Weekend of Running

After my Wednesday debacle, I realized two things. One, I needed to run both days this weekend. Two, I was going to find out how complete double day training worked for me. Ideal?  Maybe…maybe not. I don’t know. I’m going to go with, doing what I’ve always done will get me what I’ve always gotten. Meaning, long days of a lot of slow miles would get me through the race, but probably at the slow pace I’m used to. Maybe trying something new is just what I need.  

So, Saturday….I headed to Walnut Creek for coffee with Lisa and the Coastal Trails awards lunch. It was great to catch up with Lisa over some coffee…I miss seeing her more frequently. The awards lunch was a lot of fun too. Got to hand out medals, coasters, and shirts, to the yearly winners. And enjoy some pizza too. Always a good time. Anyway, on to the running. 

Post-lunch, I headed over to Mt. Diablo to tackle Eagle Peak. A route one of my friends runs loops on, but I had never done. Diablo was also somewhere I hadn’t been since the summer. Once I got around the medical emergency…)hopefully everyone is ok, it didn’t look good. Helicopter and everything.) I got going pretty quickly. Brief stop at the ranger station to make sure I wouldn’t get locked in, and I was off. 

Sort of…good god, I’d forgotten how hard running on Diablo was. It was pretty much a slow uphill slog until about mile five….mile four on my watch since I’d forgotten to turn it on after checking on the parking lot situation. It was pretty though. Totally different world in the green before it all turns brown. 

As tough as it was, before I knew it, I was making my left onto Eagle Peak Trail. And, what an adventure that was….between the times I was sure I was going down, I wasn’t sure I was actually on a trail. I was glad I had put on my long sleeved shirt….I was also pretty sure the bushes were trying to tear off the skin on my arms. It was also steep….steep up and if the report is read was correct, even steeper on the other side on the way down. I rather quickly decided I’d turn around and head back the way I came. A steep descent wasn’t worth the injury and going back the way I came would get me more miles. 

As tough as the way up was, the way down was amazing. I ran nearly all of it…other than the moment I stopped to ask a peace officer which trail to take down. Anytime I started thinking I wanted to walk, I asked myself why I was going to walk…did I NEED to?  Generally, the answer was no. The end result, just under a 14 minute per mile pace overall…faster than I’ve ever been on Diablo.  And, just an overall feeling of strong. Thanks Orange Theory…or this multiple/back to back training thing. Or both. 

Which brings us to today.  Brian wanted to do a brick workout (bike/run…really any triathlon sport combo for those not familiar with the term), so we headed toward Canada Road. I wanted to get in more than just flat, so I had him drop me off at Wunderlich Park.  Cause an exercise Valentine’s Day, nothing fits us better. 

Anyway, I don’t think I’d been to Wunderlich since the summer, so had forgotten how hilly it was. You’d think the route I made on Strava last night would have clued me in. Haha. 

It was basically a six mile slog uphill to skyline and then some. But, after about three miles, I started to feel pretty good. At five, the terrain started to roll and I was able to run more than hike, which was great. 

And, once I turned around….amazing. Down, down, down, I went. Again, I ran almost the entire way…stopping only to calculate mileage to the end and determine which trail to take, or to carefully move around downed trees. No matter how good I felt, nothing is worth injury. 

I continued down the trails…some back where I’d come from, some brand new. So much fun. At one point, I looked at my watch and saw I was running an 8:50 mile. I never run that fast….especially on a trail. But, holy crap….I never run that fast, especially on a trail. And I’m 11.5 miles through a 13 mile run. Thanks, Orange Theory…and let’s enjoy this til the end. Or until I run into an entitled horseback rider….

OMG….stop. 

You can’t run towards a horse and there’s four up ahead of you….

Seriously?!  If your horse can’t handle sharing a FIRE ROAD with people, perhaps it doesn’t belong out there. Luckily, I was in a good mood and all of my snarky comments stayed in my head. I’m all about sharing the trails, but really, to tell someone to stop running?  

