Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Steep Ravine 25k - Jan. 2013

One of my goals for 2013 is to write a race report for each of my races - I'm already behind, so I'm catching up!

After suffering through a couple of weeks of the flu and clawing my way back into running shape, so when Stephen suggested we do Coastal Trail Runs' Steep Ravine 25k, I said yes. The course was very similar to one I'd done last fall, so I was anxious to see how I would do.

When we arrived at the race, we found out that the course had been changed because of a landslide on Heather Cutoff, meaning that we'd pretty much have an out-and-back (with the difference being that we'd take Steep Ravine out and the Dipsea Trail back. We chatted and listened to race instructions at the start line, and then we were off.

Trying to stay warm before the start
I started off easy, and the crowd thinned out pretty well on the first section of trail out of Stinson Beach. 
Out of Stinson and into the sun
I felt good going up Steep Ravine, and found that I was able to run most of it (except for the really steep parts). There wasn't too much passing going on, which definitely made things less hectic, and I was feeling a whole lot better than the last time I had run it (when I was fighting a cold and feeling pretty terrible).

At the top of Steep Ravine, we made a right onto Old Springs and out to the Cardiac aid station. I've always loved this stretch of trail because it's so runnable, and it feels great to pick up the pace after that long slog of a climb! The view at the top of Cardiac also makes it well worth the climb, especially on a sunny day like this one.

Can't help it - this is one amazing view!

I stopped briefly to push the air out of my hydration pack (I'd put the Nuun tablets in, so it was full of air, causing the water to slosh around and annoy the crap out of me), and then I took off down Dipsea/Deer Park. I can't remember the last time I ran down this section of trail - maybe Double Dipsea? - but man, it's fast! It feels so much nicer than running up it! I picked off a few slower descenders, and I got passed by some of the leaders from the shorter races (like I was standing still!), but I kept a fast pace heading down the hill to Redwood Creek.

Running out and back on Redwood Creek was tough - it's mostly flat, but the trail is narrow, and runners were passing each other all the time. Not to mention, some of the bridges along the trail are downright scary!

Redwood Creek was frosty, too!
I ran as hard as I could on this section, knowing that I'd be hiking again almost immediately once the ascent on Deer Park started again. Counting the number of women in front of me also took my mind off of how much my legs and lungs were hurting at that point, so it was nice to have something else to focus on. I was #15 at the turnaround, but I wasn't sure which of those women were doing the 25k and which were doing the 50k. All I needed to do from this point was HOLD ON.

Shortly after the turnaround, I gave Leigh-Ann a high five and stole a kiss and the car keys from Stephen, and then I braced myself for the climb up to Cardiac. I grabbed a swig of Coke, some Graham crackers, and a Clif Blok at the aid station, waved to supermom Janeth, and headed out. Somehow, it didn't seem quite as bad as I remembered. The first mile up Deer Park/Dipsea is pretty steep, but then it becomes more runnable until you get closer to Cardiac, where you have to slow down again. I was passed by two women on this section, but one of them was clearly doing the marathon or half marathon. I kept my eye on the other one for later, and focused on not getting passed any more.

When we were almost at the top of the climb, we were made to turn right onto TCC/Bootjack - a trail that I hadn't run before (they'd been doing restoration on it for a while). At first, it was a nice single track through the redwoods, with a slight descent. I used the downhill to pass the woman who had passed me (yay!), but then I realized that if we were going down, we'd have to go back up before too long. Sure enough, we turned a corner, and there it was - a hill much longer and steeper than the way up to Cardiac (I'll never complain about that hill again, at least not until Miwok!). Unfortunately, I got passed by another woman, but I kept her in my sights as we crested the hill and descended into Pantoll campground. We cut across Old Springs to Cardiac again, and I quickly chugged a Coke before yelling "Thank you" and heading out the Dipsea back toward Stinson.

Can't get enough of this view!
The view was absolutely amazing - I couldn't help taking a picture. It was one of those days where it's really hard not to gawk at the beautiful blue sky and the ocean. We could even see the Farallons clearly in the distance! I was quick to snap my photos, though, and I knew that these last couple of miles would play up my strengths on the descents. I made my way around the grassy hills and plunged into the redwoods, through the Ewok trees and down the stairs back toward Steep Ravine. I did get held up for a bit behind a couple of older guys- it's tough to pass on the narrow stairs (and they're hard on those old guys' joints)!

Through the Ewok trees!
(Stephen is convinced I'm going to kill myself taking photos while I'm running. He's probably right, so...)
I will not take pictures while I'm running.
I will not take pictures while I'm running.
  I will not take pictures while I'm running...
One more ascent up the adequately named Insult Hill, and I was home free. I flew toward Stinson, pausing just once to take a quick picture. The rest of the way I shouted encouraging words to the 50ker's who were heading out on their second loop. I almost lost my footing on a damp stair just before the trail crosses Panoramic Highway, but I managed to stay upright. Matt Krawczyk was at the crossing, waiting for Leigh-Ann, and gave me nice little boost for the last bit.

One quick picture - I mean, look at that sky!
I crossed the finish line in 3:09:44 for a 12:12 pace (with almost 3500 feet of climbing), and the best trail run I've had in ages. It felt great to run hard on the trails, and I'm excited for the rest of the season!

No comments: