"First run in 1905, the Dipsea is the oldest trail race in America. It is run every year on the second Sunday in June. The scenic 7.4 mile course from Mill Valley to Stinson Beach is considered to be one of the most beautiful courses in the world. The stairs and steep trails make it a grueling and treacherous race. And its unique handicapping system has made winners of men and women of all ages." (http://www.dipsea.org/)
The Quad Dipsea is a bit easier to get into, but still sells out pretty quickly every year (4 times the fun of the Dipsea?). This year was the 34th running of the Quad Dipsea! This was my second attempt at this race. I started this race a few years ago, only to sprain my ankle and drop after only 7 miles. So there was unfinished business to attend to. My goal was to just finish the race in the 8.5 hours we are given for an official finish.
Eight and a half hours for only 28.5 miles sounds pretty easy, doesn't it? The 9200 feet of elevation gain makes things just a tad more interesting...
The course is beautiful, despite seeing the same sections 4 times!
I was having a wonderful time in the first half. I was running well and climbing well. I even blew through a couple aid stations! I got through the first half in 3:28, but I already knew that I was going to slow down in the second half. I was running well, but my climbing legs were woefully under-trained.
My climbing grew slower and slower as the race went on. My legs started to cramp and hurt on the steep climbs. I was officially in survival mode, despite being able to run on the descents.
On the last lap, I was scared I wasn't going to make it. The climbs hurt, and I had to take breaks going up just to keep my heart rate down. I kept telling myself to take one step at a time. I was still able to drink my Tailwind Mix in my handheld bottle, but nothing was easy at this point. One of the great things about a race like this is the people. Everywhere you go, people are cheering you on. And you get to see everyone racing on the out-and-back course, twice! When you're hurting and suffering, you can take comfort in the fact that you are not alone. You can see pain etched in the faces of many of your fellow runners. It's a reminder to keep fighting, to dig down deep and to keep moving despite the pain.
Somewhere in those final miles, I must have found my limit, and ran right past it. "You must do what you don't think you can do." Isn't that one of the reasons why we run ultras? To find the limits we place on ourselves (mentally), and then surpass them? It's a great feeling! Of course, I would've had a better limit if I had trained better! Oh well. Life goes on.
I finished the race in 237th place out of 300 finishers, in 7 hours and 53 minutes. The shwag was great (a finisher's patagonia jacket and long sleeve shirt)! I felt sick for hours after the race (even after throwing up). My legs randomly seized up through the night. It was all worth it, because I didn't give up and I finished. I didn't win the race. I just owned it (my own race, that is).
Find your limit. Pass it. And don't look back.