Mt. Tam

New Year's Eve Adventure: Point Reyes to the Golden Gate

2012 was coming to a close. I had had a great first half of the year, packed with races and challenges and working to better myself as a runner. I lost my fall season to an injury but was enjoying a December full of 100+ mile weeks and getting back into the form I lost with my injury. My 2013 schedule was taking shape.

But as the end of the year approached, I knew there was one last thing I wanted to do before the year ended. A few years ago, Suzanna Bon mentioned that you could run 50 miles from Point Reyes to the Golden Gate. Immediately I knew that HAD to try that someday. Early in December, I decided that New Years Eve would be that day.

I pulled out my trusty Tom Harrison maps and started plotting a route that would take me to the bridge. I also enlisted the company of Larissa to join me on the adventure. Adventures are much more fun when shared with great friends. I came up with a route that included some of the best parts of Point Reyes, Mt. Tam and down to the bridge. I wanted to avoid having to do zig zags in the Headlands, so instead I had us run up and over Pine Mountain to the lakes and up to East Peak on Mt. Tam. The route was challenging, beautiful and almost perfectly 50 miles.
 

Nathan was nice enough to drive Larissa and I out to Bear Valley in Point Reyes for a 7 am start. It was 29 degrees when we hopped out of the car, but was looking to be a perfect day. And it was. The day unfolded into an incredible bluebird day.


I wish there was more to say about the run itself other than I just felt present. I felt great the whole time and was shocked that my body felt so strong considering the run doubled my longest run since June. It was a perfect day and I am so glad I got to share the experience with Larissa. The year felt complete when we arrived at the Golden Gate Bridge. An adventure, a journey to round of the year, inspiration of more fun runs to come. Happy New Year everyone. May the new year be full of adventure!

The journey in pictures:






























Goldilocks and the Three Runs

This past weekend, including Friday, I had the pleasure of getting some serious trail time in with Nathan and enjoying some of the best the Bay area has to offer in terms of trail running. These runs couldn't have been more different for me: one was pretty good, one was horrible and one was just right (aka awesome! aka a Devon Day!)

Friday:

Friday trail tempo run with Nathan.
Nathan and I got up super early and headed up to Mountain Home Inn to do a nice 11 mile loop. Nathan wanted to run hard, so out of the gate I was killing myself to lead us at a good pace. The first 27 minutes we ran at a low 6 minute pace, I could handle it but it definitely didn't feel easy. We backed off a bit as we continued to climb up and around the top of Mt. Tam. Clearly my favorite part was popping out above the clouds at West Point Inn and then getting to dive bomb down Nora trail to Matt Davis. Once we were on Matt Davis, I got a bit possessed and started hammering away at a low 5 minute pace for a nice stretch of groomed double track. We covered 11 miles in 1:25 with 1660 feet of climbing. My glute/back felt good, my energy was decent. I was definitely enthused by the run. It helped diminish my trepidation about Saturday's run: The Rapture on Mt. Diablo.

Saturday:


Nathan ready to go with his new Black Diamond poles

Friday was decent, I felt pretty good the rest of the day and got busy on my one weekday non-cooking day. I was hoping Saturday would go well. We planned to run on Mt. Diablo and the last time I ran there, I was worthless. I was pretty good last week about listen to my body, fueling and recovering and generally giving myself a break after flying back from Australia (was that really just a week ago? I actually had to check my calendar!) and all of the craziness of the April and May. I have been feeling off and on worn out pretty constantly for two months and I am well aware that I need to be forgiving and take good care of myself after such a stretch, especially as I begin to think about actual training again. I told myself that I would just see what the run had in store for me on Diablo and respond accordingly and appropriately.
Sad face. But awesome new Rudy Project sunglasses.

