Rain, Mud, Hills, Long Climbs, Treacherous Downhills and 20 Miles of Mostly Awesome

I started this morning asking "Why?" Mostly, this was my next test along the way in preparation for my first 50K run set for December 4 at the North Face Endurance Challenge.  Wanted to see where I was and figured 33k in many of the same trails with the climbs would be a good test about a month away.   This race was organized by Pacific Coast Trail Runs. Couple of aid stations - really well-stocked. Mostly kept in good spirits along the way.  Why else take on such things, right?

The elevation and rain pictures should tell you all you need to know. It was raining. Like really raining.  Like - "holy cow, I really can't believe it's really raining this hard." No pictures from the trail b/c I didn't want to waterlog my Droid.  Mud pretty much all the way.  A few brutal climbs - the very last one was particularly well-placed and entirely uncalled for, in a good way... :--) 


Here's some mile-by-mile:

Mile 1-4: Just getting up the first couple of hills with everyone else.  A good warm-up.  By mile 3-4 I felt like I settled into a decent pace, though Mile 4 was a big long incline.  Sheets of rain buffeting the mountain.

Mile 4-8: Managed to continue running up to the top and then rewarded with a beautiful single-track trail the flows along the side of the hills.  Ran with another guy for a while - no talking, just the "pat, pat, pat" of loose gravel and the occasional splash.

Mile 8-10: Was really needing an aide station. Came across a trail where I could look down on the Golden Gate Bridge. Was getting hungry and needed to rejuvenate. I missed a turn and ended up halfway down a hill, before reversing course to follow an old army installation tunnel to the aide station on the other.  Only covered spot on the course.  Whew - needed that.

Mile 11-14: Mostly downhill and flat so I was able to pound out some miles.  Incredible oceans views.

Mile 14-16: Wow - this was a climb. Kept thinking I was getting to the top, only to chuckle when I realized I wasn't quite there.  The fog masked the trail - could only see about 200 feet ahead.  Caught some more views of the ocean here down to Tennessee Beach. Saw lots lots of quail along this section. Funny that they have wings but can't fly more than a few feet at a time - just ran up the trail ahead of me.  Was feeling some gastro stress here.  Ugh.  Rain started to subside.  Walked up the inclines - just didn't make sense to burn the energy to run, and the grades helped make that decision pretty easy.  I was starting to hurt here.  Starting to think about how I was in pain, and that's no good.  Maybe the wall creeping in a little?

Mile 17: Got over the hill and down to the last rest stop.  Garmin said I was 1.5 miles to finish, but I figured that couldn't be right because I was at an aide station. "What's the distance left?" Reply - "Just 3 miles - up over that ridge."  That ridge about looked like Kilimanjaro to me.  Got about halfway up thinking I was at the top and realized I wasn't so it was more like Everest.  Hamstrings were screaming and quads burning.  Finally peaked and was really looking forward to the last 2 miles of downhill.

Mile 19-20: Ankle-deep mud the whole way down. Admittedly got a little bitter - was just ready to be finished and had to contend with the mud.  Took about 30 minutes to finish. Slop.  And I'm no mudder.  My mother wasn't a mudder.  My father wasn't a mudder.  Talked to a couple others after race and they all thought it was awesome, so I got over it, especially now that I'm sitting on the couch watching football.

So that's that.  So the answer to "Why" falls probably somewhere between 1) I love this stuff, 2) I love that I'm physically able to, and 3) I love finishing and how I feel right now on my very comfortable couch.

I think I'll be ready for the 50k as long as the weather is somewhat better than today. The mud and sliding took a lot out of me.

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