Berkeley Golden Hills Trail marathon 13th Oct

How sweet to stumble on the roots of life and bring the gift of laughter to others.

My current husband has long diagnosed me with  ‘Penny Macphail Syndrome’. This is where bizarre things happen to me  – always sparked by a  twist of fate but fanned to inferno by some agent of my own incompetence. His favorite episode is  the  time a light fitting bust in a poolside sauna just as I entered it. I was pleased with how dark and steamy it was, lay along a bench enjoying the anonymity of the dark and gave no greeting  when the door opened a few minutes later.  And then a large man in wet bathing trunks sat on my face. The events of today have made his list.

At start with Amanda. Looks normal huh? Nope – she knows Chris Jones (always  a worrying sign) and was running another marathon with him the next day.

This is the third time I have done the Berkeley Golden Hills Marathon. It is a distinctively exciting race – challenging, buoyantly social, beautiful. The marathon is a side dish to the meaty ole Firetrails 50 miler which celebrates local  ultra running legend Dick Collins . Marathoners start at 9am in Tilden park forest. They bounce over hills and plunge through fairy tale forests for 26.2 miles to finish at Lake Chabot Marina.  Hotdog  50 milers start at that marathon finish at 6.30 am, run to our start, shriek a little at the spiders and cobwebs they have dangling over the aid station there, turn around and marathon it after us. Both races are a blast, all sorts of people come to play ….slow, fast, fat, thin, sane, unbalanced ..it has the professional set up that gets elite juices flowing but the accessibility to secure the everlasting devotion of many who have made it their first marathon or ultra. AND these organisers know how to throw an after race party and splurge on the goodies, there are prizes galore ( I really hate it when prizes are stacked around the fastest runners who already have a cloak of glory to swoosh around in) Here you are knee deep in groovy stuff for everyone, oodles of age groups things, random spot prizes and little gifts to show their appreciation if you make a  spectacle of yourself at the finish. Everyone gets a wine glass. Those things really should come with instructions…what do you do with it?

Tis Himself – Dick Collins aka The Legend. Hope no-one else read up about his chronic back condition. Bang goes my excuse for not running his 50 miler.

Nose and nos

My sinuses and chest were  petitioning  to be excused from PE  this week. They messed around with quite THE most  irritating dry cold which  produced nothing sick note generating in the way of symptoms but successfully left me feeling ..meh, shut down the little air supply that ever reaches my weird nose and deposited what felt like a  lining of  warm cookie dough on my lungs.I  counteracted by slathering myself  nose to ribs with Vicks Menthol Rub.
My back was acting up too  – I had congratulated myself on completing several marathons with minor flare ups then strained it good and proper hoisting  a complete stranger’s portly runaway Labrador into my car  – so it marinated it in Icy Heat. Then on went the coating of coconut sun lotion. Now quite the  olfactory sensation, I strode to race registration,  leaving in my wake a trail of  runners, sniffing  the air and narrowing their eyes  suspiciously at each other. Here it emerged I had committed the unpardonable sin of not actually signing up for the race : and you cannot register on the day. Macphail? McPhail?  Muckfail?  “No.” Giddy from my  fumes or just keen to get this highly flammable greased creature away from their desk they gave me a race bib and their blessing. Thank you Julie.

Many happy returns

You are supposed to park at the marathon finish and take a shuttle bus to the start. ‘Were you too smart for this?’ you ask. YaHA. Get up at  5.30am , drive virtually passed the start to catch a  7.15 am bus?  To those cursed with genius there was a second option. Sip morning tea around 7.15 am, drive to the  start for 8 am and lord it over the restrooms for some time before the herds stampede off the shuttle. Run. Get a taxi back. I tossed my keys, some cash  and a taxi number into a drop bag (the organizers bring this to the finish for you). Eagle eyed, I  noticed several other people had reused their  San Francisco Marathon drop bag for the occasion. I thought it sweet. (We may revisit this.)

The race

Well it is a glorious course  – high scenic hills,  deep dark forest, broad fire roads, technical single track, roller coaster undulating stretches, stiff hill climbs, grand sweeping downs. A bit of everything.  The beginning of this race is truly memorable as runners emerge from the chill forest and the tension of a race start to find themselves winding  up exposed fire roads, positively  ablaze with golden light – I guess that’s where the name ‘Golden Hills’ comes from ( I didn’t see anyone digging lol).

I quite literally found myself going dizzy trying to breathe deeply and expand my lungs – hyperventilating I suppose. How ridiculous would it be to render yourself unconscious 5 mins into a race! My Dad actually blew a hole in a lung once while racing so, with this in mind as a possibility, I adopted a shorter staccato breathing which seemed to work for me and I kept it up for the whole race – all a bit odd and very different to my normal.

A group of fast men streamed ahead and I ran in the second  little clump of people which included  red hat man and red top lady. There was no chit chat beyond a friendly hello  – I for one  had to just focus on air.

We chipped up the hill overtaking each other now and then, I did my usual of overtaking on any downs. Once we crested the first main hill I stayed ahead of the lady and ran with the guy for some time until he was a very good boy and retraced his steps up a hill to retrieve a dropped gel packet. And then the fun started  -we started meeting the  front runners in the  50 miler.  They had done around 23 miles and we about 3 I guess. From this point I felt less like I was racing and more that I was in the front row spectating the 50 mile race. I exchanged greetings of some kind with virtually all 252 of them them, shrieked at familiar faces, detained a few for hugging (Chris and Janeth) and only stopped high fiving more  after a high powered mishit with  Tracy left me cursing and sucking my fingers…I might as well have punched her in the face, how unhelpful…sorry about that, I hope your fingers didn’t hurt as much as mind did.  (I would have enjoyed that had I been running behind me getting irritated by all the greetings.)

Huge thanks to Brett Rivers ( San Francisco Running Company) for this pic. I LOVE Brett’s work – he has some weird superpower thing going on….he captures such a sense of moment…the feel of the place/race and the personality of the runners. My camera wants to go and live with him.

I  altered  normal race etiquette (men often give way to women, slow uphill to fast downhill etc) and showed a certain respect by getting out of  their way. For the most part this just means I engaged in polite and at times perilous activity running off  the trail to let them pass far more than I would normally do but twice I gave the greatest gift imaginable and stopped dead to hold a gate for an approaching 50 miler. Yes I do rock!  I even looked behind me once and considered embracing humanity further…should I hold a little longer for the man in the red hat. Naw.

Considering the people who marked this course we were lucky not to be sent up a few extra hills. Running royalty Speedy Yanko (above)  and she of Grand to Grand 167 miles in 6 days fame, Sarah Lavender Smith set out many of the ribbons – neither of whom can be trusted to resist a long distance or sheer cliff face. Sarah had done the final check run, starting in the dark with a head light ..I encountered her (with joyful hug) heading towards the marathon start  a little into the race. A trim figure backlit with golden light, hair braids a-flying. She looked like a cross between an angel and a Viking.

I ran alone for mile upon mile. Where I could glance back I saw no-one or the man in the red hat. All was good, just a relaxing run. No pressure.  The first time I ran this race I  fizzled so badly at the end I woozily ran into a hedge around mile 23 and spent the last mile staggery walking while people I had long passed streamed by me, most with kind words which I appreciated deeply at the time   – one with a ‘ have you done this before ?’…which made me  determined to run the same race again …better…preferably beating them. Since then the organizers  have had to change the course. The last few miles still trace the side of lake Chabot but now reach it a little further down the lake and do so by looping over a few hills which I think made it harder.  So I wanted to keep something in the tank.

I reached the final aid station. They refilled my water bottle and set me off with the most encouraging words imaginable…

.‘oh look..there’s ANOTHER woman coming’ .

The psychological stain of being swarmed on that last stretch before galvanized me into action.  I chugged up a little  hill and streamed fast down the other side heading for the lake. Many runners celebrate at the sight of this water. I allowed myself a modest internal cheer but knew think ‘ rejoice for we are done’  now honey and those last miles will seem intolerable. I  pulled my headphones off ..couldn’t cope with music…and ran as hard as I could – I’m not a sprint finisher so steady force it had to be.  I have to say I am very cross with this  lakeside path  – it’s sounds  like a flat, relaxing, stroll with your toddler kind of thing but some giant has  bunched it up into really mean little hills. Moreover, you can see a great big elegant swathe of lake stretching out endlessly along the water ..on and on. A landscape gardener’s delight but marathoner’s dismay. If I was doing the 50 miler I’d be up for  blocking it in with concrete for a direct route at that point.

Finally the finish. They even put out a tape for me to run through  – I don’t think I’ve ever had that before …what a treat.

Oh joy.

First three ladies. Petra, Self and Rea. My time was  3.56.05 , Rea ‘lady in red’  was right after me in  3.59.13 She also fought for it on those last miles. We had each other to thank for  a pretty nasty 20 minutes :0) The big difference between us is in 20 years time she’ll still be doing it :0) Petra McDowell was third lady with 4.13.48  – all three top  ten out of 151 people.  I was 6 mins faster than in 2011  YAY! but slower than my 3.50.55 the year before, despite fizzling at the finish. (There was a little course change after 2010 which might add a little time.) Looking at the top ten best performers over the years list it’s still all hail Mighty Caren Spore who annihilated me in 2010 with 3.43.47! And who is this Ms Lavender Smith person also looking DOWN at me ..that’s my angel/Viking lol).Rea made the list too today:0)  

And at the finish line – treat of all treats – there was the high wattage smile of Ms Christy Bentivoglio (who had done the Horseshoe half marathon then come to see friends finish at this event) and the welcoming grin of Lucas Wojciechowski. Two of the nicest people and coincidentally silliest names of my recent acquaintance.  Lucas’  skinny 20 yr old butt had glided over the marathon finish line in 3.26.06  – nearly half an hour before me and in second place,  just 5 mins after the first man Noah Brautigam.

Picture of Christy and self by the vastly entertaining Margaret. Margaret’s pictures are sensational mainly because she is making people laugh so hard. Pse note lady in hat behind me who appears to be on fire/about to detonate.

#2 man Lucas, young, fresh faced, fast- helping old lady across the grass

#1 man Noah. I think the shirt was holding me back.

With Margaret. I had this expression for a while after my massage. I’m sure it’s nothing to worry about.

Out of the Frying Pan Into the Fire

At this point I foolishly approached the massage tent, ignored their name ‘Monsters of Massage’  and lingered not over their logo of a laughing devil. My back was sore and I thought they might help me. It was excruciating. I thought I was being deboned. (read their web site – it’s a gas) It turns out I was sampling Ve Loyce aka ‘Monster”s own  method of ‘Attack Orientated Target Massage’. Ve Loyce savaged me while his henchman Tom tortured people on a table  beside me. Tom’s first victim (Mr Orange  – see pic) shamelessly ran away pretending he needed the rest room. When his  replacement started whimpering as piteously as I was, we stretched out out arms to see if we could hold hands. I told Ve Loyce that I  preferred my ex husband to him and was just considering playing dead when  he released his grip for a second and I bolted …must say I was moving fast and felt  pretty darn good..but I may have been in shock.

Mr Orange who ran away from the massage monsters. Yes we shared a marathon  – but  surviving the massage monsters made us kin.

And then..

Home time. I saw the first 50 miler in ..didn’t speak to him, just asked if I could poke him. He was real. 6.46.26 ..WOW!

I trotted off to call a taxi. The number I had  didn’t work so I got the number for On Time Yellow Cabs from the guy at the Marina entry kiosk.

This is how I met Resham.

The running was the easy bit of the day.

Resham has little to teach about speaking English, deciphering those inflicted with a Irish accent, or grasping the geography of the Castro Valley and surrounding regions.  At first, these being the primary offerings I was rating him upon, I thought he had little to teach. I was wrong.

It took 15 minutes to communicate where I was, and another 20 for him to find me…anxiously glancing at my watch. I was late. I had to get home for our family outing to the kids’ Octoberfest. Then my heart sank when he had never heard of Tilden Park or of the main freeway leading to it the I -80. He was keen on the similar sounding 880 but was talked out of it when I helped him plumb the marathon start location into his GPS gadget. We set off,  him encouraging me to join in with the directions as the lack of a house number on his GPS was worrying him. This is because the race starts in the middle of a forest not in someone’s house. It was when I fully realised that  the  concept of a running race  –  my entire little world at the time- was not something we were ever going to clarify – that I started seeing the situation from his point of view and being rather touched by him.  He was never going to be impressed I had run let alone won a marathon, always going to wonder why I left a car in Tilden and  how I got  to  Lake Chabot (I mimicked running and pointed at my number but he thought I was dancing). What on earth did he make of what I was wearing?

Damsel in distress. V similar looking.

