Monday, January 21, 2013

Race Report: Pacifica Foothills 30k

This past Saturday I ran my 3rd Inside Trails race, the Pacifica Foothills 30k. This was my first 30k and my longest trail run to date.

I had no idea there was a massive park with gorgeous trails down in Pacifica -- just 20 miles south of San Francisco -- and with a mountain to climb, no less. Parking and bib-pick up were easy as per usual with this race company. We received a few instructions on the route, gave a round of applause for this being their 1-year anniversary, and off we went up the mountain!

The 30k course made one large 7.5-mile loop up the mountain and back down (2,007' of climbing), and then finished with two smaller 6-mile loops (1,275' of climbing each). For anyone counting, this is longer than a 30k, but I didn't care. It wasn't until I missed a turn on my first 6-mile loop that I started caring. ;)

The weather was perfect with temperatures in the lower 50s and just a few sparse clouds. It was super windy on top of the mountain and at points I really regretted not wearing sunglasses as I think everything imaginable got into my eyes. Once we got to the top of the mountain, the views were so crystal clear that I couldn't help but stop to take a couple photos.

Looking north to San Francisco -- a teeny tiny Golden Gate Bridge can be seen from up there.

Looking toward the East Bay. Mount Diablo is that peak in the background, although it looks much larger by naked eye.

On the way back down the mountain, we ran through some pretty heavily wooded areas that were just barely letting in the sunlight. There was a bit of mud, but otherwise the trail was mostly packed dirt. Running down the mountain was steep but there were a few places where I was able to pick up the pace a little bit. But after the first 7.5 miles, my legs were seriously feeling like jelly.

She'll be running down the mountain.

At the aid station near the start the 6-mile loops, I found Dennis, who so generously hopped in to "pace" me. Granted, pacing me meant he slowed to the slowest crawl ever while I hiked beside him. Ah well -- he was a good sport about my wimpiness. :) I am so grateful he was there as company! 

Also, Dennis is a bad MF-ing ass, as he never once walked during the 11.5-mile slow uphill crawl. I, on the other half, hiked almost half of it. Oh, and did I mention he doesn't normally do any off-road running?

Dennis leading the way.


Finishing up!

I ran a total of 19 miles in this 30k, which is cool by me. I'm taking all the slow miles on trails I can for the time being. Finishing up my first 30k with Inside Trails' 1st-anniversary race was a great way to do it!

Total distance covered: 19.01 miles
Total running time: 4:14:15
Feet of climbing: 4,557'

I wanted to do back-to-back double digits trail runs this weekend, so on Sunday I woke up dark & early for an 11-mile trail run with Jojo. We had some pretty views of the Presidio and watched the clouds light up the Golden Gate from the sunrise on the east. We chatted & caught up while taking it nice and easy -- she ran a hard 26 miles on Mount Diablo the day before, and well, I am just a wimp. All in all, a successful long weekend!

Monday, January 14, 2013

A New Year Update: Trail Running

Can I still say Happy New Year halfway through the month?

With my hip being a bitch -- which is getting better, albeit slowly -- I haven't been running nearly as much as I have in the past. It's odd to be training for a distance longer than a marathon, yet be running fewer miles than I would for marathon training. (Did that make sense? Meh.)

When I am not training for a specific race (which, uhm, is seldom at most), I run somewhere between 40-45 miles a week. During marathon training, that has been as high as 65 miles a week. During this 50k training, I've been hitting, uh, 25-35 miles a week. Waaaaaah.

The good news is that my hip has been feeling better. I'd call it mostly healed, but I'm still treading suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuper cautiously. It doesn't outright HURT when I run like it did in October, November, & December which is good. Instead, I get these tiny twinges of feeling like something is still wacky. It doesn't suck, but it doesn't feel normal. I also am realizing that there are certain paces where the twinges are more severe than others. So, really, I am just playing an avoidance game at this point.

Aside from avoiding pain, what have I been doing to heal, you ask? 

1.) I've been going to ART every 2 weeks. I've left with bruises, swelling, and some really addicting feelings of euphoria. It's helping. I attempt to stretch & foam roll, but this doesn't do much for me so I don't do it often.

2.) I don't run fast. I'm noticing that anything much faster than a 10-minute mile is where I'm starting to feel the crazy twinging. So I just walk for a bit & then it's alright again when I start up slowly. Perfect for climbing some of the steepest hills ever.  


3.) I'm not running many miles on pavement. This means a significant cutback on weekday miles. And I'm kind of alright with this while it's still generally dark before & after work. 

4.) Most of my miles are on the weekends, when I'm running long and slow on trails. I know low-mileage isn't an ideal way to train for an ultra, but the time on my feet is better than nothing, the soft trails are good for my gimpy hip, & slowing down is also lovely. Plus, I get to see lots of pretty places that I wouldn't normally see when I'm just pounding out mile after mile as fast as I can on the road.


Right now I'm enjoying running outside my comfort zone in so many ways. I'm enjoying seeing what's beyond my immediate neighborhood; I'm enjoying slowing down, breathing in, and letting my body heal. I know I am a road runner through & through, but this as been a good experience so far, both for my hip and for my mind post-injury. When aiming for specific paces during training, I don't truly get to look around at all the beauty around me because I'm generally focused on my watch (and traffic).

The most I'm really looking out for now is being hit in the face by hawks. 

It's been a great break from the marathon routine & in some ways I think this 50k could be perfect timing for recovery.

I admit there are times when I think an ultra could be a toss-up if anything sets me back in the gimpy-hip department, but for now I'm moving ahead as if I'll be running it. One day & one run at a time. I just know I will be excited to toe the start line if I make it to that point.