Coastal Trail California

19 06 2010




Running the Coastal Trail, Muir Beach, San Francisco, California


Id been thinking about this day ever since I heard I was heading down here to work a couple weeks back.  When I got the call that id be down here doing a culinary demonstration for a large Retail customer, the first thought that went through my mind is “Great, its hilly there!”

So my first run in the foot hills in San Ramon was a hard hilly run but I knew it was only a warm up……with the excitement of almost tripping over Rattle Snakes behind me I worked the show on wed.   It was a long show in a small confined space on asphalt.   My feet and Achilles were killing me from standing on one spot for so long.   I started to be concerned about my run for Thursday.    As soon as the show was over I got back to the hotel and went for a swim…more to stretch and soak my sore feet then anything.   I could feel a bit of lactic acid in the quads from the heavy down hill pounding on Wed but nothing serious.

I got to bed early wed and woke at 4:30 AM without an alarm.  I was showered and in the car by 5:15.

It was about an hours drive to San Francisco and across the Golden Gate Bridge.  I was getting excited.   I had a full 3 litre Hydration back pack, a 600 ml handheld and a fuel belt with a 500 ml and 2 small 200 ml protein drinks.   I had several gel packs; some walnuts (of course), dried apricots and pretzels.  I also had a snickers bar stash!  I was good to go.   I didn’t have a set distance in mind but today was supposed to be a 10 km hill day.  (Tuesday was supposed to be an easy recovery run!)  

When I arrived at the visitors information center in Salusito at the entrance to the National park or M Heights I could immediately see I was definitely going to get in some hills.

One lesson I didn’t seem to learn is that the weather is very different in San Francisco area from place to place and time of day.   I really wasn’t dressed warm enough.  Thankfully I had a long sleeve shirt (all be it a thin one) stashed in my pack from another time.

I got set to go and consulted some maps.   I played around with my new Video camera a bit and almost tossed it over the edge of the cliff…….I pocketed my Black berry for a camera and hit the trail at 7 AM.

It was so scenic and beautiful, that I stopped and started several times before I got going……………….I was at Sea Level, running along the Rodeo Beach,  watching the surfers as I started to climb up the Coastal Trail into the hills.    This is Dean Karnazes territory.   A Face book Friend Michael Wentz had told me about this spot and I was hopeful it would be challenging.    I wasn’t too far along when I took a wrong turn and was shortly running through Sage Brush, and thistles which was tearing my shins to pieces.  I had to back track.  I met a young Aussie guy running hard up the mountain and he had no water with him…..crazy…what do some people think.

I was only about 4 km in and my legs and lungs were working hard.  I had already seen at least 20 small rabbits, bob white quail, 10-15 deer, and a few mice… snakes!

The trail was a switchback and single track and I climbed and climbed.   My pace was pitifully slow but I really didn’t care, I was just out for a run.

After climbing for 6 km I cam to a fork in the path and selected the one which seemed to cut back to the water.  I was now realizing that I was glad I had brought so much to drink as I was already through a litre or so.  The trail I selected started off good but after a bit got very very steep down hill over loose baseball size rocks.  It was also VERY narrow single track.  Now I was focusing on the ground in front of me not for snakes but for where to place my feet.   I slowed the pace down.  Wouldn’t do to break an ankle here……a long way out and its only 43 days to Death Race.    I didn’t like this down hill trail as it was so grown over and my ankles and legs were bloody from the thistles.  I surprised several deer and a Bob Cat………saw a lot of Scat of mountain Lion and Coyote……………………sun was up, sky was blue, ocean was turquoise below me 800 feet or so………………WOW!

I ran over to another trail I could see in the distance and found other runners there every so often……….at one point I wondered if I was having hallucinations as every 10 -15 minutes a beautiful blond woman would run by me at a hard pace………………not the same woman but several different woman………………..I must be in California!!!!

At the beach and trail head I turned back.  I was thinking to myself this is going to be one hell of a climb back up and sure enough it was.    Elevation was only 850-900 feet but it was steep and the climb up was only over 1.5 km so it was hard.   I was surprised that my calves were feeling it so much.  My Calves are huge and strong and I seldom feel a workout in them.  

This is the run I was looking for.  It was hard and hilly.  I was thinking a bit negative about the death Race I must admit…….I mean I had only been running (hiking and crawling) for about 2 hours and I could feel my legs complaining………I had only exchanged about 1500 feet instead of the DR’s 15000 feet and I was tired…….I will need to do exactly this at this pace for 18 plus hours to complete the DR!!!!!!!  Oh MY GOD!!!!!  Had to think about something else……

I met my Aussie acquaintance again on the way down.  He had finished his run and was hiking with his girlfriend back up the trail…….still he had no water!   Crazy!……I gave him a bit of a lecture on safety and then threw him my new un opened 500 ml of water.  I was on my way back down with 6 km to go and felt confident.

I decided to open it up a bit on the way back down on the smooth surfaces and hit speeds of 3;00 minutes per km……so I was ripping it up pretty good.  My toes were hammering into the front of my shoes and my quads were on fire.  I will feel them tomorrow!

Im quite happy to see the car after 20 km round trip!    I am pretty spent.   I mean yes I have lot more in me but im feeling this 2 hour 45 minute run!

On one hand im pleased with my speed for running this hilly country but on the other I am quite intimidated that after months of trying I haven’t run anything REMOTELY close to what kind of hills I will encounter in Grand Cache Alberta in July.

Well I can rest easy knowing I have trained as much as I can possibly train and have done what I scheduled my self to do and then some.  So if I come up short it sure as hell won’t be because I didn’t work hard.

What an amazing run.  I will dream of this until I can do it again.    Im thinking I need to come back and camp here and run all day and swim and surf all afternoon!

I guess that will be NEXT time.

What a run.  The kind of run which makes me happy im a runner!

Go Death Racer!!!!!!




One response

19 06 2010

I ♥ the Coastal Trail!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: