This section of my website used to be dedicated to triathlon training, personal race results and certification reviews, like Turbo Kick. I am expanding it to include more generic health & fitness topics. Also, I talk a lot about "D" -- he's my husband (Dave Liu)!

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Point Reyes Trail Half Marathon & 10K

Lauren at Point Reyes 10K Trail Run on 07-19-03 On Saturday, 7/19/03, I left the house at 6:45AM to head over to Olema, CA to participate in the Point Reyes Half Marathon & 10K. The event was hosted by Envirosports, one of the renowned outdoor activity organizers in the Bay Area. Since I've been running 10K road races, I thought the 10K trail run would be an appropriate way to start my trail running career!

Hubby had gone to Point Reyes a couple of weeks earlier, and he warned me that it was far, far, away from where we lived. My race started at the Five Brooks Trailhead, three miles south of Olema.

Even though I was prepared for the travel time required to get there, I had forgotten that past the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway 1 bobs and weaves through the mountains en route to Stinson Beach and beyond. I was bordering on motion sickness as my little Beetle zig zagged all over the place. I didn't want to drive very fast, so I pulled over in a turnout whenever there were cars behind me.

I arrived bright and early at 8AM. Hubby had advised me to warm up and stretch beforehand, so that's what I did while waiting for the 9AM kickoff. I'm in the process of learning Turbo Kick Round 15, so I practised some of the combos as part of my warm up. It's not everyday that you see a runner kicking and punching all over the place, so I received some quizzical looks from the other participants.

Dave Horning, one of the organizers (who is also responsible for making banana bread for post-race munchies), was there to give us a little intro about the surrounding area. As you may have guessed, the Five Brook Trailhead is so named because it is the intersection of five brooks! I think he said there used to be a papermill where the trail started, which is why the area is cleared and relatively flat. As responsible citizens visiting a national park, we were reminded not to leave anything behind during our run - including drinking cups and gu wrappers.

The half marathoners started first, and were given a 10 minute headstart before the 10K runners were let loose. I started out at a nice, slow pace. As the crowd pounded away at the trail, I found myself eating dirt. Literally. People were kicking up the soil and I was breathing in clouds of dust, parts of which consisted of desiccated horse dung (the trail is also used for horseback riding). So not only was I eating dirt, I was eating sh*t as well. Great.

After dodging several mounds of horse manure, I picked up the pace slightly to pass a few people. At one point, I was stuck immediately behind a group of three girls who would not stop talking. Their inane chatter was driving me nuts, but it gave me the incentive I needed to push ahead of them.

Very soon, the trail narrowed so that it was only wide enough for one person. We ran under a leafy wooded area that was shaded and cool. Things were hunky dory until I encountered The Hill.

Now the Envirosports website said that there would be 700ft of elevation in the course. That's all fine and dandy, but it would have helped a lot more if they mentioned that 90% of the elevation all came in the first half mile! That hill was crazy steep. I tried all the tricks in the book to get my butt up there: pump my arms, use smaller steps... you name it, I tried it. Had I been able to see the top of the hill, I may have tried to actually run all the way to the top, but it was like navigating a wait queue at Disneyland: just as you turn the corner and think that you're at the end, you see a longer line ahead. It didn't help that I saw everybody ahead of me walking up the hill. "There's no shame in walking," advised Hubby before I left that morning, so walk I did. Actually, it was more like trudging, as I silently cursed the trail under my breath.

The hill trail looked very strange. It was raised on either side, with a ditch in the middle. Hubby later told me that the ditch is where water runs through when it rains. When I complained about how difficult it was to navigate the path, he gently reminded me that I was only a guest in God's garden, so stop complaining. Good point.

After reaching the top of the hill (yay!), I sailed through a bunch of rolling hills. They were awesome. I flew down the downhill parts, and steadily chipped away on the uphill parts. I bounded through open fields and even encountered a sandy path at point. Dave Horning had explained that the sand was created as a result of tectonic plate movement - we were right on top of the San Andreas fault.

I like rolling hills. On the other hand, steep hills suck. Actually, I suck. Specifically, I suck wind (gotta work on that). After a few miles of breezing through the path, I was thrilled to see some 10K runners heading back in the opposite direction. That meant the turnaround point was just ahead. Hooray!

The halfway point for the 10K was where the Olema Valley Trail intersects Highway 1. Half Marathoners continued across the highway and into the Golden Gate National Recreation area to climb the Randall Trail and then along the Bolinas Ridge Trail where "towering redwoods and Douglas firs lining your path will make you believe you've entered the forest primeval". Then they would descend McCurdy Trail and back across Highway 1 to rejoin the Olema Valley Trail. Best of luck to them! As a mere 10K runner, I stopped to lodge myself in front of the water table and gulped down a cup of water before turning around and head back to Five Brooks.

The return journey seemed faster, even though I had to walk up parts of two of the hills (curses). The really tough part, however, was getting down that first steep hill I encountered at the beginning of the race.

You'd think that downhill is easier than uphill, which is true except (1) it's harder on the knees and (2) I am deathly afraid of going downhill - on foot or otherwise. As you can imagine, that has precluded me from sports such as downhill skiing. It's also the primary reason why I'm training for a road triathlon, rather than an adventure race, because I would not be able to handle downhill mountain biking. So there I was, bumbling down this hill, momentarily losing my balance a few times, praying that I would not fall flat on my face. Hubby's trick for zooming down hills is to extend his arms for balance. I tried doing that, but ended up flapping my arms and looking like a crazed chicken.

Very soon, I was once again on the flat part of the trail and zoomed towards the finish line. There was a Brightroom photographer there, and I've bought one of the photos they took (see above), even though hubby said that in the picture, "Your shorts look like they're wedged up your butt". Since I had hideous tan lines from wearing biker shorts, I thought my unitard (donated to me from my sister) would be perfect for exposing more of my pale thighs. I guess not.

The official results are in and I finished the course in 1:10:55, placing 50 out of 90 runners overall, and 18 out of 29 in my age group. It's not a great time, but the important things are (1) I finished and (2) I had tons of fun. I've caught the bug for trail running and I'm already looking forward to the Angel Island 12K on 8/23/03. Look out for the slow chick with the bandana and shades!

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