Sunday, May 20, 2007

Mt. Tam and darkness falling

Well, I headed out saturday for a slightly later but incidently much harder run than my normal mt tam jaunts. My friend Sarah had invited me to join her on the "Saturday Morning Run" loosely associated with the Tamalpa Runners. Now, I probably should have remembered that Sarah is much faster than me when I agreed to go along. But, she'd been doing low heart rate training so I thought that I'd be fine :)


We showed up and all the runners looked super fit and fast. Few had water, and only one other had a camelbak. Apparently, as the Dipsea was in 3 weeks, many of the runners were training intensely for it, and today's run was going to be timed intervals on the trails of Mt. Tam. Not exactly what I'm used to!

The first mile was a fun fast downhill that I could keep up on, but as soon as we started heading up, it became clear that I was in a whole different league! I did my best to hold onto my sights of Sarah, who was keeping the runner in front of her in sight. I kept having flashbacks to Sequoia, one of the most mentally difficult trail runs (my 2nd ever) in which the hills felt huge and I felt out of shape. But each time I started to feel discouraged, I reminded myself how far I had come and that I really did feel stronger than even a few months ago.

Luckily, after that 2nd section, it got a lot better. The next part was much flatter and Sarah and I didn't get that far behind. We caught up with the other runners at a nice meadow, and actually had a chance to breathe and snap a picture.

(click on the picture to get a closer look) Resting on a huge rock. Check out the remnants of the poison oak from Mt Diablo 3 weeks ago! (the red splotches on my leg) Hopefully that'll eventually go away.

From there we headed back to the car, ended up with a short 6.5 miles that felt much longer ;)


Since this was such a short run, Sarah and I decided it would be really fun and exciting to go up to this paved trail in Tilden park and run at night! Now, while this idea seemed fabulous at around noon, by 11pm when we were driving on a dark winding road up to the trailhead, I was feeling a little less confident. We saw a beautiful buck on the way up, which was great, but reminded me of the less friendly animals that could be out there (read: mountian lions). We parked and were surpised to see that we weren't the only cars there. Apparenty this spot doubled as a "makeout" spot as well.

With the headlamps lit, we went off. The weeds along the trail seemed to have grown since we were last there wednesday, and there seemed to be lots more trees. All a bit spooky. I tried to keep the conversation going, and would periodically swing my light up to the hills to see if anything was looking back at us. At a little after a mile I suggested that we only do 3 miles tonight instead of the planned 8. Running in the dark was spooking me! (Mike, if you're reading this, apparently I would have made a bad pacer after all ;) ). However, doing 3 left us with an uneven 9.5 miles for the day, so we did another 1/4 mile out and back and ended with the lovely total of 10 miles for the day.

After we stopped running and turned off the light, I turned my sights up to the sky. The stars shined down on us, and the hills and mountains surrounding us could be seen silouetted by the night sky. It was beautiful.


Backofpack said...

The night run sounds scary but fun. I'm afraid a rock or root would trip me up in the dark - even with a headlamp on. Sounds like a day of good running though!

Journey to a Centum said...

Sounds like you are really being able to enjoy running now. The Mt. Tam run sounds like one I would enjoy. Night running always makes me feel faster. Maybe because I get spooked by things that go crashing through the brush. And then there's the glowing eyes shining back at you. The last critter I came across at night was down in California at a place called Coyote Hills. I looked up the trail and saw four eyes glowing back. It was a pair of skunks! I thought I could chase them off but they just started playing ahead of me and tumbling down the hill toward me. I "high tailed" it before they "high tailed" it.


Sarah said...

I had a lot of fun on our runs saturday-- its the first time I've run so early and so late in the same day. Maybe we can enjoy a true sunrise run together this week?

Sarah said...

You have a great spirit! I love how you seem to be up for anything and have fun doing it. That's an excellent ultra-runner trait! : )

Addy said...

michelle- no worries about tripping since it was paved :) Even my one night run on trails was surprisingly trip free though. Not as hard to see those roots and things as I would have thought!

eric- I really am :) It's pretty great! The Mt Tam one was really great, just a bit fast than I would have liked. Funny thing about the skunks. I definitely had my eyes pealed for glowing eyes in the bushes, but we didn't see any after all. Can't say I was dissapointed!

Sarah- me too! That's be great! What about thursday?

Sarah (II)- Ha...two sarahs in a row! Thanks for the compliment :) I definitely feel like I'm a more adventurous and easy going person with this trail running stuff!

Lloyd said...

I am sooo allergic to poison oak. Just looking at that and I am ichy. Had it too many times to count.

Hope it clears up real soon.

Addy said...

lloyd- Thanks! It's actually finally getting better. Only took a month :P

I'm definitely going to be more on top of poison oak prevention. It drove me crazy!!