I had these two weeks off and used the time flexibility to explore new places.
Monday Dec 23. 12.5 mile bike ride up to grizzly peak and back. Just getting some cycling time in. I switched to using Strava here, mostly as an experiment. I’m finding it much more interesting to use than RunKeeper, mostly because of all the segment data for comparing yourself to others, and especially to yourself. I like some of RunKeepers reports better.
Tuesday Dec 24. I woke up early and ran 10.7 miles in Redwood, following the French Trail and East Ridge Trails, one of my common long run routes. It was quiet and peaceful, I was listening to the 1493 audiobook by Charles Mann. He has an interesting story about how Columbus’s arrival in the Americas started a dramatic planet-wide ecological shift toward homogeneity. After this, lots of holiday busyness.
Wednesday Dec 25. 3.5 mile Christmas run. Family had departed, so I drove up the hill, and ran the Huckleberry loop. Feeling strong, I added the steep hill climb into Sibley, to a place I know in my head as the "picnic spot." Because it would be perfect for a picnic, if you were willing to carry the food out there. This was a good burn-off of holiday stress.
Thursday Dec 26. 5.6 mile run in Sibley. I ran counterclockwise around Round Top. After passing the southern ridge, I took off on the fastest stretch of running I’ve done since the Woodside Ramble. Maybe faster, I was just feeling in the zone, whatever that zone is. I followed the Volcano trail out to the end and headed down Old Tunnel Road, deciding it was time to invest in some less technical shoes for these odd stretches of pavement I come across. I ran the Bay Area Ridge trail south to Fish Ranch Road, a new stretch of trail for me (it’s amazing how many there still are close to home). I turned back and ran/walked back uphill to the end.
Friday Dec 27. Fast 12.5 mile bike ride up to Grizzly Peak and back. It was quite the hazy day.
Saturday Dec 28. Brazen New Year’s Eve half marathon. It was cold. It was fun. I as feeling slow though, having had a fast bike ride on Friday.
Sunday Dec 29. 21.1 miles cycling. This was a big loop. I rode up grizzly peak, and then down El Toyonal into Orinda. I think I’m going to skip riding down El Toyonal again for a while. Like for another year. Or three. My hands were sore when I got to the bottom of the hill from riding the breaks too hard; it’s just well past my skill level to take this at any decent speed safely. But if I’m having a masochistic day, I might ride ride up the hill. Oh yeah, after this I rode south through Orinda, Moraga, and Canyon, and then climbed Pinehurst to get back home. It was amazing clear out, I could see the Farallon islands from the hills.
Monday Dec 30: 6.6 miles running in Tilden. Only my second time running in Tilden, this was more deliberate exploration to expand my close-to-home running routes. I followed part of the course of the Grizzly Peak race I ran last spring, which seems significantly less difficult now. I started from Grizzly peak, ran over to Volmer Peak, and south along the Bay Area Ridge Trail/Seaview Trail. Unlike when I ran the race in a lot of fog, this run had great views of both the East bay hills and the bay. It’s nice seeing such a large span of my riding/running/swimming/kiting spots from one place.
Tuesday Dec 31: 13.1 miles cycling. I rode the Pinehurst loop clockwise, which has a fun fast downhill at the start. I ride this route a lot to get downhill training in; this was probably my fastest time at 1:13, even though I was taking the climbs easy on account of the next-day race.
Wednesday Jan 1: 13.1ish mile run, Brazen New Year’s day half. I was really happy with this race, being able to push myself well during the last few miles. It’s the first race I’ve run with my garmin, which is a great tool for pushing yourself harder than you normally would, since you can chastise yourself for being lazy when you realize how slow you’re inadvertently running.
Thursday Jan 2: 3.5 mile run. This was intended to be a rest day, but I felt really restless. I went to run the Huckleberry loop, and I added in the steep climb in Sibley. This really did the job-by the end I was as tired as I should have felt for running two races in five days. Friday became the well-needed rest day.
