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….

Weekend of Running

I realized somewhere around Wednesday that this weekend would be a weekend of running.  Ugh…or maybe yay…I don’t know. I like running, but I also like relaxing. Haha.

Saturday’s adventure was a run through the headlands. Well, I’ll use the term run loosely….it was pretty much doomed from the beginning.  I forgot my watch….I didn’t have a route planned, and looking back, I’m pretty sure I was dehydrated for some reason.   So, I decided to explore somewhere new….ended up going up a big hill, then down some random trails that didn’t really go anywhere. Just down….so I had to go back up. Good times. And while exploring was fun, it wasn’t that much fun without a watch or any idea if the trails were good or not. And it was hot.  Knowing I still needed to get mileage in, I decide to run to the end of a flat trail that runs along the road and maybe run out to Tennessee beach after.

However, at the end of that trail, I ran into another runner who asked me where I was going. I told him I didn’t know, and he suggested a trail across the street – ‘beautiful trail, meets marincello, and there’s really only one steep/hiking part at the top.  Or….there’s lots of stairs, steep, and sun.  And when I got to the top, marincello was nowhere in site….nor was any trail I knew would get me there. Awesome…thanks runner dude.  I wandered for a bit trying to find something, but at that point I was pretty dehydrated and feeling awful, so I decided to head back the way I came.

After some Gatorade and relaxing on the couch Saturday night, I was ready to think about tackling day two of running.  There wasn’t much to prepare, but I did prepare more than I have in the past.  Really, I just made sure I had clothes, shoes, and my race bib in some sort of order.  Though, I did arrive at the start line with a gu and my phone, and really no place to put either one. I didn’t sleep well, but for some reason was up with time to spare…..spent more time relaxing on the couch before we had to leave.

At the starting line, I ran into my friend Debbie and her friend Hans – our yearly second half SFM reunion.  Always great to see her, even if it was only for a few minutes. I also met a lady who was running with about 10 helium balloons tied to the back of her top.  Still wondering how that worked out for her. At about mile three, I ran into my friend Maya from work….somehow, we always find each other at these races, even amongst thousands of people.

The first eight or so miles felt alright….I think I had a decent pace going when I could. There were a lot of people, and in a bunch of places, it was pretty difficult to zig and zag around people. Oh well, pretty typical of the park at the start. The first few miles outside the park were ok too, despite that it was starting to get hot. I grabbed a gu at the gu stop in the haight, by that point, I had started to feel a little off, and wasn’t sure if I was hungry.  I had also eaten my gu back in the park and didn’t really like not having one on me.

I passed Brian and the SB cheer squad coming up the big hill in the mission, he looked like he was having fun cheering everyone on with a bell and a wig.  After that, I couldn’t tell if I was overusing my abs or if my stomach was cramping….not so much fun and definitely slowed me down. I took it slow the rest of the way, but still ran at least some of it. In the last bit to the finish line, I saw a guy down by AT&T park….between that and the guy down at the finish line, it brought back the sad memories about the guy that died at the kaiser half a few years ago.  Luckily, I think both of these guys were ok….maybe just dehydrated.

I got to the finish, not as fast as I had hoped, but not bad all things considered. Ksenya got some good photos of me coming in, so that was fun. They gave me boxed water at the finish line, interesting and a little different, and unfortunately, I was so thirsty and trying to drink quickly, I ended up wearing most of it. I got my medal and a few bites of a blueberry muffin, then headed out to meet Brian and our friends.

Post race, we headed to Barney’s where I consumed my weight in milkshake, chicken pesto sandwich, and curly fries…..amazingly delicious. I’m definitely more stiff than I thought I would be, so I’ve spent the rest of the afternoon napping on and off on the couch, watching bad movies, and contemplating how exactly I’m going to run 30 miles in a few weeks.  Granted, ultra training is completely different than a road race, but still….yikes.  Hopefully after some rest and maybe some wine and hopefully a successful 20 miler next weekend, I’ll feel better about it.

It’s Going Down….

