On Saturday March 12th at 5am I started my season with a difficult 50k at Inside Trail's Marin Ultra Challenge. High fives and hugs all around and myself and a whole bunch of friends and fellow DPMRs hit the trail. We started in Rodeo Beach because of the heavy rain leading up to race day. The day was cold and windy but dawn had broke so headlamps were left behind. Early season races hurt a little more than usual after a long off-season. I spent most of January and February skiing backcountry, skate-skiing, and loving the tons of powder days at Sugar Bowl. The first climb reminded me of how little training I had on my legs even though I had decent fitness.
My coach, Peter Fain of Run on Dirt Coaching had devised a game plan that goes like this: Run the first 5.7 mile loop back to the start hard, then settle into a manageable pace through mile 20. Hold on through mile 25 and the smell the barn and pass a lot of runners. It went as planned except the barn was not so smelly and I faded a bit but still had a decent result. Back in October, I learned that I would not have to endure a 6th WS100 lottery and my good friend and WS Trail Boss Elke Reimer had given me her Golden Ticket to the big dance. Relieved and ecstatic although a whole new level of importance for the upcoming season hit me. I decided I needed to up my game and hire a coach after 6 years of being on my own.
Things were going smooth as I passed through Rodeo Beach on my way to Tennessee Valley. Reaching the coast and the amazing views along Pirates Cove and life is fine. Stopping for the first time at Muir beach around mile 15 in about 2:10 for a tailwind refill, some coke, and a pb&j then out of there quickly! The trail leading out for the next couple miles was flooded and covered with some down trees and branches. Then a tough climb and descent back to Muir Beach then another quick stop. Middle Green gulch came next and that is one big climb! Dropping back into TV again, although not happy about running through the poison oak bushes as tall as me, this was the last aid station before the final climb. A little sip of left eye right eye from Track 7 and all is ok until the Marincello walk/jog/walk/jog! One last decent and my legs were cooked by the time I hit the last flat mile to the finish. I got chicked by Sarah lavender Smith like I was going the other direction, but I held off a fast closing co-RD Chris Perillo who almost caught me. ALMOST doesn't count in a race, so I won the race within a race until our next event, Lake Sonoma 50. I ended up 31st overall and 1st in my 50-59 age group in 5:04:21.
We all hung out and had beer while cheering on our fellow finishers. With around 6500 feet of climbing, great volunteers, well stocked aid stations and a well marked course made for a very nice event. We got out of there just as the rain started coming down. There were still 200 or so 50k and 50M runners out there getting soaked. We stopped at Marin Brewing for dinner and suds before our drive home. A really fun day with a bunch of great friends is my favorite way to spend a Saturday in the Marin headlands!