Race Report: 2012 CTR Golden Gate Marathon

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: 

  1. 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. 
  2. I would get to sleep in on Sunday!  Waking up early most mornings, I appreciate a day to sleep in a little bit.
  3. 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.

GGM 001

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.     

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33 Responses to Race Report: 2012 CTR Golden Gate Marathon

  1. Robin February 12, 2012 at 10:02 am #

    Amazing amazing amazing. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Megan (Running Foodie) February 12, 2012 at 10:12 am #

    So proud of you, Aron!!

  3. Claudine February 12, 2012 at 10:23 am #

    Hello – I’ve been reading your blog for a little while now, but have been a little too shy to comment. I’m a very new runner, started back in July 2011 doing a Couch to 5k, but now I and my husband are hooked – he’s doing his first marathon (Napa) in March, and we’re both signed up for a series of Halfs this year. I wanted to thank you for your reports and accounts of your training – they’re very informative and inspirational! We don’t have a lot of close friends who like to run (yet), so it’s nice to be able to read about others’ practices and experiences. Good luck on your training for the AR50! Hopefully if I see you at a race at some point — we live in San Francisco and are familiar with the local races (Coastal, Brazen, etc.) — I’ll try to come and say hello.
    Cheers, Claudine

    • greengirlrunning February 12, 2012 at 3:51 pm #

      Hi Claudine, if you ever want to run in Marin, check out Marin Socil Runnng Group on Meetup.com… a great, low key group that does a lot of trail running. All paces are welcome :)

    • Aron February 14, 2012 at 10:59 am #

      Thanks for the comment! YES come say hello – I will be at Napa too!

  4. Nicole February 12, 2012 at 10:59 am #

    Nice work Aron! I’m so proud of you! <3

  5. Page February 12, 2012 at 11:05 am #

    You continue to amaze me! Congrats on an awesome achievement and fantastic week of running.

  6. Chicken February 12, 2012 at 11:28 am #

    OMG! You are beyond amazing! You are killing this Ultra training! You are gonna have quite the story to tell after your Ultra. I look forward to that race recap. With all your newfound energy and excitement, you’re gonna do awesome! Great job this weekend.

  7. Tia@RunnerMom February 12, 2012 at 11:38 am #

    That course looks amazing! Very hilly but amazing! Great job on your back to back long runs!

  8. Jojo February 12, 2012 at 11:38 am #

    Yay! Such a fun race and day with you yesterday! Amazing job this weekend :) Glad to hear you’re not sore- success!

  9. Christine February 12, 2012 at 11:51 am #

    This is unbelievable! You are such a strong runner and I love following you on your journey :)

  10. dennis February 12, 2012 at 11:58 am #

    The fact that your legs are only tired and not sore is simply mind-boggling to me! I didn’t run Friday, and I ran only 18 miles on that course yesterday, and my legs are screaming at me today! You are beyond awesome!

  11. Beth February 12, 2012 at 12:18 pm #

    Congratulations! What an incredible weekend of running (and this only takes us through Saturday!) I’m amazed with how our expectations for ourselves change, and you’re a perfect example of this. Maybe at one point running 26.2 miles sounded crazy (it certainly did to me!), and then running 20 miles the day before a marathon sounded crazy (it kind of still does..), but you’ve accomplished all of these things! I can’t wait to hear how AR50 goes. Keep up the incredible training :)

  12. Marlene February 12, 2012 at 1:14 pm #

    Congrats on EVERYTHING – marathon #12, back to back 20-milers, longest time running EVER, nailing your fueling… so much success! I love to see you thriving on ultra training & running!

  13. Marlene February 12, 2012 at 1:17 pm #

    Back to back 20+, that is … you know what I mean. :)

  14. Alyssa February 12, 2012 at 1:20 pm #

    WAY TO GOOOOO!!!!!!! What a huge day (and weekend!) for you!