So, I had one thing I had to do before Everest, well, two, I guess. I really didn’t want to get sick either. But, I managed to avoid strep throat, the office stomach flu, and whatever cold Brian caught earlier this week. So, what do I do to ring in the seven day count down?  Go for a run in my new trail shoes, of course.  And what else would I do while doing that other than crash. Pretty hard. And skid…my friend told me she heard it, but thought the noise was me catching myself. My right leg was covered in dust from the skid….took a chunk out of my left hand….and rolled my left ankle (I’m pretty sure that’s what caused the fall).  I heard it pop on the way down, but once it was over, I seemed to be in one piece.  At least enough to hike myself up and out of there, and back to the car.  That’s the thing about trail running…..you can cut the route short, but there’s really no way back unless you walk. And it’s generally just as far to keep going or turn around.

So, ouch…not how I wanted to spend the week before my trip.   I run that trail all the time….of course I would crash today. Ugh….I’d take being chased by a turkey again….

It’s actually not too bad….only a little bigger than a golf ball….and it doesn’t hurt too bad if I just stay off it.  Cause I’m good at that, and do t have anything else to do….

In other news, I spent the week with one of our counterparts from Japan.  I’d met him when I traveled there two years  ago, so it was cool to see him again.  I also really enjoyed learning from him as much as I enjoyed showing him what we do in stores here.

Alright…off to dinner with some friends….if I can navigate the stairs….haha…

Until next time.

Three Weeks and Counting….

I realized today that we have three weeks until we leave for Nepal…crazy.  And it feels like it’s so much closer now than when it was four weeks away.  haha…I’m sure next week, when it’s down to two, it will feel even closer.  Second to last prep hike tomorrow….eeek!  Crazy….

We got the final trip email yesterday, so that may be why it feels closer too.  It looks like there will be eleven of us in the group, plus the staff from REI.  They’re going to pick us up from the airport, which will be nice.  Less to figure out is always good.  Of course, they’re going to identify us by our REI t-shirts, which they ran out of in my size.  Good news, they’re sending me a bag…bad news, I’ll get lost at the airport. Haha…we also have luggage tags, so I should be good.  But,  knowing my luck, who knows.

It also looked like our carry-ons might not count toward the 30 lb weight limit, which, if that’s the case, will be a huge relief.  Not that I want to bring a ton of stuff, but 30 lbs is not a lot and once I add in contacts, contact solution, medicine, first aid kit, etc, etc, I feel like it’s going to add up quickly.  As long as I can bring enough snacks to quell my ‘im always hungry’ appetite, everything will be ok.  haha…I emailed them to confirm, so we’ll see what happens.

I spent a few hours today running through the headlands.  I added a trip down to muir beach into what has become my normal route through pirates cove.  Time wise, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it might be. I felt like I was walking a lot more, but I was only a few seconds/mile off of my pace from last week.  Looking at my splits, I think my time through pirates cover was a lot faster than I was last week and the week before.  Hopefully that means I’m getting stronger and will continue to do so.  I’m trying hard to build some distance before the trip – who knows what I’ll lose or gain while trekking for days on end, but we’re looking at a 50k (classic me, right?) a month after we get back, so want to at least give myself a shot at it.

However, crawling out of muir beach was as awful as I remember it.  Not as bad on the way down as it was during North Face, but the way up was pretty rough.  Probably not as rough as North Face, since I was only at mile five or so instead of mile 16.  Of course, as I’m crawling my way up the crazy hills, I come upon paw prints…giant paw prints.  Sweet…I was hoping I could get mauled by a mountain lion today…but, after a nice trip down miwok cutoff, I was back to my car.  Which was in a really good parking spot….complete with the satisfaction that the car in front of me blocked traffic for several minutes to wait for someone to pull out, yet, I ended up with the best spot and didnt hold up traffic.

Other than that, Game of Thrones starts tomorrow!  Yay!  We’ve been waiting for quite some time for that….like, since the end of last season.  haha.

