Saturday, December 12, 2009

Running with Ken Burns at Muir Beach (18M)

Another frustrating non-race last weekend. Woke up sick the morning of the race. Not good timing particularly with finals upon me. It continued an awkward string of issues getting in the way of my racing this fall. BUT THEN:

I got an e-mail reminder about the Coastal Trail Runs and this weekend's race at Muir Beach. Forgot about those! I promptly decided to sign up for the 18 mile version of the race. It would be a decent warm-up for the season-ending Rodeo Beach 50k and a nice present to myself for finishing my penultimate semester of grad school at Cal.

Some of you may have seen Ken Burns' documentary on National Parks. It's BIG. BEAUTIFUL. AWE-INSPIRING. Of course, the series spends some time talking about John Muir for whom so many natural landmarks in California are named, including the start location of the race.

Anyhow, the show came on the night before the race. I started to watch, of course. And what can I say? It fired me up! Some people watch Rocky for inspiration others watch Chariots of Fire. I watch Ken Burns. (Yes, that's my wife in the background yelling: "Nerd!").

Some of you may know of the anecdote of John Muir sitting through a massive storm on the top branches of a 100 foot tree. I agree with Mr. Muir's sentiment that nature is best experienced during "bad" weather. And that's what we had for the Muir Beach 18 miler: rain and wind.

I bundled up well knowing that I'm not fully recovered from being sick yet. The idea was to get my legs moving at a decent pace for an extended period of time without killing myself in anticipation of Rodeo Beach next week. Jason Reed, who is quite the speedster and runs a LOT of races, lined up for the 18 miler as well. I figured he would win.

We took off and immediately hit Pirate's Cove, one of the most beautiful sections of trail in the Bay Area. You gotta love the sound of the crashing waves while trail running! I was cruising on the downhills but my legs felt a bit weak when going up (perhaps from being sick?). Jason and I hit Tennessee Valley together before he pulled away by a couple minutes on the uphill.

It was windy and raining with increasing intensity. But it was fun playing in the mud and listening to the little creeks that formed on the trails. At aid 2, Jason was about 2 minutes ahead, which I was able to halve on the ensuing downhill. Time to go up again (3,780 feet of gain in just 18 miles means a lot of up and down). Here I ran into a coyote right in the middle of the trail. I stopped and Mr. Coyote started to approach me. Time to whistle and make him move. I had a race to run!

This was also about the time I considered upgrading to the marathon. I wasn't going to catch Jason, but I would have a sizable lead in the marathon race. The switch was something I had discussed with people prior to the race, so I wasn't just being opportunistic! In the end, I decided to keep some juice in the tank for next week. Jason came in at 2:40 and I came in second a little under 2:43. A lot closer than I had anticipated!

As always thanks to Sarah and Wendell and all the volunteers for making this race happen in sub-ideal conditions! It is much appreciated

Onwards and upwards!


David Ray said...

Good one! Congrats on 2nd and running well when not your best.

Nerd! :)

Scott Dunlap said...

Not bad for a sick guy! Be sure to let the body heal before going too hard...


Nerd! ;-)

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Gretchen said...

Ah, John Muir in the tree during the storm...I love that one. Definitely gives one a good perspective on the wild weather. Nice job on enjoying yourself in spite of it. Hope you're feeling better!

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