  15. J February 12, 2012 at 1:30 pm #

    Awesome Aron!! I can’t believe all this mileage you are running and conquering!!! Congrats on your 12th marathon! Well done – so inspiring!

  16. Bethany February 12, 2012 at 1:48 pm #

    nice job!!! Wow, congrats! You must be feeling pretty confident now! I’m trying to remember what i did for my 50, i know i never did back to back 20 and 26, thats for sure. I think i did 11 (on roads) and 31 (on trails)..hmm, actually, not that far off from what you did…it sounds like so much more the way you did it tho! lol. I actually just signed up for another 50 miler this morning. Ryan and I will be running 50 miles on 5-27, our 1st anniversary!
    Congrats!! Keep up the amazing work!!!

  17. greengirlrunning February 12, 2012 at 3:54 pm #

    Aron that’s incredible! I did that same race (except I did the 20k) back in December and it was a tough race! I actually injured my achilles doing it :( Congrats on your back to back long runs… you’ll do great at the AR50!

  18. Michelle February 12, 2012 at 5:44 pm #

    Amazing!!! Congrats!

  19. Jamie February 12, 2012 at 5:46 pm #

    Congratulations, what an amazing accomplishment! The last photo of you with the GGB in the background is awesome :-)

  20. Kristen February 12, 2012 at 6:08 pm #

    20 miles before work? Then a trail marathon the next day? Totally bad ass.
    I hope you enjoyed your sleep in today!

    Looks like an absolutely beautiful run- congratulations on your big weekend mileage!

  21. SkinnyRunner February 12, 2012 at 6:18 pm #

    girl you are insane in the best way. i love reading about your training!

  22. Rachel February 12, 2012 at 8:45 pm #

    congrats! seriously SO impressed. keep it up!

  23. Lauren @ Sassy Molassy February 12, 2012 at 8:47 pm #

    Awesome run. It’s impressive that you did those distances back to back. All that hard work is paying off!

  24. Rena @ milehogger.blogspot.com February 12, 2012 at 10:18 pm #

    I can’t believe you sat through a day of work after running 20 miles. And then ran a marathon! I wish I could be in bed on Friday by 7:30PM. Maybe then I wouldn’t have such a hard time waking up for my long run.

  25. Billy February 12, 2012 at 10:29 pm #

    Congrats Aron. Love that you’re really putting in the work now. It’ll def pay off huge come AR50.

  26. Rhona @ Redwinerunner.co.uk February 13, 2012 at 4:24 am #

    Great running Aron! Getting 20 miles in before work is incredible :)
    I have been pleasantly surprised by how back-to-back long runs feel on my legs – the ultra I am training for is only 33 miles so I don’t need to do quite such extreme back-to-backing as you, but it’s a lot easier than I thought it would be! My legs seem to protest with tiredness a little at first but after a few miles they wake up just fine and all is well.

  27. Susan - Nurse on the Run February 13, 2012 at 4:31 am #

    Ahh so many miles! I ran “only” 16 yesterday and my legs are tired, I can’t imagine doing a marathon today! Congrats on the trail marathon and hope you got some rest yesterday!

  28. Laura February 13, 2012 at 5:55 am #

    WOW…so awesome..congrats. Your training is certainly paying off!

  29. Rachel February 13, 2012 at 8:40 am #

    You are going to kick butt at AR 50; your training has been incredible. In fact, reminds me of training for a 100 miler, which means you are going to be super prepared for 50. I have been reading your blog for a long time and am always impressed with the thought and diligence you put into creating and following a training plan. I cannot wait to read how you do race day!

  30. PJ February 13, 2012 at 12:50 pm #

    Congrats on your awesome accomplishment! You will rock AR-50!

  31. RoadBunner February 13, 2012 at 2:07 pm #

    Congratulations on your first trail marathon! And wow-ee! Back to back 20′s! It is amazing what your body will do you if you train it up smart and just keep trucking :) I really respect how you’re training for this 50 — lots of smart preparation for sure.

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