Monday, February 26, 2007


In spite of last week's enthusiasm, Spring is definitely not here yet as the weather did a reversal this week and left the Bay Area overcast, wet and cold (relatively speaking). I still managed to keep pretty much to my training plan including the tempo run on Thursday, knocking off 7:45/mi for just over 6 (painful) miles. The Friday rest-day was much welcome as I was feeling pretty beat up after a 7-day streak. I normally don't run more than 4-5 days straight without rest.

My weekend schedule also required a bit of a reversal, swapping the order of my long and medium distance back-to-back runs. Normally, I like to do my long run on Saturday and then a medium distance on Sunday to train for running on tired legs. This type of training worked well for my first ultra last year. However, I had a busy Saturday planned and also found myself with 4+ hours of free-time on Sunday while my son would be at his basketball workout in Oakland. I decided to do a 10-miler on Saturday evening and then try to get in 20 miles of trail running in the Oakland Hills Sunday morning for a total of around 30 miles within an 18-hour time block. Kind of like a really slow 50K with a nice night's sleep in the middle.

Sunday's plan was to head up to Redwood Park just a few miles from where Holy Names University where my son would be working out. I planned to start on the east side of the park along Skyline Blvd and loop around the outside perimeter adding an out-and-back to Sibley Preserve for some extra miles and climbing. I got a little bit of a late start due to my own stupidity of not printing out the trail map or paying good attention to my starting location. After driving past it a few times I finally realized that the building I kept looking at was the old Park Administrative Headquarters and my starting location. The late start and slow trail conditions didn't leave me much hope at completing my full plan, but I thought that if I could keep a decent pace and not stop too much, I could still get in some good miles and come close to my goal.

Even though I spent some time studying the map, I still managed to have some trouble finding the planned start of my route. I missed the turn-off to the Golden Spike Trail and ended up running all the way to the start of the Dunn Trail. Some helpful hiker set me straight, explaning that there was a "closed to equestrians" sign at the start of the Golden Spike. An extra warm-up mile to start, no problem. I found the Golden Spike and all its glorious, single-track, wet-and-muddy goodness. For my money, this is one of the best trails in the park, winding through the woods, rolling up-and-down hills, all good stuff. After about 3 miles, this trail comes around to the main park area. Then, a half-mile on the Bridle Trail to a 1/4 mile on the Stream Trail brings one to the slow grind up the Canyon Trail to the East Ridge. This section of the run was part of the Firetrails 50 route last October. Next is the East Ridge Trail which is wide fireroad for a little over 2 more miles before the turnoff out of Redwood Park that heads through Huckleberry and on to Sibley. This section follows the Skyline National Trail which winds through the lush and wondrous Huckleberry Botanical Regional Preserve. This area seems almost pre-historic as you head down into a fern-covered gully surrounded by a unique and rare variety of plant life. Following this is the brutal (and very sloppy when wet) climb up into Robert Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve which has its own unique eco-system created from a 10-million-year-old volcano. The Visitor Center is my turnaround point, but the trail continues on to Tilden Park in Bezerkley.

The map claims that it is a little under 3.5 miles from Sibley's Visitor Center back to Redwood Park's Skyline Gate. From that point I followed the West Ridge Trail for another couple of miles until it intersects with the Graham Trail. Another mile or so on this trail connects back to the middle of the Dunn Trail about a half mile from my start point. However, I still had a little time left and wanted to get as many miles in as time allowed so I did another out-and-back to the start of the Dunn Trail at the Equestrian Arena. Given that my full run was less than 3:40, I figured I had only put in about 18-19 miles at best. However, calculating (and re-calculating) based on maps and even measurements from some local race routes, I come up with just over 20 miles! I guess my surprise comes from thinking about my times over on Mission Peak where things are just so much steeper. All in all, this run only had a couple of "serious" climbs and neither was particularly long. As much as I love my backyard, Mission Peak and even my childhood home on Mt. Diablo, I think the Oakland Hills really have to take the cake for East Bay trails in terms of quality, variety and natural beauty. Between Chabot and Redwood there is just so much trail to explore and then there is always the option to go all the way through Huckleberry and Sibley on to Tilden in Berkeley and possibly even beyond! It really does make the Bay Area Ridge Trail seem like a reality. If they ever finish connecting all 500 miles, it would sure make one heck of an ultra :-)


angie's pink fuzzy said...

However, you...?

post cut off :)

Eudemus said...

Sorry, accidentally posted a half-completed version. It's done now :-)

angie's pink fuzzy said...

wow, that sounds like an incredible area within which to run!

miki said...

My first exposure to East Bay running was Coyote Hills and Mission Peak. I have to admit I wasn't too impressed since I run the Peninsula hills. But after seeing Redwoods and Chabot, I have to agree, the East Bay has some amazing amazing trails. They seem to be more dog friendly over there too for some reason. I love that.

And hey Steve, I didn't see you list a 100 in your race plans for 2007. Non??

Eudemus said...

Miki, what's wrong with Mission Peak? You got something against grinding up 2200ft of barren firetrail in the first 3 miles of your run? :-) I agree, the woodsy single track of Redwood is preferable and your right about the dogs. I'm always impressed how well behaved most people's dogs are when I run there as well.

As for the 100, I haven't committed yet, but I am very close. With two upcoming races in the Headlands (Pirates Cove, Miwok), it would be almost stupid to NOT sign up for the recently announced Headlands Hundred.