Headlands 50M – Partying Without Karl

My 2nd year in a row running the Headlands 50M. With a regular cadence of business travel and juggling life, it’s been hard to squeeze in the miles required for a 50M, but hey at some point, you just take the plunge. Last year when I ran the Headlands 50M, I think I saw the sun for a total of 15 minutes. Karl-the-Fog was with us the entire day. Not so this time. Gone fishing. And it made it that much harder. Fair number of DNF’s on the 100 miler caused by dehydration and GI issues from the heat. My Strava activity from the run:

Headlands 50M

After tracking the weather closely for the past week, I knew it was going to be a warm day. I remembered that the climb up to Coyote Ridge from Tennessee Valley (around mile 37) was hard even in the fog. But more on that later. Dirt-bagged in my van the night before, waking up around 5:30am to a spectacular star-studded sky.

There were like 7 races going on this weekend with varying distances and a triple marathon to boot! After Greg gave us the low-down on what to expect, we were off at 7:00am. As we ascended Coastal Trail, kept overhearing comments on how the 2nd loop was going to be a doozy.

I didn’t have much of a plan (other than to finish), though after getting to Muir Woods at what felt like a relaxed pace, the thought of keeping to 5 miles/hour came to mind. And I stuck with that until the end of the first loop. I was popping a VFuel gel at the start of every climb and then one more at the top before the descent.

Shared some miles with Jack Hseuh and because of the washing-machine loops, kept running into other familiar faces all day long. I ran most of Bobcat Trail down to the end of loop one (mile 25) right around the 5 hour mark. Took 5 minutes to change t-shirt, reload gels, switched from my Vivobarefoot shoes to Luna Sandals and I was off again with a huge, stupid grin on my face.

There was a bit of a breeze on the ridge as we approached Fort Baker for the 2nd time. But I could feel the heat rising. On the climb out of Fort Baker, there was a local runner power hiking the trails toward Marincello and we struck up a good conversation. Apparently her whole family likes to run Dipsea Trail and her son’s birthday is right around or on race day. Anyways, the smalltalk made me keep my pace up until the top of Marincello. I ran down all of Marincello into Tennessee Valley. 37 miles done in 8 hours. Just a half marathon to go, maybe in 3 hours and I could have a 11 hour finish. Was in a very happy mood, but knew the dark patch was approaching.

Miles 37 through right around 43 are where the devil-inside comes out with a vengeance. That’s when things fall apart and the urge to quit is the strongest. And the steep climb up to Coyote Ridge at the hottest time of the day wasn’t helping. I was so focused on moving and staying cool, that I forgot to eat. I was starting to bonk at the top and barely made it to down Muir Woods. I was pretty incoherent and left the aid-station without eating much. The next climb, I remember looking at the watch and sometimes I was averaging 40 minutes/mile. Ugh. It was slow and painful. But one. foot. in. front. of. the. other. Back at Tennessee Valley in 10:23. 4ish miles to go. Home stretch before the ice cold IPA.

Watermelon + salt is the bomb! Loaded up on a bunch and pushed hard up Wolf Ridge and Coastal. Could see the finish at the distance, but was hauling now. By the time I pulled into the finish line, it was 11:25 and 2nd in AG. A bit faster than last time. I really don’t know how the 100 milers do it going out again for the 3rd and 4th loops. Pretty inspiring. Spent the 2nd night in the van (too tired to drive) and caught an amazing sunset followed by an even more spectacular Sausalito Sunrise. Sweat the little things. They do matter.

H/T to Duke Hong, Jack Hsueh, Jeremy Johnson, Ken Michal, Leigh-Ann Wendling, Mary Holandez Bernsen, Paul King, Steve Snyder, William Dai and I know I’m probably missing a few others too.

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