The fog, the moss, and oh the views!

Another Saturday, another long run….or at least is how I plan on going into this race. Ultimately I signed up because I’m tired of running in the snow and the mud, so voila, MUC50K… hooray!

Jenny Capel and I carpooled over the hill and she books us beds in a hostel, I’ve only stayed in hostels in Europe and I’m not convinced but I’m in for adventures so I’ll give it a try.

Sunset view from Rodeo Beach right down the road from the Hostel

The Hostel turned out to be a great option, we were in a room with 6 beds, but only one other bed was occupied…by another 50K runner! So we were able to get a good night sleep listening to the frogs outside the window.

4:30 wake up alarm, gather all the things, find some breakfast down in the communal kitchen and head down to the start line.

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Start lines are always better with friends, but apparently I was still sleeping? (photo credit Tiffany Brown Anderson) We had some good Strider representation out on the course today! Jeff is out on the course planning to give a solid “race effort”, the Trent family was out in force, with John and Jill cheering people on and Annie and Katie running the 50K, and with Tiffany to cheer (and run the 25K) and to take some great photos! Robert, Jenny, and Stacie are all out for the 50 miler today as well.

The day started out with a steep uphill climb, as Jeff and I chit chat away while in the conga-line of people who’ve funneled down off the paved road onto the single track. I do love the early morning chit chat with friends, “where’s the day going to take us?” “what’s your strategy today?” “wow the views are ALREADY amazing!”

My strategy for the day…treat it like a mini Western States, I need to power hike the uphills and run anything that is flat or downhill. For those of you who know me, I rather hate running downhill, so I’m in for a self imposed challenging day.

Elevation chartAs we hit the top of the hill there is a beautiful sunrise poking out and I stop to take a quick picture. Above the marine layer and the first views of that big blue sky that awaits for us later in the day.

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This is where  Jeff and I part ways knowing that we each have our own goals in mind and we’ll see each other again at the finish line. Plus I know that his mom and uncle are out on the course somewhere and I look forward to seeing them!

First big downhill, and true to my self imposed torture, I run the whole thing praying that I’m not blowing my quads early in the game.

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The marine layer resting gently in (what I come to learn is) Tennessee Valley before making it’s way back out to sea. 

I come around to the first aid station, grab a snack and head out, too early for an extended stay. Plus since I’m trying to recreate WS I’m spending as little time in the aid stations as possible, if I don’t need anything, don’t linger. I thank the volunteers and bounce down the trail…only to be rewarded with more picture taking opportunities!

Cresting up another hill, I look down to see that the fog that was in the valley is being sucked back out to sea over the ridge for a mesmerizing view of the trail to come!

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View of the Golden Gate Bridge poking out of the fog with the city in the background.

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Down through some beautiful moss covered trees that give little windows out into the bay, being a desert dweller, I am LOVING all this green and moisture!

Time for some work to be done as we approach a giant downhill. True to my goals, I run the whole thing. The most frustrating thing is that typically when I am frustrated with the downhills I walk them, then I get passed by people who are seemingly gliding downhill and I get more frustrated. This time, I AM running down them and still getting passed by people gliding down them. It’s something that I will need to come to terms with that I am not a glider apparently.

Hit Tennessee Valley aid station, fill up on some fluids, put down an apple sauce and grab some snacks to go. Time to make up some time on the flats and the next climb. There are so many hikers, walkers, runners, and bikers out on these trails. It is truly inspiring to see so many people getting out and enjoying the gifts that mother nature has put out there for anyone to go and find!

Up a hill, down another frustrating downhill into Miir Beach AS, where Jeff’s mom and uncle are there with a homemade sign for the Striders and my heart explodes! I get a unabashed sweaty hug from Colleen and spend a little time snacking and chatting with her  and Jeff’s uncle Phillip about the day. She asks how I’m doing and I reply, that “I’m doing about as expected” and she says that is exactly what Jeff said when he came through earlier. That he “felt about how he’s supposed to” and that she didn’t quite understand what that meant he looked to be in good spirits. #ilovemypeople

I trot out of the aid station with high spirits and ready for another climb! I pair up with an older lady that is happy to do most of the talking. She introduces herself as Linda McFadden and *with the ultra community being such a small/tightknit group* knows some of the people that I know as well! We pass through some eucalyptus trees that smell oh so good! Up some switchbacks, walk/hiking along to the top of Dias Ridge…all the way talking my quads into the enviable crushing downhill that I will have to force myself to run.

Down and around back to Miir Beach AS, Colleen and Phillip are already gone and I know that Jeff is having a good day! Talk a little bit with the volunteers, and fill up on water and ready for some ice as the day is heating up and I know there is a big climb ahead of us.

Linda and I head out and ready to climb another giant hill up to Coyote Ridge still chatting away about racing and races, life and friendship, the sport of ultra running, and about the trails. Up to the top and ready for another downhill? Not really, but committed to finishing this thing strong. Linda takes a tumble, but luckily there were some hikers to help us get cleaned up and we make it back down to Tennessee Valley AS.

The evening before, John gave some great advice to take it easy on the climb out of Tennessee Valley the second time around and save your energy for the last downhill back to the finish line. Those words ringing in my head kept me a little even keeled because the climb out of the valley seemed pretty runable, but I kept to the power hike and made it to the top with relative ease. Thank goodness, as that downhill…oh that downhill on the other side.

Capture

I take a moment to take a selfie with the ocean and the city in the background….or just to rest the quads for a second. Technically not-not running, right?

Run down that last of the hills, bargaining with my quads that we’ll be done shortly, just keep at it. Coming around the last corner, true to form, Jill and John are there cheering people on and I head towards the finish line where Jeff and Tiffany are both there as well!

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Photo credit: Tiffany Brown Anderson

Not my fastest 50K, but I did achieve my goals for the day. Keep it at a pace that I feel I could sustain all day, night, and day…run the downhills…and not linger in the aid stations longer that I need to (while, of course, still being gracious to and grateful for the volunteers).

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Photo credit: Tiffany Brown Anderson

Thank you to my Strider family, and thanks for reading!

 

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