Short version. I ran the Coyote ridge 10 mile trail race as a training long run on Saturday December 8th, 2012. I covered 10.7 miles in 2:13:42 for 15th place in the Mens 30-39 AG and 62nd overall out of 136 runners in the 10 mile distance.
The long (rest of the) story.
I am in the early stages of training, (13 weeks out) for a 50k in March. I took a break from training during hunting season and just recently started logging more runs in the last two weeks of November. The run log at RunningAhead.com, has been instrumental in helping me chart out my plan, and keeps me accountable for my running or lack of.
This weekend called for back to back long runs 10 miles Sunday + 6 miles Monday. My week had been less than stellar, as I was feeling fatigued and twisted my right ankle on Thursday after skipping my Wednesday recovery run. I was rather grouchy and disenchanted with running. When Friday rolled around I hit the snooze button and procrastinated my Friday 2 miler.
Later that day I kicked myself in the butt and went for an easy 2 mile run around the local wetlands. The exercise in the sun changed my outlook incredibly, and when I got back to work I wrangled Saturday off from the boss. At that point I decided my Sunday long run was moving up to Saturday morning and that it would be at the Coyote Ridge Race starting and finishing at Muir Beach, CA. Distances offered were 7, 10, 20 miles, marathon (27miles) and 50k. I signed up for the 10 mile race onsite on Saturday.
Right off the bat I saw running friends from the Fleet Feet store in Santa Rosa. They had a training group training for the 20 and 10 mile distances. I ran in a monsoon with the group last Sunday as they tapered before the event.
The starting corral was a wooden bridge over the creek and after race and course instructions, we were off at a quick jog until the first uphill where traffic jammed up as 300 runners geared down for a long muddy hike up trails beat to snot during last week’s North Face Endurance challenge. It was a 2 mile long conga line as we tried to pick out less slippery lines on the muddy fire road, and once the trail narrowed down to single track there was nowhere to pass and you weren’t going to get far if you did. I stopped a couple times to pick rocks out of my shoes since i neglected to pack my gaiters. The stairs up from Pirates Cove kept most of us hiking and I was able to pass a couple of folks who went out too fast and didn’t have the legs to climb fast.
A mile and a half from Tennessee Valley, the trail turned to graveled fire road and runners quickly sorted themselves out according to speed and endurance. At Tennessee valley there was an aid station about 3.9 miles from the start. I grabbed a handful of potatos and salt and a few shot blox for “second breakfast” (if you eat like a Hobbit). Here the longest grade stood before us. Marincello, a gravel fire road that rises 900 feet in 1.7 miles overlooking Mill Valley. I’d been over this stretch before, and I conserved my energy and power walked nearly the entire uphill section. Here I chatted with other runners I knew running the 20 and the marathon distances. We parted ways at a saddle on the ridge. I continued up to the high point of the run, and down a steep section for a quarter mile, before descending back down into Tennessee Valley. For 2.5 miles it was a gentle downhill that pulled me along like a good running buddy who is just a bit faster than you.
In fact along this stretch I caught two young ladies. One had finished the Nike women’s marathon six weeks earlier, and was wearing a headband with antlers in the Christmas reindeer fashion. She looked like a forkhorn buck in my sights. She might as well have been wearing a target! She was running with a friend who had recently finished some ultra race of 50 or 100 miles. After the aid station on the last big hill of the run I reeled in “Bambi” and later on the last third of the hill I caught and passed the ultra runner friend.
One remarkable thing about this race was the fact that I deliberately walked all the hills, and I ended up passing more people at a walk on the hills than I did bombing down the downhills. I usually consider downhill my strength. I’m glad I am getting stronger on climbing. It is something I have wanted to improve.
Once we crested the last mile long hill, trail markers read 2.1 miles to Muir beack and I could see the parking lot a thousand feet of elevation below us. I pulled out all the stops and let my mass pull me down the hill, careful to avoid the slippery spots we skirted on the way up two hours earlier that morning. I slowly reeled in more cautious runners, and crossed the bridge after 10.7 miles to the finish mat at 2:13:42 for 15th in my age group.
For the first time at a race I felt like I could go on for another mile or five. It was great. I congratulated the speedsters I knew from Fleet feet who had finished ahead of me, grabbed my race shirt and changed into dry clothes, glad I’d paid to do my weekly long run.