New Year’s One Day – Race Report

So, I was writing this in my head as I made multiple laps around Crissy Field – of course, now that I sit down to write it, I can’t really remember what I wanted to say…

Let’s start with the race itself and how I got there.  After the stomach issues at North Face, I needed to find another race to get in 50 miles prior to the Umstead 100 in March.  Googling local races, I found out that coastal trails had a twenty four hour race from New Year’s Eve to New Year’s Day – laps around Crissy field….not my idea thought on how to spend New Year’s, but it seemed easy enough.

The race was set up like your typical ultra….show up, get your bib and t-shirt, run the race.  This was a little different, since it consisted of one mile laps, there was a kind of camp set-up….start/finish, aid station, and tents….a bunch of the people brought tents for resting/hanging out.  There were others who brought chairs and coolers, and were set up for an all day group event. I set my bags down and made the decision to leave my pack with them, why carry it if I would literally pass by it every lap.

We ran in some serious wind for the first three hours….it wasn’t too bad on the stretch by the street, but the stretch by the bay was brutal.  However, the other runners were nice, sharing stories of races past and advice.  I decided to pick up my shuffle around lap three…I had twelve hours of serial podcasts that would keep me busy….unfortunately, they didn’t download for some reason.  So, I had a two hour loop of music that I hadnt listened to in ages…a close second, I guess.

Sometime around lap three or four, I heard someone calling my name.  I looked up to see my friend, Zena, from bootcamp.  She was there to do a few laps with her friend doing the six hour.  It was great to see her at the start for a couple of laps, and then out on the course at one point.

I easily made my way through the first fifteen or so miles, felt good and made sure to stop and eat every five miles or so.  The course had two paths by the aid station, and the veer right to the aid station was called ‘pit’.  I thought that was cool.  I had a good plan going thanks to some strategically placed cone markers….run parts of the pavement stretch (though, this stopped at mile 15 due to the tough terrain), run the first curve to the first cone marker, walk to the next cone, then run the next two….repeat to the aid station.

I stopped at some point to find out why my toe was hurting…turns out there was no reason for it, but I did find a blister on a different toe to wrap. Hopefully I dont lose a toenail in the near future.  By the time I hit 25, I was ready for some fresh clothes….I had dressed warmly for the morning chill, but was now sweaty and not warming up.

By the time I hit mile 30, I was far more sore than I wanted to be for only being at 30 miles.  I was also bored and getting tired of laps.  It was pretty bleak until about mile 35, where I think the Advil kicked in. However, my friend Joseph came down to say hello and do a couple of laps with me.  It was great to catch up and have some company to pass the time.  He also said something about the messages people had sent via email.  I hadn’t gotten any, so I assumed I didn’t have any yet.  He said that he had sent one…and that people on Facebook had mentioned they were sending them too.  I was surprised no one from the race had mentioned where to find them, but after stopping and asking, I was directed to a filing box holding messages.  And I had a bunch – very thankful for all of the hellos from friends and family.  A friend and some nice messages, great way to get through some tough miles.

Once I hit 35, I started to feel pretty good again.  Still sore, but I was able to take up my running plan again on the trail pieces of the course.  Loved getting the sudden burst of energy….it really made miles 35 to about 42 pretty bearable.  I checked my messages again and had a bunch more…many thanks – those made my run :).  I talked to the guy about the 100 miler I had planned and he asked why I wasn’t doing coastal’s….haha…maybe next year.  It might be fun to volunteer at this year though or get in another 50.  Somewhere in there the aid station had pizza…nothing like walking a mile and munching on a slice of cheese and pepperoni.  haha…

At 42, I was pretty much done…I hit 12 hours right around that point, despite having been shooting to get the full 50 in 12.  Stupid miles 30-35 or whatever they were.  I had been ahead of pace until then, but good learnings for next time.  Hopefully that will still be ok for the 100 miler.  I was also getting cold, despite having on one of my everest wool tops and hood.  It was warm when I was walking, but the clothes underneath not so much after sweating.  I told myself I needed to get to 50 before I stopped again….it would be a great reward in a couple of laps….clean clothes, bathroom stop, aid station break.

A lot of people seemed to disappear at this point…either to tents or cars or where ever to rest.  But, I was going to get my 50.  I ran into a guy dressed in flame print shorts and a shirt, who told me he was facing his feet forward, because one day, they would all be pointing towards the sky….well, that was one way to look at it.  haha.  I did various parts of 47-49 with a guy visiting from Dallas, specifically for the New Year’s race.  He had accepted the fact that he was going to walk the rest of the night, and had changed into hiking boots.  My right knee had been pretty sore since about 45, so hiking boots seemed like they would have been a good call at that point.  I was thankful for the company, as I was also really bored….give me the hills in the headlands any day…..  

