Saturday, January 28, 2012

Coastal Trail Runs Steep Ravine 30k

We started on road and had a few road crossings before we hit the trail.

There was so much beautiful forest like this. We ran along a creek for a while, this was the first of the two major climbs. There was a lot of ducking under trees like the one above.
There were a lot of bridges like this. The sign is an advisory that there is a 10 ft ladder .8 miles ahead. We crossed a lot of these sort of bridges, and every now and then there would be a special bridge that would have missing boards and totally freak me out. We also learned if there's a sign that says "No Horses", and you both run across the bridge at the same time, it bounces up and down wildly and makes you freak out and scream.

There were a lot of steps, these are stone, some were wood.
Above is the awesome ladder!
eventually you come out of the woods to the first aid station. You are mostly downhill or flat from here to the second major climb.

So this is how I carried one water and one Gatorade bottle. It worked out perfectly during the race. The only noticeable negative thing is that after a while they got heavy. After 4 hrs, my left side was shot from my neck, shoulder, arm, and hand. It wasn't' painful, just sore. More on the hand later.....
We went down those switchbacks, but not up them.
Almost to the turn around at Muir Beach.

Muir Beach aid station, one I will remember for the rest of my trail running life. Do you remember which aid station of which race you ate your first salty potato?? Life changing : )
this pic is for NTL....there was a lot of mud, but the good kind, not Diablo mud. It was nice and splashy and fun to run through!
Ok, so now we have started the last brutal climb back up to Cardiac aid station.

This was the most technical trail we have ever ran during a race. Between the roots, stone stairs, wood stairs, bridges, ladder, mud...
and then there were sections of perfectly smooth, soft, wide, tree covered trail
We have just went through the last aid station before the finish, now it's all down hill to the finish, oh...except for Insult Hill.
We could not have had a better day or better conditions, it was just amazing out there!

This is my freaked out downhill running face.
So many stairs and my knees no longer wanted to bend. I was yelling, hooting, and hollering my way down these, and there were many many many more than what you see here.
We are cresting the last hill, we finish at Stinson Beach down there.
And now we are obviously finished, I'm trying to get the white patches of dried salt to show on camera, the blotchy white skin is salt.
and this is me tonight giving my knees some love.
And that is what happens to your hand when you make it carry 2 water bottles for 18 miles. My hand felt tired from gripping the straps while we were running, but I had no idea anything was going on on the back of my hand. You can't tell there's a swollen circle under that bruise, but it's there.

This course is tough!! The elevation is insane, both the inclines and declines are very tough. The stairs....make it even tougher. The trail varies from fire road, to very rocky single track, to very rooty single track, to very muddy single track, to very narrow (like one foot at a time) single track.

This course is stunningly beautiful!! Whether you are high in the exposed grass land w/ocean and Mt views, or running under the canopy of Redwoods along a stream and fern covered rock walls, it is just stunning. The Marin Headlands and Mt Tamalpais have such a vast trail system that is so varied in terrain. It really is a special place.

Reasons not to run this course - if you have bad knees, ankles, or a stairs phobia, this is not the trail for you. If you are prone to falling, not for you. Not only is there more than the usual amount of opportunities to fall, but because this could be a dangerous course to fall off the trail on. If you are a trail runner who likes to be out there alone, this is not the race for you. There are several out and back sections, plus shared parts of the course. We started with the 50kers, but the full and half marathon and 7 milers all started after us. This meant a lot of tree hugging on the narrow single track to let the fast leaders of each of the other distances pass. It also meant tree hugging when they were heading back to the finish and we were heading out still. The section of trail that is closest to Muir Woods had quite a few hikers on it, many foreign visitors who were a bit annoyed w/being asked to let runners pass. Also, the upper Dipsea trail had many hikers as well. I would suspect this was due to the strange winter we are having and had it not been sunny blue skies and in the 60's there would not have been nearly the amount of people out on the trails that there was today, so it's probably not normally an issue.

The Coastal trail running crowd is, in my opinion which means nothing, a much more beastly group than most. Everyone looked hard core today, and they were. For me, that was a bit intimidating. It was a bit mentally tough for me to know that while we were making way better time than I had hoped for, we seemed to be either DL (dead last) or 2cd to DL the entire time. There were not many hikers that we saw (doing the race, anyway), mostly all serious runners. So depending on what sort of crowd you are comfortable's something to consider. I will say everyone was very friendly and willing to chat if you started a conversation.

