I’m back in California for the third time in a year, in a place so lovely it hurts.
One of my few regrets in life is that I was not a runner during the three years that I lived in the Bay Area, back in the early 2000s. I ran in the Stanford foothills exactly twice—the first time during orientation week, with a group of ex-military guys who quickly left the slower among us in their dust, and one other time mor than a year later. During 1L I used a classmate and I used to go for evening jogs around the track at Angell Field, and during my third year I occasionally walked-ran on the treadmills in the little gym at Tressider Union. Every time I come back here, a little piece of me moans over those lost years of outdoor recreation.
I’ve been lucky to make up for it with quite a few memorable races out here over the past couple of years—the Tahoe Rim Trail 50K in July 2012 (my first solo ultra), the San Francisco Marathon a week later (my first sub-4 since my very first marathon in 2006), plus last year’s Big Sur Marathon (my first BQ!) and California International Marathon (first freezing weather race). And let’s not forget the epic 4 days of crewing and pacing 85 or 90 miles with Mama Mason at the Tahoe 200 in September.
Next up is the gorgeous Marin headlands area. I’m still nervous about my legs but they’re feeling pretty happy. Yesterday and today were total rest days, with very little walking, some ice, rolling and stretching, and lots of eating.
I’ve prepared my “pace” bands, which don’t actually have any paces on them, just notes on the mileage and elevation changes between aid stations. And I’ve reviewed my Garmin activities to see what I did in the weeks before my previous comparable races this year- Pikes Peak in August was the closest to Quad Dipsea, and the Pinelands 50 Mile and Vermont 100K are somewhat analogous to TNF 50. It scared me a little to see how much I was running then and how little I tapered, basically only a day off (maaaaybe two) in the week leading up to those races. Now that I’ve actually rested I feel really unprepared and out of it. I’m hoping/praying that it will all come back to me with the start gun.
Now it’s time to prepare my gear. As usual, I overpacked, since I’m far from home and the weather in somewhat unpredictable. Some rain is likely tomorrow and probably warmer weather next Saturday. Here’s what I got.
My usual stuff. This is for both races (78 miles total). I try to stick to the gels as much as possible, with some chews and bars for when my tummy gets that empty hungry feeling. I probably won’t end up using much UCAN, and the ginger helps combat any funny tummy feelings. I’ll mostly drink plain water and some coke and ginger ale from the aid stations. After the 24 hours a few weeks ago, I’m almost done with Vespa and down to one VFuel, but I just restocked big time with their 40% off sale this weekend. Yup, gels were the only thing I needed to buy on Black Friday.
My trusty old Hoka Stinsons got pretty beat up after the UTMB and Tahoe pacing, and I haven’t gotten around to replacing them yet, , so I brought out two pairs of Salomon shoes. I’ll probably go with the purple Fellraiser for tomorrow if there’s a chance of mud, and the red SLAB XT6 Softground for TNF next week if the ground is still damp. If it’s looking dry next week I’ll opt for a pair of Hoka road shoes.
Probably the Ultimate Direction Scott Jurek pack for tomorrow and next week. The other options are the UltrAspire waistpack or the Nathan handheld-Spibelt combo. I’ll use some combination of the Salomon soft flask and one of the other flat bottles in the UD vest, as the original UD 20 oz. bottles are cylindrical and press into my ribcage too much.
Saltstick pills; chewable Pepto Bismol and Tums for the tummy; KT Tape, Voltaren and Tylenol for my leg issues; Vaseline, Trailtoes and hydrocortisone ointment for chafing; Neosporin for booboos and (not pictured) wet wipes for poopoos. I don’t actually carry all of it, only the smaller, lighter items.
Looks like it will be a little wet but not too cold, with temps in the mid-50s. Do I dare to go out looking like a wannabe Salomon athlete? As much as I love the SLAB skirt and top I feel it’s a bit much to wear them together.
Okay, time for bed. I’ll need a lot of luck for tomorrow, but I’m blessed to have a running angel out there cheering me on tomorrow, and not wanting to disappoint her will probably keep me going as long as I can.