I finally got to my last lap, and I had originally planned on changing some, eating some, maybe having some soup, maybe a rest in the car, and coming back out for some more laps.  But, I think on some level, I knew I was done.  I bid farewell to the pavement that was destroying my shins, to the slight hill on the first curve, the deep sand right before the first curve, and the sharp turn to the timing mat.  I stopped to snap a photo of my garmin once it hit 50….on the back straight-away that had been insanely windy during the early part of the race.

I crossed the lap mat post-50 miles and hobbled over to the aid station, desperate for some soup.  Somehow, I managed to hit it just as they ran out and they were making more.  Ugh…how do you run out of soup?  I wanted to stop and get any additional messages that had been sent, but I was so cold and sore and desperate for a few minutes of warmth and dry clothes, so I hobbled over to my stuff, grabbed it, and began a treacherous walk through the grass to my car.  In reality, it was probably 100 feet, but it was grass and not flat, and wow did my knee hurt.  I did notice multiple people sleeping in their cars as I passed by….I apologize for the headlamp I probably flashed directly at them….

Once I got in the car, I realized how cold I was and how sore my knee really was.  I wasnt sure what was worse, trying to stop shaking or having to push the seat in my car back and pull my leg in with hands because my knee wouldnt bend.  Once I got a better look at it, I realized it was swollen, and there was a weird swelling just above my knee on the side of my quad.  Gross….did I break my leg and miss it?  #ultrarunnerproblems.  At that point, I realized two things: one, I really didnt feel good and two, I was done for the night.  I opened the car door to get some air….to think a few minutes ago all I wanted was some heat.  Once I felt a little better, I pulled off my timing chip, put my headlamp back on and hobbled over to camp.  I asked the race director if I should give it to him and he pointed me in the direction of the check-in tent.  He asked if I was done, and I told him I got to the 50 I wanted and my knee was shot, he congratulated me on the 50 and wished me a happy new year.

I hobbled over to the check-in tent where she took my chip and gave me a medal.  It would have been fun to make it to midnight, to share champagne with my fellow 24 hour runners, and to walk through the night with the people I’d me throughout the day.  However, there is something to say for  knowing when it’s time to be done.

After turning everything in, I hobbled back over to the car where I proceeded to wait until I stopped shaking and was able to drive home.  Luckily, traffic was minimal and I got home pretty quickly.  It took me at least ten minutes to gather the strength to get out of my car….of course in that time, I found the slug that hitched a ride to the car on my bag.  Awesome.

Somehow, I got up the stairs to my apartment – perhaps the adrenaline was still flowing.  Once Brian greeted me at the door with some wine and I sat down at the kitchen table, trying to get up was a different story.  Literally hanging on to walls to get to the stairs and then using the railing to climb up the stairs…..I have no idea how I managed to shower and get back downstairs without falling and breaking something.  Super thankful for grubhub and their ability to let me order Sparky’s on my phone and have it delivered to my house.

After a brief New Year’s celebration and my Sparky’s dinner, I was ready to call it a night.  Another race in the books.  50 mile distance achieved.  Kudos to Wendell and Coastal Trails for putting on another great race.  And, what did I learn?  There are a lot of long runs in my future….double days are one thing, but I really need to work on staying stronger longer….pushing that wall out from now mile 30.  And, while this race was an experience, the ultras in the headlands were much more fun….so I see more of those in my future too :).

so, thats it for now….over and out for now.  hopefully a new years/2015 entry coming soon :).

And a Partridge in a Pear Tree….

On Saturday, December 6th, North Face gave to me….

Six days of rain…
Five aid stations…
Four course changes…
Three washed out trails…
Two course sweepers…
One adventure on the trails

In all seriousness, What. A. Day.  Really.  In retrospect, I should have known.  Either the six days of rain, or the four course changes that came down yesterday and today should have been my first clue.  If not that, then the no more than an hour of sleep I got last night (stupid stress) or the pepto I was choking down at 3:30am.

But, I figured the course updates would make it easier and I didnt have to do my least favorite trails.  And I figured the lack of sleep and sick were due to nerves.  I went to bed early all week in preparation, so I actually wasnt completely exhausted race morning.

We were up at three and out the door by 3:45.  Out the door and into the pouring rain…what a nightmare this is going to be…can’t it be a dry nightmare?  We were parked and shuttled by 4:45.  The nerves were back, so luckily I was able to make a pit stop at the visitor’s center bathroom – can you say auto-flush toilet?  Delicacy in the wilderness.

The race started shortly after we arrived, luckily, there was no rain in Marin.  After a couple of announcements, including another course change, we were off.  Dean Karnazes was just inside the start line, he patted my shoulder and said, “yeah, go get it”.  At that point, I felt great…I was going to own this race.