We live some way from here, and my grasp of the area is kinda  limited to trails none of which I hoped we would be driving on this afternoon, so I fired up location services on my iPhone in order to concur or compete with his GPS . As has happened before, this somehow killed my battery dead. His GPS took us on a strange route,  c. 50 minutes later  we closed in on the park.  He was clearly hesitant as we entered forest but believed in me enough to keep going and layers of anxiety seemed to peel from his face when I pointed to my car – which endeared me to him. We parted in a friendly manner  – me hesitantly saying his name to pronounce  it right  …and ..a smart move….giving him a healthy tip on top of the $60 fare. I was so late – but I could still make the last hour or so of Octoberfest.

I rummaged in my drop bag (we said we’d revisit this) and discovered my key was missing. I recalled when I’d  picked the bag it had been opened, a shoe, a make up bag  – still containing $100 cash  – and some clothing was lying on the ground nearby. At the time my dearest concern was that the Castro Valley should not be exposed to the sight of my  underwear so I scooped everything up quickly and grabbed the bag. It never occurred to me to check for the keys. Doh!!

Now …..forest glade, no cell phone, no key, miles from home. I sprinted after Resham’s car screaming his name like a banshee. He skidded to a stop.

I couldn’t call  anyone at the finish to ask them to check the ground near the drop bags as my cell phone was dead. After some tough communication Resham understood and was up for me recharging my phone in his car –  then he had no cable.  He was fine with me calling using his phone but he had no internet connection and I had no numbers. So I called my husband on his phone and we decided the only thing to do was for me to taxi it back to the start. I spent a long time on that phone call. During it Resham sat quiet and patient, not interrupting or motioning for me to get on with it ..and not running his meter. I was stressed but I did notice it.  I also went back to the spot where the drop bags had been held at the start of the race  – now a completely unmarked piece of scrub land and checked the grass and noticeboards around there for  keys. He sat patiently. He didn’t understand. He didn’t run his meter. He watched me pointing at the trail and ‘dancing’ and smiled, calm and patient. We established I had had fun in this area earlier. All in all he had sat in Tilden Park with his meter off for at least 25 minutes before we left. Off we went.

Resham was more confident with return directions as he knew the ultimate destination but something strange happened on the I-580. One minute we were on it. Suddenly he  discover himself  on the 980 then eventually calmed at the 880. This  will make you rip your hair out if you live there and know the roads. It took well over an hour to drive back and cooked up c. $75. Back at the entry kiosk Resham had trouble trying to explain our mission (and why we shouldn’t pay as we were not parking to stay at the marina) so I leaned forward, spoke to the  man who had  given me this taxi firms’ number nearly three  hours ago and explained the key problem. He threw his head back and guffawed openly…… no pretense of concern, no social nicety just sheer exuberant joy ..’oh that’s priceless’ and waved us through dabbing at his eyes. We made his day.

Pardon my French several times today while looking for those keys

Back at the finish. I asked Resham to wait in the taxi while I ran down to the finish and started the process of looking for the key. I had hoped it would be right there on the ground where my bag had been  – no. I started to feel panicky. Several people helped me search, we lifted every bag up and checked beneath it, we checked the bushes nearby and under the tables where a key might have been kicked. I returned to the Monsters of Massage  to see if I had clawed it out of the bag whilst in the grip of agony. They liked the idea but the key wasn’t under their tables. The race organizer enlisted people to check the cars the drop bags had been transported in and some kind souls were starting to scour the ground of the route from car to drop bag deposit.

Just then a voice said -‘ yes someone found a key’.

While I had been searching two wonderful people had just set off around the finish area asking absolutely everyone  if they had found a key or heard of someone finding a key  – people manning stands, runners and supporters. Unbelievably someone had JUST found a strange set of keys in their drop bag and asked a lady manning a stand what to do with it. Now she was running around trying to spot them again.  I waited ..a quivering mess ..most grateful for the calming aura of Mr John Brooks who proffered his cell phone so I could let my husband Hamish know what was going on the second we saw those keys and if they were mine. They were. I hugged everyone who didn’t bat me off and fought back tears of relief.  OK I blubbed. My guess is that my key somehow fell out of my bag, either someone handling a pile of bags dropped mine upside down  or someone who also used a San Francisco drop bag opened mine to see if it was theirs, pulled out some stuff then …possibly in shock having encountered my underwear- moved on to the next bag. After that, either this person tried to make amends or a separate person spotted the key  – and chucked it ‘back’ into the wrong  bag. Today I learned that drop bags should have zips and padlocks.

Had I checked my bag, noticed the key missing and searched for it at the finish when I came in I would never have got that key back. I wouldn’t  have been there looking four hours later when the owner of the golden drop bag plunged a hand in and thought ..now what is that? Suddenly the hours spent driving around with Resham seemed rather poignant. I am also  so incredibly lucky that a person actually noticed alien keys in their bag.

So now I had to get back to my car. Many people tried to hook me up with a lift but it is a long and awkward journey whatever route you take and no-one was leaving immediately. I also had the nasty problem that I had run up $75 on Resham’s clock ..and that was before getting out of the car to search for the key about 20 minutes ago. Mr Brooks galloped up to the taxi with me on a fine white charger, threw me a bag of gold ($40 cash he had in his car) and even thanked Resham for his patience. How amazingly patient Resham was. Not because he was making easy money either. He had  stopped his meter when I got out. I gave him $80 ( $40 I had and $40 from Sir John). I told him it was all the cash I had and asked him to take me back to my car. He took time to fold the money carefully and drove off with an encouraging smile. Did he understand I had no more cash?

It was another good 40 minutes before we got back to my car. By this time the clock said $150. I offered to write him a check for the amount I owed him – but he gave an enchanting smile and said ‘I am happy.’ I shook his hand warmly and gave him a Cliff bar I had picked up at the race finish as I got out of the car. As I left he had parked up, opened his Cliff bar with great care, divided it into neat sections  and was eating it while gazing at a meadow in Tilden Park. He used to have a rice farm in Bangladesh and misses his fields.

Thank you Berkeley Golden Hills Marathon, Sir  John Brooks – who turns out to be the new owner pumping race experience, customer focus and infectious enthusiasm  into the recently demised running event company  Pacific Coastal Trails ( and has since declined repayment …so if you see him at a race, sell him a sob story and see how much you can get lol ) and of course Resham.

Wore my running for Pete sign today. Saw some of your best friends being awesome and met many who knew and missed you. xx

Marathon results

50 Miler results


Big Sur Trail Marathon, Sept 29

The day I met Pete, at the Pacifica Foothills marathon in June. He performed his famous, bizarrely agile and high star jump for me and I became just one more in along line of fools who have aimed the camera too low to capture the moment properly.

With deep sadness, I have to dedicate this post to smiling gentleman of the trails, Pete Mingwah. Just two days after racing with many friends ( including myself ) at Mt Daiblo two weeks ago,  Pete suffered an aneurysm and died a few days later. He was 42 years young. An ultra runner, friend and Dad. I only met him recently – but, and I am so grateful for this, he just happened to pop up at almost every race I did in the last three months (we also realised we had done an uncanny number of the same races  before knowing each other), so I  got to know and love and respect  running Pete. We also became friends on Facebook  – and bonded over our other shared  hobby of loving and laughing at being a parent. Such a handsome guy with a distinctively beautiful smile, a fondness for  jettisoning himself  extraordinarily high up into the air to form a star, and an endearing habit of dining  upon baby food while racing.  To say he will be missed really doesn’t cover it. There was one small comfort at his funeral. His friend Janeth told me his doctors said running had probably extended his life.

Pete (left) with Tony and Chris after their 100 miler in August. That’s 300 miles of crazy right there!

Pete eating  baby food at Alva and Lynnard’s  Diablo aid station. The story of Pete as a runner is inspiring – for non-runners and runners with crazy dreams alike. Like many of ‘The Stamina on Toast Brigade’ such as Tony, Chris and Janeth who persist in belittling my running with vast flurries of races and daring distances. He changed his life by taking up running surprisingly recently -I believe his first marathon was San Francisco in July 2011. This summer he ran it again, his time sandwiched between his Summer 7 ( 7 marathons in 7 days) and a 100 miler!

We had a lot of fun pre-race at Diablo – I love this photo ..we are either being spiders or trying to scare them. Pete in red hat.

Pete’s own photo starting the final descent at Diablo. Who has the endurance to be on trails for ten and a half hours ..and then want to do it again next week? I know I may have used the expression ‘Raving Lunatic’ Pete  – but you know I meant awesome!

Big Sur Marathon

Pete was a member of Marathon Maniacs, and was rapidly moving towards Titanium status (your status depends on the number of marathons you have done). When he died his friends started running marathons ‘ for’  him. I pledged my Big Sur marathon. He achieved Titanium status the day after his funeral. Friends are now continuing to contribute races with the aim of hitting 4440 miles (his membership number) by the end of the year.

Pete on my race bib.

How far?

I booked in to do this marathon some time ago. I knew it was a wee ways away. We planned a family weekend in Big Sur. However, Pete’s funeral was the day before and  – on a much happier note  – my friend Speedy (Devon Crosby Zoom) was marrying Nathan Yanko..the only man on earth fast enough to catch her..the day after. So if I was going to do it I would have to drive there and back on the day. There was a shriek and uncorking of medicinal wine when I finally got round to Googling up just how far away it was the night before …which was the evening of Pete’s funeral. A seven hour roundtrip?  I went  for it. Pete and I enjoyed laughing at each other  – he laughed at my speed and I at his stamina. I freshly appreciated that stamina when it occured to me that driving there, running a marathon and driving back would take about the same ten and a half hours Pete had put in on Diablo. Thank you Daddy Macphail for letting me go and leaving you at the mercy of our children.

Coffee Disaster

I left home at 5am and drove for hours, constantly on the brink of stopping for coffee. Unbelievably, I found myself on a coastal road with mileage counting down to arrival  –  I had missed my last opportunity to caffeinate. I must have passed over 400 coffee shops. Staggering incompetence. There should be a  public information sign…

Billy No Mates   (translation for US readers  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_slang)

I felt a tad despondent  I didn’t know anyone there and everyone else seemed to swigging coffee and chatting in groups about how lovely their coffee was.   I thought about the  fun spider group photos we have of Diablo and started asking people in groups if  they’d like  me to take a photo with them all in it. I took pictures of nine groups.  Made me feel a little better.

Just before the race, organizer Dave Horn climbed onto a fire dept truck and addressed the crowd. He asked who had run the most marathons and established what he thought was a person who had run 170 of them. The man was indeed a clear and impressive winner but had actually said 107, it was deliciously funny to watch as he attempted to get a correction but was not heard over the cheering of the crowd. I was  also amused overhearing comments from perhaps a slightly less experienced guy who had ‘ simply drunk lots of water yesterday’ so he didn’t have to carry a water bottle in the race today.

 

Big Sur’s famous Bixby Bridge. This is the picture that lured me to sign up for this race. Sadly, you don’t get to run over it…it is waaaay too flat. But you do tumble down a hillside to reach an aid station by it, crawl back up to a turnaround and descend to it again. You also get to drive by it on the way home  and see poor souls still out there eating hill. History lesson – the bridge is named after the creek and the creek is named after New Yorker Charles Bixby who had a lumber business here in 1868. Before the bridge was built in 1932 the residents of Big Sur were often cut off in the winter, the 11 mile coastal road was often impassable. And the pour souls had no chance of reaching Starbucks.

I like to think of my races as a visual image. This one needed little imagination as it is clearly a set of teeth. Premolar (ok a bit pointy but go with it) , Canine and a little row of incisors, back to the Canine, Premolar and finish.

On the word go three men foolishly threw away the chance to initiate a deep and meaningful friendship with me and hurtled out of sight. Erik Stanley was to win the marathon in 3hrs 2mins. Faster than I could do a downhill road marathon on roller skates with a favourable wind behind me. Bet he had coffee. The other two doubtless finely caffeinated chaps Oswaldo Lopez and Sean Curry stayed together for the whole race and finished around 3.27.   But ..and let me shout from the roof tops…behind them strode a mighty pack of four strong ladies, one dressed entirely in pink..even her hair. (She was fun. I looked like a clap of thunder beside her.). Two of them fell back after a few miles but one lady crested the first hill ahead of me. I exerted myself more than I normally would at the start of a race to catch her  – frankly I just felt so sad for Pete. I knew I was supposed to feel I was running with him or honoring/celebrating him and like so many people that day I was running with flashes of very happy memories of him in my head  – but I couldn’t get passed a leaden saddness…and that feeling you want to do something about it/fix it.  This was an Envirosports event  – and they have  a no headphone policy,  I couldn’t lift my mind with audio..and today I wasn’t sure I had it in me to run in my own head.

