Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Angel Island 25k

Earlier this spring, a big group of Blue runners from the SFRRC decided to do the Romancing the Island 25k. I had a long run for Avenue of the Giants scheduled that day, and I was a little apprehensive about doing a trail race during the last few weeks of marathon training. You see, I have enough trouble staying on my feet on pavement - throw in some roots and rocks, and I figured I would be doomed. Well, my fellow runners had so many good things to say about the race that I decided I would risk it next time around, and man am I glad I did!

Matt picked up Matthew, Amanda and I, and we headed over to Tiburon, where we met Elizabeth and caught the ferry over to Angel Island. I was so laid back about this race that I forgot my bib number and almost left my water bottle in the car...In my mind, this was just taking place of my Saturday long run. Fortunately, the EnviroSports people are super laid back, and they took care of the bib number issue without any problem.

No race number? No problem!

Blue made quite the appearance at this race - besides the five of us, we met up with Stephanie and Monica on the dock, and then ran into Ale on the boat. Bonnie camped on the island overnight and met us on the island. 9 Blue members in all!
Matthew, Matt, Amanda, Elizabeth, me, Monica, and Stephanie on the ferry from Tiburon to Angel Island.

Race prep was pretty simple - we made a little pit stop (thanks Matthew for guarding the door of the men's bathroom!) and found a spot for our stuff under a tree. I'm amazed at how honest people are - I know it was a small race, but I find it pretty impressive that no one touched any of our stuff as it sat out in the open for two hours! The race director gathered everyone together, yelled out some (rather funny) race instructions, and called the 25k participants to the front.

A big clump of us ran around the parade grounds and then headed straight into a single track trail. I was immediately frustrated by the slower runners in front of me, and though I didn't want to leave the group, I was more worried about stepping on someone's heels or missing a rock, so I passed people whenever I felt uncomfortable. The two mile climb wasn't easy, but it was pretty steady, so it was easy to keep a consistent pace. At the end of the climb we came out onto a fire road, which was a nice change - the crowd thinned out a little bit, and it was easy to run the tangents on the open road. The views were spectacular too!
Well helloooo, Golden Gate!

Matthew caught me shortly after we made it onto the fire road, but I just kept chugging along, taking advantage of the nice long downhills, and trying to stay consistent on the uphills. Another uphill on a fire road took us all the way around and above the start area and back onto a nicely shaded single track (Northridge Trail) which crisscrossed the island and took us back around the back to the Sunset Trail, which felt a lot like running in the Marin Headlands. This slight downhill was awesome to run on, and brought us back around to the original single track that we had started on.

Amanda caught me just as we headed down the original single track, where we had to dodge the faster runners coming back up on their second loop. This slowed us down just a little bit, but we kept a good sub-8 pace going down the hill to the finish area. We checked in at the bottom, and then headed back up for our second loop. Amanda was super strong and kicked it up the hill, but I downshifted a bit and chugged along like I had done on the first loop - I was definitely feeling the hills in my legs!

The second loop was pretty much just like the first except that I took a couple of 10-15 second walk breaks on some of the steeper hill sections. I'm proud to say that I never stumbled on the trail (I know this will happen one day out on the trails, but it's not going to keep me from getting out there again!). I did have one close call on my second loop - As I was coming up to the top of the first hill, a string of 8 runners was coming down. They all pulled over to their right, but the 7th girl in line decided that she wanted to pass, and we came very close to having a head-on collision. We kind of shoved each other out of the way and kept going, but it sent my adrenaline soaring for a minute because I came *this close* to going down a pretty steep hill!

Coming back around on the Sunset Trail the second time, I met a guy who had made a wrong turn and gone all the way up to the top of Mount Livermore (oops!). I managed to stay on his heels the rest of the way down, and I held off the guys that were behind me for the last two miles. That downhill portion was a total blast, and it felt awesome to just let my legs go!

I crossed the finish line in 2:17:55, just a few minutes behind Matthew and Amanda, and good enough for 1st in my Age Group! I know it was a small race, but I'll take it!!!

Overall, we had a great showing from the Blue group - Elizabeth and I were first in our age group, Amanda and Matthew were second, Matt, Stephanie, and Ale were 4th, and Monica was 6th! Afterward, we went for a soak in the Bay and some celebratory margaritas at Guaymas in Tiburon. What a great way to spend the morning - I'm confident that I'll be heading out on the trails again soon!