UP, UP, UP...DOWN, DOWN, DOWN...REPEAT!!! - CALIFORNIA #35
This race I would describe as an adventure from beginning to end. To start, we had a super early flight on Friday 03/10/2017…I have learned to build in extra time in case the plane is delayed, in case they don’t have a rental car for us, in case the drive to the hotel is bad…in case…you understand. So we woke up a 3am, remember that, it will come back…and drove to Midway where we found our flight had been delayed one hour…30 minutes…50 minutes…1 hour…wait…get it together Southwest…ultimately it was delayed 3.5 hours. We got into San Francisco, took the train to the rental car lot, where we had to take a bus to a remote lot and finally got our car and drove to In & Out Burger for a healthy prerace meal!!! It was delicious, so we bought a couple of T-shirts and set out to the hotel. It was a 27 mile drive, it took us 75 minutes, hahahaha, but we went across the Golden Gate Bridge and we were finally there!!! As always, I have to determine where all the stuff takes place on race morning, so that I can sleep without worrying. We walked to the ferry dock, located the ferry that we were going to have to take to get to Angel Island and walked around a little to ease the stiffness in our legs. The evening was beautiful and clear, about 65-70 degrees and the weather was supposed to be like that for the race too. Race day we both got up around 6am and headed down to the ferry dock at about 7:15. We had to be on this ferry, the race organizers made it a point to state that missing the 8am ferry meant missing the race. I did my usual prerace stuff, banana at 7am, breathe and chill out. Finally, the ferry was loaded and ready to go, right on time at 8:15am (island time I guess). I was looking at the island on the way over and wondering how this could be described as a “hilly race”, it looked like an extremely hilly race aka climbing a mountain. I settled my mind, this is a participation sport, start-run-finish; everyone is a winner! The race organizer, a guy named Dave Horning, a many race winning triathlete told us the following. “We start here, make one parade lap and then, repeat after me UP, UP, UP, at the fork, raise your right hand, turn right and follow the orange ribbons, run on the fire road, turn L at the huge hill, called DUD hill, why, because everyone comes back and says ‘damn u Dave’, continue on the fire road, when you get to the fork in the trail, raise your right hand, go right, and follow the green ribbons, and then run, repeat after me DOWN, DOWN, DOWN. That is lap one, so without the parade lap you do the exact same thing again.” My thoughts…grueling, well…I guess I better find a way to have fun with this one, because it’s just going to be misery if I don’t. I ate my larabar, stretched, took my gel, loaded up my water belt and we were off!!! There was a constant uphill single track for the first 3 miles, then we came to the split and it was a fire road, wider, but the footing was very rutted and uneven, muddy and washed out in places. There was so much fog that I could barely make out the tops of the two supports of the Golden Gate Bridge at first. I was thinking about the second lap and hoping that the fog would clear, as soon as that thought materialized the fog lifted and there it was Alcatraz Island, San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge and the Bay Bridge to Oakland all came into view. It was that fast!!! In a trail race, you can’t really look, I mean really look; or you trip and fall down the mountain, so I caught fleeting glances as I ran on the South side of the Island and then at about mile 4 came DUD hill. It was probably ¾ of a mile at a super steep grade and it sucked, had to walk it…but I must have pretty good wind, because I started running as soon as I hit the top on the trail/fire road to the fork and went R and climbed my way down the hill. There were 5 trees down that you kind of had to crawl over, that wasn’t bad, the hardest part on the downhill was the footing. You had to keep your eyes on the ground as it was littered with debris, rocks (some loose), roots, and mud. Very little of it was flat and in places it was rutted and washed out. I tripped a number of times, twice a water bottle went flying, but you just pick it up and keep going. Finally, lap one was complete and I honestly knew that I could do one more so I gave Brian a smile, grabbed an extra water bottle from him and headed out. The second lap was the same but hotter, especially on the South side of the Island on the fire road where there was little wooded cover. I was tripping more, because I had become tired and had to stop and stretch 3 times to ease the stress on my lower back (downhill really stresses the lower back). I stretched at the beginning of the second lap and a couple of times up DUD hill also on the second lap and my back felt well enough to continue after that. Again, the hardest part of the race was the downhill, where the looseness of the debris had been made worse by the many footfalls of the runners ahead of me. I approached the second to the last curve and could make out the silhouette of my very tall husband, looking at his phone, no doubt, trying to locate me on my roadID ecrumb. I yelled out, “I’m coming, Babe!” I proceeded down the hill, turned right and ran across the finish line in a time of 2:45:41. “Welcome Back!!!” yelled Dave Horning and the timing lady. I have to admit, it was the hardest race I have ever done, but it was interesting in its variety, it kept me thinking and strategizing, which in a weird way, kept me from thinking about how truly brutal the thing was. Here are the stats: 2:45:41 3rd in AG, 88 of 97 runners, 45 or 47 female runners. Yes, I was slow, but I climbed a mountain and came back down, without falling or killing myself, twice!!! Did you? Next race, not sure, was thinking about doing Oklahoma in April, but it’s a Sunday race and I really don’t like Sunday races, Saturday always works best for me. Oh, the adventure from beginning to end…Remember 3am? That was the time we got up to get to the airport for our flight that was delayed for 3.5 hours…well, we got stuck in California because of a snow storm from the Midwest to the East coast. Our flight on Monday was cancelled, we tried to get on another, it was delayed and we would have missed our layover in San Diego, so we finally tried for the red eye, leaving San Fran at 10:50 pm, getting to Chicago at 3am, well that got cancelled…so, we got up on Tuesday morning at, yep, 3am and dropped our rental car to get to the airport for a 6:50am flight that was delayed one hour and we were off. I could literally see the ground all the way across the country, I’m like, “what the heck, where is this storm they keep talking about?”, yeah, it was just outside of Chicago where we circled for an hour waiting for the pilot to get the go ahead or the nerve to land, I don’t know!!! It was one of the roughest landings I have ever felt (yes, I did feel like kissing the ground), but we made it! Next race…stay tuned?