The first ten miles were pretty uneventful…some running, some walking, some run/walking.  I felt great, and was a half mile to a mile ahead of my goal pace.  Then I got to the end of the second loop and stopped at the aid station.  And, something just felt off.  I thought it was the ankle brace throwing off my body mechanics, and made a mental note to pull it off when I changed my socks at the next aid station.

After a climb up Miwok and a descent into Tennessee Valley, where we were suddenly overrun by 50k runners, I was at the next aid station where Glenn and Adrienne were waiting to crew with clean socks.  I saw my friend Toby running the 50k shortly before I reached my crew.  I also ditched the ankle brace and my headlamp…but for some reason I was insistent on keeping it with me. Perhaps I was already delirious. Nonetheless, I headed out towards Pirates Cove at a run/walk. That lasted about a mile before I was just walking….it seemed as if my stomach chose that moment to say, “yeah…about those nerves…it’s not nerves”.  And “you should walk, or bad things will happen”.  Awesome, taken down by the one thing you can’t plan for.

The lone other 50 miler chose that moment to tell me that the sweepers were right behind us, even though we were way ahead of the cutoff time. So, I took a breath, continued up the hill, and tried to chat with the 50k runner next to me. Who told me what a great day it was and how he had changed his race from the marathon, cause what’s five extra miles?  A little too peppy for someone trying to talk their stomach down.

I got to the top quicker than I thought I would, and still ahead of my goal. But, then I met Pirates Cove, which can be sketchy on a good day. After almost a week of rain, it was a mud bath. Think slip and slide minus the pool at the end. Well, there was a cliff and the ocean was past it, so maybe it was the same. I was pretty sure I was going to fly off the cliff and into the ocean. At one point, I decided to take the grass on the side rather than the mud, tried to crawl across a rock and end up falling. Great.  Whatever was hurting in my knee just got worse.

At that point, the sweepers let me know that they were there if I needed anything, but not to worry, I had plenty of time. I told them I was having a rough day, but was going to walk it out. I also started thinking about what plan b was going to be. At that point, I figured I would either make it to Stinson Beach and stop there, or see if I could turn at the 50k and finish the race with them. Not what I wanted, but better than not finishing at all.

I decided to press on and see what happened. The sweepers were nice and alternated between checking on me and keeping me company. I heard at one point via a radio that I had gotten too slow, so I power walked as best I could – out of muir beach, on to redwood creek trail, over to heather cutoff. Which is where the craziness began….picture this – washed out trail, think a river running down it – nearly single track trail, with people going up and down.  Suddenly, the hills I didnt think would be a huge deal to run/walk up and jog down were a mud-filled nightmare.

Going up the hill, there were mid/back of the pack 50kers….and two 50 milers that I hiked past.  No matter what happened, I was no longer last.  I cautiously proceeded up the switch-backs with a group of 50kers….occasionally grabbing on to one another as we jumped out of the way for the in-it-to-win it 50 milers and fast 50kers came down the hill at mach 50.  Really guys?  The leaders passed by several hours ago – I promise, you wont catch them.  Can you slow down so we can all get through the mud bath safely?  At this point, I had lost my sweeper friends to two of the guys I passed.

Shortly into Heather Cutoff, the first trail, a guy came flying down the switch-back above, had zero traction on the curve, and flew off the trail, off the hill, into the brush below.  We all held our breath as he climbed out of the bushes, righted himself, held up his hands and said, “I’m good”.  One of the ladies in our group called out, “sir, you have just won the race’.  Countless slips, slides, and crashes later, we were moved on to Coastal trail.

Now, Coastal is a similar trail, but more exposed, so I hoped in better condition.  However, after 1000 people run up and down a wet trail, it’s a mess no matter what.  But this trail brought an added challenge – bikes!  Now, really, who rides their bike down a hill through several feet of mud….and a race course.  Apparently several people…including a dad and a kid. Really?  You couldnt find a trail without 1000 people on it to ride on today?  We continued our journey up the hill, at some point I stepped in what I’ll call pot holes and ended up in ankle deep mud.  awesome….I think at some point in all of that, I ran into my friend Toby again and Dr. Hal, both on their way down.

Finally, I get to Cardiac…with time to spare.  Decision time.  A- see if I could quickly change out of my soaked socks, grab a sandwich, cross my fingers, and see if I could make it to the next cutoff….or B – realize it wasnt my day, see if I could change my race, head back down the hill and have a chance to finish a race, even if it wasnt the one I wanted.  I had been thinking about it for awhile, and had decided to go with option b.  I couldnt control the fact that I had to have pepto for breakfast and not much else since then, but what I could control was my reaction to it.

