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.
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!)
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.
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.
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:
…and she was like this.
I’m being funny….but it’s also the truth. 🙂
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.
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 🙂