How (not) To Run Sequoia 30K
1. Carry a course map.
2. Don't assume the runner in front of you knows the way.
3. Carry lots of water.
I had ample time to reflect on rules 1, 2, and 3 of trail running as I broke all three. Many familiar faces at the start of the Sequoia 30K-- Brian, Greg's trainer, Misha, Karen & Coach Ken, and Marshall Ulrich and his wife Heather Ulrich.
Marshall & Heather were super friendly. I said "I admired your book and your run--I bicycled cross country, and it was hard riding, much less running." And Marshall was impressed! By my bike ride! The man is an unbelievable LEGEND. In the book I'd wished there were more photos of Heather, and she is so sweet in person. If I ever run cross country, I want her on my support team. She, however, might not want to do it ever again.
Started off through a beautiful dirt trail, weaving in and out of shadow and light under a thick canopy of redwoods. The course was a "pink loop (20K) with an orange out and back section of 10K. Melissa and I were chatting, my foot caught on an invisible root and I fell heavily into her, almost taking her down too. She pushed me back upright. Sorry Melissa!
I was surprised by how quick the first aid station was (34 minutes), and got a quick refill from Kevin Luu. Then I was surprised how far the next aid station was. The As I was thinking about how I had to go to the bathroom, my foot caught on another invisible root and I wiped out. About a mile further, thinking how I needed to not think about the bathroom, I wiped out again. I was filthy, covered from head to toe in dirt, even up my stomach.
At the next aid station at the "out" of the orange spur, the volunteer picked up the cooler and gave me a makeshift shower. I was more than half way through, and after drinking several cups of craz cliff shot, felt great. Walked back up the hill to finish the pink loop.
As I got to the end of the orange loop, a runner started down the pink loop. As I caught her, she said "I'm not sure if this is the right way.". It wasn't. We backtracked along the pink loop. When the 50K runners (doing a second loop) saw us, we knew we'd gone the wrong, longer way, and the heart went out of me. I was thirsty.
When I got FINALLY to the aid station again, Catra Corbett lectured me for "not carrying a map" AND "don't follow the runner in front of you blindly". Thanks, Catra.
At the end, Scott Dunlap said I'd probably run closer to 35K or 37K. Doh! So Karen finished ahead of me.
Getting bonus miles in aside, it was a beautiful course.
Carry my hydration pack on hot days
Carry a map
Don't follow the runner in front of me blindly
The 10K spur out and back is not as scenic as the 20K course