When I got to the top of the hill I zoomed by her on the down. Darn. It looked like the best I was going to have was a  ‘Flat Stanley’ (someone who passes me uphill but I pass down hill so we only get to talk on the flat bits). Some time later she reached me I was climbing the next big hill and we got to talking.  And she was absolutely wonderful..so  perfect in fact that if you were going to put ‘the perfect woman’ into a movie this would be a bit OTT.  Her name was Kirstin Walter, she founded and directs Feelgood, a non-profit selling grilled cheese sandwiches to students in colleges across America to raise money to combat world hunger. She was of course beautiful to look at – long blonde hair..   perfect figure  ..and she has a ten month old baby. And she is young ..29 …nearly 20 yrs younger than me.  She hadn’t run a marathon for about 5 years ..however..when she did .she ran them in 3hrs 6. Not stopping for sandwiches then!!! (my pb is 3.12). Also …and a sensitive point for me..she was clearly not a klutz as she was carrying her phone loose  in her hand to monitor her running. We all know I would face plant and have that smashed up or arced off down an impenetrable cliff in seconds.  Had she not been such a lovely person I’d have pushed her over the edge to take the pressure off the rest of womankind. As it was I was keen to have her around so when we came to the next downhill I decided to try and teach her the way I run downhill. She absolutely nailed it!!! And we were able to run together for miles.

With Kirstin Walter

You too can dislocate your knee or tear discs by following my handy tips for running downhill fast.  1) Plant your heel firmly and lift it out or roll the foot over it depending on the terrain. Sometimes you can push off the toe to build speed.  2) If  you can see you don’t have to brake –  don’t. Many runners go down a long slope braking constantly rather than flowing down it. Chickens!  3) Hold your core tight and lean your head and shoulders so you fall down the hill with gravity. Do literally hold your arms out if you need help to balance 4) Get a strong breathing rhythm with a deliberate, long, calm exhale. 5) Don’t let your head micromanage your feet and legs. Lift your mind away from placing each foot and making sense of  each leg..let your subconscious figure it out. 6) Lengthen your stride, sometime it feels like you are running in slow motion. Spend as long as possible in the air.

At the third aid station my stomach suddenly cramped up. And I was surprised to find myself inside a Portaloo releasing a disturbing quantity of matter from my innards. What the..? Was my body reacting to the  long car journey or expressing outrage at the lack of caffeine? I Then recalled my misguided experiment adding Udos Oil to my Power Porridge that morning. All the grown up runners seem to swear by it but I’m not entirely sure race morning is when they consume it. Worse, I had only intended to add a drop and a whole lot whooshed in…and it’s awfully expensive so I still ate it. Ah. I emerged from the Portaloo and headed off downhill in pursuit of  Kirstin. So having just taught her how to run downhill so successfully, I was now struggling  to catch her. Eventually I did.

My actual family

As we approached Bixby Bridge Kirstin asked if anyone was meeting me there. It was such a charming idea I was smitten with a mental  image of my children lined up with home made posters, their father nodding sagely and offering strategy tips. (I’ve run my way to exhausting the family’s interest ..though the 3 yr old does like  rating medals for how well they make imprints in playdough). It turned out that this quite delightful young lady was accompanied by the winners of Most Lovely and Supportive Family In California. We had her ten month old baby Wendy (named after her mother who had died just a year ago), her divine  husband, his surfing friends, her father and his friend from work. They even staggered themselves along the hillside leading to the bridge so as to  hit her with numerous little boosts of support. But here is the most awesome thing… both she and every single one of them  made a pronounced effort to include me in all their happy greetings. And from then on I absolutely shared them with her.

Kirstin dancing towards her support team :0) I’m seething in the Portaloo at Bixby Bridge right now.

Even more exciting, they didn’t stay at the bridge….once we saw them there they proceeded to pop up in unusual places (again in splinter groups to give her …and now us..more hits of support). Her Dad took her water bottle at the bridge in order to refill it for her. We both expected him to return it to her the second time we reached the bridge …. but miles before the bridge he popped up in the forest!  I think he may have actually run up the hill with it…and done it pretty fast.

Back at the bridge I was again detained for some time studying the interior of a Portaloo.  Aaarrgh!   Kirstin was a good way ahead of me as I started back on the return leg…but her support team were out if force and cheered me on as if they had come for that express purpose. Normally other people’s families make me miss mine. I just  felt like an honorary member of theirs for the day.  Certainly makes a change from the type who yell ‘get her’ to someone behind you.

Self and Bixby Bridge (pic by Kirstin’s family)

I had suffered unspeakable horrors with two more restroom breaks (one au naturale which was expressly forbidden…I thought no judge would do me for it considering I had used all the portaloos on the course too)  When I got to the top of the penultimate hill  ‘the Canine’ (see map of race as teeth). The man at the aid station just had two words for me ‘Good luck’.  I was perhaps not looking my best?  But my stomach seemed to say “I’ve toyed with you enough now run along home and don’t do it again”.  I dug deep, inhaled the glorious breeze and  positively thundered down the wide rocky fire road.  Had Kirstin not been ahead  I wouldn’t have done it at half the speed..I seemed to be airborne for a lot of it. She heard me approaching …or possibly feared begin run over my a herd of elephants ..and waved behind her enthusiastically.  We were  both very happy to be together  as we hit the last hill ‘the Premolar’ and  – as expected –  it was a tough old crawl up. The conversation kept us both going.

This picture really capture the heat and terrain (pic of Kirstin by her family)

Finally we got to that last aid station  – with just a  2.5 mile blast downhill to go. We stayed together and were keen to  finish together. Envirosports is the company that awards a chicken purse (handbag) and a bottle of wine to the female winner. Could we squeeze two chickens out of them? I was especially keen to snare a chicken today as I had promised my friend Speedy (Devon Crosby Helms) it should be hers if ever I won one again …and she was getting married the next day. Devon’s bridal trousseau  bulges with far more glittering prizes from very scary proper races..like the US Marathon Olympic trials…but it needed a chicken purse.   We plummeted down fast but comfortable. I soaked up the sweeping view, salted breeze and golden light. Few people who ran race in Pete’s name that day will have done so dry eyed, but I was very much filled with joy as well as sadness as tears came to me there . I literally started flapping my arms in the air like a bird and  ‘flew’ along laughing with Kirstin – we kept passing  people completing shorter distances  – everyone was enjoying exchanging greetings,  marveling at the light and the view and the fact that our hills were done. There could be no finer way to celebrate friendships  made on the trails.

Two first ladies (Photo from Kirstin’s family)

Suddenly we turned a corner and there was the finish- a colorful gathering of people across the path (I jokingly asked Kirstin if they were all members of her family). We crossed the line together hand in hand, Kirstin greeting  the race official with “we want to split the chicken” . The time was 3 hrs 39 min.

Urgent message for Devon..

Of course all of my new family for the day were there  – and once again I was just blown away by how they all included me. It was quite the most joyful end to a race. They only had one chicken bag and one bottle of wine, but could mail out a second bag so we agreed I should  snap up the  chicken  for Speedy  – and team Kirstin claimed the wine. We parted company. I felt overwhelmed again.  Pete had won a marathon in style – a lady on each arm. I climbed into my car to start that looooong drive home, and was startled by a tapping on my window. Kirstin’s husband, positively beaming….they had found a bottle of wine for me too :0) Officially the perfect family!

Stuff diamonds – we have babies and chickens

I drove away feeling good, the expert marathon runner who had smiled upon the comments of novices earlier and tutored others in downhill technique during the race. What a pro. Off I went completely forgetting to pick up my T shirt and medal.  Thank you Envirosports for posting them to me.

http://results.us.eventdirector.net/4843

And finally …after a bit of a scrub down

honoured to be with Speedy on her big day :0)

Congrats to Devon and Nathan. It’s amazing what you can pick up on these trails!

Mt Diablo Trail Marathon, Sept 15th

Alva Woof (fantastic name!) took this photo of me at her aid station

Last time the tarantulas absolutely freaked me. Now I was going to scare the hell out of them! I attached a ridiculous spider to my water bottle and headed off to Coastal Trail’s Mt Diablo race. Heh heh. People asked “‘Are you really going to run with that thing?”  But the spider was still making up her mind.

Hello ladies ….
It turns out their bite is no worse than a bee sting unless you are allergic to it. (How do you know if you are?)  They’ve got a bad reputation by hanging around with tiny unseen black widow spiders –  whose victims often collapse rasping ” it must’ve been that big fat fluffy one..get ‘im” . And oh yes there are plenty of black widows here too.

When I ran this marathon in 2010,  the revelation that Mt Diablo is a breeding ground for tarantulas was quite the pulse jolter. Moreover, this race’s September date coincides with their mating season – when Mr Fluffy and pals drape themselves seductively on the trails. I greeted my first amorous hopeful around mile three with a gentle smile. I assumed it was a child’s toy. It was not until there was an identical toy around mile ten and soon after a third that  curiosity drew me in for a closer look.  I bent over him. How cute. His fluff blowing gently in the breeze. And he moved. I rocketed in the air with a scream normally reserved for childbirth. I had no idea you could get tarantulas here, I thought they lived in Africa or something. A polar bear wouldn’t have surprised me more. Worse – I absolutely believed they kill people. No-one was around to tell me that wasn’t true.

Endorphin Dude’s pic ‘Fun before Facing The Devil

Pic from aid station volunteer Alva
When a park invests in such a fancy fire danger sign you guess it gets used  quite a bit. Try not to think the bear is grave digging.

Last time it was an unusually cool day. Course records abounded (including ladies marathon for me) and I thought the race logo of a moutain on fire was something to do with the name Diablo /devil. But no – the mountain actually is on fire normally around now and the day before the race was forecast to be 97/55 F. Chance of precipitation said ‘only if you cry’.

The course as a squashed eyeball Moving animated eye looking back and forth with pupil dilating

The course is fairly tough. The elevation is considerable with a 6, 760′ elevation for my race, the marathon and the way it plays out is kinda mean. The downs are so long they bang your knees into your rib cage. And the ups are  just asking for a slap. On and on and on …no sense of humanity.

Now I like to break the course away from geography and into a visual image I can cope with in little chunks. To me this one is clearly a stomped upon eyeball. Everyone runs up the optic nerve, 4 milers peel away before it becomes a hill, 10 milers climb to the first crest, Juniper Campground (where insane/unwitting people are camping knee deep in tarantulas) , everyone else continues into the eye ball to the blue trail (which clearly outlines the iris). Half marathoners get to the summit and plummet back the way they came. Marathoners and 50kers return the same way for a jot then take a left to complete the circle of the iris then its off for an adventure around  the vitreous sac. Marathoners hit optic nerve after that,  50kers loop around the iris again first. Now the pupil – that black hole – is the option considered by Allen Lucas (see pic) in his weepingly funny blog notthatlucas@blogspot.com.  When you get to the very summit and it’s all been a bit much, you can just ask a confused tourist  to help you up the railings and leap off.

Allen Lucas and his wife Diane. Do look up his blog. , So  modest about his running skills he is anxious he will not be allowed on the  Coastal Trails shuttle bus.

The race started. Last time I  felt rather  empowered by the start – two miles of  flat on a generous fire road. It isn’t going to win any beauty contests but has a lovely personality. There’s ample time and space to go at your own pace and find a good breathing rhythm before you hit hill. Today I felt meh.  It was just 8am yet the air we were  sucking in held a foreboding heat. “Quick chat about working conditions when you’re ready love” hissed my lungs.

At the start.I am 419 -Lady in yellow is giggling at spider

Adona gracing the 50k …..uh words fail me,make up your own caption or just fall on your knees

When I hit the hill last time I floated up it. This time not so much, just an off day. I slowed it down to find some sense of wanting to be there. I waved my spider around and had a few giggles. That helped. Part of me wanted to be running with my friends doing the 5ok (and pacing themselves behind me accordingly). Not only were fun people like Janeth, Endorphin Dude Tony and Pete running it, Adona ..Queen of the 20 miler had thrown her cap in the ring. There I’ve been trying to bully her in to running marathons and she goes all ultra on me. Honestly, I be feeling pretty darn pleased with myself if it wasn’t for these crazies putting the JUST in my marathons lol. (Their fellow cohort Chris Jones was running 100 miles elsewhere).

I’ve pinched this picture of you Leigh-Ann :0) This is where you get the first really amazing view and your body says ‘well done, you were right, it was a good idea to run up that hill after all”.

Then we climbed high enough to get a view. It is staggeringly beautiful. Perhaps the most striking of all Coastal’s events I have done. My spirits lifted, I started to have fun, my pace quickened and I began working my way up the field. The air also cleared, the valley floor seemed to trap warm air ( I noticed it later going down too). ,Up higher we even had a breeze. At one point  – just around where Leigh Ann is photographed (see pic), I wanted to soak in the view so much I started running up the hill backwards. I said ‘wow’ out loud as I turned. A  man a little down hill from me laughed. I guess it  looked like I was admiring him. We exchanged a smile as I did a little double take and hurriedly turned back so as not to overtake the next guy while  laughing and running backwards.  If someone did that to me I’d thump them for sure.