I had some PB&J and water, and looked around for someone to ask about changing races.  The aid station captain didnt seem to know, and was too busy force feeding M&M’s and telling a 50 miler who was on his way back down that he wasn’t allowed to quit because he was tired.  One of the sweepers from earlier found me at the aid station…”there you are!  we completely lost you…we stopped with the other guys and then you were just gone.”  A testament to my training that even feeling awful I can still hike myself up a hill just fine.  He helped me find the right person to switch my race, so I found my drop bag and changed out of my wet shirt and singlet into dry ones, and took the dry socks out and stashed them in my pack for a change at Muir Beach, and was on my way.

Going down was just as much of an adventure as going up.  I had a guy pass me who was fiddling with his coat and ipod, holding a water-bottle, and navigating the mud.  I watched him slish and slosh from left to right and knew it was only a matter of time.  A couple more sloshes and down he went.  I asked if he was ok, he told me he was, just shouldnt mess with his stuff while running.  Yeah…probably a good idea.  As I made my way down, I started to think that if these were the trails deemed safe for 1000 people to go up and down, I dont want to see the ones that were unsafe…

I got down and back to Muir Beach, thankful for the aid station.  The people there were so friendly – they helped me get my gross shoes off so I could change my socks and gave me chicken broth since they thought I was cold, and helped me wash my hands.  After that, I was ready to go up one of the toughest climbs on the course.  My game plan…just keep moving (looking at the stats afterwords, I did get my third best time going up that set of hills.  Haha.

About halfway up the hills, Ksenya (who was going to pace me from Stinson, where I never made it to) and Adrienne my other running buddy yelled up the hill to me.  So exciting to have friends to share the journey with!  It didnt take them too long to catch up, and it made the time down to Tennessee Valley pass pretty quickly.  At TV, I got to see the rest of the crew, but I wanted to keep moving, so headed up Marincello after grabbing another PB&J.  It was great to have Ksenya to share the journey with (Adrienne had to move her car at TV).  She kept me going, and before I knew it, we were near the finish line.  I was able to run the last few feet through the finish line and go hang out with my crew.  

All things said and done, I got in a 50k (+ ended up being 37 miles)….I went further than I ever have before…I crossed the finish line.  And yesterday, that was enough.  Today, I wish I could have made the 50 happen, but there will be other races.  Either this one next year…or another before then, since I think I was supposed to do something before the 100 miler.  We’ll see….Thank you to the sweepers, for helping me salvage something out of what could have been a disaster of a day.  Huge thanks to our crew, pacers, and friends that came out to the event – could not have done it without you.  And congrats to Brian, who had a great 50 mile race!

Pre-Race Jitters

Wow…it has been awhile.  So much for hoping to update this weekly….then monthly….then who knows what happened.  Haha…looking back, I feel like I didnt have much interesting to say, but at the same time, there is a ton going on.  Anyway….

The race that for a year has only been a date on the calendar and a far off thought in my imagination, will be here in two days.  The year of training, from the 8 mile pirates cove loop countless times before Nepal to a windy 4th of July run to my first 50k to my last training run on Thanksgiving, will all be put to the test.  Time cutoffs and rain and dark….lots to contend with….and then I thought I was getting sick earlier this week.  

I would love to say that I’m really excited and cant wait, but I think I’m more cautiously optimistic than anything.  I’ve put in the training, but I’m still concerned about the time cutoffs.  I wish I had been able to get in more long days, but I know I did plenty of 20-milers.  I have two 50k races and one 50k training run under my belt, but I still wish I had been able to get to 40.  I have to be at the first cutoff by 11:20…23 miles.  I should be ok for that, at almost six and a half hours, I should be at 26 miles by that point.  I’m more worried about the second one…3:15 and 36 miles.  Granted, I should be at mile 40 by then, but I tend to slow down around mile 20-25.  Add to that, those miles will most likely be my least favorite – the descent that scares me the most followed by some tough, but not the toughest climbing.  Ugh…the rest of its not that bad…at least that’s what I tell myself.  The third cut-off is the end…after a pretty tough climb (the toughest in my opinion, cause it just keeps going….and going…and going….) up Coyote Ridge.  But from there, it’s a downhill I’m pretty familiar with, the uphill I’m really good at hiking, and downhill to the finish.  Easy as that, right?

And there’s the fact that its been raining all week.  ALL WEEK.  Seriously?  I know we need the rain, but really, this week?  Ugh….as of right now, there’s no rain in Saturday’s forecast, but that keeps changing and I’m pretty sure it will be wet anyway.  Hopefully I dont crash out….and it doesnt slow me down too much.  I need all the help I can get.

But, on some level I’m still excited.  I packed my bags for the crew and the drop bag station, and it was kind of fun….thinking about what I would need and the most efficient way to pack things.  It’s going to be all about keeping moving, even at the aid stations.  I need to finish this for my 100 miler in March.

