Sunday, August 18, 2013

Marin Headlands: here we come again!

Blog post #350, and what a week! From a presentation about sustainable running to the Silicon Valley Triathlon Club on Monday to some track workout on Thursday and 62 miles of strong trail training this weekend including 34 on the Headlands 100 course this Sunday: Marin Headlands, here we come! For those who don't live in the area, Marin Headlands is this open space just North of the Golden Gate bridge, an amazingly well preserved area comprised of woods and hills providing great trails and outstanding views on the Ocean, the City, Alcatraz and Angel Island and the North part of the Bay. As I was joking with a teammate, I could set a tent up there for a month: training run this weekend, Tamalpa Headlands 50K race next weekend and PCTR Headlands 100-mile in 3 weeks.
Back to the beginning of the week: the day after racing Skyline 50K, I was invited to share some tips about running with the very active local Silicon Valley Triathlon Club at Sports Basement. I chose to use my favorite theme, Sustainable Running, and to illustrate key tips with personal stories from my encounter with the real elites in our sport such as Scott Jurek, Ann Trason, Max King, Ellie Greenwood, Killian Jornet, Anton Krupicka, ... There are a few things I would change in my slides and pitch, but I got great questions from the audience which showed a genuine interest to learn more about running "at a high dose..." I must say that I'm very impressed by what triathletes put into training, dealing with three sports at once, when we have already enough with one. It was a great experience to face an audience while I usually only share about my running experience "virtually" through this blog or a few Facebook message.
With conf calls starting at 5am and a busy day at the office, I couldn't go to the track on Tuesday but was able to join Bob, Jeremy and Mike on Thursday morning (5:45 am). We had a great work out, with 12 400s between 76 and 84 seconds. Teasing me about the upcoming washing-machine format of Headlands 100 (we alternate direction between each of the 4 25-mile loops), Jeremy got us to run the 12 laps... well... washing-machine style, which ended up to confuse the only other user of the track who was doing 800s. What can I say, it's good to have fun that early in the morning! ;-)

I had to skip Friday due to some sharp pain on the exterior of my left knee and wasn't sure how this was going to hold on Saturday. I started slow on Saturday morning but it did hold so I ended up going to the top of Black Mountain on Montebello Road, then on the other side (Bella Vista trail), for 28 hilly miles at 8:20 min/mile.
This Sunday, I picked Sachin in Sunnyvale at 6am, then Toshi in Belmont and we met Jim and Keith at the Tennessee Valley trail head. It was 7:30 am when we were ready to start and there were quite a few cars already of runners on the trail. Ann Trason arrived just as we were going to leave, an ice pack on her ankle and getting ready to run with another group. Toshi and I went ahead on Marincello as I wanted to run slightly under race pace. I'm so grateful to Toshi for accepting to pace me in September, one week after running Wasatch. We ran the 13 miles to the start line (Rodeo) via Fort Baker in 2 hours, and, in the washing-machine style, rand these 13 miles in an opposite direction also in 2 hours. Given the dense fog at the start, I didn't run with my camera. I didn't regret it initially but later when we ran under the Golden Gate Bridge for the second time as the views of the Bay were gorgeous, especially the two America's Cup super yachts training in the morning before the 1:30 pm race.
Sachin, Jim and Keith had missed the Alta Trail connector in the morning and ended up wandering in Rodeo Valley. Toshi and I were already at mile 18 when we finally met them on SCA. After these first 26 miles, we stopped at the car at Tennessee Valley to refuel before completing the other loop on the course to Muir Beach. Of course, after 4 hours, we were not running on fresh legs anymore, but I think this is a much tougher section overall, especially the climb to Coyote Ridge and steep descent (and climb back) to Stinson Beach. Oh well, each loop has 5,000 feet of cumulative elevation (20,000 ft overall for the 100-mile), these feet have to come some somewhere...! ;-)
Among many trail users on this sunny Sunday, we met a few familiar faces including, surprisingly, international elite, Kami Semick, as focused as I usually see her on race days. We also saw a group of fast runners from the Tamalpa club training for next week's 50K in their backyards. Looking forward to a new "trail meet" on such a gorgeous and challenging terrain, and after some tapering this week. Marin Headlands, here we come again!

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