Monday, January 30, 2012

One Wrong Turn

... or, How 7 Miles Became a Half Marathon!
... or, My 30th Birthday!
In honor of my 30th year, I decided to participate in the Steep Ravine trail run in Stinson Beach, a small coastal town just 3 hours from Mendocino, and about an hour north of San Francisco.  I originally set my sights on it because of the 30K, which I decided is the perfect distance (since I crapped out at about 18 miles during my marathon), and because I'd be turning... 30!  November and December passed by and I still hadn't managed a run longer than 6 miles, so in my heart of hearts I downgraded my expectations to the half marathon, and eventually, the 7 mile run.  Still an awesome and memorable way to turn 30, right?

We camped in an RV park in Olema - arrived after dark and left the next morning in the dark!  It happened to drop below FREEZING temperature, and I shivered all night and hardly slept at all.  Then, my iTouch crapped out and my alarm didn't go off!  Luckily, my seester was on it and we made it to the start line in time.  The day donned sunny and bright and clear.  I couldn't have asked for better weather. 
Where's Waldo? Me, awaiting the start, in customary orange visor and red shirt.
We took off at 8:20 a.m. (no official clock or timing chips) and began the long climb up the Dipsea Trail and eventually the Steep Ravine Trail.
This is a ladder on the Steep Ravine Trail.  We hiked the trail years ago in preparation for climbing 14,000 ft. Mt. Shasta!

The way was absolutely beautiful, with moss covered bridges, waterfalls and clear pools all alongside the trail.  I didn't have a camera, but wished I had. 

I was running well, and only walked one or two times on the really steep uphill, and obviously on the ladder.  Almost at the top of the climb, and somewhere around the 3 mile mark, my "peloton" of runners veered off the trail marked for the 7mi. course and entered the second loop designed for half marathoners.  Probably 10 minutes later we realized the folly and somehow a group of us decided to keep going.  It was a decision I eventually was really glad I made, but anger at the group, and at myself for following so blindly, boiled up.  I didn't sign up for 13.1!  I know my body's capabilities and I only trained for 3 miles of climbing, not 7!  But somehow I knew I could do it.

We kept on running through a beautiful section of forest with undulating-but-mostly-downhill trail, and then hit a steep downhill section.  We were met by Muir Woods and lots and lots of tourists on the trail!  The trees were absolutely gigantic and the air was cold and wet.  Since Muir Woods is practically back down at sea level, I knew I had another 1000+ ft. climb ahead.  I was out of water at this point, and forced myself to choke down the mini Cliff Bar I brought along.

The second climb was challenging, to say the least.  I walked a large portion of it, and almost stopped a few times because my climbing muscles were giving out, which has never happened before!  The trail continued to be slightly confusing, and we stopped many times to deliberate our course.  After finally coming out of the trees and cresting the open headland fields a final time I was elated!  The aid station finally appeared ahead, and I loaded up on water, gummy bears and M&Ms.  The next three miles were downhill.
Returning to Stinson Beach via the Dipsea Trail

My support crew actually drove up onto the headlands to look for me - after 2.5 hours of missing-Lindsey they were worried! 

I finished totally happy and stoked, despite my wrong turn and failing quads.  I psuedo-showered at the beach shanty, and we then indulged in breakfast burritos and coffee in the early afternoon sun.  Because we accidentally ran the Half Marathon course backwards we supposedly missed out on some mileage, for which the race director added 8 minutes to our time.  My stats are as follows:

Lindsey Bontecou Mendocino CA
16 F 20-29
103/172 Total Half Marathoners
16/30 Female Age Group 20-29
43/79 Total Females

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