Its been a crazy week, well…crazy few weeks.  But, I’m enjoying what’s probably my last glass of wine until Sunday (provided I want a glass of wine on Sunday…haha) and chatting about the race with Brian.  No matter what happens, it will be an adventure.  I hiked to Everest while sick….I can do this…at least that’s what I tell myself.

Until next time….over and out.

Coyote Ridge 50k(ish) Race Report

So it was a day of the three times I thought about quitting and the one time I didnt…

The first was just before the .9 mile mark, coming through pirate’s cove the wrong way (well, according to me…it’s just different than how I usually do it).  I rolled my ankle, and it was pretty sore.  I spent sometime walking it out, and just decided to get to the aid station in Tennessee Valley, and reassess.  I got there, and it was actually feeling ok.  So, I continued up Marincello, and out towards the Bonita Cove turn around.  Such beautiful views along the way.

The second time was around mile 10, and I was feeling pretty good…I was actually ahead of the pace I wanted, legs felt good, and I was running down a gentle slope towards bunker road.  I got to the road, and didnt see any pink ribbons.  I looked down the road, across the road, and still didnt see anything.  The course had been really well marked, so I couldnt believe that there wouldnt be ribbons here….come to think of it, I couldnt remember the last time I saw a ribbon.  I knew where I was…..I just didnt know where the course went.  And of course it was the one area I didnt know very well.  But, I did know that the trail across the street would meet up with Miwok, which would take me to Old Springs, which is how I was supposed to get back to Tennessee Valley.  I confirmed with a cyclist, and was on my way…kind of like choose your own adventure, except it was choose your own course.  And really, who doesnt love an unnecessary climb up a hill over a mile long….

I got back down to Tennessee Valley and let them know what happened – I didnt really care about the distance, let’s be honest, it’s not like I was in it to win it or I had cut enough of the mileage to impact how I would finish.  But, I was concerned that there was some sort of check-in at the Point Bonita aid station, and they’d send out the emergency crews to find me if I didnt check in.  Of course, they had no idea if anyone was checking…just that they were not checking.  But I could ask when I got back to Muir Beach.

Then came the hot, slow, hike up Fox Trail…really slow.  Ugh…but, at that point, after rolling an ankle and getting lost, I was really just trying to get mileage in.  Hopefully I can work on the pace for the next two months and still be ok for North Face.

After Fox Trail came the long, steep, descent into Muir Beach…..pretty terrifying for some reason.  I’m not sure if I’ve always been afraid of that descent, or if this is a new development.  It got better towards the end, and I was able to run out to the bridge and across it, over to the aid station.  I asked the volunteer who was helping me about checking in at the aid station I missed….she didnt know either, but said I could work with the race director to figure out the distance when I was done.  I told her I wasnt as worried about that (my watch would give me the distance), I was more worried about being reported missing.

Then, began the long climb up and out of Muir Beach, and the reverse trek through Pirate’s Cove….and it was so hot…ugh.  There were three of us, and we all kept stopping and taking breaks.  But, one foot in front of the other does the trick, and I was on my way down into Tennessee Valley again.  The last time I thought about quitting would have been somewhere in Pirate’s Cove, when I realized that was technically another turn-around point.

But, I decided the miles were more important, and after a sandwich and a ton of liquids, began making my way up Marincello, around some random airport thing, and down a steep descent to Old Springs trail.  I felt pretty good on Old Springs and decided to jog….until I tripped down a step, and rolled my ankle again…..ok, maybe no jogging.  And then a second trip up Fox Trail….just as tough since I was tired, but it was far cooler and there was a bit of a breeze.  The trip back down into Muir beach seemed less treacherous the second time around, and I feel like I was able to run more of it.  Before I knew it, I was down and dodging people as I crossed the bridge to the finish line…..the time I didnt quit….

I had some water and animal crackers at the finish line, followed by a beer (amazing…), and hung out with the people there for a bit, before walking the mile and a half back to the car.  I opted for that instead of the shuttle since I lost some distance when I messed up the course.

And, now I’m enjoying a really bad horror movie and my favorite owl beer while my body contemplates exactly what I did to it today.  Though, I was able to enjoy some dinner, so I think I did better with the hydration since the roof of my mouth doesnt feel like sandpaper.  Other than that, I’ll be reevaluating the rest of my training plan….maybe look to spend an equal amount of time getting better at what I’m already good at and trying to get better at the stuff I’m not….and do some more long runs….

