glad I checked, since the plan was for me to sweep the nearly 15-mile pink loop.  That meant a four mile pre-run, rather than a fourteen mile pre-run.

I got to Tennessee Valley in plenty of time to get in a four miler, but you never know, so I took off up Marincello as quickly as I could.  My trip up Marincello was pretty good…it had been a long time since I’d been up it, so it was like reuniting with an old friend.  I did notice there were random colored ribbons tied to wooden stakes throughout the trail….trail maintenance of some sort, I think.  Nothing I could do about it, but something that I thought could cause confusion, so I took a picture and made a mental note to let Wendell know when I met him a few hours later.

Before I knew it, I was at the top.  Sort of.  I planned to do Marincello – Miwok – Old Springs, coincidentally the yellow loop for the race tomorrow.  And, the top of Marincello, is the top of that hill, but there’s still a little more up before you hit the airport surveillance thing-a-ma-bob and head down to Miwok to Old Springs.  Since I was at the top, I was definitely in the fog or rain or whatever had started.  Luckily, I only tried to fall twice on the way down.  Thankfully, I decided I was going to be the cool girl on the trail with two ankle braces, so I didn’t hurt anything.

Once I hit Miwok, I jogged down until I got to the nastily steep part….and it was wet….lucky me.  After almost slipping a second time, I decided to gently walk down the hill.  Ugh…when did I become so chicken on these hills.

I’m a big fan of Old Springs, so once I hit that trail, I was definitely up for a jog.  It felt great….a little scary, but great.  Again, why am I so chicken….ugh.  I jogged down Old Springs and then wanted to get in four miles, so did a little bit on Rhubarb trail until I hit my four and then walked back to slimer.  At that point, the rain had started (or the fog descended into the valley….never can tell here), so I moved him into the main parking lot (rain starts and everyone takes off, haha – my day had just begun) to wait for Wendell and Lynnard.  As I was hiding from the elements, I made the decision to completely change into my long sleeved shirt – I was wet, sweaty, and cold.  Not a good recipe for marking in the rain.  I decided to risk the heat later on.

Wendell arrived and showed me what I’d be doing….not only marking from Tennessee Valley to Point Bonita, but also taking a second trip to the airport surveillance thing-a-ma-bob and Old Springs to mark the yellow only portion of the course.  And then back up the crazy descent.  What a good time I was in for…..well, I definitely needed the miles.  I let him know about the random markings due to the construction and I was off.

Heading up Marincello a second time was nearly as painless as the first.  For some reason, it’s the one hill in the headlands I can walk up like I own it.  Every time.  It was also nice to be headed uphill in the cold, wet weather that had developed.  It was pretty windy at the top, so I was worried about my pink ‘go straight’ sign and my yellow ‘go right’ signs.  By the time I had finished placing the yellow, the pink one had blown away…..so, I tied it to the tree branches instead.  A little sooner than I wanted it, but at least it would be there for the runners.

Off I was to mark the yellow, knowing both the trip down and the trip up would be an adventure.  Down because, well, I’m afraid of everything and it was wet.  And up because, well, it’s steep.  I only briefly questioned myself….not sure why…I know these trails and I’ve been up there tons of times.  Around the airport thing I went (different than I went before!), and down to Old Springs.  And then back up…..on my way up, I ran into a couple hiking that asked me if I was taking all the signs down.  Nope…putting them up.  The race is tomorrow.

Getting back to Marincello, I realized that my yellow ‘right’ and yellow ‘straight’ signs had blown over.  So, I had to be creative and find bushes to tie them to.  Not ideal, but at least they’d be there for the runners.  Once that I was done, I buried the yellow ribbons in my bag and headed off to mark the pink to Point Bonita.

Then, the rain stopped…and once it did…the beauty of the headlands came out….nothing like fall in the bay area.