The summit – and my former shame

It was even more satisfying for me to reach the very summit  than most because well  – ahem – last time I missed it. My name is only on the course record for the ladies marathon by the grace of race organiser Wendell (and he had to add  time to it  to counteract knuckleheadedness.)

Just before the out and back to the summit there is a car park around mile 6. You emerge from bushes to cross this and can see Coastal markers for marathon and 50k runners disappearing down the other side of the mountain. To the left of these are directions for the out and back to the summit. I was struggling with an errant contact lens and whether that alone  was it or some vehicles/people were in front of the additional signage I don’t know – but though I pointedly looked for some higher echelon all I could see were two  fairly small rectangles of car park and those markers.  David Schoenberg  was just enough ahead of me to be out of sight, running up the summit,  and no-one was behind me.  This must be IT, what a let down. Wendell had told us to look for a message at the summit to check we had been to it. I frowned at the bleak car park and squinted at some  tiny letters on some metal thing but couldn’t make them out …I was expecting a sign he’d written.. odd.  Frankly rather disappointed with the summit, I shot off down the mountain, timing it to be just out of sight when David descended.

Prepare to Cringe

Neither of us saw the other again until the end. He had a fair idea what I had done but was too polite to air suspicions. It wasn’t until the conversation turned to the summit ….and my disappointment over it  raised a Coastal eyebrow that David  gently mentioned he had not had the pleasure of encountering me on the out and back . And the goof was uncovered. Awful – oh put my head in a bag!  And the worst of it was I knew I had done a really good run- now it was hard to tell what was speed and what unfair. I’m still cringing. After this when navigational slipies have added to my mileage and even cost me a placing or two I have been very content. I’m happy to be thought an idiot but not a cheat. Oh horrid feelings.

Just when you think it can’t get worse

You see – tiny monument, easy to miss

When I stepped onto this car park today all hopes that two years of cringing could come to an end evaporated as the size and clarity of the  summit return directions burned into my retinas. I literally covered my face and groaned. I recalled a small rectangular car park but here was a whole new world, my car park was a little overflow to the main one and  – as if designed to humiliate me – there was actually a  summit monument …a sizable, elegant  building with grand stairs.  I thought I had missed some tiny little single track hidden by bushes. They must have thought I was completely insane.

When I got to the top the view was outstanding. Today we had elastic bands instead of a message and I put mine on the end of one of my braids. If you have read my blog before you may remember I now avoid putting these on my wrist. I did it once and an hour later my hand started to  look like a plastic glove on its way to being blown into a rubber chicken.

Marathon
Elevation Gain: 6,760′
(Per Avocet Altimeter)

The summit is a chance  to interact with people (much mock horror at and waggling of  spider etc)  and to check out the field – who is ahead of you and who just behind…but  it is a guessing game who among them is running the marathon or longer.  The majority will be doing the half marathon  – they turn right as they come off the summit and return to the finish the way they came up. As I turned left myself I felt sure I was at least pursing  Dan Nahrwold (who won the Coastal Coyote ridge marathon two weeks ago…as his first marathon)  and one bright smiley lady in blue with those funny feet running shoes.  They were both well ahead of me but I hoped I might  catch up with them or at least see them as I was running better now and knew we were approaching a big downhill.

But it wasn’t to be. I saw Dan dwarfed by the mountains  in the distance but no-one else (I guessed funny feet girl must be a half marathoner).  Still the down was glorious. It is worth suffering the rest of this marathon just to experience this bit, I felt humbled by the beauty, it is more like flying than running..effortless and fast….and it goes on for 4.6 miles! At one point you pass through a distinctive section of rich dark soil scattered with quartz. I adored almost every second of it…

This is where I saw the moving tarantula last time. Then as now I was completely alone. Suddenly  – a  sharp pain in my right ankle. I froze and could hardly bear to look down I was so scared there would be a  spider attached to my foot (apparently if severely provoked they can jump on you…..maybe Dan had been rude to it lol)… but there was nothing to see. The pain was significant and I could see a sore on my heel but it went away after a while, I guess it was either a bee or a sharp stone. Nasty moment. It could have been an odd task for some coroner, prising a giant  fluffy spider from the hand of a runner for whom her  severe allergy to tarantula venom had been an unwelcome last minute discovery.

Mt Diablo – or is that Diabolical

Endorphin Dude Tony was not alone in a DNF (did not finish) today – but only he would run a half marathon the next day!

After the  4.6 mile blast down  I dropped in on Coastal volunteer black belts Alva  and Lynnard (who recently ran a 100 miler) and their cosy little aid station at North Gate. They were perhaps disappointed  not to be manning the really busy Juniper Campground station but this one has it’s own special thrill delivering runners at high speed as they plummet down what Alva called her ‘Wall drop’ and torch across a road to reach them. Never has an aid station said RTA pending quite so clearly to me. It is also a great position to have a good laugh at people. The down is over OOOOOOOOOOOver. Now we are up. Alva took the photo of me at the top of this blog at this station. They told me there was just one guy ahead of me – which was Dan. Later it emerged there had  been another lady but she had managed to get lost poor thing. She must have been way ahead of me too.

Now comes the up. I found this quite intense. I was well hydrated  – I’d been  drinking ahead of my thirst with such aggression I was probably making swishing noises- but the heat started to get to me. I battled to stop myself slipping into staggery walking too often or for too long – it can become a habit once you give in to it especially when you are running alone. By the time I reached the Rock City aid station I was feeling dizzy and getting cold flashes down my arms and neck.  Like the summit this is also a little out and back so you get to see other runners ..and I was surprised to see Dan leaving the station as I arrived, sad for him he had dropped back but pleased to have a person close by. Also to be honest it helped me not feel so bad I had been struggling. It was VERY hot. I was certainly ready to refresh my water bottle but not particularly thirsty and my mind was on the  woozy feeling  so I made a good decision in nabbing  a couple of salt tablets but a bad one in filling up my water bottle and heading off without also drinking stuff there.  My water was gone long before the next station.

Now I had two surprises. First a lady appeared running up behind me. A pretty awesome elite runner type with abs I would not cover in church . Where did she come from? I smiled and said hello in a ‘trying not to be

Evolution of calf sleeve usage. None, boring black, hot pink Waahhoo Janeth ones…50Ks worth of hot today!

horrified you are so close behind me’ sort of way. A monetary flicker of competitiveness sparked in me but meh. The strategic thing to do would be to hoof it now and be out of her sight by the time she returned from the aid station …not visible as an achievable quarry. But I was shut down to survival mode. Running not racing. Really worried about the dizzy thing. Anyway she was a fair bit behind me.

Then the second surprise came along. A whacking great cramp flashed up my leg. I’ve not had cramp since I started wearing calf sleeves. I stopped and tested the leg, if it was going to snarl up I wanted to head back towards the aid station and get someone to push against it. It was ok. I continued and every now and then a little flicker of cramp traced my calf. I ran/walked with that foot tensed, holding the lower leg like a wooden stump ( I might as well have put the spider on my shoulder and shouted ‘pieces of eight’ ). I really wondered what would happen. I was scared of being alone when a big cramp hit. I realised of course the very best thing I could have done was to have just eaten those salt tablets. Go Salt tablets!! It was an internal battle  – would they get into my bloodstream before the cramp hobbled me. This was a low point. My Garmin shows it took nearly 18minutes to cover the next mile.

Now there is a moment in this race where you know for sure people have snorted beer through their nose planning it. You have done a lot of uphill and the terrain has a ‘top of the ridge’ feel. You are ready for a left turn any moment now taking you  back to good old Camp Juniper and a joy dive downhill to the finish. Instead a corner reveals a trail akin to a rocket trajectory. At least I knew it was coming. I knew Dan didn’t. If only I’d been able to catch up to him I could have let him cry on my shoulder.

I did reach Dan after a while and we had a good old moan about the heat. It’s a terrible hill. I thought the stunning abs lady was coming up behind me but I turned a few times and didn’t see her. On we went, both suffering, walking now and then, the cramps flashes were frightening. Then Abs glided by us and disappeared. Wow.

Cautionary Tale at Aid Station. 

By the time I reached the Juniper Campground aid station  my cramps had finally finally petered out and my biggest concern was raging thirst. The worst is over – not. I proceeded to make a terrible mistake.

I had been dreaming of ice cold coke in  little paper cups for some time. My plan was to knock back two or three of them when I was filling my water bottle – but when I got the the station there were absolutely no little drinks ready. Normally there are lots of little cups filled with a range of drinks. There was a can of Coke on the table but it was empty so a lady headed off to find a new one. I could sense time ticking away and decided to cut my losses. I had to  drink something in addition to filling my water bottle so I plumped for water.  I attempted to lift a single cup from a stack of them with one hand but it wouldn’t come so rather impatiently,  I clamped the stack of  cups to my chest with my spider and bottle hand in order to claw a cup off the top. A grizzly would have made a neater job of it, cups everywhere. (by the way Grizzly Adams use to live on Mt Diablo in the 1850s) The lady returned with the Coke  and I felt a little  ashamed of my cup scattering, especially as she was being nice to my spider.  So I accepted a freshly poured cup and another and another and another straight from the can.

It was then a massive ball of gas formed under my rib cage.

I tottered towards what should have been a joyous victory dive downhill for two miles in excruciating pain. I threw up a little immediately (I hope those hikers can just remember the lovely view)  but the pain was horrid for miles until I surprised myself with a salute of burps as I neared the flat.  I had been dreading those last two miles of flat and I didn’t exactly enjoy them – but oh boy did I appreciate being pain free.

I crossed the finish, Wendell made sure to check I had an elastic band.  If I had been him I’d have submitted it to forensic examination to be sure it was legit. My time was of little interest, I just wanted to go home but when I found out it was  4.40.38  I rallied. That was  better that expected considering the heat, agony,fear of impending death etc. Dan was right behind me in  4.43.26. (I might add he had run a 20 miler the weekend between our last marathon together …I had tapered). The next person after us was 5.23 – and only five people were under 6 hours.

Special thanks to the Coastal Trails team and volunteers, and hugs to the two ladies who were talented enough to be ahead of  me but obliging enough to let me win. One by running off course too badly to be recovered  (and I think it was the poor funny feet lady as I don’t see a finish  picture of her) And one by running the  50k- Julie Neumann aka the stunning abs lady, see below.

Next up cold drinks. I opened the drinks cooler actually contemplating a diet coke (this is why I have three children…no pain memory) and paused for a moment. It was half full of icy water but had surprisingly few drinks in it. What a day. Would anyone notice if I jumped in and closed the lid?

Here are the results http://www.coastaltrailruns.com/d_results_12.htm

Self and Dan at finish. Seconds later Spidey had snatched that watermelon.

This is the Amazing Abs lady, Julie Nuemann. She won the 50k in 5. 36.41, half an hour ahead of everyone else! I wonder what her marathon time would have been, certainly waaaay ahead of me.

finish photo

tarantula1 Wildlife Guatemala   8 Facts About The TarantulaDid you know

 Males have much shorter lifespans than females. Female often live for 30 years. Go girls! Few males live long enough for a post-ultimate (‘the deed’) moult. Most males do not live through this moult as they tend to get their emboli, mature male sexual organs or pedipalps, stuck in the moult.

 (We shouldn’t laugh ladies….)

 


Coyote Ridge, 1st Sept 2012

Always approach marathons involving Muir beach with humility and a hearty breakfast. Yes be lured by the sweetly named and picturesque, Muir,  Pirates, Rodeo and Bonita coves. But remember the mighty Pacific Ocean that carved them also left some pretty colossal piles of rock in-between.

Around 7am I was relieved to be clambering onto the Coastal Trails shuttle bus in Canyon Meadows field. It’s  just over a mile from the race start at Muir beach. Some people jog it. Not me. My warm up routine is drinking coffee. I had considered cycling- anything to elminate the extra layer of pre-race anxiety navigating a shuttle entails. But as I eyed the road now I was sure the  post-race me would have resented the cheerful person who had whizzed downhill to the beach earlier. The better plan – as recommended  – is just to arrive nice and early. For once I had. Pass the medals. Also. And if you’re familiar with my blog get your fingers into pinch position. I was injury free!

A Muir beach shuttle in1890. Returning to the Sausalito ferry. Here is a rather amusing history of the beach. http://www.bellobeach.com/history.html

I love this lady  –  Adona Ramos, the poster girl for 20milers. We stood side by side grinning  while her friend Dennis took picture after picture inwhich she inexplicably appeared to be growling or  detained against her will.  This is the best of them. I look like a celebrity stalker!

