After a day of steady rain on Friday, Saturday dawned crystal clear and a little cold (low 50's for the race, I would guess). The Dipsea trail wasn't completely muddy, just about 30% of it and only in a handful of places was it absolutely unavoidable. The good news, as the race director put it, was that the bridge over Redwood Creek was removed, which means you got four chances to wash the mud off your shoes by running through the (15-foot wide, 4-inch deep) creek. Lovely. :-) About 200 people showed up to enjoy themselves. Particularly enjoyable (for me, anyway) was the view from the high parts of the trail (like Cardiac Hill) which was simply spectacular. Visibility was fabulous - San Francisco, Tiburon, Angel Island, Point Reyes, Bodega Head, East Bay - all sparkling in the sunshine. Definitely worth the trip!
As for my race, well, I had a great Triple Dipsea. I wasn't on track for the 5:30 I had gone into the race dreaming about, but probably headed for 6:00 and maybe 60th place. Then, on the fourth trip, as I got to the top of the Steep Ravine steps (which I had been walking), and started to run, I was run over by a rampaging horse named Charley. :-( A cramp just seized my right calf and left me writhing on the ground for several minutes. As luck would have it, there were some hikers on the spot, who gave me two salt tablets, helped massage the cramp, and eventually lifted me back to my feet (not sure I could have made it myself).
Unfortunately there were still six miles to go, and I could barely put any weight on the right calf. So I just started putting one foot ahead of the other and plodding along. The worst part was not even being able to run the downhills. Amazingly, the race is so spread out at this point, that sometimes as much as five minutes went by without someone passing me.
When I got to Muir Woods, I think the cold water from the creek jogged my brain, and I realized that, although my calf was shot, my quads were still in fine shape. Taking advantage, I started power walking up from Muir Woods, and actually passed three people by the top of the stairs! And either the power walking or just the passage of time had eased the pain in my calf, so I was able to "run" down the stairs (but only one step at a time, not two as I would normally do) and then run the 100 yards to the finish.
Splits: 1:15:34, 1:23:24, 1:37:11, 2:23:43 =6:39:53. Negative splits - NOT.
One "mini" encounter: Before the race, I had written to several people on the Ultra list I had never met. I told them they could recognize me because I would be the one person wearing his water bottle on the front, not the back. Sure enough, I was. :-) As I was coming up from Stinson the last time, over the Moors, someone running downhill points to me, having noticed my water bottle. "Hey, are you on Internet?" "Yup, Steve Patt". "Stan Jensen". Well, I said it was a short encounter! Stan must have passed me while I was walking, but from the back he didn't recognize me. :-) Some other time, Stan!
The race itself seems like it was interesting. The lead runners were different every time (three times) they passed me. On the last pass, I met the lead runner just at the top of Cardiac as he was headed home; at that point the top three runners were Tamalpa runners. At the first lap, the top Tamalpa had been #4. The locals clearly were doing a better job pacing themselves (Tamalpa is the running club named after Mt. Tamalpais, over which the Dipsea is run, and which does a lot of its running on the mountain). I have no idea who the winners were, though.
Today it's raining again. Go figure. Two miserable days sandwiched around one spectacularly beautiful day. It was nature's way of telling me I was destined to do the race. Maybe next year nature will keep those stampeding horses out of my way.
Steve "Earned every thread of that race T-shirt" Patt
writing from rainy Bodega Bay