Monday, December 22, 2008

2008 In Review

Looking back at the goals I set at the beginning of the year, it appears that I've done fairly well.

Have Fun Running
The idea was to focus less on PRs and more on the fun of running even during races. Done and done.

Beat My 2007 Total Mileage

I don't know whether I met my goal here, since I kept all my mileage in a running journal the first half of the year and everything I've done since June or so is in my Garmin. Will update on this later.

Explore New Trails

OK, I cheated here a little knowing full well that it was more than likely that I would be heading West when I posted this nearly a year ago. Still: CHECK!

Keep Up This Blog

I did OK on this goal. I wrote quite a bit the first half of the year, let it slide a little during the fall, but have picked it back up of late. The more I run, the more I blog, because I think about what to blog while I run.

Some superlatives:

Trail of the Year

Lakes Trail in Sequoia National Park. It was the most scenic AND I got to watch a mother bear and her cub. Also, it yielded this picture of Pear Lake:

Race of the Year

Muir Beach. Hands down. Everybody should run this one at least once. The views are spectacular.

Accomplishment of the Year

My first 50k over in Alabama. That seems so long ago...

Disappointment of the Year

DNF at Pacifica. Still a good decision. No regrets.

Favorite New Trail

Summit trail up to Wildcat Peak at Tilden.

Realization of the Year

I'm better at downhill than uphill (even though I'd thought the opposite previously).

Hint of the Year

Wearing my Cal hat BEFORE I even got in. Ballsy! I've actually had this one for eight years or so, before I knew much about the school at all. I suppose it was destiny.

2nd Ballsiest Move of the Year

Two way tie: (1) drinking out of some dirty stream at Sweetwater (I challenge thee, irony!) and (2) sliding down some gigantic glacier in Rocky Mountain National Park because it looked 'fun'. (I never blogged about this, but it was as stupid and as much fun as it sounds. Once at the bottom, it took me over an hour to hike one mile to the closest trail, since avalanches had washed away the trail that was supposed to be there.)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Playing in the Mud

We've been lucky enough to get a fair amount of precipitation here in the Bay Area over the past few days. And I'm not using the word "rain" on purpose, since it actually SNOWED! Right here at Tilden the white stuff came down on Monday as if this were Banff or something. (ok, not quite...but still). Mount Diablo is still covered in it two days later.

Picture of a snowy Mt. Diablo from a few years back.

As a result, a lot of the trails are pretty muddy. I'd almost forgotten what running on muddy trails was like. Back South we got to enjoy that rather frequently, but not here (at least not yet; apparently the rainy season is coming up). I enjoyed getting the back of my legs and butt sprinkled on with muddy goodness during a little run this afternoon. In the process I came up with a fantastic new phrase: sprinkled butt. (Enjoy that mental image).

Monday, December 15, 2008

A Beautiful Day at Muir Beach

This past Saturday, I joined a couple hundred or so runners for the Muir Beach 11k, 17k, 33k and 50k. My distance of choice was a challenging 33k complete with nearly 4,400 feet of climbing. Rain was in the forecast but I woke up to a clear sky with a very bright full moon.

Muir Beach

After what is quickly becoming a customary pre-race coffee stop at Peet's (I live only a block from the original location in Berkeley), I picked up my buddy Will who would be competing in his first trail race. He is no stranger to races though. A collegiate runner at Princeton, I was curious to see how he would enjoy the trail race atmosphere.

Will and I pre-race.

After a beautiful drive over the Richmond Bridge to Marin county, we arrived at Muir Beach shortly after sunrise. Beat, whose girlfriend is in my program and who would be running his (I believe) fourth ultra in five weeks, happened to park right next to us. Great timing! We all checked in and Will made the obligatory "everybody knows each other around here, huh?" remark. I nodded and smiled as I was reminded of how welcoming the Bay Area trail community has been over the past six months (thanks, everybody, you know who you are!).

At 8.30, we were off and immediately began to climb. It was a great way to warm up and check out the views back to Muir Beach and over the ocean. The first few miles were nothing short of spectacular. The course took us on a single track trail sitting on top of high cliffs above the ocean. All you heard were runner's feet hitting the trail and the ocean waves crashing down below us. A trail runner's dream.

The first few miles

Soon after, we hit the Tennessee Valley aid station. Now, you gotta understand. I'm a newly arrived runner from the East Coast having read many, many race reports about the races out here. Western States, Miwok 100, Dipsea...these are places I have only dreamed about a few months ago and now I'm here running on the same trails on which these races take place. I feel like I've read about Tennessee Valley aid stations dozens of times and now it was my turn to refuel here.

Then it was time to climb again. Here I met and ran with Jochen for a little bit. We both hail from the same country and it was fun to speak some deutsch. After about 15 minutes of that I pulled away on a down hill and would run by myself the rest of the way. It was a great way to reflect on my first few months here on the West Coast, take a mental break from finals and think about how fortunate I so many ways.

I would run like that for about 12 or so miles, lost in thought and happy, before I finished in a bit over 3.30.

At the finish, I met Will and we swapped race stories over some chili. A perfect day!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Stoked for Muir Beach

This will be my final race for the year, but it feels different than that. Training has been good, streak is intact and I'm feeling pretty strong. Slowly but surely, I'm starting to get into shape again. Hopefully a school holiday party on Friday won't hurt too much...

Everyone continues to rave about the beauty of this course, which only increases my excitement. Can we go now? Please?

Muir Beach is actually the beach of choice in this household, so I'm familiar with the surroundings, although I have yet to venture out onto those trails. Can't wait!!

See you on Saturday!

Thursday, December 4, 2008


I'm so excited about my long run tomorrow that I already laid out my stuff. It's been a while.

(p.s. iPhones need flash)