Overall, the pink loop was uneventful…..I mean, it passed through the place on SCA where I busted my good ankle a few weeks ago and the place where I ran out of ribbon while marking Golden Gate, of course, not to be outdone by the turn I missed when I ran Coyote Ridge last year…..but, all that considered, pretty uneventful.  I blew up the turn I missed last year….hopefully no one misses it this year, headed up the road towards Point Bonita, passed the place I ran out of ribbons this summer, and spotted Slimer in the distance.  I made it.  Haha…..11.5 miles later, 15.5 on the day, and I was heading home.  Ready for a shower and some food…..But, I did capture this photo before I headed out….the beauty of a golden gate sunset is second to none…

Since I’ve been dealing with one injury after another (and then my foot turning blue), I’ve been good and followed Dr. Hal’s orders over the past few weeks and run on the flat, predictable trails of Woodside.  I’ve been home for about an hour and a half and I’m definitely feeling the hills from today.  Oh, the cramping that’s threatening.  I hate being out of shape….ugh.  I feel like I ran 30 miles, not 15.  And to think I actually felt fine after 17 miles of flat…..

Sunday brought an early morning – we were up and at Muir Beach before the sun.  Thank God for headlamps, haha.  The day started with me trying, and failing, to open the gate to the parking lot.  Luckily, Brian was with me and knew how to open it…or was strong enough to open it…or something like that.

I helped unload and then set up and worked registration – there were a decent amount of people registering day of, which kept us busy.  Lots of questions about bag checks and parking too.  

After a short stint at the start/finish helping with registration, I headed out to the Point Bonita aid station – of course it would be the one I never made it to…haha.  I got there, and wow….the view was amazing.  It pretty much put the views from Saturday to shame….the city behind the bridge, as the sun came up.  Always gorgeous….always breathtaking….no matter how many times I see it, or from what vantage point.  I mean, really, the picture doesn’t even do it justice.

We were the second aid station and runners were only hitting us once, so my time at the aid station was pretty short lived and passed quickly.  The runners were all in good spirits and many stopped to say hello and let us know how their run was going.  I spent a few minutes talking to one guy about the Umstead 100, a race he had run before and I hope to run someday.  A couple of them had questions about the course, and it was nice to being familiar with the trails and able to answer them.

Once we had wrapped at the aid station, I packed it up in the Xterra and headed out to sweep – the journey of nearly 12 miles begins with a single step.  Haha….I thought the first section would be new to me, as it was the part I missed the year before when I got lost and I don’t really run much on that side of Tennessee Valley.  But, I realized two things….first, I have been on those trails and second, I picked the right part of the course to lose (give me a walk up Miwok any day).  Oh the hills….it goes up and up forever….past the battery….and then up some more.  I vaguely remember running down the same trail during my first 50k….I think going down was just as brutal, with the added threat of falling and busting myself.  To keep the hike entertaining, I stopped to take a photo of a couple with their dog and to smile at a group of hikers who were impressed with how quickly I was hiking up the hill.

Going down the other side of the trail was pretty steep, but really nothing I should have had a problem with – if I wasn’t so afraid of the trails.  Stupid injuries.  But, I survived the descent and made it back to the Miwok junction, right where I found the course when I ran the race last year.  I’m pretty sure there was a moment where I threw my arms over my head, and exclaimed, ‘it’s the course!’.  I’m pretty sure anyone that saw me would have thought I was crazy.

This year I saw two rental mountain bikers looking at an upside-down map (oh Blazing Saddles…).  I stopped and asked where they were headed.  They were trying to find Tennessee Valley Road…at least it was something I could help them find.  And there were two other bikers that came up on us and offered to play tour guide.  I love the nice people I meet on the trails.

After that, I made my way up the steep part of Miwok for the second or third time that weekend.  At that point, I’d lost count.  I paused to cheer on some of the 50k runners who were on their way down.  Somewhere between there and Point Bonita, probably along Coastal, I ran into another rental mountain biker looking for directions….what was with them on Sunday?  But, I’ve been a tourist plenty of times and am happy to try to help.

I came up on the sharp left, the one I missed last year, and was happy to see that my gerry-rigged ‘wrong way’ sign held up.  Because of the wind on Saturday, and the importance of the sign, I created a tripod for it as opposed to the two we usually use.  Unfortunately, I found out later that one of the runners had missed it.  I grabbed all that stuff, headed up the hill, and on to the road.    

After being on the road for a bit, I wasn’t sure I’d ever been so thankful to see our car….well, I feel like I say that ever time I get tired and just want to be done.  But, regardless, I was thrilled to see our car – I was done!  I sent Brian a text to let him know I was on my way and took off.  I should have paused to take off my super cool ankle braces, but I just wanted to get back.  Ouch….bad decision.  As much as the braces had saved my ankles for the past twelve miles, my ankles were done with the braces.  But, I really just wanted to get back down to the finish….I knew I was late and they probably needed help, and selfishly, I was hoping there was a dry race shirt I could put on.  If I had thought I was cold before, I was definitely cold now.