And that about wraps it up. It was indeed an epic day out there. I will start uploading the rest of the beautiful pictures here as soon as I hit "publish post".

I think I ate a whole Potato

We are home safe and sound.

4:36:53 (according to the video as we passed the clock, I forgot to start my watch)

All goals met. We did finish, we did have fun, we didn't get hurt, or fall even. I did run w/2 handhelds and the camera (pictures will be posted tonight), and I did eat solid food. And I got plenty muddy, though that was not a stated goal. And we kept it under 5 hrs, which was also not a stated goal, but after seeing this new course I had started thinking we were looking closer to 6 I am thrilled with anything starting with a 4!!

From today forward I will refer to boiled chunks of potato dipped into a bowl of salt simply as Trail Manna. I get it now!! I have always thought this sounded so disgusting, but now I get it. At the first aid station I had just a slice of orange. We had been climbing, it was at the top of the first major climb, and my stomach was not wanting food...but I got an orange in. Next stop was just over mid way at Muir Beach, in the flat section on the elevation map. I shoved in 2 chunks of potato, and then the volunteer said "You really should dip that in the salt bowl".....what is this salt bowl you speak of?? OOHHH my.......pretty sure I ate a whole potato dipped in salt, then a square of PB and J. Half way up the final climb I was slowing down, Brian offered me a pack of fruit snacks and we split it. Next up we were back at the top of Cardiac, ready to start the EPIC decent to the finish. At this aid station I had....more amazing salty potato!! I have to say also that I drank a ton and refilled at the 3 stations. I ended this one looking like a crusty pillar of salt : ) and more about the actual trail

Friday, January 27, 2012

Anyone Have Some Suction Cups We Could Borrow??

Steep Ravine.
Tomorrow, 8 a.m.
Is it just me, or does this new course seem to defy the human limits?? I mean look at the decent on the top of the first hill.....and the massive nearly straight downhill on the second hill???? Really???
3470 ft of elevation gain.
This is going to be fun!!

Race Recon

Confession....when it comes to races......I am nosey!!
Some of you already know this, the rest of you will now be hiding your bib numbers in your pictures : )

Yes, I am that person. If I know you and know you are running a race, I will look up your results...and your pictures. I live vicariously through your races : )

I am also that person who, when a RD lists the entrants of an upcoming race, will do recon on the other ladies in my age division. I know, I'm a total race nerd.

So here's the dl on my division for tomorrows 30k. There are 8 of us in the 30-39 division. I ran 5 of the other ladies names through Athlinks. I will finish 8th out of 8. All of the 5 have run multiple ultras, either placing top 10 overall or first in AD many times, and there's even a few 100 milers in there.

But it's good to know this now. I can take finishing in the top half of AD off the goal list. : )

Another you remember about a month or so ago we went to Stinson and hiked up Matt Davis Trail and back down to see the part of the course that made up the last few miles of the run??

We took a look at the course map 2 days has significantly changed. No Matt Davis. We head out on Dipsea, and come back on Dipsea. I'm a little bummed about not running Matt Davis...I had been telling myself if I just hold on through 14 miles,I know how stunning those last 4 are. But the truth is, there's not a bad view, or an ugly section anywhere near this course, and it's still going to be incredible.

Goals for tomorrow -
1) finish
2)have fun
3)eat solid food at each aid station - meaning substantial food, i.e. potatoes, sandwich bits, chips...not sports beans and gummy bears. Not because it will necessarily be necessary, but because I need to start making myself do it in prep for 50k.
4)experiment w/running w/2 handhelds rather than wearing a fuel belt. (not sure how to carry 2 handhelds and a camera...have to figure that out)
5)Don't get hurt, although falling is fine, probably non optional.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Forbes Top 10 Marathons Worth Traveling For....

Here is an excerpt from:

Napa Valley Marathon

Winding through Napa Valley along the legendary Silverado Trail, you’ll pass vineyards and gorgeous scenery with thoughts of locally harvested wine as your racing reward. Race day: March 4, 2012.

Top 10 Marathons Worth Traveling For

If you’re going to set a big goal like running a marathon, you might as well make it as easy to achieve as possible. And anything you can do to ensure the 26.2-mile run is as painless as possible is a smart tactic. So why run through the ho-hum streets of your hometown when you can race through stunning scenery in a far-flung locale? As top marathon season begins in just a few weeks, consider this list of the world’s best marathon locations to inspire you to lace up and get training:

Napa Valley Marathon in Calistoga, Calif.

