Saturday, December 12, 2009

NorthFace 50 mile San Francisco: A story of sex, lies and deception

 (submitted by Joel Lammers...)

I traveled to San Francisco with my wife Sandee for a mini vacation and to run the NorthFace 50K.  By the time I signed up for the run, the 50K was full so I signed up for the 50 mile.  No problem.  I was in pretty decent shape and figured I could manage a few hills. 
The run took place in the Marin Headlands which is just across the Golden Gate Bridge, just north of San Francisco. The run started at 5:00am which is normally a time when I’m snuggled in bed.  It began and finished at Fort Berry.  I heard this was a place that they water board ultra runners but when I arrived I found that wasn’t true.  

The run started out with a 5 mile fire road loop that went up 850 ft and then came down 850ft.  My quads were already feeling it.  We continued on fire roads until we hit the second aid station at about 9 miles.  It was now getting light.  We continued along for the next 10 miles making 3 climbs of 300 – 600 ft mostly on fire roads and some single track. About 15 miles we started about a 1,400 ft climb that started out relatively gradual and then progressed to about 2 miles of switch backs.  They were fun to run and you could see all the runners above and below you.  Life couldn’t get better.  Once we hit 19 miles we descended 1,400, much of it on single track technical trails.  This was killing my quads but I was still pretty fresh and moved along quite nicely.  The later part of this was along the Dipsea trail which was along a babbling brook with large redwood trees.

At about 21 miles we began a 1,800 ft climb.  This was mostly switch backs through a tropical type woods.  The ends of the switch backs had about 6 stairs to climb to get to the next level.  This went on for about 3 miles when I finally came out of the woods to open areas where we proceeded on a rolling trail to the 26 mile point and back.  About 31 miles we went in to a 1,300 foot decent that made my ears pop.  They clogged up on the plane ride so this felt good.  Unfortunately, that was about all that felt good on my body but I was still moving along quite nicely until 33 miles when we went up for a while and then took another 900 ft. decent.  At this point, my quads felt like they had Wayne Laravie daggers stuck in them but then the course leveled out for a whole 2 miles.  I felt like a new person.  I loaded up on food at the 40 mile aid station and was feeling pretty good but my legs were just trashed. We then went on about a 900 ft. climb over the next 4 miles.  Most of this was on fire roads so the footing was good but the climbing was killing me.  I hit the 44 mile aid station and loaded up on food again.  I could tell some chick was checking me out so I said “Great aid station, huh”?  and she said, “Yah”.

I left and the aid station on another 700 ft. climb.  I was mostly walking at this point. Would this ever end???   One guy even complemented me on how fast I could walk.  You know you’re desperate for motivation when hear a compliment like that and it actually make you think you are doing well.  I caught up with the gal from the aid station and found out she belonged to the St Louis Ultra Runners Group of which I also am a member. Her name was Sara and we exchanged best wishes and said we would see each other at the Chubb Trail Race in April. 

I finally made it to the 47 mile aid station. It was all down hill from here.  The problem was that my quads were killing me and it hurt to walk down hill.  I then envisioned myself downing a cold Pyramid Beer (sponsor of the run) at the finish.  I started to run, and run like the wind I did.  Running the last 2.7 miles in 22 minutes breaking the old California record by almost 2 minutes!!  When I turned the corner for the finish, the crowd began to cheer…and loud.  It was my wife and all her new friends in the beer garden yelling for me.  This didn’t surprise me because she had 2 hours to kill after finishing the ½ marathon and what better way to do that then to drink beer and think of ways to embarrass her husband at the finish.  I finished in 9:07.

After the run we spent a couple of hours meeting new people and drinking beer. They had a nice set up at the finish with food, door prizes, giveaways, etc.  We then hooked a ride back to San Fran with a couple of our new friends.

I would highly recommend this run for anyone who would be interested.  It has long climbs and descents but beautiful views and scenery.  The price was reasonable because you received a NF Tech shirt, NF Socks, NF Quick Draw water bottle and a nice party at the finish all for about $100.  You can also stay in San Fran which is only a $27 cab ride to the start.

That’s all I have to say.

PS:  The Sex, lies and deception line was just to get you to read the whole report.

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