Race Report; Muir Woods 7 Mile Trail Race
What a thrill of a race! 7 miles up and down and thru the Muir Woods in Marin, Ca, about 20-30 minutes north of San Francisco!
My friend, Sharon, took on this terrific challenge with me. While I have run many races, both road and trail, this was only her 3rd race ever. EVER. Pretty damn impressive that she even considered this race, let alone, toed the line and finish! Massive kudos to her!
The race was to begin at Stinson Beach. The race didn’t start until 9am, which I appreciated a lot. I love sleeping in even just a little bit on Saturday since I am up at 6am every weekday for work. So, we got a little bit of breakfast, coffee and made our way on the very windy, beautiful road out to the race start. The race was put on by Envirosports which produces a lot of trail races in the Bay Area and the rest of California. I had done one of their races years ago in the Marin Headlands and remember the crowd and energy being so low key, fun, and just without a lot of the hoopla you find at the bigger, much more expensive road races. Don’t get me wrong, I like those too from time to time, but it is super nice and freshing to experience a race where it is very basic, but very fun! Dave, the race director, stood on a picnic table and shouted out the instructions for each distance; 7 miles, half marathon and marathon.
Dave: repeat after me; ” you are gonna go up. And up. And up some more.”
You get the picture right? Us 7 milers, then would take a right hand turn and go down, down, and down some more. OK.
Dave singled out a couple who had come from Vermont to celebrate their anniversary and run the marathon. They also led us in “America the Beautiful” before we got started on our adventure. As we sang, I looked around and just took some deep breaths and took in the moment. So incredibly beautiful: a gorgeous clear day, the voices of strangers singing together, each with his/her own thoughts and reasons for being there, the faint sounds of the Pacific Ocean wave and birds in the background….ah…..LIFE….LIFE.
The start was literally AT sea level, on the beach.
The marathon runners began first, half marathoners 10 minutes later, and finally us 7 milers, 10 more minutes later. Needless to say, I was ready to jump out of my skin by the time we finally got going at around 930am. When you are excited to race, you wanna go! LIFE
Sharon and I wished each other good luck and off we went. Physically, I thought I was feeling pretty good. Last weeks 5.25 mile run on this course was tough but I felt like my legs were recovered. I felt rested and ready to go. I wasn’t sure I was actually gonna “race”, but I thought I would take it as it goes and see what happens. Beginning a race on SAND is interesting and not exactly something I would continue to do. We got out of the sand and onto the parking lot pavement and within about 1/4 mile, we were onto the Dipsea Trail heading UP. Both Sharon and I were so glad we had tested out the course last week. HUGE BENEFIT. We knew exactly what to expect on the way up. Within just a few minutes, my heart rate was high, as expected. I ran as much as I could during these early 3.5 miles of mostly all uphill. The first section was a mixture of hard packed dirt, narrow single track trail, mixed in with some wider open areas that was tightly packed small rocks. As we climbed and got into the open area, the vast Pacific Ocean was to our right. The next section was where we switched from the Dipsea Trail onto Steep Ravine trail. Um….the name of the trail is NOT a MISPRINT or MISTAKE. Extremely fitting name. A very steep quick downhill and then all uphill. Steep uphill. Un-runnable uphill. Crazy steep steps uphill. Throw in a LADDER uphill.
Toss in some lush trees, narrow footpaths, lovely small waterfalls, a couple of short bridges, and ducking under a few fallen down tree trunks and there you have it: the path up. I am pleased to say that more than a few people stepped aside for me to pass them on their left. I was breathing heavy, but they were REALLY breathing heavy. Imagine lifting your legs as high as you can to climb a step…that’s what some of it was like. FUN!! CRAZY!!
My mind was so incredibly focused. My thought process was, “push. keep pushing. keep trying to pass people. get as far ahead as you can because you don’t want anyone to pass you on the downhill section. push. keep pushing.”
So, obviously, I WAS in race mode!
I finally go to the “top”, 3.5 mile point. There was an aid station, and bathroom but I didn’t need either because I had water with me. I sucked down the only gel i had and made me way onto the Dipsea Trail again and headed DOWN. YEAH!!!!
What a freakin’ thrill. I really picked up my pace and was simply going for it. I passed more than a few more people and was pushing. It was me against me. Me against the clock. I was flying. I was in heaven. This part of the trail was heavily rooted in some parts with rocks jutting out and causing me to be more careful; other parts were more more smooth…and then of course, throw in some more Dipsea Stairs going DOWN…steep stairs, slippery stairs, going down. Going down fast!!
I came to a section where I was alone for quite a bit and I got a second wind and I just felt like I was an animal, in our truest and most basic elements. I felt so free. Surrounded by beauty. I started screaming and yelling….
In one of my last sections, I passed a young woman, probably 10-15 years younger than me) I passed on some stairs. Then, we came to one last very steep uphill section and she passed me. UGH! I wasn’t happy about this, but I had to let it go and keep moving as fast as I could. We were into the final stretch and moving downhill on some of the more open, wider trails. I got a 3rd wind and was moving fast, opening my stride and fucking going for it. Had to manuever around and pass small clusters of regular people hiking the trail…”keep pushing..keep pushing”
I was getting closer and closer to the young woman ahead…and bam, I caught her and flew past her and never looked back. I exited the trail and ran onto the pavement/road section that took me back to the beach. My legs were dying, but I had to keep going a few more yards, a few more yards. A few people were cheering me on as I came in and crossed the finish line!
I was thrilled. Such a fun race.
I feel darn good about my results.
Placed 29 out of 139 runners
Placed 6 in my age group. Women 40-45
It was a great event and I hope to do more EnviroSport Races. And Sharon…well, I think she is HOOKED on trail running!