When I first started making my training plan for AR50, I printed out the dates of all the local trail races to see what matched up. Running trail races as training runs is so great – the course is marked, there is food at the aid stations and just the general feel of trail races is always motivating. When I saw I had 26 miles on tap for this weekend, I jumped on the Coastal Trail Run Golden Gate Marathon and convinced Jojo to sign up too!
This wasn’t just any marathon though. This would be part of my biggest back to back long runs yet. If you would have told me 4 years ago, or even 1 year ago, that I would run 20 miles the day before a marathon by choice, I would have laughed or rolled my eyes at you.
But yet, that’s exactly what I did this weekend.
Friday morning I got up ridiculously early, yet again, to run 20 miles with my co-worker before work. I did this for 3 reasons:
- I wanted to switch my long runs this weekend so I was running the longest one second. It’s definitely a different challenge mentally and physically to have the longest long run on tired legs.
- I would get to sleep in on Sunday! Waking up early most mornings, I appreciate a day to sleep in a little bit.
- I somehow have friends crazy as me that agree to these ridiculous things.
So Friday I ran 20 miles with 10 of trails, by 9:30am and sat through a day of work. During the day, I ate a ton, propped my legs up with my bags and immediately got my stuff together as soon as I got home so I could be in bed early. I was in bed before 7:30pm. On a Friday night. This is the exciting life of ultra training (and I love every minute of it). I may not have been asleep but at least I was resting!
Saturday morning I woke up in a state of déjà vu that seems to permanently exist on the weekends, had coffee, toast and a Clif Bar and hit the road to head to SF to pick up Jojo. We made it to the start of the race at Rodeo Beach in no time, easily picked up our bibs, chatted with some friends and headed to the car to get ready.
Pretty soon it was go time! We were running, yet again.
The course starts off immediately on some pretty tough hills, including some mean stairs, and my legs were feeling it. It was pretty congested at this point so I used that to my advantage and just cruised along, hiking some tougher sections. We made it to the first aid station before mile 5 knowing that we always feel better further into a run.
Both of us have really been testing out a lot of fueling options, so one thing we were looking to accomplish at this race was to try new things! I have made it my goal to try as many things as possible, so I know what doesn’t sit well with my stomach. Then on race day, I have a ton of options that I know will work and I can go with what sounds good.
For this race, I was snacking on Clif Bloks along the way and took some different things at each aid station. I had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, boiled potatoes and salt, and 7up! All were a success. I was surprised at how good the soda tasted. In addition to all of that I was drinking constantly from my hydration pack and taking a salt cap around every hour. I felt really good energy wise the whole way and felt like my fueling went really well.
We continued on into our run and hit what feels like the longest hill ever, which we would eventually run again. The marathon course was the half marathon twice, so everything we would see the first time, we would get to see again! We cruised along, chatting the entire way and just conserving our energy as much as we could. Today was about time on our feet, finishing strong and fueling!
We got to the beautiful single track portion, which was my favorite part of course, with views of the Golden Gate Bridge in the background. This part flew by and we continued to make our way back to the start to do it all over again!
We headed out on the second loop and the first couple miles were rough again, but it was much less crowded this time. Pretty soon we were at the aid station fueling up and chatting with the amazing volunteers, then headed up the long hill again. This loop was going by faster for some reason and Jojo and I continued our conversation the whole time.
Once we hit 20 miles I announced “we have officially run back to back 20 milers!” and we gave a little cheer, but we still had another 6 miles to go. Luckily we were heading into the best part of the run again.
My legs were most definitely tired at this point and I could tell I had done a ton of running, but I was still moving. It’s pretty crazy how your body can just keep going!
The last couple miles were a little rough and I was definitely ready to be done running, but we continued on until we crossed the finish line!
My 12th marathon, the day after a 20 miler and my first trail marathon were done! I left my watch running through all the bathroom and aid station stops since it was a race this time. This was my longest time wise run yet!
26.2 miles/5:24:54/12:24 avg pace
Elevation gain: 4840 feet
After we had the most delicious watermelon, we went to dip our legs into the freezing ocean and it instantly hurt our feet from the cold. Then the waves almost took us down (especially without much leg strength!) so we headed back to the car to venture home.
After a shower and some rest, I felt great! My legs are a little tired but no soreness, which makes me happy.
It was a great day out there and another very successful long trail run. I am still kind of in awe of what my legs are doing and love achieving all these new milestones while loving every minute of it.