My longest race so far, the Woodside Ramble 35K turned out to be an awesome run with a 3,100 ft elevation gain, spectacular redwood trees and a picture perfect California day. This 35K trail run with a loop and an out and back starts at Huddart Park and links up to Bear Gulch and Skyline Trail. The 50K extends this further with a loop on Wunderlich Trail. Maybe I’ll try out the 50K next year.
I got there around 7:30am, though had been up since 5:00am. Maybe it was the excitement or the anxiety, thinking about my longest run to date. I’d been up the night before trying to memorize the elevation charts and the location of the aid stations to see if I can break down the course in to smaller manageable chunks. I knew I could handle the first 15-17 miles fairly comfortably. The last stretch was going to be the tricky one, though it was mostly downhill, which was helpful.
It was a great turnout and at 8:30 we set off down the grassy patch at Werder Shelter into the woods. Immediately we were surrounded by amazing redwoods and began the steady climb up towards the first aid station 6.3 miles away. While I was power-hiking and part running, there were a few runners that were making the up hill look so effortless! I need to get more hill repeats in me to work up these hills. One trick I learned this time is to set repeat timers on my Timex watch. Every 15 minutes, it would go off reminding me to take a gulp of water and then swap the Nathan hand-held from one hand to the other. This minimized the fatigue in the arms while keeping me hydrated.
Managed to get to the first aid-station (Dunlap) at 1:10, dunked a Clif Shot (strawberry, I think?) and took off on the next leg. The next five miles were mostly flat to downhill and made up lost time here. Every since the Diablo Trail Half Marathon fiasco on the downhill, I’ve spent a fair bit of time working on my downhill runs. I now feel super comfortable in zooming downhill with long strides and a much faster pace. I made the next 5 miles in 40 minutes, though before I got there, I counted about 15 runners on their return trip to the finish line. Leading the pack and pounding the descent were Craig Schmidt and Caitlin Smith who would go on to finish 1st and 2nd place overall.
Got to the turn around point at 1:50, one more Clif Shot, refill on the water bottle and it was back out again. There were two to three people in front of me and I would pass them on the downhill only to be left behind on the uphills. I was starting to get tired and also realized that 2 out of the 4 Succeed Caps had fallen out of my waist pack. I was popping one capsule every hour and now I had 10+ miles to go with none. The return leg of 5 miles was slower because of the uphills and I got back to the Dunlap aid-station at 2:50. Just another 5.6 miles to get to the finish line. I was so, so happy and thankful to learn that the aid-station had Succeed Caps, downed one and took off for the last run. I could see Matt Krawczyk, Rida Chow and Anna Liao in front of me and they were keeping an awesome pace. But this was downhill and my favorite. I tried to close in on them, one switchback after the other, until I passed Rida and Anna, but couldn’t quite get to Matt. He finished 12 seconds ahead of me to place 3rd in my age group. The last hill before the finish line was a killer!
I finished at 3:54, 15th overall and 4th in my age group. This was definitely a tough run and I had to work hard to get through to the finish line. I do have to say that while I was a little sore that evening, I woke up feeling great after a good night sleep. Did you run this one? What was your experience?
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