Saturday Jan 4: 22.1 miles running around Mt Tam and the Headlands. Maps say closer to 24/25 miles. This was one of those epic go-out-and-take-my-time-exploring days. One of my goals for this year is to use long runs to explore new trails. I used to do this a lot when we lived in the Peninsula, but it completely fell off a couple years ago. So it was overdue, and I wanted a ~22 mile run this weekend. I planned a course here that would take me along some trails on a couple upcoming race courses, as well as some that I just wanted to run. I also made sure there would be lots of climbing to train for a couple climbing-heavy races in the next couple months.
I started in Stinson Beach off the Panoramic highway, and headed uphill along the Dipsea trail, which I’ve never run on before. The sun was peaking through the early morning fog on the long climb, which I was taking slowly after running two the half marathons in the prior week. Very slowly. As the trail moved from open space into the trees, I followed the Steep Ravine trail, where things become almost magical. It was early enough that I saw no one, and I had a lot of fun running and climbing the stairs quickly. The ferns, redwoods, and stone stairs along the creek were gorgeous and peaceful. The notorious ladder came and went easily, and the trail eventually made its way to the Pantoll station parking lot. Here, I got confused. After looking around for a while, I found the Old Mine trail and took it south, passing an old attempt at a gold mine and ending up with a large view at Cardiac hill.
I ran back into the woods and headed down to Muir woods. I haven’t been here in about nine years. At that time, walking outside on mild hills made me feel tired, to put into perspective how much has changed in my life since then. It was fun seeing the early-morning slowly moseying tourists and just running right through. I ran a side trail out, eventually climbing a LOT of stairs to get up to the panoramic highway, and following a trail south along it. Somewhere here I slowed down for a snack and passed a large group of ~70 year old men who were powering up hill.
Then it was back to the Dipsea trail for a run west, back through Muir woods, and then south on another trail up to Dias Ridge. Here’s where my feet started to feel sore, but I was having fun. Slowing down, I followed this west, ending with a fun downhill run toward Muir Beach. The west part of this hill has awesome views of the valleys and coast. And many mountain bikers.
After searching around a bit, I found the Heather cutoff trail and started climbing. And climbed and climbed some more. Seriously, you could climb this trail like it's your job if it paid anything. After lots more climbing and many switchbacks later, I made it to the Coastal view trail. It was time to climb some more. I ran and walked slow intervals to pass the time here, rationing water, since it was an open trail and quite warm at this point. And my feet were tired. I managed to set the slowest ascent on this trail yet recorded on strava; that’s how much I was taking my time, stopping to stretch and look around, and taking photos. But that's part of the fun of these solo long runs, you don't feel any pressure to avoid hanging out, just enjoying a stretch of coastline. After climbing and climbing and climbing and climbing some more, I made it to the desolate water fountain on Cardiac hill and stopped for another snack, just watching the ocean for a while longer.
Then I ran back down the Dipsea trail. This was a fun stretch, still with a lot of stairs, but it passed back under a lot of tree cover that made for soft downhill-friendly single track. Making it back to the car was anticlimactic, but I managed to spend over six hours moving through some awesome trails I’ve mostly never been on. These long solo runs really make the world seem smaller and more real, I’ve planned a couple more already. I sort of stole this route from pieces of existing race courses; I realized it's lot easier to use these than to plan a route that hits a distance goals on my own.
Sunday Jan 5: 25.7 miles cycling. Feeling strong after the very easy, but very long run on Saturday, I went out for a fast afternoon ride, aiming to get 25 miles in before dark. I rode quickly out to Inspiration Point, with an aggressively paced climb up Grizzly Peak. It was warm and sunny, followed by a great sunset. I then rode back on Wildcat Canyon Rd and down into Berkeley a bit to add a hill, finally riding back home. It felt good to get a strong ride in, since the last few weeks have been easier effort workouts. PL and I later wen out for a .6 mile night hike in Redwood, watching stars.