Sick + Lost = Long Walk

Well, the headlands and Mt. Tam are always an adventure.  I set out today to hike or walk, since I was still fighting the head cold from Wednesday, but still wanted to get out there.  I mapped the part of the north face past Muir Beach last week, along with a bunch of other pieces so I can get in the rest of my long runs on parts of the course I don’t know as well (and parts I do for the really, really long runs).  I had mapped a 20 miler that did most of the North Face course once you pass Muir Beach.  My thought was I could walk 10 of that – Muir to Cardio, down Dipsea to Ben Johnson to Fern to Lost trail (fitting name 😉 to several others, before heading back to Muir Beach.

But, of course nothing ever goes according to plan, hence the adventure.  It starts out easy enough, parking was way easier than I thought it would be, despite the late start.  I tossed on some sun screen, pulled out the water, put on the headphones, and I was off.  I’m pretty used to Redwood Creek and Heather cutoff at this point, and I have a plan to run them, of course today I only planned to hike, so I continued to plan and look for where I would run during the race as I hiked.  I hit Coastal and continued to do the same thing….now I just need to run it.  haha.

Then I hit Cardiac, which is where I should have called it a day, turned around, and headed home for what would have been a ten mile hike.  But instead, I really, really wanted to see some new trails. So I headed down Dipsea, the same way I came up during the 50k.  Much, much easier going down.  I hit Ben Johnson pretty quickly, and it was actually a lot of fun.  At some point I crossed a log bridge, stepped in water, and ducked under a log all at once.  My foot was wet, my hands were dirty, and I was in heaven.  I had to stop and turn around and just enjoy the fact that this was my playground.

Then I went flying…and went flying again.  Some lady I passed told me I had a really good pace going…if only I had any control…haha.  Then I rolled my ankle…again.  So thankful for the rock tape….I roll the good one, and it doesnt really care, but the bad one…well, it still feels bruised hours later.

I took that trail down into Muir Woods….at some point I passed a couple hiking with Bud Light and a cooler….they had to be mid-50’s which made them that much cooler.  Though, while hiking with beer might be fun, let’s be honest, I have enough issues staying on my feet – I definitely don’t need the help of a few beers.  haha.  Of course I got turned around in Muir Woods and ended up doing some sort of lap which got me back to the same trailhead I came in at…stupid Muir Woods.  So, I went back up and tried a different way (and stopped to take a picture for a family), and found a hill…up to a campground….and then I found Fern trail.  Nice trail….a lot of it runable if it’s the one I’m thinking of.  Overall, a lot of what I found was either very runable or will kill me if I try – not too much middle ground.

I took that to the Lost trail, which was a good name, since I was feeling kind of lost. The hill and stairs on that make what I’ve seen of the Dipsea look like a pancake.  Good God, I thought the stairs would never end…and then there were more.  Finally I reached the top and asked someone coming down what trail they were coming from, and it was the one I needed.  But, shortly in, the directional sign was broken and someone told me the trail only went one way.  I had the Strava route on my phone, and tried to figure it out, but it was too tough to tell….nothing really looked right, but I knew the way they were pointing, back to Muir Woods, wasn’t right.  But, rather than actually get lost, I took that way….asked someone coming up again where they were coming from, and they said Muir Woods.  It was a nice trail….would have been a great run had I not been sick and beat up.

I got to Muir Woods, and found myself in a sea of tourists and children and pets and people and ugh….how do I get back to my car?  I got to the exit, wandered through the store, and finally found a ranger.  Of course, I had to wait for the guy with the cigarette hanging out of his mouth to finish telling the ranger about the deers in the woods to find out how to get back, but ok….I’d made it this far.

After expressing his shock that cigarette guy and I weren’t together – yes, me in my running gear and him with his cigarette, we look like travel companions….I ask him how to get back to Muir Beach.  He asks if I’m driving…..and had somewhat of a look of shock when I told him I’d wandered down from Cardiac.  He told me I was about 3 miles from the beach, and that I could pick up Redwood Creek Trail past the second parking lot.  I thanked him, and headed off on my way.

I dont think I had ever been so glad to see Redwood Creek trail….I knew where I was :).  I was so happy, I started to jog, despite the sick and the overall wanting to be done.  See I do really well on my trails…haha.

I hated losing my 20 miler today, but there’s still time before North Face, and that 50k in October…

In other news, I made sure the adventure would continue past North Face, and signed up for the Umstead 100 mile endurance run in NC in March.  Sometimes I think I’m completely crazy…other times, I think it’s totally doable.  It’s a bunch of 12.5 mile loops….ugh.  But, I’m guaranteed to see my family and friends at least that many times, more if they’re in different locations around the course.  It’s also flat, which eliminates the ability to have a break on the downhill, it also removes all of the crazy uphill.  I think the biggest hill is 150 feet over the span of a mile and a half…basically the bootcamp hill over three or four times the distance.  My first climb today went from 600 feet to 1800 feet in just over that distance.  I can do it….I still have plenty of time, right??

