I got lots of sleep prior two nights and ate well day before Headlands Marathon (http://www.pctrailruns.com/event.aspx?dtid=5654) ( breakfast sandwich, Delfina broccoli raab, Chow summer pasta).
Ken & Mrs Coach Ken gave me ride, so plenty of time to pick up bib, take a few pre race snaps.
Ken trash talked in the car that even with me running an extra 1.2 at the beginning to make the 25 mile loop into the marathon, and him running the 50, he would beat me. NO WAY.
Started off down road at relaxed pace, right around the middle of the pace. Right when we got back to the parking lot, my right knee started painfully pulling where the tendon attached to the knee. It was so bad I even debated quitting. I tried to walk it off. It was a foggy moist day so I didn't have a good sense of the field, but as I walked up Hill 88, everyone passed me. Two blond guys with Texas race shirts visiting, who said "we hope to see some views". And when I thought everyone had passed, the last few people passed and I was truly alone in my pain.
After emerging from a battery, saw two runners coming towards me. "Are you lost" I asked. "No, we're waiting for you cause you're last". I felt doubly bad--they were waiting for me, and I wouldn't wait for them later. "I like being last, don't wait for me". Once more at the top they waited again, and I urged them not to wait.
Passed them both on Wolf Ridge, then picked off one more runner coming into Tennessee Valley aid station. Karen was there, along with Carol and Larry, PCTR stalwarts. I emptied pebbles out of my socks before starting the Pirates Cove loop.
My leg felt a little better, but still no oomph. Two bikers passed me up Coastal Trail with jerseys that said "Flour + Water", "Pizzeria Delfina". As I passed them at the top, I said "your outfits make me hungry, all the great restaurants!"
Slow descent through Pirates Coves, with a couple stops to adjust my shoelaces. It wasn't raining, but it was very moist and my shoes kept moving around. In the fireroad into Muir Beach I could see the people ahead of me coming back up. No sign of Ken or Mike Weston--they must have at least 20 minutes on me.
Coyote Ridge was a thick clay mud. When I tried to jog, my feet felt ilke they were five pounds heavier than usual. A half inch of mud was caked on. At the top, I knew that I'd done 3 of the 5 big climbs (hill 88, Pirates Cove, and Coyote Ridge) and started a brisk descent back to TV.
Walk up Marincello, and then I was in the hunt. ~12 miles left to go, and I felt good. I wished I had more Scoobies, but otherwise all systems were positive. On SCA I started to let myself go. I started passing people. Even with streams of runners coming back, I still wanted to go faster. Soared past some runners on the paved road to the Golden Gate Aid Station. And best of all, right as I was coming in, Coach Ken was leaving. The station was out of Coke and pretzels, so after filling my pack, I was quickly out.
And now the Mr. Jeckell side of me came out. Somehow, at the beginning of the race I'm pretty "ok" with being DFL. It gives me a feeling of control and power to know that I can only pass people. In the late stages of the race, I want to BEAT BEAT BEAT the people in front of me.
Going up SCA, I unexpectedly see Greg!!!! coming down! YAY!!! No time to chat much except "I've got to beat Ken and Chuck Wilson who are just ahead"! I pass Chuck Wilson (yay, I'm faster than a 62 year old running 50 miles) and Ken (who's slowed down). Then I just want to get faster. and faster.
Greg rabbits me down Rodeo Valley Lagoon, then turns off to get his car and meet me at the finish. I yield the track for a runner going up, then twist my ankle on a grass pot hole. OWWWW!!! I can still trot along though. Keep going…keep going…just like I have in training runs. I pass more people, but barring an exorcist like spin of my head, there's no way to see if they're 50 miles or marathoners. Then Greg passes me in the car, and then the FINISH!!!!
I thought I would break 6 hours. When I was feeling good pre race, I'd hoped to break 5 hours which would help me qualify for future races. When my leg was feeling bad, I let go of all time expectations and decided I was just previewing the Headlands 100 course. So I was pleased with a 5:48 trail marathon finish. The weather was cool and moist, which was good (never got too hot or thirst) and bad (trail slick and muddy).
Should have done different:
Wanted more Scoobie snacks
hat? I was cold in some middle sections
Snapped at Greg when he blocked trail--felt bad immediately.
Kept going even through bad patches
Thanked Aid station volunteers for volunteering
Said "Good job" to other runners when passing or crossing paths
Helped out of towners with race tips like "It's all downhill to the bridge (except for a few rollers)
Helped Ken refill his bottles at the 25 mile turnaround, on his way to a PR
Do I feel ready for Headlands 100? Yes! and no. I don't think one can ever feel "ready" for 100 miles. I know the course well. If I keep moving, I can stay ahead of the cutoffs. Taking off 12 minutes for the extra 1.2 miles, I did 5:35 for 25 miles, or 12:40 pace. I never felt like I was pushing super hard. If I do my first loop in 6, my second in 6:30, and my third in 8, I'll have 75 miles in 22 hours--jut in time for one more loop as the sun rises.
To get for HH:
Starbucks Frappucinos (multiple)
extra hat and gloves for each drop bag
Change of socks, shirt, shorts, shoes in case foggy wet.