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

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