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|
|Out of Stinson and into the sun|
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!|
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!|
|One quick picture - I mean, look at that sky!|