Humbled by the trails…again!

Sometimes, the opportunity to run comes up and it’s so good that you have to say yes, despite the fact that you know you’re not in shape to do the run justice. This happened to me earlier this week. On Tuesday mornings, you’ll usually find me at the dining room table, with the computer, studying away. Not this week. I bunked off my studies, dropped the Dude at school and drove into the city.

My running buddy for the day was Marjolaine. I met Marjolaine online and interviewed her last year for Running the World: France. We met up once last year and have become solid interweb friends. She was up in SF with visiting family, got permission to have a few hours away to run and we organised a time and a date.

I mapped out a route up in the Marin Headlands. I’d run a fair portion of it with Jen a year or so ago, but there were some new trails. I knew it would be hilly, but whatever, I’d survive. I picked Marjolaine up from her hotel and we sped over the bridge, up the hill and parked by the little loo next to the roundabout. The day was bright, sparklingly clear, warm but not hot and we were excited.

We started by running downhill along Coastal Trail for a mile or so. We were chatting away non-stop, the running was easy and we were having fun. We got to the road at the bottom and ran to the link trail which would take us to Miwok only to find that it was closed for maintenance so we had to divert, running along the road to Rodeo Lagoon. It didn’t add on much distance. Eventually, we got to the Miwok trailhead and started up.

marjolaine trails headlands marin
Marjolaine heads down Coastal
rodeo lagoon marin headlands
Rodeo Lagoon looking pretty much like an infinity pool


Miwok is a beast. We basically ran  over a mile solidly uphill and whilst it’s technically ‘runnable’, it was tough and I ended up walk/jogging. At the bottom, I told Marjolaine to run ahead, to not feel obliged to run with me. She is MUCH faster than me, and as I started puffing and panting, she literally sprang away with a kick of her heels and scampered up the hill. I choose my words carefully – the girl just scampered up Miwok. Hmmmph. (Seriously – Marjolaine is a fantastic runner and it was actually really lovely to watch her run today!)

miwok marin headlands trail
Miwok – one of the flatter moments
miwok marin headlands
We started a mile away at the bottom, in the valley.


She was waiting for me at the junction with Wolf Ridge trail, our next trail. I’d not run Wolf Ridge before and as we gazed at it, looming up pretty much vertically, my heart sank. We ran along the flat bit and got to the steep bit. I haven’t seen a much steeper trail in my life – but my companion skipped up it. We emerged off Wolf Ridge at the ocean whilst a massive vulture flew low overhead. That was pretty magical.

wolf ridge marin headlands trail
Wolf Ridge trail looming up into the distance That dog-leg on the left was insanely steep!
marjolaine marin headlands wolf ridge trail
Marjolaine making it look effortless
marin headlands trail
The views that made it all worthwhile
marjolane me selfie
But first, let me take a selfie


We got a little lost here and ran downhill for a bit before we realised we needed to head back (uphill, boo) and take a different trail. We then scrambled down a crazy steep downhill section of Wolf Ridge trail which had me descending on my bottom whilst Marjolaine skipped down like Kilian. And eventually we hit Tennessee Valley trail which is a very gentle upward climb to the car park.

wolf ridge trail marin headlands
Me on a flat section of the trail before we plunged downwards


From there, I knew the trails back, which helped, but I had forgotten how long and steep Marincello is. At one point, a guy passed us and I said to Marjolaine ‘Go, get him’. I was dying quietly at that point but she immediately bounded into life and chased him down. It was kind of like running with a young puppy. (I said this to her and she said it wasn’t the first time the super-excited dog analogy has been applied to her, so I don’t think she’ll mind me posting this). Basically today, I was like this:

old dog

…and she was like this.

young dog


I’m being funny….but it’s also the truth. 🙂

marjolaine marincello deer trail running
Our exciting wildlife sighting of the day. A deer.


Life got easier at the top of Marincello, and we ran through the merciful flats of the eucalyptus trees on Alta trail before going onto SCA trail. SCA is my favourite trail in the Headlands. It’s beautiful and winds it way downhill with the Golden Gate Bridge and the city in the distance. It’s  the Marin trails at their finest. I sent Marjolaine ahead to enjoy it and I slogged along. I have to be honest, I was so tired at this point that I could hardly enjoy its beauty. Finally we got to the last tiny incline, which I climbed like a dying swan, and eventually we turned up back at the car.

me marin headlands trail eucalyptus
A moment of peace on Alta trail
SCA marin headlands trail GGB
The best view in the world, maybe.
marjolaine marin headlands SCA GGB
She STILL had energy to jump 🙂


We ran 13 miles at about 14 min mile pace (ha) and with 2,300 ft of climbing. I never quite understand what that means in reality but basically it’s two times up Kings Mountain, my local ‘hill’ which makes me feel better about the dead legs!!

I can’t deny that this run was super hard for me and revealed to me quite how much fitness I’ve lost since Kaiser. This is mainly due to my starting studying and I knew it would happen but it’s been quite motivating to get training properly again. I need to work hard and get fit again. I really want to run ‘fast’ again. I want to feel like a runner again. I need to get myself into a routine.

Despite how tough I found it, today’s run was magic. The Headlands are really beautiful and the weather was spectacular today. It was lovely to run with Marjolaine and to get to know her better, and there is nothing quite like running green trails to make my heart glad. It was a pretty awesome morning.

My quads the next day? Oh the pain 🙂

8 Comments Add yours

  1. Nic J says:

    As the yoghurt advert says, there is no pleasure without pain! Reading this reminded me of our Redwood run, with you playing the role of Marjolaine and me in the role of ‘dying swan’! Would still swap a day at a desk to have another go though!!

    1. Cathryn says:

      Ha, that made me giggle. We all get days to be Odette and Odile 😉

  2. Bean says:

    Total trail envy! Looks so beautiful! Thinking we need a trail running vaca;)

    1. Cathryn says:

      It’s about time, isn’t it! Your trails looked nice too!

  3. Jen says:

    Confession: I feel like this almost every time I head out on a trail run with you and JT. I always look forward to the photo-taking breaks. 🙂 BTW, don’t underestimate how much mental fatigue and stress (from your coursework) plays into how tired you felt during this run. I had the same sluggish feeling during a not-so-tough 10 miler in the middle of my class (last week).

    1. Cathryn says:

      Someone else said they felt like the dying swan when out running with me too, which is so strange to hear. I guess it just goes to prove that everyone is faster and slower than someone else so there’s no reason to be snooty about your speed or too self-deprecating about it too. (I always love photo breaks too). And yes, mental fatigue definitely increases tiredness. I’m impressed you got 10 miles in on your course.

  4. It was such a great morning 🙂 Thank you again for sharing it with me. Your “recap” made me laugh SO MUCH with this SO accurate comparison of me and the puppy. I showed the picture of the excited dog to the playboy and he laughed really hard saying it’s actually totally me. I love it. I may change my profile picture with this one 😉
    Also, I want to point out again that you did a really good job!! We ran more than a half marathon and ON TRAILS… which is harder, for sure. So, it’s normal you were tired.

    I can’t wait for our next great running adventures 🙂

    1. Cathryn says:

      I’m glad you thought it was funny, I wasn’t sure if I’d gone too far 🙂

      SO much fun, lady. I loved it, even when I was dying. Great views, great company. See you soon x

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