On Saturday I ran the Mt. Tam Trail Run 30K, an Inside Trail event. I mostly signed up because a bunch of my friends were doing the race as well…only most of them were doing the 50K as training for the North Face Endurance 50 miler. I opted for the 30K so I’d have enough time to get ready for a wedding later in the day.
Waking up Saturday around 6, I was tempted to just go back to bed and skip the race altogether. I had a pretty rough night of sleep and wasn’t feeling very well (probably a combo of recovering from last weekend and feeling super sore and wiped out from all of my workouts this week).
Anyway, I ended up getting up and going despite my reluctance – partly because Casey had signed up for the half marathon – and I felt like I shouldn’t also bail on him.
Thankfully, by the time we got to the start line (at Stinson Beach) I was feeling a little better. After seeing several friendly faces, I even started to maybe think it was a good idea to be running and getting those miles in.
The start was a bit of a cluster. Lots of people, one narrow trail. We all walked through the start line and walked some more as we began our first steep ascent. After a little while, I was able to shake a few people and get a little space. I knew there was a ton of climbing on the course…ok, let’s put this in perspective first:
Anyway, now that you know what I was dealing with, I’ll continue. While I knew there was a ton of climbing on the course, I wasn’t quite as conservative as I usually am. I really wanted to create some space for myself. So I decided to play the numbers game with myself which has been working quite well – 350 running steps, 100 walking steps – and so on and so forth. Sometimes I’d even get to 350 and want to continue…500, 800, one time even 2,200. I felt pretty good getting out of the first climb. I had to take one annoying pause at the foot ladder because there was a build of people waiting to go up (understandably as it is a ladder and it was a little slick) but other than that, I managed to carve out some space to run. And I felt like I was moving pretty well and was in good company.
I had made a decision before starting that I wouldn’t check my watch until I made it to second yellow ribbons (basically the journey to the finish) and I didn’t. Usually its better for me to just judge based on how I feel and what the other runners around me are doing (some I even recognized). I wouldn’t realize what a mistake this was until I got to the last yellow though… we’ll get to that.
I lost Travis as soon as we hit the first downhill. It was like he was an expert skier on a double black diamond course and I was pizza pie-ing my way down the green. I used to think I was a pretty strong downhill runner until I met Travis. I watched him disappear in front of me and continue to plow down the stairs and switchbacks. I tried my best to mimic him and make up some time but no matter how fast I felt like I was going, I couldn’t keep up with him. I eventually lost him altogether. I tried to concentrate on my steps and my breathing as my legs were basically screaming at me.
Eventually, I approached an aid station (the one right before the 50K split from the 30K) and reconnected with Travis. We ran together for a split second and then he was off again on the 50K course, still looking super fast and strong. This next part of the course was nice and quiet. I was on a super narrow single track carved out of tall weeds on a slight descent. It was gorgeous, free of tourists and hikers and quiet. I really like this part of the course. It was the first time I was really just out there on my own and had a minute to think. I knew another climb was coming so I made a plan.
By the time I was back on it, my legs were feeling even tighter. I was tempted to check my watch but again, I didn’t. I know that for me, mentally, its better if I don’t know. I hit the next big climb and played the counting game again. Surprisingly, I was even able to make up a bit of time on this next climb…even passed a few runners. We kept going up, up, up and up on the switchbacks and somewhere in the distance, I started to see the road. I wanted to start walking up the rest of the hill at that point but seeing the road gave me the last little bit I needed to power up (still counting, of course). I had a feeling that the top and the road might mean I’d see my yellow ribbons again and the finish would be in front of me (well, down a steep hill and then in front of me). And I was right. I got to to the top and it was all yellow. I finally checked my watch. And my distance said .1 miles. WHAT?!?!? Apparently, I somehow started and paused it all at once at the start. So once again, I have no segment details, no pace information, nada to look at except for the official race results. Dammit. Such a FAIL!
Anyway, the next several miles were fun (and painful) – a steep descent back to Stinson Beach- slick stairs, steep sidewinding trails and then the short road through town where I kicked in gear just enough to pass some unsuspecting guy right before we crossed the finish line. Yup, I totally roll like that. I quickly found Casey who had finished the half a little before I came through (he started 30 minutes after me). We grabbed some snacks and hit the road…wedding time!
Official results: 3:30:31. 5th in my age group.
Stay Sweaty friends,
Jennifer Hellickson saysNovember 17, 2014 at 10:31 am
Holy elevation! I’ll have to try that counting trick next time. I’ve totally done the same with the watch before – so frustrating!!! But great race, regardless – CONGRATS!
Jamie saysNovember 17, 2014 at 10:36 am
Thanks Jenn! It was a tough course – so much climbing – but good challenge, nonetheless. 😉 Counting is crazy OCD but it helped me stay focused when I wanted to walk the whole hill 😉