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Monday, January 24, 2011

Golden Gate Headlands Marathon

It's official. I'm signed up for the Golden Gate Headlands Marathon - April 2, 2011.

My Sunday morning training runs are getting painful.

But I'm doing myself no favors either. Saturday morning Matt and I hiked / ran nearly 10 miles having renewed the Saturday morning hikes after a month or so off.

From my phone...

A few minutes later, from Matt's phone...

5:30 am Saturday I was on my bike heading for the park for our unalterable 6:00 am start time. We have pondered pushing the start time back a little to grow our group, but determined that 7 or 8 would likely exclude as many hikers as 6, so 6am it stays.

Bec needed some odds and ends and a walk, so Saturday evening found us walking (Gianna in the jogging stroller and Ella on her scooter) up to Walmart and Lucky for 4 additional miles. Bec was charging away pushing the stroller with me struggling to keep up.

For Sunday I had mapped out an 18 mile run - my longest yet - following a familiar path down to the Martinez Marina, across the Benicia Bridge, and then nearly to Vallejo and back. A creeping, yet distinct negativity swirled around me like mist at 5:40am as I started out, and I knew something needed to change or I would never meet my goal. For some reason my intended route loomed boring. Boring is fatal for me.

I spontaneously changed course 1.5 miles into the run, turning right at Shell Ave. and ran the balance of the course in the exact reverse of my intentions. Over the bridge, and once on Military West, I ran straight toward Vallejo and Benicia State Park. At the park I made a hard left and began to follow the Carquinez Strait back toward the Benicia Marina - my second course alteration. By now my attitude had shifted from pessimism to a resolved optimism fringed with the realization that I was about to run a really long painful way.

The Benicia Marina was just coming to life as I pounded down 1st street. Elderly women in smiles and sweat suits with miniature dogs greeted me while their male counterparts seemed to begrudge the growing light and nature's call to man's best friend. I wound a course past the sail boats and yachts gently testing their tethers and caught glimpses of tables being set for breakfast on board. Gray haired men seemed the primary cohort among the oscillating masts.

From the waterfront I could clearly see the bridge nearly 2 miles up stream, and the Martinez Marina half way in between on the opposite shore. Wow, they looked a long way off.

Just under an hour later I was on that opposite shore looking back across the water with only 3 miles left. The final miles went far smoother than what I was anticipating, and with the exception of a customary depletion of adrenaline in the last 1/4 mile, I frankly felt like I could have kept running.

2 hours 50 minutes. 19.2 miles.
That averages out to a slower pace than I've been targeting, but, well, that's a long way to run.

...And I have till April 2nd to get my speed up.