Until next time…

North Face 50….it’s happening

So, we realized that the North Face Challenge had opened up, and despite everything we have put and need to put into Nepal, the 50 miler is happening in December.  I’m actually really excited about it.  And, I can’t blame it on the wine this time….haha. I celebrated by eating half of a container of gelato. Not a bad idea for someone who slept in….did a little bit of work…and slept some more.  Do nothing all day….sign up for a 50 mile race….consume a container of ice cream.  Haha.

In all seriousness, this is going to take a killer training plan. I’m envisioning a lot of early mornings in the headlands. At least I live close enough that I can train on the crazy hills. I’m pretty sure I’m not currently running fast enough to finish in the allotted time. But, I know I can get there. It’s gonna be an adventure :).

In other news, I think I’m really bad at doing nothing. I’ve been sick or coughing or something and have had no voice all week, so I decided I was just going to rest all day.  So, of course, I was up at 8:30….when was the last time that happened?  After a bit of NyQuil, I was able to get some more sleep.  Then, after dealing with a work issue, I was really restless. Couldn’t I go run or something. No.  I forced myself to rest a little longer, but then got up and started cleaning. Haha…even when I’m sick, I can’t do nothing.

We’re planning a longer hike for tomorrow…maybe a picnic.  I’m excited for that too (see, really bad at sitting still). Hopefully the NyQuil endured haze in which I spent most of today works and I’m close to 100% tomorrow. I have real hiking pants to try for the first time….and I really like my bag. Despite the whole everything is black theme I have going. I’ve decided not to list the gear in the individual posts, but will post a list at the end of my trip, after I post all the trip blogs. While it won’t matter to most, based on how much I’m relying on blogs from previous travelers, if someone googles and finds my blog, I want to be helpful :).

Other than that, it’s been a week of watching the Olympics and nursing the hot, sexy, smoker voice back to normal. Until next time….

North Face Endurance Challenge

So, let me preface this with the fact/thought that I should have done a training run (or six) that were longer than 15 miles.  But, I do what I can.  And, I was able to finish and have a great time doing so.  That being said, race report…

The start line was a pretty cool experience.  It was cold and somewhat windy, but they had heat lamps and fire pits going, which was a nice touch and made the cold bearable. There was also a welcome tent of sorts that had coffee and hot water and snacks (and more heaters).  I thought that was really nice, and not something I’ve seen at a race before.  I was nervous about drinking coffee before running, since I didn’t know how it would affect my stomach. But, one of the volunteers offered me a cup of hot water to hold, which was a great help with the cold.  While we were in the tent, we looked at the course maps and Brian talked me through the flow of the marathon. While we had run or hiked most of the course, we hadn’t done it all at once.  A couple of other runners joined us and we chatted through the course with them too.  The hour or so we spent there went pretty quickly, and was overall low key.  By the time we started the race, the nerves I had about not finishing had been replaced with the thrill of another adventure.

The course was a kind of figure 8 with a couple of loops.  The first loop went from the start line near the visitor’s center at the headlands, up miwok hill, then down the back side into the Tennessee valley, up marincello hill, over to bob cat and altar before dropping back near the start.  The first hill climb was tough, especially on my calves, especially so early in the race.  But the decent into Tennessee valley was fabulous. I ran all of it, despite the run walk I usually do.  The only drawback was the rude runner with the headphones who yelled at me once I started running after a walk break….I’m not sure why.  Maybe she thought I didn’t want her to pass me?  Whatever, wasn’t going to ruin my day.  Coming into the Tennessee valley, I said good morning to a couple of guys tending a stable, had my photo taken, and ran into our friend, Drew.  He said hello, I told him I was feeling good, and he said, ‘great! Now you get to run up the big ass hill’.  Haha….I think I told him I had just come down one.

