Monday, November 17, 2008

Fun in the Sun at the Stinson Beach 20k

This past Saturday it happened: I finally got to put on a race number again! The sheer joy of prepping for a race (over-analyzing the race profile, printing out the Google map directions to the race start, etc.) has been missing from my life lately. So, I was happy to drive out to Stinson Beach with my lady this past Saturday to join 500 other runners at the Stinson Beach 12k/20k/30k/50k.

From the Dipsea Trail looking back towards Stinson Beach (photo credit PCTR)

As usual, PC Trail Runs is not skimping on the availability of race distances (rumor has it they're going up to six per race next year and nine per race by 2010), and I was happy to choose the 20k option. My training hasn't taken me past 9 miles since the Redwook 30k over two months ago and this course looked pretty challenging. A 1,500 ft. climb right out of the gates: Good morning!

The green and blue stripes make this appear to be a much easier course than it actually is.

Stinson Beach is at least as beautiful as it sounds. Picture a California beach town and you're probably thinking of Stinson. On my way to check-in, I ran into the always smiling Scott Dunlap, otherwise known as the trail running 'blogfather.' Ok, I just made that up, but it's true. Actually, Scott is one of my heroes. The man continues to improve on the race course year in and year out, is a successful CEO in Silicon Valley, writes the most widely read blog on trail running and, to top it all off, is the father to a beautiful two-year old. And here I am complaining about my crazy schedule in grad school...

Once checked in, I got to say hello to my friend Beat whose girlfriend is actually in my program. Beat is from Switzerland, so he and I share the funky German accent. There were a lot of those (accents) around actually...and that actually didn't surprise me. Lots of Germans take to the trails and compete quite well at the ultra-distances.

After completing pre-race procedures at what might very well be the most scenically located bathroom in the country, someone said my name. And it was Leslie from the Banff Trail Trash blog. (If you haven't checked that one out, you're missing out. It's one of my absolute favorites!) Leslie and her husband Keith were in California for week celebrating their 10th wedding anniversary....running. Yes, they ran all over. Check it out on their blog.

Keith and I (and, yes, I'm still representing GUTS) credit to BTT

Going up the Dipsea credit to BTT

Leslie, Keith and I would start the race together charging up the mythical Dipsea Trail like three little school girls, singing, bouncing and simply just enjoying ourselves. What a day it was! Blue skies, 70 degrees, a light breeze from the ocean. While I sometimes miss my hometrails in Atlanta, I am not going to lie: I feel so very lucky to live in the Bay Area! I LOVE it here!!

The trail was a bit crowded at first, but all the more time to take in the sweeping views, talk to people and breathe the wonderful fall air. Soon enough we were on top of the first hill and the different races went their separate ways.

Some really slippery ladder on the way Jane with the pic

It took me a while to get to the top (starting from the back can set you back quite a bit) and now it was time to just let it fly! I charged the downhill like there was no tomorrow. Boy, it's been too long! It wasn't my lungs or legs propelling me forward but pure joy!

I would later pay the price for going too fast during the middle section on the final four mile descent, but, oh well, more time to take in the views. Sometimes, I would just stop and stare: can a place really be this beautiful? Trails, ocean and blue skies. Stinson Beach, I'll be back for sure!

As always my thanks go out to the race organizers, Sarah (sorry, I missed you again!) and Wendell, as well as all the great volunteers!

(Any 'rumors' mentioned in this blog entry are, of course, not true)

(I broke yet another camera...butterfingers...hence the 'borrowing' from the internets)


Sarah said...

So glad that you had fun out there on the trails! And I'm sorry, too, that we missed each other - yet again!

Glad that you're back, and hope to see you soon.

Sarah (PCTR)

Sunshine Girl said...

Great to see your smiling face in person! We had loads of fun all week, but Stinson was like icing on the cake. Swweeeeet!!


Colorado Trailrunner said...

Looks like a great race. Good to see that Scott was there as well. Out West, not many races right now but the trail conditions are sure sweet.

Scott Dunlap said...

Great to see you out there! Wonderful to meet your fiancee as well. What a great day, eh?

Finally got my Stinson Beach report up.