Sunday, January 17, 2010

Woodside Trail Marathon

Gail needed a marathon or longer for January to keep her monthly streak going. So at the last minute I found the the Woodside Trail Marathon. This is part of the Pacific Coast Trail runs that does such great easy going races in California and Oregon. Woodside is located in the Santa Cruz mountains just about 30 miles south of San Francisco.

Gail was just a tad chilly (A good thing!)

We spent the night down in Redwood City and with the nice 9 am start we didn't have to get up at 0-dark-thirty like most races. We had free breakfast at the hotel and then had a nice 15 minute drive up the hill to the start. The race was small with different distances of 5, 11, 22 and the marathon. There was only 20 signed up to do the marathon and a little over 100 for all the races combined. I love small races like this.

"Follow the green, red, purple, orange, brown...."

They gave us the directions. "Follow the pink ribbons then green then orange then green again and finally the pink return ribbons to the finish. Then off we went. Gail and I let the masses go first and that really slowed us down to a crawl. The trail immediately starts downhill and I figured we made a mistake by going last. It didn't thin out for over a mile. At a 1.5 miles or so Gail and I split up. The race started at about 850 feet and we dropped quickly to just over 300. Then the climb began. Over the next few miles we ended up at around 2,200 feet. We cruised at this altitude with just some rollers for quite a while. I ran most the uphills but maybe a half mile of the entire course.

I just tried to stay in a comfort zone this day. I never really pushed hard but never eased up either. Weather was a perfect 50 or so and overcast skies. Just a couple of misty moments was the most moisture we got. Between mile 6 and 16 I don't think I passed or was passed by anyone. I did run into some 22 miler and the quick marathon leaders coming the other direction but that was it. I was happy with that as i just cruised on. I gel'd about every 1/2 hour and a couple of S-caps an hour kept me pretty happy. I would snack on a few chips and drink some sports drink at each of the 4 aid stations.

Some of the wider sections

At mile 12 we had a nice drop from 2200 feet down to around 1300 or so. Then a nice grind up some fire roads over the next couple of miles. It was 95% runable but was at a 14 minute pace or so. Little baby steps for sure but I felt pretty good pushing my fat up that hill! At the top of the hill is AS 3 and I rested for a few minutes and refueled and told the volunteers to say hi to "Detour" when she comes in. (Then did too!) Off I went to nice "green ribbon" section of trail that is allot like Forest Park here in Portland. Some small climbs but mostly rollers along the hillside.

Looking up one of the Redwoods

As the last AS at around mile 21 I knew I had this one in the bag. I cranked the tunes up and headed out for one more tiny climb. I passed a few folks and chatted with them. Everyone one was very nice and I even gave a guy who was cramping up a few S-caps. I always carry extra for just that reason. We then hit the downhill. I knew from my watch that at some point we had to lose 1,400 feet, just when I didn't know. Well it happened quick. I trail they had paved. It kind of sucked to run this loose pavement but I understand that access is for everyone in the park, not just hikers and runners. But with such budget problems in California (Parks closed everywhere) why waste money on miles of loose pavement way up in a park? I don't get that? Oh well but it was easy to just let go and not worry about tripping but it did take away a bit from the trail aspect of the race.

This is why I run alone. Frickin scary lookin guy!

Back on the dirt we had another rolling section then another big downhill push. We dropped onto a dirt road that led us back to the finish line. It was great to have that downhill at the end of a race as it really helps me mentally push and for some reason my gut always seems to feel better.
I thought I might break 5 hours but it wasn't to be. I crossed the line in 5:03:45. I felt pretty good about this time on this tough little mountain course. Close to my slowest marathon time ever but you can compare these races.

Nice cutout

Gail crossed with a bit over 6 hours. She was a bit tired and felt she needed some more hill training before her next trail race. She is signed up for Mac Forest so this was a good test.

Gail crossing the finish. Whoo-Hoo!

We headed out to our hotel, rested up for a bit then out the door for downtown San Fran. It was fun as we went to the E & O Trading Company for a nice adult beverage then walked to a German place for a dopplebock of course! Back to Redwood City for a great meal at this sweet little local place we found.

This morning we slept in the caught our flight out of San Jose to get back to PDX mid-day. It was a fun little trip and great race. Thanks to RD Marissa for the good time. Oh yeah, a couple of years ago Marissa and I discovered that we had run together for awhile up Fuji Mt at Where's Waldo 100k. Funny how this trail running group is pretty small.

In honor of Ronda's "Black Saturday"group

Whats up next? Not sure. Gail is looking for her February race as of now. I got Hagg Lake 50k set next month but I would like to get another one in before that. Who knows what will catch our eye.


Susan Kokesh said...

Love it! You two are amazing. Glad you had so much fun. Good work!

Sarah said...

Sounds like a good time was had by all! Some of the pictures do remind me of forest park.

I'm going on a work trip to the bay area in April and I'm bummed that no PCTR or Coastal races are happening that weekend.

djconnel said...

Nice report! I am in awe, having run the 17 km route, which was enough for me!

Huddart Park is a San Mateo County park, not a state park, and so has separate funding. The equestrians have a lot of clout in Woodside. I'm not sure if they're the ones who motivated the hard surfacing in 2008.

Backofpack said...

Looks like a beautiful little race. Maybe some day we'll get down there for it!

olga said...

What a beautiful place, I forgot how real trails look like! And man, you do look scary...gotta learn to smile and be photogenic! How is gail feeling overall?