Respect the Limp

Well, I can cross prolotherapy and ozone off my bucket list, and hopefully fix my knee once and for all.

After hurting my knee during this race, I’ve spent the past four months trying to heal via rest and PT, but it didn’t seem to be getting there. It got better, but was never really where I wanted it to be. At this point, the doctor thought the pain might be caused by a tear, so I had three options – prolotherapy and ozone, platelet injection, or surgery. I opted for an MRI so I’d know what I was really dealing with and learned that nothing was torn – yay!  Based on that, I was advised to go the less expensive, less painful, and less recovery time route of prolotherapy. And now my iPad recognizes prolotherapy as a word….haha. But, I digress…..

Prolotherapy is an injection of basically sugar water into an area with limited blood supply to cause irritation and increase the blood supply, thus improving the tissue’s ability to heal on its own. He also advised ozone…..some sort of oxygen substance.

Having had cortisone injections in the past, I was a little nervous about how it might feel after….cortisone was all well and good until the numbing agent wore off and then BAM – worst pain ever. However, I was assured this would be very different.

The procedure itself was pretty easy and painless for getting nine or so shots. The only ones that really hurt were the numbing ones. The first one caused some weird muscle reflex/jerking thing, which was odd and a little freaky. He asked what happened and I really wasn’t sure. Once I was numb, it wasn’t too bad….felt a lot like jello running through my veins if you can imagine. What that feels like.  And some pressure and a feeling of fullnessas it went on, but that’s about it. Three shots later and the inside was done. On to the front.  That part was….weird. Really weird.  And it was right on the side of the tibia, so I could feel most of it. Felt kind of like lava running down my bone. Ouch. But, luckily short lived. There was another shot that had to be jostled or something to get the muscle firing. Also weird. Then on to the quad.  Not bad at all once it was numb. And then it was over.

Knee felt full and was all sorts of oddly swollen. Almost like a smaller version of what happened at the race. Walking was interesting since half of my leg was numb…..doctor told me to respect the limp and go slow. Haha….after a stop at Walgreens to get the pain killers and Safeway to get some chicken – I was told to eat protein and not carbs, so my Friday night go-to of pasta was a no go, it was home to rest and let the healing begin.

Now, it looks far less deformed and is a little more achy.  And my leg muscles are softly quaking….it’s weird, but not awful and hopefully that means the stuff is working. I just hope it stops before bedtime.

For now, I’m excited to relax and watch the Red Sox, and sleep in for the first time in as long as I can remember. Though, I do wish I was heading out for a run or to volunteer tomorrow, I think I could use the rest.

Over and out….

Grizzly Peak Half

Another weekend, another race with Coastal Trails.  It was early, but I was excited for the race – whether I’m volunteering or running, Coastal always puts on a good race.  My knee still wasn’t where I wanted it to be and life, well, life continues to be assessed one day at a time. Based on that, it was safe to say I wasn’t in the physical or mental shape to complete a 50k.  But, I forced myself to get up and go to the race….I always have fun and I didn’t really care what distance I did, it was all about getting out there.

I managed to get to the start with minimal issues. I’m pretty sure the gps was confused with all of the highway over passes, but I made it.  I parked and checked in with no problem.  I picked up my 50k bib and changed it to the 30k.  While I hadn’t been specifically told not to run, I figured 30+ miles on a knee that was MRI’d last night wasn’t the best decision. It was colder than I had anticipated, so I took my shirt and bib and hunkered down in the car for a bit.  Got my shoes and ankle brace on, and all of my stuff out – gloves, headphones, phone, etc. and packed up my pack.  Didn’t grab any food….that would have been far too easy.
I decided to swing by the bathroom and then come back to my car, grab my stuff, and head out for the run.  I had twenty minutes….should be fine, right.  The line did move quickly, and I was back at my car with about three minutes to spare. However, either my gps clock was off or the race started early….I was maybe thirty seconds from the start and I heard Wendell’s telltale count down ending at ‘1’.  The race had begun!  Luckily, I was close and not too far behind. I also knew with the knee injury, I’d be walking a lot.
I had come out to preview the course twice, but I really didn’t recognize the first few miles.  I think I was still settling in from being late and mentally preparing myself to run. It was a lot of gentile up, if I recall correctly….but, I made it to the golf course before I knew it and was able to grab some electrolyte drink.  Of course I was feeling like my sugar was low on the day I forgot to bring gu.  But, the electrolytes did the trick and I was off….I jogged a lot more than I thought I would, down Selby, to Redwood, to Tower…..how quickly I had learned the names of new trails and gotten used to the rolling hills. I jogged most of redwood and walked up tower pretty easily.  I was in a groove and feeling alright. Knee was a little sore, so I had 95% decided I would stop at the half – probably a good idea to stick to that distance until my knee and life are resolved.
I got to the top of tower and turned down grizzly peak….at some point, I started passing people. I never pass anyone….but it was fun to be with other runners – say hello, or good morning, or nice job.  I was also surprised that I knew where I was going, after only a few trips to these trails. After grizzly peak, it was more rolling hills and a really steep, rocky descent.  There were so many times I was sure I was going to tumble to the bottom, but I made it. I had a guy pass me and say, ‘these stones suck’, why yes they do, my friend. Then there was a guy coming up the hill towards me…all I could think was, please let this man be looking for the quickest way back – don’t tell me I have to climb up this too. No such luck…..the closer I got to the bottom, the more people that were coming up.
Just before I got to the bottom, I had a guy tell me I was at the bottom – thank god….my knee did not enjoy that. I stopped at the aid station to grab some more electrolytes and was off up the hill, and down the hill, and up, and down.  Lots of rolling….it almost felt like I couldn’t settle in and I thought I preferred the somewhat more predictable, longer hills of the headlands, but looking at Strava later, I ran pretty well, so, I’ll take them.
The rollers ended on the fire road I ran with Ksenya and Arielle last weekend, so I felt good about that and was able to run most of it. Walk the uphill, jog down, became my mantra. The views were amazing and it was a nice ride for the most part. Close to the aid station I came up on another runner who had fallen.  A lot of people had stopped to check on her and help her up….trail running is such a community. It seemed like she was more starteled than hurt, and I was happy for her when I saw her blow by the finish line later to start her second lap.
I got back to the aid station and grabbed a hammer gel – yay, they had vanilla!  I didn’t eat all of it, but I definitely felt like I had ingested a bunch of frosting…..perhaps the caffeine in gu mellows that piece out. Haha. Either way, I began making my way up the steep stone hill….I was glad for two thing – one, the other runners I was with and two, the fact that I didn’t have to climb up this again. And I guess three, this was the last big climb in the race.
I got to the top, and from that point, it was pretty much down hill to the finish – maybe four miles or so…..a bit of rolling, but then, I decided if i was doing the half, this course was mine.  From there, I was able to run down most of grizzly peak, other than jumping out of the way of some horses, until I got to the golf course aid station.  Stopped to grab some more electrolytes and off I went. Past the golf course, past the bench I had lunch on last weekend, across a street…..passed a guy, back into the woods. At that point, it had to be about a mile back I and I went for it….one of my fastest trail miles to date….other than that moment where I thought I would bite it. Haha. Only funny because I didnt.  Around the corner, and to the finish.
I got my medal and found someone to change my distance from the 30k to the half, chatted with some of the other finishers, and grabbed a recovery beer while I waited for the sausages that had just started grilling.  While I waited, I met a guy who’d done this as his first half (doozy course for the first time) and was waiting for his wife to finish hers.  It seemed as though he has caught the bug and will do more races in the future.
I enjoyed the sun and got my sausage – it was delicious.  Great time, great race, kudos Coastal Trails, Wendell, and volunteers, for such a great race.
Until next time!

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….

Animal-Palooza

I love trail running….always  an adventure. I set out today to get in 25 miles, as a warm-up for my second 50k next weekend. Adrienne was planning to join me for the first ten or so through pirate’s cove.

We set out towards the first hill to Pirate’s Cove, and come across a group of people – mainly kids, looking at something in a meadow.  We slow down and Adrienne asks if it’s a coyote…the group told us there was a baby.  As they’re oohing and ahhing over its cuteness, my first question was – where’s mom….but then I figured, it was a coyote (not terribly dangerous) and I was pretty sure I could outrun at least one person in the mass of people…haha. It was pretty cute and seemed pretty oblivious to the fact that anyone was watching it.

