In an effort to have a bit more readable post, I'll try not to write a novel this time :)
Sarah and I decided that we had to get 8 hours of sleep, so we slept in until 7am on Sunday, before starting our adventure. Sarah had previously emailed Jasper to get advice on an "easy" 20 miler in east bay, and he recommended a nice loop course around Lake Chabot. Of course, easy for Jasper doesn't necessarily mean easy for the mere mortal, but we still figured there wouldn't be anything like Steep Ravine around the lake, so we'd probably be good! We got to the trail around 8:30 or so, and parked at what has to be one of the safest trail heads ever!
The start was a nice downhill, which was pleasant, but a bit worrisome, since we'd have to get back up at the end of the run! It was a bit chilly, and since I was once again in a tank top, it was good that we were moving!
Before long we hit lake level, and crossed a fun bouncing bridge. I'm generally not a bridge person, but since this one wasn't high up, I had fun bouncing across it :)
As it was still cool and overcast, the lake was a shimmery grey color in the early morning light. Now that we were running on flats and some slight uphills, my legs were letting me know that they ran the day before. Soon we came to a large uphill, and my legs no longer were willing to complacently sit by. They started to burn. At about this point Sarah turns to me and says, "You know, I"ll probably regret saying this later, but I don't feel at all like I ran 18 miles yesterday!" Funny, because I really did :). Hoping that I'd be able to keep up, we trudged up the hill.
As we got further up, we could look down and see the trail we had been on shortly before (on the left), which was fun. Views always make you feel like you've made progress! As I discovered later, this first part is almost exactly the beginning of Dick Collins, which was exciting. The next few sections were fun, rolling hills, and beautiful. Of course, my legs weren't really feeling the uphills, but none of them were too bad at all.
Soon we reached one of the main trails that we'd be on for quite some time (it had a boy name, Johnathan, Matthew, Benjamin?) This was great, mostly downhill running that was fun. I heard a booming and jokingly asked Sarah if those were gunshots or just sounds from the freeway, fulling expecting the latter answer. "Actually" she said "there's a firing range in the hills!"
As we started running in that general direction the sounds got louder until, *bang* *bang* *bang* It sounded like the bullets were being fired directly at us! At this point we were walking up a hill, but Sarah argued that one really can't walk when they're under fire, so we started moving again. Now, obviously we were never in actual danger, but it did honestly sound like the bullets were heading straight in our direction.
After about an hour the sun started coming out, turning our chilly grey day into a beautiful warm blue one.
We finally reached one of our 'landmarks' the stone bridge, which was exciting. That meant we were making progress!
The next section, to the meadow, was beautiful and very green. One thing about this course is that almost the entire thing is runnable (probably the entire thing is runnable for good runners like Jasper). As such, there weren't a ton of walking breaks to be had. We were making great progress though, and that was exciting.
Once we reached the meadow, we were 9.5 miles in and getting ready to make the turn onto the lower part of the loop, heading back to the cars. We spent a few minutes here trying to actually find the trail until finally it appeared. The next section was through a cattle grazing area, complete with a warning sign, but no cows ever appeared.
After a fairly flat section, we reached Ranch Road, which was steep switchbacks heading up to the ridge. At this section I started fantasizing about my "magic legs" combination, taking caffine and tylonal, and promised myself I'd have some at the next break. My legs were definitely hurting! The good thing about running with Sarah, though, is that even though I felt like walking lots of sections, I had to keep up with her, so it kept my walking breaks short. She's agreed to pace me for Dick Collins, and I think will be fabulous at getting me to the finish!
The trail up on the ridge was beautiful and as we got closer to the lake,things started becoming a bit more familiar. We'd both run a bit in this area, and it was fun to get back to things we knew.
After not too much further, we finally found the lake again!
This meant we were well on our way to the finish. The next trail, Columbine was a new one to me, but Sarah had been on it before (though going the other direction). She remembed it being difficult with lots of ups and downs, so we were mentally preparing ourselves for a diffcult journey ahead.
I snapped this shot as we headed up onto Columbine, and it was here that I realized my zoom on the camera was broken! Not sure how that happened, but now it really is time for a new camera. I guess I just put too much use on in this weekend :(
Columbine was surprisingly great, and after taking my magic mix about a mile before, I was definitely feeling a bit better. Not like new, unfortunately, but at least a little more able to keep up with Sarah (she broke down and had some magic towards the end, revealing her mortal roots). Once we got to the end of Columbine, it was all familiar territory heading back.
A nice downhill, flats, and then, the up! Sarah turned to me and asked, "do you think we can do 3/4 of a mile in 13 minutes?" Sure! We jogged up the hill (even though I really wanted to walk) and it just kept going, and going..."How much longer?" I gasped? "about a third of a mile" Gosh, this hill would never end. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I'd be running (well jogging more like it) up a hill at the end of a 20 miler! We kept pushing and pushing though, and, finally we saw the cars. "We'll hit 20 before we get to that water fountain up ahead!" Sarah exclaimed, so we pushed some more, and suddenly, we were done!
Sarah had just completed her first 20 miler, and an epic weekend. Our time: 3:56, a full 37 minutes faster than the 18 miler the day before, and a 11:50 pace!!!!
Comparing our lovely dirt tan lines. And so so glad to be out of the running shoes!
And speaking of shoes....my new ones, no longer so clean :)
Thanks Sarah for a great weekend! I never would have been able to do this without you :D Here's to lots more great running in the future!
Well, I think this was a bit shorter :D Thanks for reading guys!