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!


Scott Dunlap said...

Glad to hear you had a great time! It certainly was an epic day.


wcaitlin said...

I am a Peet's addict myself although typically not before a race. It was a beautiful day!

David Ray said...

Beautiful pics. Glad to hear you had a good race.

Sunshine Girl said...

Geez. It's only December and I'm longing for a return visit!