Sunday, March 15, 2009
Mt. Tam-- to the top!
(Ross Commons-Phoenix Lake- Eldridge Grade)
This was rather a last-minute run. I decided Saturday morning that I would run Mt. Tam in preparation for Pirates' Cove next weekend. You see, one must run Marincello Road TWICE during Pirates' Cove. Marincello Road is one of the most irritating sections of the race because it's completely runnable, but it's continuous uphill. I can appreciate Redwood's French trail, because there are sections that are just impossible for us mortals to run, and so one feels perfectly justified in walking. Marincello? Not a chance. To this end, I decided to run Mt. Tam following Eldridge Grade all the way up.
As I've said before, Eldridge Grade is somewhat of a freeway up to the top of Mt. Tam. It's a fire road and tons of mountain bikers use it (flat enough to bike!), which can detract from the running experience (or add to it, depending on your appreciation for spandex-clad bikers). There are definitely ways of finding more single-track routes to the top, but I didn't want to have to think about directions, and I wanted to practice slow, gradual uphill. The other benefit to Eldridge is the constant support of hikers who see you *running* the route they are walking. At least 3 different groups of people expressed admiration as I ran by, and that's always a mood-lifter.
I had much chance to practice for Marincello, however. Eldridge is miles of gradual uphill that finally reaches the road to East Peak. From there, a quick .5 miles up to the top. According to this sign, the top of Mt. Tam is 2,571 ft. above sea level, and Phoenix Lake (where I started) is 130 ft, so in 6 miles or so, I climbed over 2,000 ft. Pretty good for some climbing work. Running up Mt. Tamalpais is just frankly gorgeous, no matter if it's on a fire road or single track. I can think of few trails in the Bay Area that afford such marvelous views of the entire Bay Area. (Ok, Angel Island is great, and I *still* haven't been on Diablo, which I know is tragic.)
Anyway, I finally ended up at the top, ate a quick snack and then headed down again as it was rather freezing at the top. Here's a shot of me looking rather pensive. (No, it's not a product placement for the North Face...)
I'm not sure if I should have run this a week before Pirates' Cove-- this run was rather challenging, but I had a lot of fun, so I suppose that's what counts. I will become friends with my foam roller for the rest of the week, trying to pamper my legs before next Saturday.
You can take dogs on Mt. Tam, but they need to be on leash, and running with a border collie on leash for 15 miles is not my idea of a good time.