Over the past month I have been on a handful of runs that have reminded me why I love running trails and the trail running community. Those runs where you are pushing hard up an ascent, coasting on the foothills, or bounding through the forest when suddenly an awareness of the beauty around you occurs and for a minute you feel like you are outside of your own body.
Since TNF ECS in December, I have not let up on the gas. During TNF ECS I accomplished exactly what I set out to do for the first 35 miles, but let a fall get the best of me that slowed me down mentally and physically for the last 17 miles. I was happy with my race given the conditions, but still have a desire to be able to race harder. TNF ECS ended and I immediately continued to put in quality mileage to prepare myself for Ray Miller 50/50 focusing more on speed and continuing to put in those tough climbs I love. This course undoubtedly has some grueling climbs; the exact terrain I live for. I was even more excited when I saw one of Dominic Grossman’s tweets (@youngunultrarun) calling it the “worlds best coastal single track.” I have not met Dominic outside of some brief exchanged words on the TNF course, but in reading his blog I know that he loves technical ascent and descents. If he calls it the worlds best coastal single track, it must be some fun and tough shit.
I did have a 2 week international trip from 12/31 – 1/10 that forced me to run way too many hours on the treadmill, but otherwise have continued to focus on speed and climbing. There have been three runs that really stood out in my mind on reminding me why trails are my passion.
The first was a Sunday run the day after I got back from my two week business trip. Wide awake at 3:00am, I set out for the Muir Woods with my headlamp. I have never been spooked by running in the dark, but have never really enjoyed it either. Maybe it was just from utter exhaustion from my trip, but during this run I was in such a calm state winding down through the dense forest and climbing up towards cardiac. I continued in this state to the top of Mt. Tam where I was blessed with an incredible sunrise over the entire bay area. There was ice at the top and it was freezing, but I still sat up there for 15 minutes as I took it all in.
The second run was a training run I created to target speed and climbing together. The ultimate goal was to work on my uphill power and flat/downhill speed. During this 25 mile run I went to ocean level and ascended Cardiac x4 times from four different trails (Heather Cutoff, Dipsea East, Dipsea West, and Bootjack. The total elevation gain during this run was ~6,500 feet and forced myself to keep speed on descents to simulate racing. There was a section of rolling trail on Matt Davis that contoured the hills where I was running fast but at ease. It was probably attributed to the fact that the sun was actually out and warm enough to run without a shirt. Maybe because I was bonking too!
The third run was this last weekend where a unique combination of terrain, friends, and running without a specific goal (and trail) combined together to make for the best run so far in 2013. Toshi organized a run from the North Side of Pacifica into the hills, across some restricted areas of the park (shhhh), and back around to Montera. It was great spending the morning with Clare, Toshi, Scott, and Jeremy. We spent a lot of time shooting the shit, making jokes, talking about plans for the year, challenging each other on ascents and descents, and just enjoying each others company and our time being outside. This one is going to be hard to beat.
If your interested, here is another great write up of our run by Jeremy! http://jrjohnsonyarb.blogspot.com/