We had a perfect  running day – chilly but bright at the beach. The place was buzzing with atmosphere, the runners tops and event booths a lovely splash of colour against  the backdrop of stark cliffs. Runners doing the 10m 20m, marathon and 50K  races gather on a narrow wooden bridge leading to the beach just before the 8am start. There was a welcome moment of levity when  race organizer Wendell explained that in order to accommodate  all the distances (and there was a 7 miler later too) the marathon course was actually 26.3 miles instead of 26.2 –  a gruff male voice in the crowd called out ‘That better be on my shirt’. Best pre-race heckle ever! And then we were off.

Normally I stand at the very front (in order to have less distance to run…simples! ) but today the bridge was narrow and I was a few rows back, chatting with my friend Adona.  When we surged forward Adona being perfect in every way nipped gracefully off the bridge   I ran straight into a waist-height orange cone stuck on a wooden post which had been obscured by the first few rows of  runners. I think the cone was to stop idiots like me running  into the post.  I  pranged it twice, once by running into it and then again by rebounding off the people behind me. It got me right under the ribs. How ridiculous. It reminded me of an event  in England many years ago where  a runner found himself gashed on the arm and kneed in the groin within seconds of starting a race. He had tripped over a cameraman crouched on the ground. I’m afraid the groin injury was delivered by me..toppling over him.

I think this is the 7mile start- but it shows my orange cone and post nicely :0) Thanks Deborah for posting this picture

And off we went, heading up the cliff. It was glorious, the sea breeze cooling and invigorating, the scenery and the hill breathtaking in their own ways :0) This marathon is certainly a challenging one with 6, 250 ft of elevation. But hard to beat for beauty and a perfect race to do if you are visiting San Francisco and want to soak up the feel of the place. There is even a view of the Golden Gate Bridge – or fog containing it. Today we scored bridge and instantly forgave the hills we had had to climb to see it from such height.

Another picture courtesy of Deborah. Here is the start – I am just behind Mr 893 at the front

I like to divide the course into manageable bits and so decided with more creativity than science that I would be progressing around  a lady bug  sticking its tongue. You run up the tongue, up and over one side of the bugs head, up and over one side of its body, up and over the other side of its body and return via the other side of its head to return down the tongue. The head and tongue are the 7 mile orange loop, the body the pink c. 12 mile loop. Clear? Fun!  The hills are significant but if you enjoy downhill and don’t mind wiping out hikers on blind corners there are amazing stretches of prolonged down where this bug lets you fly!. Ladybug animated gif 1

Distance Elevation Gain Single Track Dirt Road Asphalt
7mi 1,900′ 21% 64% 15%
10mi 2,740′ 26% 65% 9%
20mi 4,390′ 32% 50% 18%
Marathon 6,250′ 29% 54% 17%
50 Km 7,130′ 30% 55% 15%

Christy Bentivoglio was there, smiling for California as usual and making everyone around her feel good – as long as they didn’t look up at the cliffs. Her enthusiasm is infectious. I’m sure she got a few dogs walkers to sign up for the 50K. “Have a go, you’ll be fine in Crocs.”Christy – bless her! This is the wattage of her smile AFTER 20miles. I think there may have been beer in the Camel Back

File:MarincelloTrail.jpg

The Marincello trail is actually the main Boulevard of the failed Marincello Development. This could look like downtown Sausalito today!

Before running I browsed the internet trying to find something to like about Marincello (the start of the pink loop after the aid station) As a former archaeologist I like to add meaning to runs with a dab of research, I Googled the name just because it was the part of the course that I most dreaded – a bleak, featureless  crawl of a hill that bores me.  Oh boy did I hit gold!  Marincello was supposed to be a vast hilltop community. The story of its demise is absolutely fascinating- and kickstarted the preservation of all Open Space in Marin. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marincello

Janet Bodle (right) is an inspiring runner. I know through her grandson. Here she is finishing the marathon today..64 yrs young and two hours ahead of the next person her age. She recently completed her ambition to run a marathon in every state. I’d like to see us both on that start bridge in 20 yrs time!

While reaching the top of  Marincello today I had the first of three awkward moments in the race. I came across a  guy running the 20 miles. He wasn’t up for a chat but asked what our average pace was. I didn’t know. “But you’re wearing Garmin aren’t you?” he said. How unfortunate. What are the chances? No one has ever asked me the pace in a race before – and now I had to explain that although I was indeed wearing  a brand new top of the range Garmin I had not been sufficiently competent to turn it on properly. I told him I was steeling myself for the disparaging remarks my husband would have later – he had paid hundreds of dollars for  it as a surprise gift ..and I had fumbled pressing one button. I expected him to laugh but no. Awkward. Did he think I was withholding the information? Some runners do get awfully serious about this stuff. To smooth the situation  I offered a sporting estimate which seemed to make sense to him. I passed by. Later it hit me though – the estimate I had given was  hopelessly inaccurate, more of a current pace on the gently undulating ground we were on than an ‘average’ pace he had asked for – bearing in mind the hills we had covered.  I pushed from my conscience the possibility that he may have slowed down on account of my terrible guess!

Alexandre finishing his 20 miler. We ran most if it together. The poor man will never know how close he came to witnessing my gel pack retrieval rummaging

My second awkward moment came when I was galloping down the last section of pink loop and suddenly received a series of sharp pains in the vicinity of my underwear.  It turned out I was being slashed with the sharp edges of  empty gel packets. When I eat them I tend to shove the packets down my top rather than littering or  negotiating opening a pocket to put them away. This time a number of packets and tops had worked their way down a hole in my top. There was absolutely nowhere to hide even if I had been prepared to stop (and that is against the grain). Tantalizingly, I didn’t know how close the people behind me were  – but I did know they were all men.  All I could do was keep going, running as fast as I could but jolting with pain when the packets stabbed me and then  rummaging in my shorts on every turn when I should be out of sight to the people behind me until I had located all of them.

The third cringe of the day occurred when I was on the orange loop repeat.  Two attractive ladies were returning from the aid station I was headed to.  They smiled, pleased for me rather than bothered for themselves that I was 7 miles ahead of them. Like most runners they were just out there having fun at their own pace. I smiled back and intended a warm  “Hi guys” as we passed by but inexplicably  “Hi gays!” came out instead. Their smiles dimmed a little  – probably just in confusion  or in response to my frozen expression. But I was tortured with the  possibility that they were gay (I don’t think they were)   – and now not only believed I  had a problem with that (I don’t) but also that I was enough of a  jerk to go around issuing bizarre taunts.  And of course you can’t turn around and run after them and sort it all out  – as to do so would surely seem to say ..’I’d like to publicly raise the question of whether or not you’re gay’.. or ..”I’m a crazy person”. Possibly they dismissed it as my Irish accent.

Edvard Munch was inspired by this marathon

But more importantly, I also had an endearingly silly moment that will stay with me forever.  As I climbed up from Muir beach to repeat the orange loop I crowned the hill to a faintly ridiculous  sight. Two middle aged hikers were standing beside Wendell’s course marker  – this pointed at the spot they were standing on and said ORANGE  in bold orange letters. They were obediently eating an orange. I laughed out loud.

David Altena – The Supplier!

Thank you to David Altena who helped me when my legs started to seize up after the  finish and gave me a lift back to my car and my   Icy Heat gel so I didn’t have to sort out the shuttle thing. If my legs had been working I would have kicked myself for forgetting to  take my usual anti-inflammatories before the race , I didn’t even have them with me.  Urgh!  To my glee David offered me some  painkiller. When  I accepted he made me laugh by producing  a  carefully wrapped bundle of anonymous red tablets. He said he had just decanted some from a  large container but  did wonder what the Police would think if they found them. What amused me was how many he had in the bundle – enough to fell an elephant. I’m glad his 20 miler went so well!

I assume they were Advil. Two of them and a slathering of Icy Heat  – and I could feel no pain within the hour. Possibly under the influence of mind altering drugs, I signed up for my next Coastal event shortly after returning home  – Mt Diablo in two weeks time.

This time I know in advance the place is a breeding ground for  Tarantulas. Hopefully I will scream a little less.

Todays results: http://www.coastaltrailruns.com/cr_smmr_results_12.htm

Now this is the real Adona.  How lovely to share a day like this together again- winning the  ladies 20 and  marathon, both  female course records. Try not to notice that she looks like a mannequin in a sports shop and  I look like roadkill. I can hear my parents groaning” Penny you’re a messer”.

With somebody’s thumb and first man in the Marathon Dan Nahrwold. Everyone else ran over the hills, Dan stepped over them. This was his first trail marathon, he did it in 4 hrs 13!!!! I was 4 hrs 22.29


Cinderella Marathon, 18th Aug, 2012

Husband Hamish and friend Dave being sensible

Buttons made my day. Prince Charming  disappeared on me.

A tough week for my liver. Gorgeous UK friends Dave, Penny and family blessed us with a visit. And it was the last week of our kids’ summer holiday- time to spoil the darlings to assuage  guilt over my joy I will soon be free to run while they are detained at school.

It had been a long summer for Mummy Macphail

I focused on partying and trying to get them all to emigrate to America – and very  little running  occurred. So I called it a taper and reported for my second Coastal Trails marathon in a week, ready to atone for sloth, gluttony and wine consumption – and a little lighter thanks to the chunk missing from my left knee. Last seen before I knelt on a  Champagne flute in the hot tub. (Yes the left knee AGAIN!).

Hideousnessification of shoe. I hate turquoise.

Bizarrely, I was running this Cinderella marathon once again wearing ‘glass slippers’. The last three times I have bought running shoes the only ones that fit to the satisfaction of my huge, cantankerous bunion are monotone turquoise. This time I drove to a new store and was excited to learn they DID have size elephant in a wide fitting in an attractive shoe with pink and green on it. I tried them on. Sigh. “I think you’ll find you have something in monotone turquoise that is more comfortable”. They rummaged in the back and found some. It was lovely to hear my children laughing together.

To me this is one of Coastal Trail’s toughest courses. http://www.coastaltrailruns.com/cin_smmr_cinderella.html Its medium  elevation (the marathon climbs just 4, 740 ft) is deceptively do-able, and much of it is  shaded in Oakland’s lovely Joaquin Miller Park.  But then there is this one eyeball-popping hill ‘West Ridge’ which starts at mile 8 and outstays its welcome for around three miles. And marathon and 50k runners claw up it twice!  On hot days like this you’d  need to be a snake to enjoy how exposed it is.

Soon after the start I encountered lively spirit Anna Zeilaski. She was doing the 50K but was steaming along with me (doing the marathon  – which is 5 miles shorter) and even flew ahead pursuing some of those cheeky  half marathoners. Was she was an awesome runner or an inexperienced one?  Sporting instincts wanted a lady to kick ass… but motherly instincts worried …I’ve seen many runners start like Tigger and end like Eeyore. I minded my own but mentioned that her pace was awfully fast  for the 50k a few times every now and then.

After a while she did settle to a pace behind mine. I wished her well and missed  her company, she was infectiously smiling and bouncy.

The forest  trail lives up to its fairy tale name.  It isn’t a tame roller coaster type single track here though. The ups and downs can be long and I fear I irritated a few runners by doing my usual of blustering by them on the down and presenting an obstacle to be passed on the ups. Must learn to run uphill faster! Eventually my down work exceeded the ups of the gang I was coinciding with and I was alone for a stretch.

There is an advantage in knowing the course here for two reasons.

First of all,  I  recognized  I was on the final descent out of forest and around 5 mins away from ‘The West Ridge Experience’.  Time to dine. Fuel up.  A lesson from her majesty, running royalty Speedy Crosby-Helms- you want that stuff in you about 5 mins before a nasty hill. And this is quite the nastiest hill I know.

Secondly, I know this is pretty steep single track but you pop out onto fire road at the bottom, so you don’t need to be cautious about gathering too much momentum. I shot out of forest with an involuntary whoop of exhilaration  – you really can go fast there! – and found myself in sudden close proximity to  four startled  eyes and two gaping mouths. Two older gentlemen had been strolling along the fire road. I shouted : “catch me!” as a joke and swerved to avoid them and …. it was very cute….four little arms shot up in the air encase I really needed stopping. I do love that kind of  little exchange during races. Americans are so very uniformly supportive and friendly, they could easily have been annoyed.

Stephanie Queren..speedy on the 30K
On the way towards the Fish Ladder station I saw two very fit, strong looking ladies positively hammering it back towards the hill. They appeared to be locked in mortal combat so I checked the results to see who had won- but one was doing the half marathon and the other the 30K ..I wonder if they knew that :0) They both set female course records.  I raised a hand to high five them and they shot by without interest. A little embarrassing lol (still, contact at that speed might break an arm )

Mr Shoenberg …coming to a marathon near you this fall

And  – THE hill arrived. I did my best, remembering facing it on different race days and casting my mind back to race acquaintances especially David Shoenberg and Andrea Warburton (aka Bluebird) both of whom I knew were temporarily unable to run marathons today – David recovering from injury and building mileage up gradually with a steely patience and calm I will never  possess,  Andrea sentenced with disgust to the swimming pool in the late stages of pregnancy. I wished them both well. I hope they have the decency to pretend to be out of breath when they glide uphill by me here  in the future.

