Friday, July 20, 2012

Coastal Golden Gate take two, sort of

Back in February, I tried to run the Coastal Golden Gate Full Marathon, but was beaten down by the course. I had been looking forward to the summer version of the race and taking a shot at redeeming myself. Unfortunately, that Saturday was double-booked, and Mrs Notthat and I only had enough time to run the Half Marathon. (Other options included 5 mile, 30K, Full Marathon, and 50K.)

The race starts at Rodeo Beach. In July. That meant it was about 50 degrees at the start, with no hint of blue sky. The race starts out with about 30 feet of fast flat before you head up a long, relentless hill.

Normally this would mean I would be able to keep up with Mrs Notthat at least until the downhill starts. But for some reason, Mrs Notthat decided to sprint up this first hill, which meant this, about 100 feet from the start, was the last time I saw her until I finished. (Yes, Ytsirhc - not her real name, and being wildly perky in pink - also took off and I never saw her again either. But I'm used to that.)

While we could see the string of runners ahead of us, we could not see the tops of the hills we were heading up.

After climbing about halfway up the hill, I turned around and wistfully looked back on the start area.

Soon we were in the clouds, and the climbing didn't seem so daunting since you really couldn't see it.

This runner is after my heart - I love that she stopped to take a picture of this bit of the trail.

This is what she was taking a picture of - the steps ascending to the heavens. (Funny thing; this blog post has a picture of me heading up these same stairs! She must have seen me taking a picture of this woman taking a picture!) After a lot of climbing we were rewarded with a lot of downhill that took us to the first aid station.

Drannyl (not his real name) and the other volunteers were busy directing runner traffic and keeping everyone hydrated and fed. The sad thing was that from this aid station, we had a long (if reasonably gentle) uphill climb.

One of the best parts of the course waited for us up there though - a fun trail through a eucalyptus grove. The fog made it a bit surreal - it sounded like it was raining as the water condensed and fell from the leaves. The trail was actually fairly muddy. I loved it!

After we emerged from the woods, we had a long reasonably flat stretch of trail that barely clung to the edge of a hillside, which was working like a wind tunnel and blowing my dripping sweat back onto my glasses, making it really hard to see the trail.

I think that is highway 101 and Sausalito down there. We could clearly hear the traffic and could almost tell what station the car's radios were tuned to, but we couldn't see a thing.

Eventually the second aid station showed up. A cool thing about this aid station (that makes it WAY better than the first one - sorry Drannyl) is that there is about a mile and a half of gentle downhill coming out of it.

But then that's followed by one more hill that has some nice trails…

… followed by some uphill pavement.

Finally the uphill is done and all that's left are some steps and a dash to the finish line.

And here was the scene of my great internal debate last February; if you are doing the Full Marathon or 50K, you get to glance at the finish line while passing it by so that you can go back out and do it all again. I certainly felt better at this point this time than last, but a large part of me was happy to get to take a right and run up the finish chute.

Picture by Coastal.
Diane beat me by nearly 20 minutes.

Picture by Coastal.
No, I don't whistle while I run.

I'm totally blaming Mrs Notthat for my not winning this race. About two minutes before we started, she turned and handed me a sticky crown from a molar; she had been chewing a GU Chomp when it came loose. Since she had no free pockets (she says), I ended up carrying it with me for the whole race. Naturally, that made her lighter and faster and me heavier and slower. Yes - that's why I didn't win. (After the race, she called our dentist, the fantastic Dr. Edwards in San Carlos, who turned out to be in the office doing paperwork and said to stop by on our way home. He's so cool - he didn't even make a gagging face when we walked in all sweaty and dirty.)

And that's about it. It was a great event with a beautiful well marked course and nicely equipped aid stations. Parking is always an issue at this beach due to the number of spots that have to be left open for normal people, but if you can carpool with at least one other runner and get there a little bit early, you get to park close. Also, there are bathrooms at each aid station (at least on the Half course).

But please be careful when eating your pre-race Chomps - I've only got so many pockets.

That's it - move along…

PS: You can see more of my pictures here.


DAK said...

Yes, for sure the tooth cost you the race. You coulda been a contenduh. Those steps remind me of our trek to Macchu Picchu. Except all the stone stairs were twice as high. But we weren't running either.

Claudine said...

As usual, Allen, your race report and photos always make me want to sign up for the race. Perhaps next year when you do the full marathon I'll have the courage to sign up for the half. I love the foggy photos. So beautiful!