Race day: March 4, 2012

With a smaller field than most—organizers accept only 2,300 racers annually—the Napa Valley Marathon allows runners some elbowroom. The route runs along the Silverado Trail on the east side of the valley, and winds south from Calistoga down to Napa. The scenery? It’s simply stunning, with views of the valley, fruit trees and dormant vineyards flanked with gold-colored mustard flowers. Except for the last stretch into Napa, this is a rural race—just you, the road and wine country.

I would have to agree!! I can't wait to run it again. Besides the beauty of the course, the limited size allows the organizers to completely spoil it's runners! Just a bit over a month to go.....

Monday, January 23, 2012

Do You Know How Happy This Makes Me?

Concord, CA (94520) Weather

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Sunday, January 22, 2012

An Eyebrow Stealing Long Run

(I really do listen to what you guys are suggestion/mentioning...I am working on eating more while steps. Working up to pbj's and boiled potatoes. Considering I dont' like to eat anything other than Sportsbeans during long runs, the below picture looks like a Sizzler Buffet to me)

Yesterdays long run made me even more grateful for the amazing run we had on Monday. If every long run went like yesterdays, we never would have gotten to marathon #1!!
We had 16 on the sched, setting us up perfectly for next weekends 18 at Steep Ravine. We were in a waiting game w/the weather, but we were supposed to have an opening of a few hours, so after the rain seemed to have let up, we were on the trail running at 10:30, a.m. I finished running at 7:30...9 hrs later.

It went a like this...running, running....running straight into heavy wind, running in rain, getting cold, no wind, getting hot, running into wind again. Executive decision made to change our route from loop plus 2 really exposed out and back sections to the loop twice. It's more sheltered as its lined w/trees and in a circle so you aren't running straight into the wind the whole time.

This meant that at the half way point we would be passing the car...never a good thing. I suggested we veer off onto a trail just short of the car that would go to a rock maze hidden at the bottom of a crater, let the kids look around for a minute, and then head back out, doing the loop in reverse. This would avoid making visual contact w/the car, give the kids a break half way, and be a nice treat.Maybe 50 ft into the trail we had a situation. Not much you can do to keep pushing when the tires will no longer turn. I love mud.....but this had me so frustrated!! We had to carry the bikes back to the paved trail, go back and carry the jogger out, too. We spent a lot of time trying to scrape the mud off, but Diablo mud really is "Diablo" like in nature. It just wasn't working. I sent the kids down the trail and down the street to their first grade teachers house to ask if we could use their hose. She wasn't home, so her husband opens the door to find 3 muddy kids asking to use his hose. Thankfully he said yes and we got everything down the street to the teachers house and sprayed everything down.

So now we are all wet, and it's windy again, and it's raining...again. And I know the car is just around the corner just out of site. Brian tried hard to fight the pull of the car. We got back on the trail and he pointed the jogger in the right direction, back the 8 miles we had just came. He told the kids they were facing the wrong way, "we're heading this way, lets go, turn your bikes around". Keep in mind we were at an hour and 30 when we got to the mud. Now were almost 2:30 into this thing and have another hour 30 to go. So while they were pointed towards 8 miles, I headed out the opposite direction, towards the car : )

I'm saving all my crazy for Diablo in April. I love to be all hard core, run in the cold and rain, lather up in mud....I love it. But I have to be smart in how we go about training for this thing. No sense getting sick and being a glutton for punishment now. I am looking at it as a few months of hard work and smart decisions to get to the starting line, having earned the right to spend one glorious 10 hour day cold, running in the rain, rolling in the mud, and skipping through the creeks, stopping at random forest buffets along the way.

So, we came home, and the day went on w/Bubba down at the school again, trying to learn to ride his bike....he is the biggest chicken liver ever. He has the balancing down, but jumps off the bike after a few seconds on his own.

At 6 I got on the treadmill and ran...and ran....and ran...after about 45 minutes I didnt' hate it as much. That timing probably lined up w/Run DMC's Walk This Way on the ipod. Even hating it, it was better than the mornings run!! There is something wonderfully gross about running inside a warm house and sweating buckets. My sweat towel apparently has an eyebrow obsession as it stole mine right off my face. After 1:30 I was done, 16 miles for the day....not the way I have planned or wanted, but done non the less.