Shortly after getting to the final, actual, no psych, definite top of  the West Ridge climb runners stream downhill to the Moon Gate aid station – which you also pass near mile 3. Here was the  Buttons of my Cinderella marathon.  I don’t know his name but he was wearing a Coastal Trails Grizzly Peak shirt so is clearly a runner himself . He was THE perfect aid station helper. I passed that station four times  – every time he was alert and looking out for runners in every direction ….he saw me approach ( I had unscrewed the top of my water bottle ready for a fast refill). He took the trouble to shout at me to find out it I wanted water or electrolyte mix in the bottle,  selected the one I needed and was tipping it toward my bottle as I reached him. As it filled he gave  clear, brief details on mileage to the next aid station and asked if I needed anything else all with a sense of urgency that reflected how I felt. When I did need a gel he pointed to them clearly so I could find them quickly. It doesn’t help when well  people do more –  if they hand you one it might be  a flavour you can’t stomach, if they start listing flavours like  restaurant specials it burns time.  It was like a formula 1 pitstop – and all topped off with smiles and words of encouragement. He should hold aid station classes.

As I looped the start/finish which marks the halfway point and headed up into the forest again I encountered Andrew O’Connor. He had been ahead of me but had spent 2 minutes refreshing at the aid station there (some people like to change their shoes and stuff when they get the chance to leave a bag and revisit it like this. It amused me that he was so specific with the amount of time it had taken). I felt very sluggish at this point – just as I had the last time I did this race. Then I was  motivated by chatting to  Andrea Warburton then watching her flitting between the trees ahead of me  – her blue top reminding me of a bluebird. Andrew was inconsiderately only  wearing black shorts so he was more tricky to spot but I strived to keep him in view for a few miles. Later, I told a lady it had been exciting chasing a half naked man through the forest. It was his mother.  Oops.

By the time I lost sight of him I was feeling fresher again and was not lonely for long before Danny arrived at my shoulder. I decided he was the Prince Charming of the day as he approached  in a distinctively  gentlemanly manner- he  actually ASKED  if he could run with me for a while. How nicely put and thoughtful.  No-one would answer “no” – but it gave me the opportunity to be clear I welcomed company (as I did) or subtly indicate I would prefer staying in my  zone/not talking.  Had I not been overtly welcoming I am sure he would have put a spurt on and run ahead then settled back to his pace. I liked him. We chatted away, running comfortably at a good pace until we came to that steep downhill leading to the fire road and the  Fish Ladder aid station. I was not able to wow him with my insider knowledge of this being a good time to fuel up before the hill etc as he was a master Garmin user/map genious. Although he wasn’t familiar with the race, he had this point and all sorts of other key points plumbed into his device. How you do that I have NO idea. Either my Garmin is an inferior model or I owe it an apology for underestimating its capabilities.

Danny didn’t share my glee at reaching this point though. To my surprise he said legs had completely gone for downhill. I didn’t realize how serious he was  until I flew off down the hill alone. I did the Fish Ladder  aid station thing, doubled back towards the hill and was surprised how far back he was. But he looked great and I said I’d see him on the hill  – which I did. He caught up with me easily. It was amazing  – his legs really were rock solid on hill but shot for downs. He passed me but stayed in view and I was grateful to have a friendly back to focus on  for miles. There was a nice moment when  I encouraged a  bunch of giggly Chinese lady hikers to heckle him for showing off  at one point.  He waved back down the hill and we could hear him protesting.

Indian lady I helped, listed as ‘unknown runner’. She certainly made a full recovery here she is completing the half marathon..good for her!!

That West Ridge was getting very hot by now. I reached an Indian lady doing the half marathon who seemed to be really suffering from dehydration and exposure. I gave her the little water I had left, grateful for the chance  to do for someone else what a stranger did for me during the Pacifica Foothills marathon.  Now I started dreaming of Buttons shouting  of  ‘water or electrolyte’ at the Moon Gate.

I caught up with Danny. I had forgotten his issue with downs but clearly his legs hadn’t. He said ” Kill it sister” and I ran off laughing, thinking he would be right behind me, again not fully appreciating the extent of his discomfort. Buttons was his wonderful self and oh my goodness did that ice cold water taste like heaven. Such a happy moment, thirst gone, water in hand and off you go for just  1.7 miles of shady, predominantly downhill forest trail.

The last time I did this race, I paused to see if Bluebird might be there so we could finish together. Today I turned to check if Danny was there  – but he wasn’t. Both of these people helped me get through tough times on the course and both had been well ahead of me  for long stretches. I wasn’t going to  dash to the finish just ahead of them.

With Andrew O’Connor, second and semi naked man

I finished and finally caught up with Andrew (the  half naked man I had been chasing) He was stretched out on the grass surrounded by fans- one of whom took this photo of us. He had been second overall in the marathon, a full 5 minutes ahead of me ….that would be why I couldn’t see him. I was third with a time of 4 hours 6 mins and an average pace of 9.30/m. (This was  also a female course record…perhaps those speedy ladies  would have high fived me now had they not gone home over an hour ago).

Danny- Prince Charming- kill it brother!
I began to worry when Danny didn’t appear. I pestered the race organizers to find out what had happened to him but  had to leave without knowing. When the results came through I saw it had taken him c. an hour to cover those last 3 miles..before which point he was ahead of me. I  guessed he walked, probably in considerable discomfort  – he could easily have dropped out at Moon Gate. Brave with a dash of insanity. Well done Prince Charming. The people that inspire me most and I remember most take part with that kind of spirit.

When Wendell handed out awards we  met  Dominick Layfield who won the marathon in 3hrs 54.37. Not only did he put us in the shade with his speed, he proceeded to  outclass us by waving away  his second medal (one for being a marathon finisher and one for being first man), saying one was quite enough for any marathon.  I tightened my grip on both of mine, ran to my car and drove all the way home wearing them with with pride.

Thank you Coastal Trails, thank you Buttons!

With Christina Dietz. 2nd marathon lady, 1st in age group. ( It is a looooooooong time since I was in that age group!). Her family and I were so proud of her, great time on a toughie for her first trail marathon. The next day she was off to college to study psychology. Maybe she will figure out what is wrong with us…why do we keep running marathon

AND FINALLY

And here is my Cinderella of the day. Anna – the lady who I worried had started the 50K too fast. Boy did she go to the ball. She was overall winner of the 50k and now holds the female course record of 5.29.55! Strange thing – doesn’t she look like the 30k winner Stephanie Queren?

Marathon

Place

Name City

Bib No

Age

Age Group

Time

Pace

1

Dominick Layfield Park City UT

423

40

1 M 40-49

3:54:37

9:01/M

2

Andrew OConnor Eureka CA

430

28

1 M 20-29

4:01:03

9:16/M

3

Penny Macphail San Anselmo CA

425

44

1 F 40-49

4:06:53

9:30/M

4

Christopher Bair Oakland CA

402

29

2 M 20-29

4:25:02

10:12/M

5

Maxime Petazzoni Sunnyvale CA

431

25

3 M 20-29

4:25:35

10:13/M

6

Matthew Zaragoza-Watkins Davis CA

440

28

4 M 20-29

4:29:29

10:22/M

7

Steven Hofmeyr Oakland CA

419

44

2 M 40-49

4:29:44

10:22/M

8

Christina Dietz Tustin CA

409

21

1 F 20-29

4:36:36

10:38/M

9

Joshua Bergstrom Oakland CA

403

37

1 M 30-39

4:51:28

11:13/M

10

Natalie Martineau Vacaville CA

426

19

1 F 13-19

5:02:53

11:39/M

11

Daniel Zielaski Missoula MT

441

28

5 M 20-29

5:11:09

11:58/M

12

Michaela Burgess Citrus Heights CA

404

32

1 F 30-39

5:17:25

12:13/M


Crystal Springs Marathon, 11th Aug 2012

Firmly clasping Ms Devon Crosby Speedtastic Helms

Such a happy little race. Despite a death threat, a live, laugh, love kinda morning.

A treat today. I rarely know people at these races but today Huddart Park glittered with cronies. Towering above me was running royalty Ms Devon Crosby Helms (aka Speedy)   – the blurry thing that shot by me  on her way to win the San Francisco Marathon two weeks ago. My race strategy was to surreptitiously grab hold of Speedy and drag along behind her (concealed in the dust cloud as she torched the trail). You can see me  just closing that grip on her at the start in this photo. Also present were various members of the certifiable ‘Stamina on Toast’ gang, Chris Jones (aka Mr Moonlight) and his cohorts  Pete Mingwah and Janeth Siva. I am pondlife compared to these lunatics in terms of mileage. They had come to play with marathons and 50ks by way of tapering into a 100 mile race, Run De Vous the next weekend. The cherry on the cake was a new acqaintance, race organizers Wendell and his wife had brought along their ridiculously beautiful new baby. How sappy am I? As I was finishing the race I found myself hoping that baby would still be there just so I could have another peek at him. SO gorgeous. (Note to self  – remember the pain of childbirth!)

Pleeeease can we bring Pumpkin?

Injury -wise? The ‘in the soup’ of the day was yet again my left knee. I’d spent the week  camping by myself with three children and a dog.  Let me just add the dog  suffered from diarrhea in the tent one night. So it would not be fair to say I done nothing all week   – but I hadn’t done much running. This pleased my left knee, recent pain eased and we were set for a strap and worry free race. However,  my son gave the car door a jolly good slam to capture a pile of billowing sleeping bags…and watched his mother sink to the ground clasping her left knee, shrilling obscenities. Knee had a car door shaped bruise on one side and a car interior shaped bruise on the other. In the middle there was some disturbing puffy stuff. Today I pulled on my calf support sleeves and observed knee ‘muffin top’. I consulted Mr Mingwah who would doubtless run had his leg been removed at the shin by a shark  – and he thought it needed strapping. I attempted to do so but it was all a bit strange. Normally I strap to stop the puffing. This ship had sailed. Had it been sore I really would not have run but it was just bobbly. I strapped it up and hoped for the best.

Pete after his relaxing 50K

Before we left Miss Rebecca Yi approached and shook me warmly by the throat, issuing a death threat if I beat her in today’s race. Gulp.

We do have  rather unfortunate history. Last year when I couldn’t run (due to torn discs in my back) Rebecca ran many of these marathons (often in pretty grim conditions) and set course records. This year she has returned running faster and beating her own course records but having me juuuuust ahead of her to spoil things. She has been very sporting about it but needed to clarify her limits as she was running a shorter distance than me  today (the 22mile race rather than the 26.2 mile marathon). Beating her would be unpardonable (and fortunately impossible) – but the message was clear. I tugged her pony tail jovially, pretending not to be scared. After that there was just a brief time for everyone to laugh at Chris’ strange new beard before we were off.  (This beard gives  me flashbacks to dealing with members of the Victorian Military Society during my days in PR at the National Army Museum in London. Elite members do NOT require false beards during  reenactments).

Chris with Nancy at finish, torch ‘im sister!

Good Morning Huddart Park. This sparkly skull denim hat belongs to my son but was all I could find stumbling around in the dark before leaving the house. I fear the dog may have taken my lucky marathon hat for a traumatic jaunt in the garden. It was not intended for extreme sweat and I left with a slightly blue head.

As planned, I clung on to Devon for dear life and was scuffed along the forest floor at her feet for the first mile or so chatting about bakeries and weddings until I fell off on a sharp turn. Devon had not realised there was a hill on this section :0) and glided out of view like a gazelle ice skating. I wheezed uphill  a tad slower. After a while it was clear  pollen or whatever in the forest was having a  laugh at my expense.  Both eyes filled up with water making my contact lenses float around. Nasty when you are speeding over roots and stones, I tried squeezing my eyes shut then wiping the  water. It  worked on the right eye.  I ran cyclops-style for a bit, gingerly opening the left eye now and then to see how it was doing. The lens was still doing a Micheal Phelps. I know from experience not to wipe the actual eye  with a hanky as it can make the lens fall out. So I did, and it did. Horrid feeling. Stopped dead at the beginning of a marathon when you are not even benefiting from a rest, trying to breathe calmly so you don’t puff the lens off your finger as you try to shove it back in your eye. All the time little figures nip by you on the trail.  To add insult to injury my knee strap was already dangling off. This is outrageous as I am awesome at strapping and have all sorts of exciting waterproof materials to construct fortifications with. But the thing was just too darn puffy. Still not sore though. I ripped it off, improved my cleavage by stuffing it down my top and forgot about it. My eyes remained a problem for the rest of the race, good in a way as it occupied me mentally. I wobbled over on my ankle a few times and lost the lens in the right eye a little later on too but coped. There is always something to cope with!

I love this marathon course. It looks a bit like a dumbell. Two circles with a straight line between them. You go uphill to form one side of the first circle, do the straight and if you are doing the marathon you complete another circle at the end before returning along the straight bit and reaching the finish by completing the other side of the first circle. 50K runners do an extended version of the second circle, 22milers turn around at the end of the straight and get a matchstick instead of a dumbell.

Distance Elevation Gain Single Track Dirt Road Asphalt
5mi 710′ 48% 40% 12%
11 mi 1,890′ 73% 22% 5%
22 mi 2,990′ 87% 11% 2%
Marathon 3,790′ 72% 26% 2%
50 Km 4,530′ 72% 26% 2%

Devon at finish. Right a couple of hours to burn and I’ll meet up with Penny

Everything went well  – the forest is exquisite. The straight bit made me nervous as it wasn’t marked (as there is only one path and you can;t go wrong) and I ran most of it alone. My legendary navigational goof up abilities render me vulnerable to moments of self doubt. I would have liked some  ‘yes you’re on the right track/we love you’ tapes.  Finally, I approached the aid station at end of the straight, knew I was in the right place,  greeted  22mile runners on the return with Crusoe-like enthusiasm. Surprisingly,  Speedy appeared.  Had she done the 50k loop already? Or maybe just the marathon loop? Was that possible? Proper runners will and do laugh at my bubble headed approach to running. To me, without a firm grip on mileage or time it was just possible that Devon had turbot charged it  (she is one of the fastest runners in America!) or  that I had been really dawdling..that can happen when you run long sections alone..or a combination of both. But it turned out that she had decided to turn around and do the 22 miler. It was very hot and the 50k loop is exposed. She had run 24 miles the day before, was feeling tired and decided it wasn’t right for her body today. Yes that rare creature does exist … a sensible runner. She has to focus on do what is right for the big grown up races she does. It hit me (correctly) as she slipped away that she could have done the less frazzling marathon loop but didn’t want to take away what might be a win for me. In running terms this would be taking candy from a baby. I was kicking myself for not encouraging her to play marathon with me when an icy chill flashed my spine. Devon  would now be taking candy from a different baby…a baby running 22miles…….would Rebecca Yi consider this assassination-worthy by proxy?

Rebecca Yi – bringing a whole new meaning to ‘killing it’ in a race :0)

The marathon loop is rather lovely. The best courses have clear sections.  It is nice to feel high, a little more exposed. The  first half of the four mile circle is pretty much spent plummeting downhill : ‘Relax and enjoy it’  –  you say to yourself – ‘don’t bother your little head with the harsh reality that what  goes down must come up’.  And oh joy I got my eyes back – whatever lurked in the dark body of the  forest didn’t bother me here. Then you crawl up the ‘ harsh reality’  straining to hear the musical laughter of people at the aid station signalling  you’ve completed the loop.

Me at finish (see trail of injured children in background)

I ran home pretty much alone. There is a super nasty shoot down a fire road at the end. It goes on for years and is miserably ugly compared to the forest. And then….oddly…. you pop out at speed in a children’s playground, behind which you can see the finish tunnel. The chance to wipe out/terrify small children is certainly a fun bonus and in my book definately makes this the most entertaining Coastal Trails  race finish to spectate. I especially warm to the way inwhich  runners tend to come through sporadically. There is often just enough time for one distraught child to be lead away and  a new, unaware family to take position before the next sweating, gasping , goggled eyed monster crashes through the trees. It is also pertinent to note that many people running are themselves parents or fond of children. And yet…how few of us make good choices when facing a split second decision here.  1) Swerve a few inches to ensure the happiness and safety of  a toddler staggering to a play structure OR  2) Thundering straight at it bellowing “MOVE!” in order to make an absolute beeline to the lights, lentil soup and medals of the finish and save a nanosecond on your time.

Devon had changed, done a weekly shop, built a sand castle in Half Moon Bay and was waiting in the shade to greet the mortals.  Rebecca spared my life. My knee was a little sore but signifiacantly less swollen than it had been at the start!! (ie running is good for you).  And once in the open air I found myself crying and winking at people less and less.  A bunch of us had a lovely time just chilling on the grass, chatting about Udo’s oil (which everyone but me seems to be consuming) before heading home. Who is Udo?

My time was 3.53.32 and I was first overall ……..thanks to Devon :0)  I did the same race in January with a time of 3.39.25 though mmm. Age may be getting to me. Hilariously … and only momentarily as there are many many runners who would annihilate me…..I hold the female course record for both the January and August events.  I must say it was a pretty comfortable run. I didn’t get to the point where I promised myself never to run a marathon again (which I often do around mile 18) and I didn’t have to choke back tears or vomit near the end ..so perhaps I should be pushing myself a bit more.  Still  – heat and sporadic blindness does make quite a difference.

What a fun day. Thank you Coastal Trails and runners http://www.coastaltrailruns.com/cs_smmr_crystal_springs.html

PS the baby was still there. I was hoping I had won him but they said no :0(

Nancy, self, Speedy and a gentleman from the Victorian Military Society.

Still laughing at Chris’ beard at the end :0)

 

Marathon

Place

Name City

Bib No

Age

Age Group

Time

Pace

1

Penny Macphail San Anselmo CA

878

44

1 F 40-49

3:53:32

8:51/M

2

Ahmed Hassan Palo Alto CA

871

33

1 M 30-39

4:02:36

9:11/M

3

Elizabeth Weil Portola Valley CA

890

30

1 F 30-39

4:03:46

9:14/M

4

Georgia Young San Francisco CA

593

35

2 F 30-39

4:20:10

9:51/M

5

Chris Jones San Francisco CA

874

40

1 M 40-49

4:20:10

9:51/M

22 mi

Place

Name City

Bib No

Age

Age Group

Time

Pace

1

Sean Handel Moss Beach CA

127

41

1 M 40-49

2:58:55

8:08/M

2

Devon Crosby-Helms San Francisco CA

559

30

1 F 30-39

3:04:27

8:23/M

3

Daniel Nahrwold San Francisco CA

365

33

1 M 30-39

3:07:08

8:30/M

4

Ruben Espinoza San Jose CA

275

26

1 M 20-29

3:16:25

8:56/M

5

Kristi Rossi Burlingame CA

335

44

1 F 40-49

3:36:36

9:51/M

6

Clarence Butz Berkeley CA

238

52

1 M 50-59

3:37:38

9:54/M

7

Rebecca Yi Fremont CA

364

37

2 F 30-39

3:38:39

9:56/M


San Francisco Marathon, July 29th

Fastest chicken on the day  – give it up for Ken …as seen in the San Francisco Chronicle

So..4am found me snoring on the floor of a meeting room in Bite Communications’ San Francisco Office (where my husband Hamish earns a crust). The night before,  San Francisco’s hotels were stuffed to bursting and the city was dotted with little figures like me,  tugging sleeping bags into shops and offices. It is the largest marathon in Northern California and the 13th largest in the US – and few of the 25,000 marathoners wanted to travel far on race morning – it is a 5.30am start. This is because …very cool…it is the only event where runners get to cross the Golden Gate Bridge on the actual roady bit. The race is always on a Sunday, the first runners hit bridge around 6am and the last is off around 9am so the traffic can cope. It was especially cool this year as it is the bridge’s 75th anniversary.

I was not alone, I was accompanied by my rubber chicken, Ken – named after my Dad, whose genes render me susceptible to running marathons. Friends, family, neighbours etc were sponsoring me to wear him during the race to raise money for the San Francisco/Marin food banks (and for  local foodbanks in England, Ireland and Norway). No-one was terribly excited to see if I completed the race as they knew they’d never see their money again anyway….but adrenalin was pumping around the world to see which of these kind souls would be rewarded by wining rubber chicken of their very own in a glittering prize draw after the event.

Ken admires the view before his early night

I jumped up to turn off my wake up call from Snoozster.com (check it out if you don’t know it ..it is wonderful. The calls are made by a range of characters and are so unbelievably cheesy they are sure to make the grumpiest half unconscious person groan/laugh). It was dark outside but you could already hear noises from the race start…literally a 5 min walk from this office. How exciting. I just had one problem. Of all the important decisions made in that meeting room over the years, this must have been one of the strangest. I had to decide whether or not to wear my two big toe nails.

Blog chums will recall these blackened and threatened to part from the rest of me months ago.  A week or so ago they made a bid for freedom but on the advice of toe nail guru, my scarily tough soccer whizz friend Teena, I had strapped them down to protect the growing nail. My daily routine included lifting the nails off like little lids  – cleaning and disinfecting the hideousness beneath – and popping the chaps  back on. It had really worked like a charm, I lost no training time, suffered very little discomfort (unless kids/dogs jumped on them…which isn’t as infrequent as you might imagine) and was planning to run like this today. But as I stood up both toes were throbbing like crazy. It felt like they were infected. But on closer examination it seemed they had both just got to the point where they were rejecting the nail. I’d like to consult Teena but it is 4.15am on a Sunday. I’ve  not tried running in them without nails. You never want to race doing something different. Would the shoes rub on the fragile nail growth? It might be agony. Would some bandaging protect them or push down on them? Urgh. How ridiculous. Certainly I couldn’t run like this, I unpackaged the little rebels and gingerly returned the socks then attempted shoes….quite a moment of truth…..this really could stop me running today….it seemed was ok.  I ran around the office with bated breath, bandages on..off..on… and decided to run with them off. How weird. Drama over for now but I was really worried it was going to be a problem mid race. Well never mind. What else could I do but have a go. You wonder what other little personal dramas were going on in hotel rooms and office floors all over the city. To cheer myself up I wondered too how many soundly sleeping figures would snooze through that early start. At least I hadn’t fallen at quite the first hurdle.

Out on the street de-clawed, stuffed full of raisin porridge and a little later than intended at 5.15am, I navigated the signs showing you where to start depending on the number on your bib. (I had estimated  3 hours 15 minutes. It is a road race but not the fastest as there are a fair few hills. It was maybe ambitious but I erred on the side of boastypants in order to get a nice starting place. This put me in the second wave of runners leaving (just the sub three hr estimate elite women were ahead) so I was bibbed up to be jettisoned very close to the start, just seconds after 5.30am..if I could get there. In my own inimitable style I managed to get confused between the bib number signs on the left and those I should have been following on the right. I have done this race before so the mistake was beyond incompetent. With the left hand signs I located a friendly bunch in a trailer where I could have dropped a bag had I had one to discard ..and then eyed the runners with bib numbers similar to mine lined up inside a great  metal cage to the right and …now a little anxious about cutting it fine on time…ran up and down trying to find the door (following right hand signs) to get in. I found it and pushed my way up to my starting place just in time.

5.30 am. Good Morning San Frazzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

And off we went. This race advises against headphones but doesn’t ban them so I wore mine with just one ear in as usual. The beat of the music, the darkness, the relief at being in the right place at the right time to start, the fun and freedom of running down the middle of The Embarcadero  – normally a busy road across which I tend to be navigating three errant children – it was wonderful. I was using a new iPhone app called Runkeeper. Although I have never really paced myself in races, preferring to run by natural feel, it was interesting to have the app telling me how far I had run and what pace I was doing every  5 minutes.

Embarking on Embarcadero

The first five miles take you along the side of the bay, by Alcatraz Landing, Pier 39 and other tourist hot spots to the Golden Gate Bridge. It is a run I have done many times and never much liked – I am not fond of long lines where you can see where you are going stretching out ahead of you. Most recently I ran it in reverse on an ill-fated 15 mile training run. I got chatting and started my run late, shot through Marin, over the bridge and along the bay side to the Embarcadero and The Ferry Building only to miss my ferry home by 3 minutes. I shivered for an hour and a half waiting for the next one.

But today I was just lifted by the atmosphere. Running was no more effort than riding a motorbike – I was relieved to hear my pace was around 7.03 mins/mile thanks to Runkeeper as I didn’t seem to be making any effort. I knew I would find the later miles tough if I pushed a faster pace now so I just floated along. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to run a whole marathon feeling like this. Correctly I guessed today would not be the day for that.

Ken peeking over my shoulder. Near start.

An unexpected highlight of the race appeared on Chrissy Fields – the 130 acre salt marsh, now mainly laid to grass which covers the flat land leading to your climb to the Golden Gate Bridge. The area (first used as fishing base by the Ohlone Indians ..there are archaeological finds from middens there) used to be an airfield and has long had military connections. In the grey morning light it was lined with what seemed like a hundred people, the first group of them holding large images of servicemen and women who had died in recent combat – and the pictures were overwhelming. I felt my eyes prick with tears. The second group had person after person after person holding tall American flags.  I actually touched a forefinger to my hat as an automatic gesture of I’m not sure what, a salute of respect or something. Without getting into politics  – and I am ill equipped and poorly motivated to do so- when you have the opportunity and physical ability to challenge yourself to run a marathon it is terribly important to be grateful for that opportunity and to remember others just don’t have that chance.

