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Once in a Lifetime



It ' s been 3 months since I ' ve posted on here . Since then I trained for a marathon . And I didn ' t get hurt . :)But it was summer ( so , a little warmer than usual around here ). And I wasn ' t really motivated . Because you see , it was a trail marathon . So when I didn ' t really get enough miles in , I shrugged and said , eh , no matter . It ' s just a fun run in the woods . Time will be ridiculously slow anyway , so , whatever .

So I enjoyed running and didn ' t push it when it got hard , and ( not coincidentally ) stayed healthy and happy . I maxed out at 17 . 5 miles and 42 mile weeks . 

The race was the Skyline to the Sea Marathon . It starts at the top of the hills outside San Jose and runs mostly downhill to the ocean near Santa Cruz . It ' s all trails , mostly single track , and all shady and beautiful through a redwood forest . I ' d been wanting to run this one for years , but needed the right motivation . It came when Mild Sauce agreed to meet me there and accompany me on this little run through the woods .

So I found myself in another part of the world , and I found myself behind the wheel of a large automobile , and I found myself on a beautiful trail , with a beautiful girl , and I asked myself , well , how did I get here ?

It was a seven hour drive , that ' s how . Got to Santa Cruz Friday night and scouted the local establishments . Found one up to the Sauce ' s standards .


So we had a couple beers Friday . Saturday was open so we explored the area with a long cliffside hike .


Then of course we had to ride the circa 1924 Giant Dipper . A must for any Santa Cruz visit . 


Sunday was race day . We had to ride the bus over an hour to get to the start . The bus driver took the loooong way around and up the hill , but we managed to arrive in time to pee and get our bibs . Then the race director talked to us in the parking lot and pretty soon said 3 - 2 - 1 - go ! We were still a jumbled mass in the lot and casually headed over to the trail . There were only 130 people , but the race got to the trail in 50 yards so it was a little crowded , but amazingly most of the fast and slow people were in the right place so it worked out pretty well .

It started out with a pretty steep downhill and I was full of energy so I may have gone out too fast . Saucy said so anyway . What do I know about trail running ? I felt easy and was enjoying cruising along with a group at a pace that seemed effortless ( about 9 : 00 ). But of course with an expected five hours ahead of us , I probably should have backed off .

Same as it ever was .

But it was fun . And beautiful ! The course did not disappoint ! Huge trees , narrow trails with rocks and roots , bubbling streams , water flowing underground ... Here are some shots from the website .


So I cruised along . Saucy stayed nearby and by the time we reached the first aid station at 6 miles we had separated from the others and were mostly just running alone , the two of us . The shade kept it cool , despite temps near 80 in the area . The next section was mostly uphill for 4 miles and we did lots of walking . Then it would be mostly down the rest of the way . But , boy , those downhills were getting to my quads ! Not just the steady decline , but stepping down over roots and rocks constantly was even more jarring . Sauce led the way most of the rest of the way , and I was working to keep up . Although she stopped and walked whenever I asked , I still felt the pressure to keep going , because it was a race , after all ! I had a goal to break 5 hours , because , why not ? And it seemed like it would not be easy . Gotta keep pushing ! We hit half way in right around 2 . 5 hours . But mostly downhill now , right ? Well , yes , but , those quads ... We got to an aid station at 15 and I was spent . And then there was more uphill ...

My God ! What have I done !

Well , no matter . It ' s just a fun day in the woods , right ? We walked and talked . When we reached downhill I ran , but it was steep , and my legs were not functioning properly . I tripped about ten times but never went down . But the later it got , the more nervous I was about it , so I slowed over the hard steps , just putting more pressure on my quads . I was getting more tired and between the shadows and my bleary eyes I knew I was one step away from disaster . And there were some steep drop - offs close to the trails ' edge ! But I persisted .


At one point about 17 I slipped on a rock and landed on my butt and felt dizzy , so Sauce gave me her stashed rice krispy bar . Apparently I wasn ' t fueling properly . Me ! Shocking ! I never eat enough . It helped . But after that there was even more walking . Oh well , walk in the park . Enjoyed the beauty . 

At about 20 we reached a wider trail that was groomed . Basically a dirt road . So I was able to settle into a shuffle that didn ' t tax my legs as much and we started making better progress . That lasted 3 - 4 miles until the last aid station where they said the last 2 miles were mostly uphill and sunny . :( Ugh. But we were going to make it. Had to walk the ups, but then we finally heard the finish line cheers, and cruised down a steep hill (OW!!) and to the finish at last. 5 hours and 15 minutes of fun. Would have been good for a 3rd place age-group medal last year, but only 5th this year. Darn ten-year categories. All the winners were at least 5 years younger than me. But the finisher medal and shirt were quite cool.

The post-race spread was NOT impressive, sadly, but we went out later for pizza and beer to celebrate. My legs were thrashed, but I never fell, and I had a fun time with a buddy cruising through a beautiful place. I can check trail marathon off the list. 

Now I'm recovered and I have a 5K, a 3 mile turkey trot, and a 10K on the calendar in the next 4 months. Next long one is a half in Atlanta 3/1. No more marathons until next Fall (Chicago is the plan, lottery permitting). Meanwhile I'm going back to enjoying my runs with my local group and running for fun.



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Well it seems that it   was the same as it ever was and that was not your beautiful wife . 

Do I have to teach you about fueling ??


Looks like a fun race ! Glad you didn ’ t burn down the house .

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That almost sounds like a lot of fun . Almost .

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Trails are so tough but reading this made me smile . Reminds me of nearly every single trail race I ' ve ever done , LOL . 

Your race plans for next year were quite literally what I was considering over the weekend . Weird . 

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great report , thank you ..

it ' s nice to have a Mild Sauce sighting , too ;-) 


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Welcome back !  Trails are such a different beast ... that is why I don ' t run them , haha !  Looks beautiful and fun though !

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