So, I doubled back and headed down a neighboring trail.  All the while this lady tried to make friendly chit chat. Nope, sorry….not sorry…I have a trail half marathon PR to break and you’ve already interfered enough. 

In the end, 13.1 in 3:04. Faster than I’ve run a half on a trail by 30 minutes or so. Wow, that felt good. 

After this weekend’s runs, I feel cautiously optimistic about Way Too Cool. The stress of getting there not withheld. Lake Sonoma is another story. Hopefully one with a happy ending, but I think I’ll feel better about that one once I get through the 50k and see how I do. Hopefully I’m on to something with the new training plan and Orange Theory. I think, for the first time, I just might be trained properly…or at least trained to the best of my ability. 

Until next time…. 

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….

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….

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!

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….

Trail Runner Problems…

I set out today to run 20 miles and see the rest of the North Face course.  Unfortunately the crazy busy-ness of franchise work and holiday work over the past two weeks and being sick caught up with me.  I felt so sluggish and tired…ugh.  But, on the plus side, I learned so much and had so much fun over the past two weeks, I wouldn’t change it. I can handle a slow run….haha….

Going up the first two trails…way, way up, I was able to actually try some of the strategies I’ve been thinking about with those hills.  Went pretty well in a lot of places and was the fastest I’ve climbed some parts of the trail.  I didnt know that while I was running, and I still felt sluggish.  I figured I’d get to Cardiac, and go from there.

I got up to Cardiac, and decided to head down Dipsea, rather than do the extra Matt Davis/Dipsea loop.  I was still feeling pretty tired, and I still hadn’t figured out where the course went between Oceanview and Muir woods, so thought I would figure that out.  So, down Dipsea I went….almost literally…stupid mud…and, that’s where the adventure began….

I get to the Ben Johnson trail, which I’ve done one other time, that I can remember.  It was the one I thought maybe I could run down last week and rolled both ankles several times – lots of fun.  So this week, I thought I would take it slow…maybe last week was a fluke or something.  After I got through the part that was real crazy, I started to jog again…unfortunately, it didn’t take long to roll my left ankle again….awesome.  It was then that I realized something….I’m terrified of this trail.

After I rolled it and walked it out a bit, I realized I didnt want to run anymore and roll it again….at least until I was off this particular trail.  So, I walked (really awesome, since I already felt slow and sluggish)….and made sure I was watching where I was going.  Of course, I watched the ground so closely that I didnt see the tree branch I ran into….fabulous….stupid trail, I hate you…..and I hate it more that I’m afraid of you….especially since I don’t really know how to get over it.  I’m just hoping if I do it enough, eventually I won’t be afraid anymore.  I can handle the scary steps in Pirates Cove now, so I don’t think it’s impossible….I hope.

That terrible trail ended at Muir Woods, and picked up another trail that wouldnt have been so bad, if I wasn’t so exhausted.  I tried to run as much as possible, since I really wanted to get away from Muir Woods and all of the tourists.  As I was running up part of it, I’m pretty sure I came across a couple who had just gotten engaged…

I got up to Alice Springs camp (not sure if that’s what it’s actually called, but it makes me think of Outback and Cheese Fries, so let’s go with it) and began the descent on Fern Trail.  I really liked this one…easily runnable and very few spots that the trail could try to kill me.  This went down and met the Lost trail, except this time, I wasn’t lost.  Unfortunately then it headed up…and up…and up.  Hope you like stairs….I finally got to the top, and thankfully, the sign wasn’t broken, so I knew exactly where to head for the next part…..

Unfortunately, more up.  And some lady in wedge flip flops and an outfit fit for an office.  She looked relatively miserable….but looked at me like I was the crazy one, probably because I was covered in sweat and mud….it’s a trail…you’re supposed to be covered in mud…haha.  Anyway, once I got up, the view was beautiful.  And some how my foggy day had turned beautiful and sunny.  I went the wrong way on the next trail (why would the intersection have a sign…that would be too easy)….luckily, there was one not too far ahead and I quickly righted myself.  I found some more trails that I really liked….relatively flat, some slight descents…..and really interesting people.

The first guys were more annoying than anything.  Heard me come up behind them, and rather than share the trail like normal people they stepped into the middle of it so I really had no way around them. Annoying, but it was so pretty and they headed up towards the road pretty quick, so I didn’t really care.

Next, I came across a lady who thought I was a mountain lion coming up behind her….yeah…..nope…just me.  But, thanks, I think….

At this point, I was having a lovely time on the trail, but was a little worried about getting back on Dipsea.  I knew I still had to go down to get back to the beach, but who knows how Dipsea will get you there…..generally with a lot of up in between….At the meeting of Dipsea and Sun, I had a lady ask me where a bathroom was…..ummmm….yeah….so not the one to ask, let’s be honest.  I’m pretty sure most of the bathrooms I used in Nepal changed my opinion of what’s defined as a bathroom.  haha….well, that and the random port-a-potty I used at the meadow earlier.  Really, it’s the woods….there arent bathrooms….but, I was nice and told her there would be some at Muir Woods and Muir Beach, but I didnt know how far it was to either.  It was kind of fun to pull out my strava route and show her where we were and when those places were in relation.

The rest of Dipsea down to Muir Woods was pretty easy and pretty uneventful.  To the guy I almost blew my nose on, I’m sorry….

Of course, I get to the bottom, and expect it to be flat between Muir Woods and Muir beach…it was when I made up my own way last weekend.  But of course, this is the North Face course…and nothing is flat.  I pull out my strava and check the route….yup…cross the road and up Dipsea…..and up and up.  As I climbed and climbed, way more tired than I should have been, I thought about what might be waiting at the top…another good view maybe?

Or not….the trail literally t-boned into a fire road….a fire road that I was coincidentally heading back down.  Really??  Thanks North Face….I can’t wait to do this at mile 38….but, had I not climbed up, I would have missed the lady asking me for directions:

  • Her: Do you know which way to go
  • Me: Where are you going
  • Her: We thought maybe Stinson beach….
  • My Thought….well, that’s a nice thought, but based on the sign I passed a half mile ago, it’s five miles to Stinson, ten round trip…and it’s 3:30…that sounds like a long walk in the dark….
  • Me: Well, I’m not sure, but let me look at my route.
  • In the meantime, she shows me her map and points over way to the left (Muir Beach is in the bottom right)
  • Me: um….well, no….we’re here…by Muir Woods….and I show her the dot on my phone.  
In the end, she thought maybe they would head down towards Muir Woods….hopefully that’s what they did.  Or the guy she was with (pretty sure it was the guy I passed who was peeing in the woods…) has a better sense of direction or knows how to read a map…
I make it back to the car, grabbed some water….had I not been completely out, I may have continued to torture myself and climb up Coyote Ridge, but instead just walked over to where I had seen a water stop for a race earlier.  Was curious what the race was, but it was gone.  In the end, the run was about 16.5 miles.  Not too bad, and maybe if I schedule an early oil change next week, I can get out and get in a 20 miler…..and see the rest of the North Face course.
Speaking of North Face, they posted the course tonight….luckily, it’s what I thought it would be based on some strava courses.  Which means after next week, I will have hopefully seen the entire thing.  Unfortunately, I’m a little worried.  I dont move fast enough to be afraid of the Ben Johnson downhill….and I need to be faster overall….hopefully the additional day of running will help with that….and maybe I’ll add another…..we’ll see.  Hopefully there’s enough time to get as good at the muir beach/stinson part as I am at Pirate’s Cover, Marincello, and Miwok….well, good for me that is….and, I guess it’s a good thing I know those trails well, based on the course notes I’ll be covering bob cat, miwok, and coming down old springs in the dark (with a headlamp) on race day….eeeek….I feel like I should practice that…..
I think that’s it for now….over and out…

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….

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…