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. 

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