After briefly following someone who felt the need to drive down to Muir Beach at 5 MPH (thankfully they pulled over quickly), I got back to the start/finish to find it mostly cleaned up.  And, yay there were extra shirts.  Hooray for a dry shirt….went a long way with feeling warm in the wind at Muir Beach.  We finished loading up pretty quickly….joked about my ability to load a tent without breaking my leg….and my text about running out of ribbons (just kidding this time ;)).

Ok….after two days on the trails, I am exhausted.  Until next time….

Slimer’s Back!

So, best email ever today…..’your car will be ready after 3pm’.  YAY!  That only took six weeks.  Poor car, but at least I have it back now.  And it’s clean and washed and kind of smells like ammonia, but at least I know it’s clean.  haha.

As much of a pain as this whole thing was in the beginning – getting the car into a shop, dealing with the deductible, dealing with the cost of the rental, dealing with the insurance, etc., etc.  Once it was all worked out, it really was fairly easy to deal with (despite feeling like it was much, much longer than six weeks).  The insurance waived the deductible and eventually decided they would pick up the cost of the rental (rather than continuing to encourage me to pursue the other guy legally)….I’m guessing it probably had something to do with both me and the other driver having the same insurance, so in essence I’d have been going after them.  With his license, business card, and his voice on my original call to the insurance company.  Yeah…probably better to pick up the cost of the rental than fight an airtight case….haha.

It was perfect timing too, since the satellite radio subscription ran out while I was driving home last night….way to renew, enterprise.  When I got to Enterprise this afternoon, I literally parked the car in the middle of the driveway….I wasn’t sure where else to go with it in the garage….gotta love downtown San Francisco.  The people at Enterprise were great….the same guy that rented the car helped me turn it back in.  He gave me a bottle of water and helped load my stuff into the van that would take me around the block to German Motors.  Though, I will admit, I’m a little sad that the guy with the full gold grille wasn’t my shuttle driver today.

I got to German Motors and was welcomed by the receptionist.  She grabbed my file and let me know they were still bringing the car around.  However, she did ask me for the deductible.  I let her know that it was being waived, and got ready to pull out the slew of emails and voicemails stating that was the case.  She went to check with Rachel, the person I had been dealing with over the past month and a half.  I waited and held off on signing anything.  She came back out and told me I could sign it, the deductible was something else, and Rachel would be right out.

While all of this was going on, some other guy came up looking for a pair of glasses or something that had been left in his car.  It sounded like his car was totaled (not fun…for a bit, I thought that might be the case with mine), as he was getting a new one.  The receptionist gave him his glasses and was working on a plan to get him into his car to get whatever else he needed when Rachel came out of her office.  It was great to see her, they were waiving the deductible, and she went to make sure my car was being pulled around.

The receptionist came back and asked what happened with the deductible and I told her it was being waived.  Glasses dude decided at this moment to mutter, ‘must be nice’, under his breath….REALLY?!  Ok, I don’t know why you’re here….you don’t know why I’m here….you don’t know what I’ve been through, so keep your mouth shut.  Luckily, Rachel came back at that moment and walked me out to  slimer, all green and shinny as the day I bought him.  Yay!  It’s my car.  She told me she’d miss it being in the shop…it was always the brightest one there, so she always knew where it was.  haha.

A quick check of the trunk and walk around, and I was off.  Big thanks to Rachel and German Motors for keeping me updated and getting Slimer up and running again.  Later than I thought, but Mr. Passat and I had a good time commuting.  I’ll miss the carefree commute….I could get in anywhere…everyone cares more about their Tesla, Audi, Mercedes, than I did about my RENTAL CAR.  Oh commute adventures….but that is another story….

And Slimer is back!  And we have an adventure to go on tomorrow :).

Fixed the ankle….got the car back…life is moving in the right direction.  Here’s to the rest of the month and coming out stronger than I went in.  And really, as crazy as the past month has been….looking back today and realizing how much I’ve learned.  That’s what’s really crazy.

Until next time, over and out…..