The run definitely had something special in store for me but I can't say I handled it with grace or style. It was an absolutely beautiful day out, not to warm yet and Brett, Nathan and I headed up Burma Road to do a 20-ish mile loop Nathan had mapped out. From the car we immediately went up a super steep grade and my calves cramped up horribly and my achilles felt ouchie. And we were less than 1/4 mile into the run. I felt absolutely drained on top of that and as I continued to power hike, Brett and Nathan became smaller and smaller specks on the never ending climb to the top. I wanted to keep up, I wanted to feel good and I couldn't even make a feeble effort from the beginning. I got really down on myself, felt sorry for myself and started to mentally talk down to myself a lot. So much for forgiving and taking care of myself. As I continued to climb, my stomach started to act up and it felt like I had a bowling ball flopping around in there- uncomfortable to say the least. Brett and Nathan patiently waited for me at a turn and I apologized for holding them up. I contemplated what to do but was being stubborn and said I would continue on the planned route (despite not "needing" the miles). The route now took us downhill steeply, which inevitably would lead to another very stout climb up to Eagle Peak. 

As I ran downhill, my energy left me, my stomach was flopping around and I couldn't even keep pace running downhill which is my specialty. Brett and Nathan were pulling away and I stopped, yelled, "I am turning around" and did an about face to go back up the hill. I was a big falling apart mess and not my proudest moment. I couldn't handle my emotions well for some reason and I really appreciated that Nathan was so comforting and Brett was so understanding. We all have bad runs, I just need to not fall apart when they happen. I think sometimes I put too much pressure on myself to keep up or run well when I am with others. Having a crap run by yourself is one thing, no one is effected by it, but when you are with others, its harder not to be hard on yourself. At least for me. I am working on it. This was a lesson that I am not quite there yet. I am not sure where along the line I picked up this response (it never happens in a race or when I run by myself) but I am certainly not enthused by it. But like I said, I am working on it.

After splitting up with the boys, I kept climbing up to the summit of Mt. Diablo, cashed in 3500 feet and then got to descend for what seemed like eternity. When I got back to the car I was completely wiped out. I drank a half serving of Ultragen with coconut water, changed my clothes and pretty much passed out in the back seat. Or at least I wished I was. When the guys got back, I was bonking pretty bad and spent the majority of the car ride back loopy to do much more than stare out the window. Yes, I pretty much had a very winning day all around. At least, the day passed and I was still alive (it was after all the rapture) and could try again in the morning.

I still had managed to cover 15+ miles with 3500 feet of climbing in what seemed to be a very long time. And I ran into lots and lots of snakes.

Sunday:

Happy face. And another sweet new pair of Rudy Projects.

I was a bit nervous for my run on Sunday but decided to be more resolute about accepting whatever I felt and whatever came up. I knew Nathan was going to do about 20 miles, so I aimed for a 15 mile loop out of Mountain Home Inn where we parked the car. It was a cool morning as we set off up Mt. Tam. I pretty much said, "see ya, have a good run" to Nathan before we left the parking lot, thinking he might want to take it out hard. Instead he said he'd like to run together for a while, so I figured I would just settle into whatever pace felt good and say goodbye whenever he was ready to take off. Since we had run counter-clockwise on Tam on Friday, we headed clockwise up Matt Davis which is very runnable and only a slight uphill. 

I felt like a completely different person. I had energy, I had spring in my step, I had speed and no soreness. I glided along the trail and threw down a pretty fast start. We made it to the climb that goes 1 mile up to Rock Springs. Before we had started running, I had set a goal to run up this trail from bottom to top. I usually don't make it all the way up. But I did it. I got to the top and exclaimed, "yeah I made my goal". I was feeling good and Nathan suggested I continue on a bit farther with him instead of taking my turn onto Ben Stein. I figured I was feeling good and a few extra miles would be fun. I knew I would NOT be going the full distance with him since I had no desire to drop down cataract only to turn right around and do the steep climb back up to Northside. We jammed along and finally I took my turn up High Marsh trail which I had only been on once before and started flying along, really feeling good. 
 Goldilocks and the good view.
I really liked High Marsh trail and I managed to find my way back over to the Northside trail which is one of my absolute favorites on Mt. Tam. No mountainbikes are allowed and it is not near any parking or close trailhead, so it tends to be pretty empty. I zoomed along, rocking out to my music and picked up speed with the sun shining down on me. I had a geeky smile on my face I am sure. I hit popped onto the fireroads and flew back to the car, passing other runners and taking the time to make huge two foot leaping jumps into puddles along the way. It was refreshing. I just played and laughed and had fun. I let go of the previous day and remembered that this kind of moment was what I do what I do for. Its not about how fast or far its about how fun and beautiful. I definitely was having fun. I just kept picking up speed and came squealing in on two wheels back into the parking lot; 18.5 miles in 2:30 with 2,000 feet of ascent. It was awesome.


