Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Sunday Morning Mt. Tam Run

My heart rate was off the charts, I didn't need a heart rate monitor to tell me so, I could feel the beats in my throat and that wasn't just from effort but wild excitement. Smiling and grimacing, in search for the end of the trail, it suddenly came to me that it had been a very long time since we ran together and it felt really good.

JP, Myself, Duncan, Jason and Mary Alice.

So right, Sunday morning as San Francisco One Day was coming to a close my friend Jason came by and we took off for the Mountain Home Inn on Mt. Tam. Across the street is a parking lot where we were to meet other folks for a short run on the surrounding trails. The run started with a drop to Muir Woods, through the Park's gates where we could pick up the Dipsea trail for the ascent back up the mountain, then on to Pantoll Ranger station, a popular aid station point for many of the trail races in the area, then the gorgeous mostly downhill single track of the Matt Davis trail back to the parking lot where we started. Back in September I did a run with Dan and Angela and we had tried to enter Muir Woods National Park to pick up the very same trail we had come down on Sunday. They wanted us to pay the entry fee even though we were just passing through. We declined, tried to sneak in, got caught and had to go a different route. I wondered at the time if the reverse happened, would they charge us to get out of the park. Well it turns out they don't. I'm all for supporting our parks but I find that whole situation a little ridiculous. So it's ok to run through the park from the top down, don't go from the bottom up.



There was 5 of us although Mary Alice would cut her run short at Muir Woods. Most of the way we were just hanging out, sandbagging as usual - "oh man, it's been tough to work out lately, I need to get back into shape". I couldn't really participate since they read my blog. However I dragged my feet a bit because you know...I've been up for over 24 hours. As we enter the Matt Davis trail and the last 3 miles of our run Jason speeds things up. He's 6+ and when he opens up those strides watchout. He takes the lead and sets a fast pace. JP chases and I follow, Duncan gets dropped first:) This section of Matt Davis is a gentle, rolling, mostly easy downhill with lots of rocks and in some parts steps - my favorite, slightly downhill with a bit of spice. My stride which is short got longer and longer. Soon I was jumping over obstacles, less dancing around and more jumping over just to keep up. I was definitely beyond my comfort zone but I was awake and fully focused. I felt fuzzy in the edges because of the lack of sleep but I was all in.

I couldn't resist. I had to have my picture taken next to the Dipsea Trail markers since I'm wearing a Dipsea shirt. A bit dorky I know.

"He's gonna get tired JP, takes a lot of energy to carry a frame that tall around", a little heckling doesn't hurt but eventually Jason did pull off to the side so we could take lead. While it was JP's turn he deferred to me which I considered an honor since he has always been a faster stronger runner than I am. He spends most of his energy on triathlon but what most people don't know is that he grew up in these hills. He ran these trails long before he strutted around in spandex. Case in point, several years ago he entered the Quad Dipsea and came away with 7th place with a 4:45. Anyway eager to drop Jason and to test my new found speed against JP, I took off like a madman. I had no idea how close we were to the end of the trail but I took off like there was only 400 meters left:)!


And so there I was redlining, fighting the tightness, the lactic acid, the eventual slowing down, grinning, aching and thinking - it's a been long time since we've done this together. Where did all the time go? We regrouped at the end of the trail before we jogged back down to the parking lot. At 1:45 total run time it was just right, could have been longer but it didn't need to be.

It was a great time. My most memorable runs have never been at any of my races, it has always been in training or messing around with friends. At the races I expect to do well and beat myself up when I don't. With runs like these I expect nothing and blown away when things turn out great. These are the type of runs I remember most.



  1. That sounded like a truly fantastic and fun day on the trails with friends! Excellent pictures as well.

    I can relate to what you say about the most memorable runs being the training runs and not necessarily the races. It is so true. The journey to get to a destination is half the fun (or sometimes more than half the fun!).

    Great post, Rick!

  2. Cool pics...I like the one with all you guys standing on the "podium".

  3. I lurve that first pic! So cool!

    ITA with you on the last paragraph. Every single coolio run I've ever done has been when I expected the least. Go figure LOL

  4. Hey Rick,

    Let me know next time you are running up here. I will come join you guys. If you got an iPhone (or other web enabled device), check RealEndurance.Com and let me know how it looks.



  5. What a fun run! : ) The photos are wonderful. I always enjoy living vicariously through you.

  6. Oh, how I cannot wait to get back running! It's funny about that last bit-- how expectations can interfere with our enjoyment of a race when really, it's just another run, right? You just happened to pay for it and there are a bunch more people running with you. I love the trails in Marin though...

  7. Jean: Agreed, sometimes the journey is more fun than the destination. Getting colder in your neck of the woods huh. Brrr...

    Dave: I forgot about that podium post but you're right. Maybe next time we run up to that "podium".

    Marcy: Seems like a common thing then. No expectations = more fun.

    Firepotter: Hey Gary email me your contact info. I know of several ultra folk who are planning a 30 or so mile run on Nov. 9th, starting at Muir Beach. The timing is not right for me but maybe I can get you in touch with those guys. People you know from the races.

    Jennie!: Likewise girlie. Love the crewing photos. Sorry to hear about Chris not getting into California 70.3, maybe we stand on the sidelines and admire all the girls while you race:)

    Victoria: Races for me come with expectations, they always have I think. I want this time and that time and I want to beat this friend and that friend. I'm always pushing for something. I mean in training I do have some goals but I also have time to just kick back and run, get the mileage in. Agreed, Marin is my favorite place to run, especially further North in the Mt. Tam area.

  8. Sounds really awesome. You have access to so many incredible spots to run!