Monday, June 25, 2012

Climbing Hills with Friends - Double Dipsea RR

I remember when I first got Runner's World back in the 70's, there was an article about the Dipsea run. I thought it was incredibly cool, with the beautiful trails, the 676 steps, the staggered start times, the exotic California location, the finish at the ocean. This Minnesota boy thought it would be very cool to do that someday.

Well someday came about 35 years later, and it was worth the wait! Since the actual Dipsea is very tough to get into, I discovered the double dipsea, which does not even fill up. And with my recent increase in base endurance, I figured I could handle it. And since getting to know three Northern California trail runners on the Loop, it was a perfect opportunity not only to run it, but to have some great company. So plans were made and 4 Loopies met up at Stinson Beach for an adventure.

Laura and I decided to give up our 12 and 14 minute handicap so we could all run together. We weren't treating it as a race. More of a fun run and an experience. So we all started in the last group with the 20-39 year old men.

The volunteers were all fantastic. The trail running community in this area is very strong, and has kind of a Marin County, earthy, hippy vibe. Apparently the Santa beard look is in. These weren't the only two with this look.

We hung out at the start as all the other groups took off. Lots of old-timers. Finally it was our turn and we headed out.

It was about 200 yards of road and then on to a narrow trail. So there was a little bottleneck. And then it was almost all uphill for two miles.

We are in there if you look hard.

It wasn't long until we started walking the steep sections. I managed to stifle my racing instinct and hung back with the others. But we were all pretty close to the same pace. Off course it was beautiful. We had perfect weather - sunny but not too hot. About half the race was out on the hills in the sun, and half was in the dense redwood forest which was very dark, green and damp. The trees were huge. The trail was narrow and steep. It was great fun.

There were aid stations every 2 miles or so with plentiful food; watermelon, pretzels, candy, Clif bars, potatoes, cookies, lots more. We paused at each station to regroup, eat, and drink. We flew down the downhills, which was a blast. Nobody took a fall, although there were definitely some slips and trips. More uphill walking. More food. No-pressure races are really fun. Although we weren't just jogging. It was a good hard pace.

Here we are at about mile 6, just before the steps.

You can tell we were having fun. Going down the 676 steps was no biggie, although my quads held their complaints for a day or two. At the bottom we ran about 20 yards to a cone and turned around to go back up. But first, more food.

At this point the group separated a little. We had decided it was Ok on the way back. John and I got a little ahead on the steps. And then John pulled away from me going up the hill right after. But I kept plugging and was enjoying the course.

About 2 miles later I caught back up to John, and we ran together for a while. We were cruising the last 2 mile downhill as fast as we could without falling. The damp, steep steps are pretty hard to go fast on though. I thought I had lost him, but he came flying up right before the finish and we finished together. K & L came in about ten minutes later.

My average time was 13 minutes/mile. Splits ranged from 7:54 (the last mile) to 19:00.

We celebrated by taking a Dip in the Sea. With beer. It was awesome.

Then we headed to a local diner and ate.

Too soon it was time to say goodbye. Thanks guys, for one of the most memorable runs of my life.

DW and I joined our host at the beach where I took advantage of the cool water to chill my tired muscles.

And then we both passed out.

So now I'm back home and sore. But not too bad. Giving myself a few days off and then it is on to the next adventure.

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