Coming through Pirate’s cove was more gnarly than I remember, but then again, I haven’t been there since the end of August. It was pretty foggy, but still a great view.  We descended down the massive hill into Muir Beach, and at the bottom, we had a couple of hikers with dogs tell us they ran into a women in front of us that had seen a large mountain lion, with pointy black ears.  Awesome…exactly what I want to find on the trail. But, since it sounded like it was headed in the direction we came from, we figured we’d head up the route we planned.

We start up Middle Green Gulch, and at some point come across somewhat fresh mountain lion poo…we hope it’s from when it was heading away from us, and decide if we keep talking, we’ll scare it away if there is anything there. We go up a little further, and find pee….at that point, I’m walking up the trail with my arms above my head, yelling “roar”, “roar”.  Of course we’re on a brush-filled, pretty much single track, trail.  I’m just waiting for something to jump out and eat me. I don’t think I’ve ever been more relieved to be at the top of a hill.

As we made our way back down to Tennessee Valley, we ran into a couple with their dogs, we warned them about the mountain lion, and they told us about one they had seen too. They did tell us that the thing with pointy black ears was a bob cat, because they have pointy black ears. That’s relieving….

As we ran down the last bit of trail, we heard some god-awful animal noises…we of course asked what it was, and someone passing by told us it was a mountain lion eating someone. Really?? Who says that??

We get back, Adrienne heads off on her way, and I head out towards fox trail.  I end up coming back to fill my water, but got a glimpse of the steepness I will encounter next week. Then I head over towards the visitor’s center….having decided to stay in populated areas for the rest of the day.  At that point, I was feeling pretty tired….being sick all week was starting to set in.  I got to the top of marincello and made my way down bobcat.  I stopped for a few minutes to enjoy the air-show and get some photos of the blue angels as they popped up above the hills.  Half way down bobcat, my lungs started to burn….kind of like a cramp, but more of a burn. Stupid congestion…..but I had to get to 20, or I really wouldn’t be able to do the race next weekend.

I crawled up miwok, noticing all of the people perched on the peaks watching the air show.  At this point, I was pretty much walking, but was glad for the downhill brought by Old Springs.  I was able to pick up the pace, but the lungs were still burning.  At some point, I looked up and saw something up on the ridge above me….at first I thought maybe a person, but then I realized it was an animal. My first thought was coyote, but it was pacing and I found out later that coyotes don’t pace….only mountain lions do.  My first thought was to bomb down the hill as fast as possible, but then I realized I was sick, and I’d probably fall…and if whatever it was did see me running, it might decide to chase me.  So I backed away….and kept turning around. Watching it pace…..a mile from Tennessee Valley….a mile never seemed so far away.

At one point there were four people coming up the trail towards me….I warned them about what I thought was the coyote, and one of the guys asks, “only one”?  Ummm….yeah….I don’t know, I didn’t stop and ask his party size.

I got down and got the rest of my 20 miles in….I’m still concerned about next week’s race, but, I did get to the 20.  Hopefully I’ll be feeling better and have more energy in another week. I need that to go well.

Once I began the drive home, I thought the adventure was over.  But, not yet…..I drive over the bridge and end up pretty much in gridlock….but then my lane and the one to the left were moving….the one on the right – pretty much at a standstill. As I near the end of the bridge, I see the issue….more deer on the bridge?  Nope.  A super slow car?  Thought so, but no.  Wait for it…..there’s someone riding a bike….across the bridge…..in the traffic lane. Seriously??  I mean, I’ve done some stupid stuff on my bike and ended up places I shouldn’t. But how do you mess that up?  How do you end up on 101?

I continue making my way into the city, now stuck in some air show traffic, when I notice there’s still a United 737 flying through the bay, putting on a show as best as it can. Then I look over  to the other side of the road and realize there are cars pulled off the road, on the approach to the bridge, so the people could get out and watch the united plane….I’m imagining how the conversation in that car went….’honey, honey, pull over on 101 so we can get out and watch the 737, because, well, we can’t see that at the airport’.