I think that’s it for now…over and out, until next time….

Tamalpa 50k Race Report

so, today i learned that the amount you sweat and the amount of liquid you consume during a 50k are second only to the amount of filthy you’re going to get.

i tried to go to bed early last night, since i had to be up at 4am.  and, i kind of succeeded.  i was in bed by 9:30…i just…couldnt sleep.  my neck was stiff…my legs were sore….and i slept like crap.  not sure if it was nerves or nerves combined with things hurting or what, but i definitely woke up tired.  but, i was still excited…a little nervous, but excited.  some tape, food, tea, and water, and i was off.

i got to the start line in plenty of time to pick up my bib and get ready.  everyone was really friendly…said good morning and wished me a good race.  my kind of expo..friendly, quick, easy, and no one stepped on me.  at 7:25, the race director called everyone to the start with a bull horn.  he made a couple of announcements, one of which was that .6 of a mile into the race we would be funneled into a single track trail…and to be nice and slow down.  we had 31 other miles to go fast, and if that was going to be our fastest mile of the day, we were in trouble.  and that there would be a volunteer at the bottom of old springs trail to make sure we didnt run into a horse….it’s a wide open space, i dont think i want to know the history behind that requirement….

the early miles were nice….nothing too crazy, though it was definitely a single track for a bit and we did need to slow down.  i was fine with that, i figured i could use the chance to save energy for later.  of course not even a mile in, the top strap on my bag popped….no idea why, i think it just came unhooked.  of course, i couldnt figure out how to fix it, so used one of the extra rubber bands on the side to fashion something together to hold it still.  we made it into muir beach, and i was able to run most of the way.  then we hit the muir beach hills, which are pretty bad…but, the training paid off, i felt really good on those hills.  i knew what they were like, and just as important, when they would end.  important lesson of the day – i need to train on some of the other trails i dont know as well (or at all) that will be part of the north face 50.

we hit pirates cove from the opposite direction i usually run….a little weird, but not as much of a mental game as i thought it might be.  it was actually pretty easy at the beginning, but got rough at the end where it’s pretty steep before you go down again.  and, it was really nice to be able to run down the giant hill leading up to pirates cove rather than up for once.

then we made a turn into an area where i havent really been….somewhere towards hill 88, but i dont think it was hill 88.  having not been there, i wasnt sure what to expect, and now having been there, im not so sure i care to go back.  the beginning was nice enough….some rolling hills, and i met two ladies from pittsburg and chatted with them for a few minutes.  then came the hard part…the hill to rodeo was awful…and never ending.  it just kept winding and winding and winding some more.  finally i got to the top….then it wound around up there for a bit before feeling like it was heading to rodeo valley where the first aid station was….not before i passed a few falling apart bunkers and hiked myself up a short steep peak.

after leaving the aid station, i was headed for miwok….another crazy hill, but i knew this one.  and actually made pretty good time power hiking up it.  i managed to overtake at least four people.  granted, they passed me later, but i know how to get up my hill…haha.  at the top of miwok came old spring, another favorite, and this is the descent in to tennessee valley where the next aid station was.  i had started to feel tired at that point, and my right hip had been hurting since mile 8, but im used to that, so pressed on.

coming out of the aid station, we got to climb miwok/miwok cutoff, another favorite trail…to go DOWN.  ive only gone up once and it was pretty bad….today may have been worse.  i was with another runner for a little while, and she said…dont look up.  i cant look up…theres just so much up.  it worked…kind of.

i finally got to the top, and we started going down again, but by then i was starting to feel it more, so kept power hiking and trying to insert running intervals.  at this point, i was pretty sure i was last, but i was on the pace i wanted, so didnt care.  at some point, we crossed highway one and there was a water/electrolyte aid station only….perfect.  as with all the aid stations, i downed a full thing of electrolytes and at least two things of water….a lot for me.

crossing the highway, i started out on another rolling trail.  i thought at this point, i could probably run for a bit.  so i started jogging and stubbed my left foot on a log before going flying/catching myself on a bush.  somehow, it kept me from going down.  thanks randomly placed grassy thing.  i took a breath and a few steps to sort myself out, then began running again.  until i rolled an ankle and went flying a second time.  at that point, i felt like a higher being was telling me i shouldnt be running….so i went back to power hiking.

right as i met the dipsea trail, i saw brian waiting to run with me.  just what i needed and i dont think i would have finished the race without him.  dipsea starts out not too bad, but then heads uphill for what felt like miles.  in reality, it wasnt, but i was desperate for some more downhill and the aid station that cardiac held.  we kept thinking we were almost there, and finally we were.  we passed two runners sharing some water on the side…i never saw them again, so im not sure if they were able to finish.

