Sunday, September 17, 2006

Last Long

I think that I will make yesterday my Last Long run before Dick Collins in three weeks. Next week I will keep my overall distance up and maybe do a couple medium distance runs on the weekend before starting to slow things down for the last 2 weeks. I have a lot of little nagging twinges and tweaky pains around my ankles and feet that I need to fully heal up before attempting 50 miles.

Yesterday's plan was to run the "back" part of the out-and-back course. It was, for the most part, a success. My wife VERY kindly dropped me off at Berkeley's Tilden Park at the Lone Oak picnic area which is the turnaround spot. It was a bit of a late start at about 3:15pm since my son had a football game in the morning and, it turned out, so did Cal causing lots of traffic getting to the park. The climb started right away with the Meadows Canyon trail makes a fairly steep ascent up to the ridge to meet with the East Bay Skyline National Recreation Trail. This trail is essentially followed all the way through to Redwood Regional Park, though it occasionally changes name to either Seaview Trail or Bay Area Ridge Trail as you head out of Tilden and through Robert Sibley Volcanic Preserve and Huckleberry Botanic Park. It is a beautiful trail and about the best the east bay has to offer in my opinion with views of the entire area that are only rivaled at the top of either Mt. Diablo or Mt. Tam. At the top of the ridge the entire bay was visible to the west including the Bay, Golden Gate and Richmond bridges with Tam to the north. The city itself was exceedingly clear and I could see well into the ocean beyond. Looking east was Diablo and the foothills with views of the delta beyond that. Truly a panoramic display.

The trail itself is wide fireroad up to Sibley where it heads downward and becomes one of the choicest pieces of single track you could ask for. It dips down and back up through redwoods and then continues along the ridge with thick bushes lining both sides before opening up into a nice meadow. There are a few road crossings on the way, the last of which is just before heading into Redwood Park. In Redwood, a short trip along the Ridge Trail leads to the Stream Trail which heads straight down into the canyon and across the park. At least, it used to do this. I was about two hours into my run at this point which is where I usually go into auto-pilot. This is why I went right past the sign saying that the Stream Trail was closed up ahead. I didn't even pay much attention to the sign at the bottom since someone had pushed it to the side. However, I couldn't ignore the closed bridge which was completely blocked off and under construction. Well, what to do now? I had to head back a bit and head up the path to Prince Road. I wasn't really looking for more climbing, but there wasn't much choice. This took me back up to the Ridge Trail which I followed until the Canyon Trail took me back down into the canyon. I was under a time constraint with both my wife and darkness looking to meet me at Chabot. To save some time, I decided not to backtrack and pick up the Bridle Trail, but instead ran along the road to meet the Golden Spike Trail about 1/3 mile up. I had already added about a mile and a half to my planned run.

I was wondering what the race would do and when I checked today I saw that, aside from the Bridle Trail, I pretty much followed the new path of the Dick Collins Firetrails 50. Those of you planning to do this race should take note. This definitely adds some elevation gain/loss within Redwood park, but eliminates the grind down to and back up from Lone Oak. I believe the overall up and down will be about the same. Anyway, I continued on Golden Spike and on towards the climb up the MacDonald Trail. I knew what to expect for this one having run it a couple of weeks ago so I just put my head down and did the "RFP" mantra. In fact, the climb was not nearly as daunting as I remembered. Familiarity definitely helps. I arrived at Bort Meadows just as dusk was setting in and a bunch of horse trailers were heading out. There was apparently a ride earlier in the day which explained both the pink ribbons and plethora of droppings along some of my course. Over focused on the setting sun and the fact that I would soon be running on unfamiliar trail in the dark, I took a wrong turn. Luckily I quickly discovered the mistake, but the negative thoughts that lingered were not what I needed.

I tried to keep my spirits up running the last familiar section of the trail down the Brandon Trail to the Stone Bridge. I didn't pause at all, but proceeded directly to the Cascade Trail and the Columbine beyond. Both of these are supposed to be quite beautiful, but with the sun now down and the deep tree cover overhead, I was pretty much doing all that I could just to see the narrow trail beneath my feet. I was glad to have done so much night running recently. I made it to the Bass Cove Trail and the relative safety of fireroad which was good since it was now about 7:45pm and visible light was going fast. I managed to find my way to the dam and the West Shore Trail where I called my wife to let her know I was almost done. Luckily, the remainder was on paved road as I could not longer see anything on the dark and tree lined path. While it was a unique experience and the lake is pretty cool at night, I can't really say that I acquired any familiarity with this last part of the trail. Unless, that is, things go horribly wrong and I end up taking 13+ hours to finish the race.

Well, that's it, I'm about as ready as I'm going to be. I still can't quite fathom repeating most of the run I just did after running a full marathon. I just hope that with a fully rested body and that illusive "race day magic" I can Last Long enough to go the distance.


angie's pink fuzzy said...

good luck at Dick Collins!

Eudemus said...

Angie, thanks. About 2 weeks to go.