Then, when I’m finally on divisidero, heading home….and it’s bumper to bumper traffic all the way up.  Of course, the car doesn’t like that and is all sorts of beeping at me. Transmission hot….speed up. Awesome….ok car, I know you don’t like this….I don’t like this, but unless you’re going to turbo charge through the SUV in front of us, you’re just going to have to deal.

And….finally home.  Showered, fed, and ready to enjoy some wine. Over and out until next time…..

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….

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…

Weekend Adventures

Oh, what a weekend….maybe the most adventurous in awhile. A lot of fun, but not the most restful…haha.

Saturday, I did my last long run before the north face marathon. And, I might be in trouble (I only made it to 15 miles…maybe 15), but it’s such an adventure every time I’m out there.  Saturday I had planned to run to the lighthouse, back to the car, and then do another loop in a different direction. But, I couldn’t figure out how to run to the lighthouse…why would the trail be labeled on the map?  So, I went a different route, and ended up finding one of the trails on the race course, so I ran Alta until it ended, and then all the way to the starting end. And, found several places where the trail went off state land and onto private land. Which you were allowed to cross, as long as you stayed on the path, kept your dog on a leash, and cleaned up after your dog. The benefit to running through the trailhead was that there was a map, so I figured out how I would get back to the car…what fun is simply going back the way you came?

So I planned a new route…Alta to the end, pick up SCA, then the costal trail back to the visitor’s center.  Then I could assess the distance and decide if I needed another loop on one of the closer trails. Of course, nothing goes according to plan….especially when it comes to trail running. So I’m running along, feeling great, enjoying the awesome views of the SCA trail (single lane trail on the side of a mountain), when I see it…….

A kitty….a rather large, muscular, kitty. Crossing the trail and running up the hill. Too big to be a bob cat….which leaves one option. Yup, definitely a mountain lion. And, as I later found out, there is one living in that area, and they’re warning pets and small children to stay away….

Good times. Luckily, I had plan B – there was another trail a bit back that would take me to the trail I started on that morning, thus taking me back to my car. So, I backtracked. And got back…but then it was cold, and I was stiff, and it was windy. I got back to the visitor’s center and actually went inside, and….it’s pretty cool. Half store and half museum, lots of cool stuff to look at. And a good place to thaw out. Of course, then I didn’t want to run anymore….but I made myself walk a few miles to get them and some more time in. Saw the hostel and the art center…cool to see, but still cold, so I called it a day. Despite the race….I decided that I was doing it (and trail running) to have fun. So, I’m going to have fun…have an adventure…and hopefully finish. If not, well I’m the first to admit that I probably bit off more than I could chew with this. And I’m still up for next year….50 miles would be cool, right??

We had a somewhat low key night….friends over for dinner….cookie baking….sent a pizza back for the first time in my life. Let me back up, we ordered pizza from Paxtis, the only place that delivers to us…not the first time, and probably not the last. We get the pizza an hour later….and one of them looks like it’s been tipped over. The other, well, it looks like its been kicked down a few flights of stairs. So, I call them…not sure what I’m hoping to get, because this has never happened before. They were very nice, and offered to bring us new pizza. An hour later, we had decent looking pizza to eat. Great customer service. And lunch for the rest of the week.

Today we went on another hike, to further break in our boots for Everest. I took Brian and one of our friends on the trail I ran a few weeks ago. Great views of the bridge, and of course we went off the main trail and found a bunch of bunkers in the hillside. Some connected underground. Sadly, they were all covered in graffiti and full of garbage. But, still really cool to see. I love the headlands…so much cool stuff to see.  I also ran into one of my former classmates…cool to see him too.

I can’t believe the weekend is almost over…and I’m back to the craziness. Is it December yet?  Really, is it mid December yet?  Then school will be over too. I can’t wait for graduation. Really, I can’t wait for Black Friday. I definitely had nightmares both nights this weekend….that I hadn’t set the alarm, and was late for work/to deal with whatever crazy had come up now. Just like I used to dream about new flow and inventory when I was an assistant manager in college…glad to see some things never change. Haha….it will all be over soon.

Until next time….over and out.