Friday, October 12, 2012

Coyote Ridge Trail Run 50K – September 1, 2012

On Friday, August 31, in the dark parking lot at Muir Beach, many groups of beachgoers were packing up their cars in order to get out of there by 9:00, the posted closing time of the lot.  I was hoping to find someone there who was involved with the race the next morning – maybe someone else just looking to crash for the night in the parking lot which was, after all, the starting location for the race.  The word I got was that they close the gate at 9:00 and if your car is still in there, you’re just stuck there until the morning.  Well, that was perfect then.  So I made room and laid down in the Corolla to get some sleep.  As I try to fall asleep, I hear a chirping kind of noise.  When I sit up and look out the window, I observe a couple of skunks scavenging around the parking lot, and a little coyote trotting by. 

I had just fallen asleep when I was awoken by a knock on the window, a bright flashlight, and the word “police”.  Turns out I was misinformed about my lodging option.  I did laugh, though, as I wondered what the police officer might have been thinking was going on in that car.  I assume he was hoping for something a little more exciting.

Anyways, the race turned out to be very small, but most excellent.  I had never run on trails like this before – huge hills and cliffs right next to the ocean and San Francisco Bay.  It was beautiful.  These hills were lots of fun to run on – they are what we would call mountains in Maryland.  I kept thinking about the course as an amped up version of the HAT Run back home.  Both probably have similar profiles, with lots of up and down, up and down.  Except these ups and downs were much bigger, and the views were of the Pacific Ocean and SF Bay instead of the Susquehanna.

I was still on the very gradual trend back to normal running, so I was there to just have a good time and enjoy this beautiful new setting.  I found myself feeling quite good and strong on the climbs, and barreling nicely downhill, all the time feeling relaxed and within my comfort zone. 

The most incredible part of the course was somewhere around mile 10, probably, when the trail took me to the bay side of the park.  I ran downhill for a few minutes with a view of the San Francisco Bay, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the San Francisco skyline straight ahead.  The cloud layer was still covering the top of the bridge.  It was one of the most inspiring man-made views I think I have ever seen. 

I reached a bit of a low-energy lull at about mile 23, but after the next aid station I snapped out of it and continued to feel pretty good the rest of the way.  Overall, I felt pretty excellent the whole morning.  The race ends with the biggest climb of the course, which we ran up twice, followed by a nice steep downhill for another 2 miles or so back down to Muir Beach.  I finished nice and strong and still felt good.  I really had a blast and was loving every mile of the race.

Turning into the finish - Thanks CTR!
This race definitely helped raise my confidence about being able to increase my training a little more and hopefully have some semblance of preparation by the time Cuyamaca 100k rolled around.

I had heard of Muir Beach several times before, probably mostly from following along or reading about the North Face 50 miler that happens in that area in December every year.  I remembered that Muir Beach was one of the aid stations at that event.  In fact, while we were running this race, I crossed paths with a fellow on the trails running with a measuring wheel – I later learned that he was measuring for the TNF50 route.  Anyway, a week or two ago I put my name in for the waitlist for TNF50, because I would LOVE any opportunity to go run those trails again.  Stunning, challenging and fun.

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