Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Golden Gate 30km race report

Sunday was one of my first runs in true sunshine in at least a couple of months, and we could not have asked for a more beautiful day to go on an absolutely gorgeous run through the Golden Gate National Recreation Area

4:45am - Wake up. Coffee. Toast with PB&J. Shower. Half-hearted foam roll.

Greg and I were lucky to find a (Canadian) long weekend that worked out well for us to visit and combine it with a trail race. The Golden Gate Trail Race, while not the original race I planned for us, turned out to be really awesome.

7:00am - Driving across the Golden Gate Bridge.

8:00am - Start! About 40F, waves from the Pacific crashing on Rodeo Beach, sun coming up over the hills we’d be running on.

We’d signed up for the 30k (18.6mi), which has 3,800 feet of elevation (or 3,200 depending on Garmin correction). The hills are steep on the way up and down, but never for much longer than a mile or so. And they begin right from the start, with one of the three climbs coming in the first 1.5 miles.

The speedsters went off and there was a group of maybe 5-6 stretched over a couple hundred yards where Greg and I were, and we sort of stayed there through the descent down to the first aid station at Tennessee Valley (just over 4 miles in).

The 5.6mi loop out from and back to Tennessee Valley is phenomenal. Only the 30k and 50k distances do this loop, and know that it is there I don’t see how you can do this race without choosing one of those distances just so you can do this part. Big climb out from the aid station followed by a ridge descent that leads to gorgeous single track on a hillside hanging over the Pacific:

As Greg said, “This looks like a running video game.”

One climb back up and then a long descent back into Tennessee Valley put us at 9.7 miles, just over halfway done.

For the most part we’d been running together with a few breaks of Greg moving a bit ahead. Leaving Tennessee Valley we ran into the back of the half and full marathon pack (which started after the 30/50k). Back on the main loop we had a long, gradual climb of just over 700 feet over a mile and a quarter. For the first time Greg moved ahead a couple hundred yards.

This stretch goes above Sausalito and has great views of the bridge, and leads into the last aid station at about 14.5 miles, right in the middle of the last big descent. Greg wasn’t carrying any water between aid stations and I caught up to him here and had a handful of M&Ms and a refill of some severely-diluted sports drink.

The last four miles definitely felt long…one more descent, last small climb of 200ft, then just over two miles along the road to the finish. No total crashing, but definitely felt pretty fatigued.

My estimate (based on distance and elevation) had been about three hours, so I felt pretty good with 2:48:13 (Greg was in just under 2:45). We both got third in our respective age groups and stuffed ourselves with disgusting treats for the rest of the day.

The course was beautiful, really well marked and the aid volunteers were very quick with refills (though the last station was pretty busy with half marathon, marathon, 30k and 50k runners all using it).


Am I ready for my first 50k, only five weeks away…? Mmmmm, yes, but it’s going to be tough.

Chuckanut is essentially this course with about 7 miles of rolling gravel tacked on to either end. Pacing those first 7 miles slowly and conserving energy up through mile 22 will be the first goals, then to have enough in the tank for a 3-mile descent leading into the flatish 7 miles to the finish. Maybe excited-nervous describes it best…

Hydration and food:
14 oz nuun, 12 oz water, 6 oz random sports drink
1 Clif gel, 6 Clif bloks, small handful M&Ms

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