Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Santa Monica Mountains Trail Run 11/2007



I've been raving to Tracy for many years now the benefits of trail running. Up until recently, Tracy had primarily run on pavement. She has even completed The San Diego Rock and Roll marathon. But trail running was a new adventure and with a bit of coercion, she agreed to sign up for the Santa Monica Mountains Trail Run put on by Pacific Coast Trail Runs. There were 4 different distances but we set our sites on the 30K distance which translates to 18.6 miles with about 3,200ft of climbing.

While visiting my mother, Zoe, in Sebastopol over the summer we opted to volunteer at the Salt Point trail run put on by PCTR. As a result, we each received a free entry. But more importantly Tracy got to see first-hand the laid-back nature of trail runners and the sport itself. The runners talked with each other, joked around, and were more concerned with the scenery than with race splits. I think this helped ease both of our nerves.

At the suggestion of the race directors, we reserved a camp spot at Thornhill Primitive State Camp Ground located about 15 miles north of Malibu on PCH. The camp is located on the beach but and is directly across the street from the trail start. We arrived about mid day on Saturday, set up camp, and did a quick course preview.

With the purchase of the Baja house and the recent fires in San Diego, our training was suffering. In fact, our longest run in recent months was a 10 miler the weekend before. Granted, that run had over 2,000 ft of climbing but we had no idea whether or not 30K was realistic or not. In fact, we were leaning towards doing the 11 mile route. We hiked a few miles up one of the trails and said we'd figure it out in the morning.

We had a great night as we always do sitting around the campfire after a nice dinner of lobster raviolis and sun-dried tomato turkey sausage. And the beer and wine were nice, too. Tracy got an early start to bed after her long week and I enjoyed some comedy on the satellite radio.

We were up and ready to roll for the race. We casually walked across the street to the start. In fact, I still had a full cup of coffee until a few minutes before the race. After picking up our race numbers, I looked to Tracy and suggested we "go for it" and do the 30K. I said we could always walk the final 6 miles if necessary. To my surprise and delight, Tracy said, "let's do work." And moments later, the race started.

The course has three climbs and I suggested we look at the race as three small segments. With that in mind, we gradually made our way up the first climb walking the steep sections and running the other parts. The morning was foggy and misty making for a cool run. At times, I could only hear voices in the distance and waves down below.

As the day unfolded, I couldn't help but smile. I was with my wife doing what I love. I could see her pushing herself and with each step see her gain more confidence. As we approached the final aid station at about mile 13, I think she realized that we were going to make it. And make it we did.

After a long final climb, we ran as fast as we could down the 3 mile hill to the finish line. We finished just over 4 hours and 30/52 people. Not bad for our first 30K trail run. We laughed, smiled, struggled, and got dirty together. It was a great day and one that brought us closer together.

Another day, another adventure.....

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