Rodeo Beach 20K
PCTR Course Description
I was a little apprehensive about this run. Not because of my foot, which is fine, but because I hadn't really run much more than 7 miles since I started up again. However, seeing as how I am running in Spain in a week (Whoo-Hoo!!!) and I don't want to shame the trail runners of the US, I wanted to get some mileage in and assess what next weekend would look like.
Another interesting part of yesterday was my pre-race breakfast. Normally I am a "small bowl of oatmeal" fanatic, but since I was out of oatmeal and too lazy to go to the store Friday afternoon, I had a spicy tamal for breakfast. This could have been a bad move on several fronts-- new food, spicy-- all kinds of things could have gone wrong. However, it was what I had.
Driving to Rodeo Beach was a treat by itself. The race starts at Rodeo Beach, in the Marin Headlands, right by the water. As you can see from the picture, the weather was spectacular. Clear and sunny-- not a cloud in the sky!
The course heads straight up the hill, as you can see in yesterday's posting. I tried hard to hold myself back and not take off simply out of the excitement of actually being in a race again. One of the reasons I was so happy with my race at Skyline to the Sea (until I fell) was that I had managed to hold myself back in the beginning of the race and was feeling great after 20 miles. My goal today was to go out easy and then try to be steady throughout the whole race.
Heading up the hill, I talked for a while with Rick. This is probably the only race in my whole life I will be able to say that I ran with Rick for a bit. He was out just for a fun run with some friends, so he wasn't trying to stick with the 50K leaders. Rick is a very fast local ultrarunner who has had an amazing year with a TON of improvement. Plus, he's a really nice person. After a while, he decided to catch up on the gossip his friends were dishing out ahead of us and he took off.
The trail leads up Coastal for while before heading towards Tennessee Valley on Old Springs trail. This is one of my favorite trails in Marin-- running this direction at least. The trail is a nice, gradual downhill that one can practice speed without feeling out of control, and I'm not going to lie to you-- I'm still feeling a bit worried about falling.
After hitting the aid station at Tennessee Valley, the trail led up Marincello Road. I hate running this section. It's only a mile and a half, and it's not really steep uphill, but it's continuous and seems to go on and on. Yesterday I don't know what happened though-- I just decided I would be slow and steady and I ran the entire hill! I didn't break any speed records, but I felt so much stronger than I thought I would!
I will say this: the views from Marincello Road are rather lovely. As we were running, it was possible to see Tiburon, Sausalito, the Richmond Bridge and probably Mt. Diablo if the visibility was a little better. Not so bad--even if the climb is irritating.
After getting to the top of Marincello, the race took two trails that just might have made Victoria's "Must-See" list for Bay Area trails. Alta trail, from which the top picture is taken, was beautiful, as was the SCA trail. Unfortunately I was not paying much attention to the effect of the light, and so the pictures do not even remotely do justice to these trails. Coming round a curve to see the tips of the Golden Gate Bridge peeking out, and then running along a ridge with the Golden Gate Bridge beside you and the rest of the Bay beyond? Let's just say I was having a moment of smugness-- especially since it was sunny and the middle of December. If it's nice on Tuesday I might go back with my camera and try to snap some better pics.
Just after that, we hit the second aid station and I realized that I only had about 3.5 miles left, and I was feeling MUCH better than I thought I would, and so I pushed it a bit back to the finish line--and still felt great!
All in all, a great race. I have extolled the fabulous qualities of the race directors before (Yay Sarah and Wendell!)-- they put on beautiful races with extremely friendly people. Can't wait to get back from Spain and plan my next few races!