Even though I registered for the Canyon Meadow Trail Run a while back, I wasn’t completely ready for this run. Releasing my book has taken up a fair bit of time in the last couple of weeks and haven’t been getting my weekly miles in. I’ve also been having severe bouts of allergy and I was flying in from out of town the night before the race. That said, I’m super happy how the race day turned out. With a total elevation gain of 2,278″ this 30K run packed a punch, though not as bad as the Chabot Trail Run 30K.
Canyon Meadow Trail
I got about 6 hours of fitful sleep and was up bright and early at 5:15. This time I remembered to be generous with the Vaseline to prevent chaffing of my inner thighs (and it worked!). As part of the race prep I also made two corn tortillas with hummus and olives (stole the idea from Scott Jurek’s Eat & Run Book), rolled them tightly, halved them and stuck them into my Amphipod. They were so delicious and complementary to the sugariness of the Clif Shots during the run.
There were about 400 runners running everything from 5M, Half Marathon, 30K, Marathon and 50K. We all set out sharp at 8am after Wendell’s count down. The course started off with a sharp climb for the first mile and then rolling hills. Half power-hiking, half running, I kept a relaxed pace, focused on breathing through my nose and slowly worked my way up. There’s something awesomely wicked about running downhill, hopping over rocks and roots with huge strides and a much faster pace, though this trail was a lot more treacherous than Summit Rock. Not just stumps and roots, but tons of loose rock all waiting for that one second lapse in concentration.
Reached the first aid-station at Moon Gate (4.7 miles) after a steady climb of 45 minutes. Downed a Clif Shot, electrolytes and then started the 6.2 mile descent to the next aid station at Fish Ladder. The last part of this leg is through redwood groves, ferns, eucalyptus groves and was beautiful. I was probably about a mile or two from the aid station, when boom! I tripped on something and went down left knee first. Took me a minute to reorient myself and realized I was bleeding, though the cut wasn’t deep. Walked a little and then took off again. When I stopped at the aid station, Miguel Vivaldo (14 years old!) passed me and I found out he was running the 50K. He was running strong, had a great pace and would go on to finish in 5:13.
When I left the aid station, I felt my first cramp on my right calves. I don’t yet know how to prevent cramps, but at least know how to keep them under control. The cramps seem to hit me running up on climbs and when the strides get longer. So my solution was to keep my stride length really short with a high foot turn over and slow down on the climbs. It might’ve been around 2 hours when I reached the start/finish line. More Clif Shots and electrolytes, stripped down a layer and headed back up the hill again. Only this time, there was more power-hiking than running. The day was turning out to be just perfect, blue skies, moderate temperature and spectacular views all around. My cramps were getting worse and now I was feeling them on both calves and my left foot. I was finally happy to see the yellow ribbons at the turn off point to return back to the finish line. Another beautiful downhill run through amazing shady groves. Stopped by a couple of times to massage my calves and finally got to the finish line at 2:56. I ended up placing 11th overall, 1st place in my age group and a new PR for the 30K distance. Though, I’m sure it’s because the faster runners in my age group didn’t show up for this race. Hey, I’m not complaining.
When the knee is bleeding, ankles are sore and calves are cramping up, every high five, every cheer matters. Thanks Wendell and all of the volunteers for an amazing day at the race! Next up is the Woodside Ramble 35K run. While I got chaffing and fueling a little more under control, cramps continue to bother me. What do you do to eliminate cramps on these long runs?