Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Rodeo Valley Half Marathon - Like a Dream

Inside Trail Rodeo Valley Trail Half Marathon, Saturday March 16

Distance: 13.1 miles

Time: 2:57:38

The race went by like a (literal) dream.

Pre-race: I arrived back at my place in SF around 4 AM, and set my alarm for 7:30 AM. Surprisingly, I woke up with no trouble, got dressed, and drove back to Rodeo Beach for the 8:45 half marathon spot. No trouble parking. When I checked in, Janeth switched me down to the half marathon distance by writing on my 50K bib. There was an issue with bathroom lines, so the race started ~10 minutes late. There was time to catch up with Rosie (running the 30K), and some joke around pictures with Karen. I hadn't showered as there was only a ~5 hour gap between finishing one half marathon and starting the next.

Correction: the prior night I'd only run a 20K. We made up the mile by starting up Hill 88 in a thick fog, and turning around Janeth. As I started up the hill, it was impossible for me to force my legs into a jog. I walked up the hill, and fell into step with a new friend from the prior night, Tauyna. She was even crazier than me, and had run til after sunrise(!) and then slept in her car at the start (!!!) to help train for Zion 100. 

On the descent I felt better, and plodded along Bunker Road to Coastal Trail in a relentless forward jog. However I walked almost all of Coastal Trail up to Conzelman, saying encouraging words as various green clad runners passed me. 

"At least you're not on the couch" - photographer chiding me as I refused to break into a run as I  plodded uphill into Conzelman road aid station. "C'mon, can't you run a little bit for the photo?" he asked. Me: I ran a half marathon yesterday, I'm NOT RUNNING RIGHT NOW, OK???

Then the fog started to lift, and I had a gorgeous downhill on Marincello. Karen, Coach Ken, Catra & Truman (Catra's dog) were ably staffing the Tennesee Valley Aid Station. I'd listened to Paul Oakenfold's "Goa Mix", the perfect sountdrack to my sleep deprived state. The whole race seemed like a dream -- a beautiful dream of hills and trails and pretzels.

On the last climb up Wolf Ridge, my competitive spirit reignited. I passed a few runners into the finish, even holding off a surge from a 30ker. [this isn't much of an accomplishment as he'd run 5 more miles than me with only ~20 minutes advantage]

Things I did well:
Said thank you to volunteers
Said encouraging words to fellow runners
Ran on tired, sleep deprived state

Things to improve on:
I got a bit hot in my long sleeve, but the weather could have gone either way.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Rodeo Vally 20K [ night edition]

~ 3 hours, 12 miles. 

Coach Ken and his wife, "Mrs Coach Ken" organized a night run clinic to preview the Rodeo Valley 30K course the next day. Of course, it wasn't gonna be straightforward. 

1) The official course was run "backwards" -- instead of starting up Hill 88 and contouring around Alta, and descending on Coastal Trail to finish on Coastal Trail, the day run would finish DOWN Hill 88, a quad killer.

2) Karen wanted to lead the 8K route. 

3) The 10K loop [up Miwok, down Pirates Cove], even in perfect daylight conditions, usually takes me ~90- 100 minutes. A PR for me on the 30K course is ~4 hours. At night, I budgeted an extra hour (or two).

4) And I was registered to run the official 50K the next day! 

5) With an 11 pm course, and 6 hours to run 30K, something had to give…

6) I volunteered to lead a "20K" group, cutting out the difficult Pirates Cove loop.

7) I dropped down to the half marathon in the official race on Saturday. 

We gathered in the dark at Rodeo Valley with some excitement and nervousness. CK gave a ~30 minute lecture on night running, and then we were off, up Hill 88 to Wolf Ridge to Old Springs! Seeeing the multiple headlamps as runners snaked up Hill 88 over the sound of crashing waves was a definite thrill. A bunch of party-goers [separate from us] were hanging out at Battery Townsley.  

At Tennesse Valley, it was decision time. Earlier, we'd counted out for 8Kers, 20Kers (with me) and 30Kers. There were 21!! intrepid 30K'ers, ~5 8 Kers, and 2! 20Kers. Periodically, I'd get Yoko, my 20Ker, to do a quick count off with me. TV was the last point where the 20Kers & 30Kers could diverge. Yoko & I waited, and Angela & Doug, a married couple, split off.

The hike up Marincello was beautiful -- it was a still night, with no fog or wind, only the sight of glittering houseboats down in Sausalito bay. Though I was "leading", the other three were running up the hill as I walked. They stopped to light up a herd of grazing deer in the dark. 

At the top of Marincello, I started running, and then I was in the lead. Down Marincello, up Alta. At Rodeo Valley/SCA split I asked "Do you want to do the easy way, down Rodeo Valley Fire Trail, or a more technical, challenging way around SCA?" Surprisingly, they chose SCA. Carefully we ran the single track, though I slowed to a walk in the most technical spots. 

It was so much fun to cruise in the dark. When I thought the course was even enough, I'd turn off my headlamp and run only with the lights behind me & the stars above. The Golden Gate Bridge glittered red, with an occasional car passing over the span. 

All too quickly we were back at Rodeo Valley around 3 AM.