This is really the first in a series of musings about my running life. No, I’m not taking you waaaaay back to when it all began;. just this year: 2018. Actually, it started in November 2017 – minor detail – I signed up to go on a “runcation” with runthealps.com. They have 7-8 different trips; I opted for the 10 day circumnavigation of Mont Blanc….. we’ll run 10, 15, maybe 20 miles a day. The owner of the company called me after I signed up to welcome me and, I think, to assure me all their running trips are “social” and fun. I’ll never in a million years qualify for the UTMB, so this seemed like the next best thing to running said ultra. (Haven’t you ever made a decision to do something that sounded like fun at the time (Audrey et al recent trip through the Ruby mountains comes to mind.)) Nonetheless, I signed up, paid my money and yikes…… I better get ready!
I enlisted Peter’s help and off we went with plans for building endurance and, of course, conquering, mastering, practicing, grinding up hills. First race: MUC 25k.
I used to live in Mill Valley so know the Mt Tam environs well. I spent the better part of January and February trotting – ok, trudging – up and down the Marin headlands with my running buddy, Sierra the dog. She’s a sturdy little girl, all 25 lbs of her, and so far has been amenable to hang with me for up to 10 miles. As an aside, she did not enter the MUC.
So 3/10/18 arrives. Jenelle told me she, Betsy, Lesley and others were doing the 50 mile; Helen was doing the 50k. I thought
“It’ll be great to see everyone”. Well, that didn’t happen…. the 50s started at 6am; I didn’t arrive until 7am; the 25k started at 8am, and there I was at the start with what looked to be a sizable group of 30 year olds. I spotted a few others with some grey hair but you could count them on one or maybe 2 hands.
Off we went, immediately up the coastal trail, many stairs (I did not count them; I hung in to the rail to pull myself up) and finally arrived at Wolf Ridge. Most folks passed me on the ups. Down Bobcat to the Miwok- I passed a couple folks! Once I got to the Miwok, I felt like I was flying down hill. Well, maybe not flying, but moving at a more dignified pace and actually passed a few more folks.
One hour in – I’m at the bottom of the Miwok, reconnecting with the Coastal trail for a long up. I figured it would take me an hour to get up this thing to connect with the SCA then another hour down to the bottom of Marincello. On the way up Coastal, I played cat and mouse with a small group of gals who talked the whole time. I vacillated between thinking ‘how fun to run with such good friends’ to ‘how in God’s name can they have that much to say’ to ‘I’ve got to either let them go or pass them and find that peace of hearing my own breath’.
More up hill; I let them go and settled back into my trudge up the hill and took note of the perfect weather. It was foggy, it was swirling around me; I could hear the fog horns voicing their concern over San Francisco Bay; the beautiful green trees and Mt Tam were hinting at their presence. True peace.
Finally, heading down Marincello, people who were already heading back up were giving me thumbs up, “good job” and smiling. I was smiling, too, and sailing down hill, my favorite direction, I think – like gravity is on my side. We were all in this together, each at our own pace; each with our own challenge of heart, most were indeed smiling.
At the bottom and aid station 2, I’m 3 hours in, the gabby girls were still talking and grazing the M&M’s. I had a couple cups of coke and hit the road back up Marincello. I tried to run but by this time my calves felt pretty tight so I said “self, it’s ok to power hike so hit it- 1/2 hour to the top”. I did not see gabby girls again until well after I finished.
Coming down the Miwok connector to the Bobcat – the last and brutal up to Hill 88, I heard a voice call my name! Wow, it’s Diane Frederic bringing home the 50k!!! An exchange of hellos and she was off up that last hill. I tried to keep her in view as she moved on up the hill – inspiring and motivating….. and we’re just a few more miles to the finish.
At the top…..All downhill from here! Some of the 50k people passed me and -wahoo – I passed a bunch of people on the way down, too. I could see the finish line tent below. “Self, don’t fall, shoulders back, head up, eyes down, pick up your feet; now is not the time to turn an ankle”. Kinda’ bossy but I was able to keep my focus and crossed the finish line in 4:37 or around a 17 minute pace. Diane was at the finish having a coke and cheered me in!
So here’s the scoop: first in my age group (turns out there were 3 of us gals in the 70+ group), beat the gabby girls and one 75 year old guy finished in 3:30…. he was first in his age group and quite handsome, too!
Most of my friends in Sonoma think I’m nuts, but I’m just not ready to play bridge all day. In the meantime, next up: Canyons 25k. More next month.