I didn’t feel the hill rising to the bridge at all, the darkness and cool morning air encased me. It felt sort of floating and weird. I had joked to my Mother-In-Law  that the 5.30 am start wouldn’t worry me as I don’t wake up until 6.30am so I’d have a hour done before being conscious  – and in truth it almost seemed that way. The bridge was absolutely glorious. In addition to the dusky morning light everything was engulfed in fog. I knew my dear friend Devon Crosby Helms would be among the leaders (the race goes over the bridge then back again so runners pass each other there). I peered into the fog waiting to see figures running back, half way over still nothing and then after a while you could see a single light coming through the gloom…this was the motorbike leading the front  runners, another bike followed him and then a trickle of supermen glided into view..but no women. More men, and then YES ..there she was, looking strong and relaxed. I yelled at her and we waved to each other, I told her to get on with it as she needs the money :0) She did indeed continue to win the race with a time of 2.44.05. and snaffled the prize pot of $1,500- as she is just about to get married AND open a bakery in my home town of San Anselmo with her fiancé she will certainly put it to good use. If you’d like to give her more money you can consider investing in this our Kickstarter campaign .

Devon just a bit pleased with that win :0)

Behind Devon I spotted another familiar face – Anna Breton, who had the audacity to win the Oakland marathon I did earlier in the year and to have spent 15 mins playing with the baby she had given birth to just six weeks earlier before my carcass heaved itself over the finish line. She held that place to come in second. Clearly a VERY good runner!

Returning over the bridge you are facing a positive sea of runners coming in the opposite direction. I found it very moving. All sorts of shapes, sizes, ages etc . I spotted a few familiar faces

Bridge roady bit – fun!!

and looked out for more people I know. With thousands of people running there is a significant difference in start time if you are not in the first couple of waves  – and many of them were doing a two or three race weekend and were pacing themselves appropriately. Still it was kinda sad to turn off the bridge and tunnel under the road, I strained my neck for a last chance to perhaps see Endorphin Dude’s yellow cape fluttering in the crowd ..but no. Indeed  – as expected – I was yet to see anyone sporting anything remotely silly and was starting to feel a little self conscious about the chicken.

Every now and then someone would say ‘nice chicken’ or ‘ok tell me about the chicken I have to know’ and I enjoyed the little conversations it sparked. There are fewer conversations during races than there used to be as so many people are listening to music etc. I’m often really just trying to breathe so I would have a horror of running with someone who wanted to talk all the way but the odd exchange is very cool and at times memorable. A surprising number of people clearly put a bit of a spurt on to catch up and find out about the chicken as it is bugging them, and then they drift back away into the field behind you. Others compliment the chicken as a way to soften the blow as they overtake you..instead of the usual well intentioned but awkward: “good job’” which is always a little odd if you over think it: “I mean you ARE doing a GOOD job..but see me effortlessly gliding by ..now this is a FANTASTIC job”.

The more I talked about the food bank the funnier it seemed that here was a bunch of people most of whom who eat and drink too much and hence run to work it off parading around a city inwhich I am told 197,000 people struggle to get sufficient nutrition on a given day. It is over 40,000 people in Marin. How strange  – with such wealth in those places too.

This race has several ‘bits’. For me. Right after the bridge there is the deliciously elegant and prolonged swoop downhill through the Presidio overlooking the sea. I overtook a number of women on that downhill without exerting myself which was fun –   and I  found myself playing what I call ‘Flat Stanley’ with a German man  – ie someone who is good (and overtakes me) on hills and weak (and is overtaken by me) on downs whom I repeatedly meet and run alongside on flat areas. Every time I approached him he shouted in mock rage ‘ah the chicken is out to get me’. I developed a little stitch laughing. It was ridiculous …especially with him saying ‘chicken’ in a German accent.

Eventually, you reach the Golden Gate park. This is an interesting section as there are people (and bison) to look at, a few live bands and some characterful aid stations. One of these is offering cups of beer. I took one by accident. I ran up saying: “water please..water…water”. But  this was apparently too cryptic for the excited young man who handed me beer and said: “You thought we were joking …it really is beer”. Annoyingly, he was the last person in line at that aid station so I missed picking up both the water and the hilarity of the moment as it appeared to him.

I find this Golden Gate bit quite hard. Many people savor it but I wanted it over. You are sort of in a nice green place with ducks and trees and cute paths and roses but you are also very much running on a long straight road for much of it and to me it is a hurdle to get through.

Hello Mr Bison and friends

There is some interest as you see the first half marathoners finish and notice bouncy fresh meat in the field as second halfers and relay marathon teamers join the party. (You can do a half marathon by completing the first half of the marathon course or by doing the second half. Only the first half has the bridge..nuf said). Incidentally, it was reported later than someone stopped his girlfriend at mile 8 of their half marathon and proposed. It made me laugh. She accepted and was very happy. Most female runners I know would consider that to be the end of a beautiful relationship.

I seem to find mile 14 and 15 very hard in races recently. I had eaten a gel pack at mile 5 and 10 but anticipated this low and ate another around 14 and dropped back a little so as not to force myself through this low point. I was no longer on my mental motorbike and felt more like I was pushing one uphill. Still, I often seem to get a second wind around 17/18 so I plodded on, not really dropping my pace greatly but just not feeling very comfortable and concentrated on breathing a double exhale and a double inhale. I realized I was in the midst of the runners following the 3 hr 10 pacers. It felt comforting to fall into step with them for a while but them we came to a little hill where the race FINALLY leaves the Golden Gate Parky bit and starts the fun business of running through city streets.  The paced group maintained pace up the hill and I pushed to stay with them but overextended myself, it was a mistake for me. I pulled back and went into survival mode, just keep it ticking over – run at a pace you can continue …which was now dragging slower. Would the nice lady’s voice on my Runkeeper app stay as calm as my car GPS lady’s  when I take a wrong turn or would she get lippy with me if I hit a really terrible pace: “8 minutes per mile ……..WHAT ARE YOU THINKING …YOU ‘ORRIBLE LITTLE WINE GUZZLER …. GET A MOVE ON”.

Out of the park and the streets really are fun. I don’t know the city so I really have no idea where I am but it is oddly exhilarating running through  those big wide swooping hilly San Francisco streets.  Course-Map-for-Wirpo-1I’m told this is the Haight-Ashbury district. At one point they switch the route so runners alternate between streets. As I came to that point I was one of the first to be switched and soon found myself running down a long street with no runners visible ahead of me. On any other Sunday morning you would have to be crazy to do this. Now and then I almost stopped at red lights at the bottom of hills, it is so instinctive. Love it. This and the bridge are the reason to do this marathon if you get the chance.

gimme gimme

The final few miles were tough for me. The route is a little featureless. They could really do with a few bison there :0) The  spectators who are there are wonderful – but they are few and far between. I passed a place where a lady had been holding a sign saying ‘pick a positive thought’ when I ran the same race two years ago. I had decided then my thought was going to be  that skinny bitch isn’t going to pass me  as there was a woman creeping up on me. It wasn’t perhaps the spirit the sign holder had hoped to inspire but it did help me beat her :0). I smiled at the memory and looked behind me but there were no ladies to be seen. Some I had been tussling with were well ahead now – and others well behind.

Look away now – enormous cleavage coming through

I waited until mile 24 before pushing myself a little harder  – my pace quickened to 7.13 mins per mile. I forced it a little more at mile 25 and started to feel confident about a strong finish. Just then  a feisty young lady I had not seen before reached my  shoulder,  toyed with me for a while,  then zipped away ahead….ah ..now  THAT slightly put my ‘strong finish’ in the shade.  But it was still a pleasurable finish.

Very near the finish. People were laughing at the chicken :0)

I fixed my eyes on the Bay Bridge in the distance (the marathon ends at the giant cupid bow and arrow sculpture just beyond that bridge) and crunched through mile 26 at what was in my head a dead sprint but in reality was slowing to 7.18 minutes per mile. The very last stretch of road was odd. You seem to run towards the finish but it never gets closer. There was a moment of light relief when a man suddenly arrived at my shoulder urgently demanding to know what the chicken was for as he had been wanting to know since he had first seen it  miles ago. He loved that it was for the food bank and I was smiling as he sprinted ahead of me right up until the point where I stumbled on road curb and banged one of my toe nails. The pain took my breath away. It was a timely reminder of how lucky I was that those toes were ok. If this had been a trail marathon I am sure I couldn’t have coped. Just then I saw another man  come to a complete stop with about a quarter of a mile to go. I put an arm around him for a second and encouraged him to just look at the bridge, he was so close. He seemed grateful and started up again. People have done similar things to me in races and sometimes it is just the boost you need. He stayed close behind me right to the finish line and we shook hands at the end  – I could see from his bib number he had started well behind me – he had done a fantastic run  – his time was sub 3 hrs 10 mins. I broke away from him to be  interviewed by  The San Francisco Chronicle on account of the rubber chicken so we didn’t get to talk much. It  occurred to me later that that rubber chicken must have been quite surreal for him. Suddenly popping up and leading him home.

I finished in 3.12.04 which is actually a personal best for me. I was 13th  out of 4317 ladies and 208th out of 6456 people – and  third lady in the masters (over 40). I’ve decided to find it invigorating rather than depressing that no lady older than me beat me – the first two in the masters were 43 yrs old  – whippersnappers! I also did notice that the other ladies in the masters both ahead and behind me were ‘elite’ athletes  – you can tell from their three digit bib numbers. So I am really quite chuffed to have been running with ‘proper runners’ and done ok. What an experience.

But.

As always.  A moment of marathoning glory and dare I say pride is never long lived for me before a fall of some kind. I moved on from the journalist to receive my medal and was drawn to a tempting array of frozen banana and strawberry smoothies. I was thirsty and sucked deeply on one only to be quite incapacitated by an almighty ice cream headache. I staggered around looking for a bin and found another runner leaning over it clasping his head and groaning. We laughed at each other ..no words needed or possible.

I decided to sort out my camp at Hotel Bite and return to watch Devon receive her awards before going home. We chatted by the podium for a while during which I snapped some mindless shots of the general scene on my cell phone  – it them crashed just as she left me to accept her award. So imagine here a nice photo of her accepting the cheers of the masses – and then one of us together.

And finally

Congrats to Richard Ervais – who won the rubber chicken.

After the race, Ken the chicken and I were mentioned in the San Francisco Chronicle’s write up of the event. http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Thousands-come-run-in-35th-S-F-Marathon

Penny MacPhail ran the marathon with a rubber chicken named “Ken” on her back, to raise money for the San Francisco and Marin Food Banks.

“The biggest problem is people ask you about it, and you lose a lot of breath explaining it to them,” she said.

The Food Bank chaps were delighted. The amount of money raised may be modest – c $4/500 but (speaking as an old PR person) publicity  like this, just keeping the name in the public eye  is priceless. I wonder if it may even inspire other people to raise money for them. Maybe we could have hundreds of rubber chickens scooting around the streets of San Francisco next year.

Thank you to everyone who sponsored me. Thank you Ken. Thank you San Francisco…and your groovy, foggy bridge. http://www.thesfmarathon.com/

Place Name Location Bib Net Time Pace Division/Place Sex-Age Sex-Place Gun Time Age Grade
51 Connie Mendoza Saint Petersburg, FL 263 2:54:27 6:40 F 40-44/0 F-43 4 2:54:31 84.54%
155 Stephanie Finelli Sacramento, CA 221 3:07:59 7:11 F 40-44/0 F-43 8 3:08:02 78.45%
208 Penelope Macphail San Anselmo, CA 20385 3:12:05 7:20 F 40-44/0 F-44 13 3:12:28 77.70%
328 Lesley Johnson San Antonio, TX 283 3:19:52 7:38 F 40-44/1 F-41 27 3:19:57 72.11%
353 Nancy Cook Belchertown, MA 298 3:21:34 7:42 F 45-49/1 F-48 33 3:22:07 77.78%
Runner Details Race Results

Bib:

20385

Name:

Penelope Macphail

Gender:

F

Age:

44

Hometown:

San Anselmo, CA

Overall:

208 out of 6456

Women:

13 out of 4317

F 40-44:

0 out of 303

Age/Grade:

77.70% Place: 28

Finish:

3:12:05 Pace: 7:20

Tag Time:

3:12:05

Gun Time:

3:12:28
Split Times

5 Km:

21:50 Pace: 7:02

7.4 Mi:

53:23 Pace: 7:13

Half:

1:34:32 Pace: 7:13

20 Mi:

2:25:33 Pace: 7:17

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