My favorite place to run on the planet: the sacred Golden Gate Headlands. Despite the advent of snowboard season (shredding it up last weekend on Crystal Mountain in Washington state) it was worth breaking out the trail shoes again to run into the headlands from Muir Beach. Last year I did the 11k arriving late and thus not contending for the win as I used to do at many PCTR short races.
My goal this year was to run the 50k, do it in under six hours, and focus on enjoying the run, taking pictures of the spectacular views throughout (apologies in advance for the photo spam - I love my new Nokia N95 phone with 5 megapixels - a true ultrarunner's friend). Great training for Miwok 100K, Headlands 100, and other races I am planning to do in 2008. Heading up that first killer hill towards Pirate's Cove I was running with the leaders. I realized that I should slow down and save some powder for the long day and stopped to admire the view of the surf.Pirate's Cove
We undulated up and down the narrow single track of the Coastal Trail before heading down the Tennessee Valley Fire Road to the aid station. I dropped off my jacket, gloves and sunglasses at the aid station. Then up the grind of Marincello fireroad (the same as the Golden Gate Headlands Marathon and the Rodeo Beach Run).cresting Marincello
Then down the single track towards the Coastal Trail again. Then up the climb out onto Conzelman Road. I hit the aid station and then out onto Field Road running down to the Lagooon. Looking out over Field Road down to Rodeo Beach
We turned left onto the Oil Spill Bypass, a slightly faster way up to Rodeo Beach. Approaching Rodeo Beach
From Rodeo Beach, we started the grind up the Coastal Trail, up through the concrete tunnel, then out onto the road, up the steps and finally onto Wolf Ridge. Up from Rodeo Beach to Wolf Ridge
Down the Ridge, up the Miwok fireroad, then left onto the Old Springs Trail, plummeting while trying to avoid day hikers until we got to the Tennessee Valley aid station again. I grabbed some coke and potatoes from Will Gotthardt who was volunteering after finishing second in the 17km. From there, down Tennessee Valley Road, and a right up the grind of the Fox Trail. Reaching the summit, then bombing down two miles back to Muir Beach and the start/finish area.
I got back to Muir Beach and the 33km mark at 3:15, way faster than I thought I would (about 45 minutes ahead of schedule). I picked up another bottle of Perpetuem and headed back out at a relaxed pace. Back to the Tennessee Valley Valley aid station, Will refilled my water bottle while I grabbed another Coke at around the 4 hour mark. Then the 5km loop up Marincello Trail, turning onto the Bobcat trail to head back down to Tennessee Valley.Down the Bobcat to Miwok with an hour to go
Then back down Miwok to Old Springs again and the aid station. I ran right past at 4:45 and tackled the grind up Fox Trail again. I did finally flag a bit on that climb this time, and got passed by the friendly Daniel Borcherding. I got to the the top around 5:13. At the top, about two miles from the finish, I felt good and decided to bomb down to the finish. I started really moving, cramped out and just ran-hobbled through it. I must have clocked six minutes miles as I finished to my surprise in 5:25 and change, ahead of my goal. Good for ninth out of 72 in a strong field. A very good day in the temple of trail running.
Ryan Commons had won the race in an impressive 4:32. He has come on strong as I remember running with him for a while at Ohlone. I also chatted with Beth Vitalis and Michael Kanning until Rebecca got there to drive me home. Off to Buckeye's at the bridge for a great post-race meal.