Speed on the High Marsh Trail

Since the craziness of races, work and sleeping at altitude began at the beginning of April, I have been doing my best to navigate all the things that have come up. Some days I am outrageously successful, some days there is much room for improvement. I am feeling, ultimately, that I have come out the other side in one piece and with the wheels still on. I am looking now towards the beginnings of training (transitioning back to real structured training-slowly!), a fun month of pacing gigs and many more great days out on the trails doing what I love to do.

Weekend Long Runs Brought to you by FRS (a giveaway!)

End of the first loop, heading up to Rock Springs.
Photo by Jim (Endurables and Hydrapak)

After a great weekend last weekend in Sonoma with a big race, great friends, amazing food and wine tastings post-race, you'd think I'd be able to bask in the post-race revelry for a bit longer. But there is no rest for the weary and the wicked. I took Sunday and Monday off, had some good runs Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, and then took Friday off as I was having some tightness issues in my right leg. I spent most of Friday on the foam roller and using my Trigger Point ball. 

By Saturday I was feeling much better and we headed out to meet our Endurables Running Club friends for some time on Mt. Tam. We went nice and light for the first 12 miles, staying with a big crew, then continued on for another 9 around the North side for a good 21 mile day.

Sunday we set out from Muir Beach with the intention of running "not so light" and hopefully also getting "not so wet". I wore my Salomon Fast II Jacket, what I fondly refer to as my "rain preventer". It did its job preventing rain until we reached Rock Springs for the third time in two days. It was very windy and cold at the top and we hustled to a more covered trail. About 10 miles in, we stopped and had a gel each and were on our way. I had only brought one gel, mostly on accident (I thought I had more in my bag but didn't) because I usually don't need more than 1 gel on a 20 mile run. I had stashed an FRS gel in my handheld, just in case. Which turned out to be utterly helpful. 

After reaching West Point Inn we started heading down and down and down through Muir Woods. I started to feel like I was heading for a serious bonk. It was weird since usually doesn't happen, especially not at such a short interval from taking a gel (about 5 miles later). I could tell I was going down into the land of tunnel vision as we hit the road for our final few miles back to Muir Beach. I didn't want to take another gel, it just didn't appeal and we were close enough to the end that I thought maybe I could gut it out. Then I remembered my little FRS chew. I unwrapped it and gobbled it up. With a minute or two, the bonk was busted and I was able to make it back to the car without it being a death march. It would have really sucked to have slogged through that last 2 miles on the road as it was pouring and really windy.

Maybe this all sounds like shameless promotion but my little FRS save yesterday reminded me that I have been sitting on top of an FRS goodie bag that I was going to give away to one lucky reader! I love FRS. It is not a highly caffeine, "fake energy" drink. It is loaded with B vitamins and antioxidants which help me to recover from my workouts and keep going strong during my workouts. Anyone who knows my "Fast Foodie" philosophy, knows I take very seriously the stuff I put into my body.

But make up your own mind, enter the contest and find out for yourself!





How to Enter:


Either:
Step 1: Follow me on Twitter: Fast Foodie Cooks
Step 2: Follow FRS on Twitter: FRS
Step 3: Tweet about this giveaway. Something like:  Enter the @FRSHE Healthy Energy Giveaway by @Fastfoodiecooks here: http://devoncrosbyhelms.com.
Step 4: Leave a comment on this post saying you did it.

OR:
1. Visit FRS website and check out their products, then post a comment with a flavor you'd like to try (and grab a free sample while you are there!)

OR:

2. Become a fan of FRS on Facebook, then comment back here with your facebook name and that you did it.

The winner will be picked at random when I have 100 comments on this post which is about 90 more than I usually get.