There are MANY races in the Marin Headlands, and it's not hard to understand why - there are several natural staging areas with parking and many fantastic trails. Trails that are also popular with locals and tourists that are more interested in the views and a peaceful outing than whether they can get a PR on a treacherous downhill bombing run. This can lead to conflicts, although most often everyone seems to coexist fairly well.
The park services though (this area is run by several different ones), have decided that starting the races earlier will get the runners off the trails earlier (that checks out) and make the trails a bit more welcoming to others later in the day.
When I saw that Coastal's Golden Gate race started at 7 AM, I decided I wasn't interested. It's a one hour drive to get there, which meant waking around 5 AM, which is a time my old, reluctant self is not interested in seeing.
But then Not A Canadian started talking to Mrs Notthat, convincing her that getting up at 5 AM can be fun. She even offered to drive. So I was dragged into the race, maybe not kicking and screaming, but at least frowning and sighing heavily.
NAC and I decided to run the Half Marathon while Mrs Notthat ran the 5M loop.
|Modified course due to PG&E work.|
|Those smaller climbs near the end felt a LOT taller than that.|
One thing we didn't have was sunshine. The start/finish was at Rodeo Beach (motto: "No Bull Riding, but Wow Do We Have Clowns"), and was just a bit under the thick marine layer covering the area. It was cool, but not really cold. That was saved for once you climbed up into the marine layer.
|The first climb starts almost immediately.|
|The gun barrel points the way.|
|Those stairs are not OSHA compliant!|
|The sun struggling to burn off the marine layer. The sun losing. The climb never ending, no matter what it looks like.|
All distances start with the same climb. At this point, the 5M runners are done climbing and can head back to the finish on a glorious downhill. All other runners turn left do a bit more climbing, then head down to the first aid station. Also glorious downhill, but we all have a second big climb in our near future.
|"Which way do I NOT go?"|
|The Tennessee Valley aid station, view from the glorious toilets.|
|Back up into the marine layer.|
|Wait - is that real sunshine?|
It didn't last.
|Back to the marine layer. (And nearly done with the second climb! Maybe!)|
|"Which way do I go?"|
Eventually I made it back down near sea level and out of the marine layer. We were on the 5M course, but this is where we turned off of it and started the bonus out-and-back bit.
|"Hi there Saile, not your real name!" He was a bit over a mile ahead of me, heading back with his coveted rubber band.|
|Pick a color - any color. Maybe.|
|"Hi there Htebazile, not your real name!" She was running the 30K, and while she was almost a mile behind me, she had also run about five more miles than I had. Would she catch me? (Duh.)|
|The second (and third, kind of) aid station and Bermuda |
|Of course the little loop had a hill.|
|"Hi there again Htebazile, still not your real name!"|
|Ah! Rodeo Beach ahead!|
|NAC and Mrs Notthat encouraging me to go faster.|
At least I got this nice picture of me for all my grief.
|Picture by NAC. Weird grimace/grin by me.|
|The finish! Finally!|
Ha! Not today. I ended up with just under 3:34 - honestly not bad, but a bit disappointing. The toilet break didn't help, but it also didn't set me back enough to cause me to miss that 3:30 goal. On the positive side, my body was fine (if a bit soaked - I sweat a lot anyway, and spending so much time in the clouds just makes me even wetter). It was fun to push myself a bit.
|The medal and bib.|
It was fun running on new (to me) trails. I missed the amazing views you are normally rewarded with at the top of the climbs, as well as the great view of the Golden Gate Bridge you get with the normal course, but it was nice to do something a bit different.
A huge thanks to Coastal Trail Runs and all the volunteers that helped make this a great event!
That's it - move along…