The next part of the course began like the first, but after going up miwok a second time (ugh), we made a different turn at  Tennessee valley and headed out toward pirate’s cove and muir beach.  This was when I started to get the Fun song, ‘put one foot in front of the other….lalalala’ stuck in my head. It remained there for most of the rest of the day. I met two other runners on the second trip up miwok.  Up until that point, I felt like I was pretty much in no man’s land. They thought they were lost, but since I had talked through the course that morning, I reassured them we were on track.  Pat was from Connecticut and Holly was from LA.  It was nice to have some people to chat with on our trip up the hill.  However, I lost holly on the way up the hill.  But, I did trade off position with Pat until we hit Pirate’s cove.  This was the one part of the course that was on pavement.  It was also where we started to see 50k runners coming back. I looked out for my friend Toby, who was running the 50k, but he was way ahead of me.  This was also a fairly easy portion to run….or run walk in my case.

The next part of the course went through pirate’s cove, out to muir beach, and then back to the Tennessee valley.  That was by far the most difficult part of the course.  I think the hill up to pirate’s cove was pretty rough, but quite honestly, I don’t remember it.  I remember the descent was pretty scary.  At one point, I stopped to dig a stone out of my shoe, mad had my feet fly out from under me. Luckily, they crashed on to the next step, and I was able to remain upright. Thank god for small favors.  The course between pirate’s cove and muir beach was pretty, but also pretty rough. It was a single track up hill, followed by a steep descent to the beach. Of course, it was an out and back, so all I could think was – I can’t wait to run back out if this. There was an aid station at the turn around, for those do us that turned around. If you’re me, you keep going and over run the turn.  Haha…luckily, I noticed the pink ribbon course markers had disappeared and I asked a volunteer, who turned me around, and I was back at the aid station shortly.

My friend Ed was working the aid station and gave me some water and electrolytes, as well as some Mountain Dew, which I hadn’t had since college, but was amazing at mile 15.  He asked how I was feeling, and I’m pretty sure I told him I had muscles I forgot I had hurting.  Then I finished my stretch break, grabbed some pretzels, had another drink, and took off.  I saw Pat on the way back, gave him a high five and told him we were getting it done.  I also saw Holly, she had hurt her knee and was glad the aid station was only half a mile away.  And, that’s where the course got ugly. After climbing the rollers out of muir beach, there was another never ending hill.  It felt like miles. Luckily, at this point there were plenty of people on the course since the 50 mile runners were on the same course. Most said hello as they jogged by me, and it was great to hear some friendly voices – even if they were running twice as far….

Upon returning to the Tennessee valley, I was glad to see the rest stop, and stopped to grab some more Mountain Dew and a pb&j.  I don’t think it’s ever tasted so good. I also overheard a pacer asking where he could meet his 50 mile runner.  So, of course the wheels started turning, and as much pain as I was in, I wanted to train better and do that one next year.  From the rest stop, we headed up marincello for the second time (ugh), but I knew what to expect, and I love the alta and rodeo trails.  And after that, less than a mile to the finish. And my Fun song about one foot in front of the other was back. Going up marincello, I walked by a couple of other runners, and was able to say hello.  It was nice to have some friendly faces through the final miles. Hitting the rest stop at the top of altar was nice too…great to see the friendly volunteers and have another mini sandwich and soda.

Coming out of the flat end of the rodeo trail, a volunteer at the last water stop let me know I had less than a mile to go, and offered me any last minute aid items.  I knew I was close, and didn’t want to stop moving, so I thanked her and told her I was good. Then, despite the finish being just across the
street and up a small hill, I started singing my song from the Honolulu marathon….’this is the race that never ends’. Approaching the finish line, there was a lady cheering, who told me to run like I was Black Friday shopping. Haha….then I entered the finish line chute, and heard Brian and our friend, Drew, cheering for me. The announcer got my name from Brian and said, ‘we’re all cheering for you, Kim’.

And, like that, it was over.  Am I thrilled with my time, not really.  Am I happy I finished, definitely.  It was my first trail marathon, and my first marathon in at least two years, and I didn’t train.  But, wow…so much fun.  As much as I knew I would be sore, and as sore as I am right now, I can’t wait to sign up for the 50 mile next year.  And train for it….that too.

 In other news, I had my last team meeting for school ever today. So exciting and surreal…