when we got to the aid station, i had never been so happy to see pb&j.  another runner mentioned the same thing, and we shared a laugh.  i guzzled more water and electrolytes and tried some coke too – i was starting to get the weird gu acid reflux issue and i thought maybe something different would help.  then we were off…up a little further to pantoll and then finally down matt davis.

matt davis was a nice trail…single track, mainly down with some rolling hills.  it was great to have since my shins, especially my right shin, had started to cramp up…or something.  at some points, it was feeling like the muscles?  tendons?  i really dont know whats in the front my leg, but dear god, i thought it was trying to break my leg.  but, the gentle downhill helped loosen them up.  toward the end of the downhill, we had to push harder, since we had to get back up to cardiac by a certain time.  i ran into non-racing runner and talked to him for a few minutes – he had just finished his first 50k a few weeks ago.  he said it was great…and to have a good run.  i told him i was pretty sure i was last, but just wanted to finish.  so, i struggled on….shins cramping….gu acid in the back of my throat…

we hit another aid station, more liquid and then of course, back up.  once we hit dipsea, i really wasnt sure i was going to make it.  the shin issue had gotten so bad, i could barely walk….i thought for sure i wouldnt make it to cardiac in time, but i also thought that i may finally have gotten to a point where i wouldnt be able to continue, no matter how much i wanted to.  i cant remember the last time i cried, but i was pretty much ready to.  i had found a couple of other runners at the aid station, but lost them once we hit dipsea and i had slowed down so much.

we hit steep ravine, and i felt a little better.  i also knew steep ravine better….brian and i had done it once and it was pretty memorable.  brian did a great job keeping me going…telling me i had this and i could do it.  i kept putting one foot in front of the other and ignoring the pain in my shin…and the time i rolled my ankle.  thank god for rock tape, but i am afraid to see what it looks like tomorrow.  he pointed out being able to hear the cars….and the end of the stone steps..and the last bridge.  and the ladder….which, i climbed at mile 25.5ish….so, today i learned that i can make it up the steep ravine ladder 25 plus miles into a race.  then, we were almost there.  and we were on the heels of two other runners….

we got to pantoll and brian told me we had to jog down to cardiac so i would have time to get something to eat before it closed/i got pulled out of the race.  so, jog we did….somehow i figured out how to do it.  and i wasnt planning to run down the final hill….too afraid i might crash and burn.  we were talking about that as we ran past some hikers.  brian told me i could do it, and one of the female hikers yelled out, ‘you can do it…you just past two guys!’.  yup, the guys we had in view coming up the end of steep ravine were now behind us….where they stayed for the rest of the race.

we got to cardiac and the aid station with time to spare and the rest was downhill…3.8 miles…downhill. i could do this….wow that was a great feeling.  i grabbed a sandwich and a ton of liquids and we were off….and, we jogged almost the whole way to the finish.  other than dodging mountain bikes and hiking through some loose stone, we did it.  we picked up another girl for awhile and got her going again, which was fun.  and then the head of the final trail came into view.  brian point it out, and it seemed so far.  but not…before i knew it, we were there.

then came the million switchbacks of heather cutoff….luckily still a mild downhill….and we jogged.  again, it felt like i might never get there – we could see the finish from the top and it seemed so far away.  but, i kept jogging, and really started to feel better.  and before i knew it, i was there.  well, about a quarter mile away…brian stopped and said, ‘my work here is done…go finish your race…but, dont think you can start walking now….jog it in’.  and i did….even through the scary grass that tried to kill me this morning.

the finish line was short and simple….some poles and colored flags and a small group of people cheering.  in reality, it was perfect.  they called my name as i finished and said, ‘you are finishing the Tamalpa 50k….congratulations’.  then a volunteer gave me a medal and said, ‘looks like you earned this’.  i smiled and thought…yeah, yeah i did.  i did it….for a good while there, i didnt think id make it and get pulled at cardiac.  but, i never gave up….and learned that sometimes, the impossible just might be possible after all.  that, and i had one heck of a husband as a pacer.  he ran his own 50k this week and still came out for 20 miles.

we hung out at the finish for a little while…had some water and electrolytes and watched other finishers.  the girl we got running again at the end came over and said thank you.  took some photos of me to show exactly what running 50k does to you….haha.  then we headed out.

driving up the road out of muir beach, which is the same place i got picked up by some nice lady and her kids during a failed bike ride last summer, i realized that despite the struggles i faced today, i loved it.  i learned a lot…where my training gaps are…how i should fix them, and finished strong.  so, i thought, if i know i like this, i should go with it.  100 miles…here i come!  ironman, maybe i’ll be back someday.  maybe.  but for now, im going to go with this new goal….after i eat my weight in pizza and maybe some ice cream.  after the roof of my mouth stops burning….damn dehydration….