We started before dark. It was quite the crowd for only 50k and 50 mile runners starting at 6:00 AM. I had been toying with moving up to the 50 mile distance a few times over the past couple weeks, but it didn’t make sense in the big picture, since I wanted to run a harder 50k this month.
Starting up from Fort Baker, I started out on what’s been a consistently increasing uphill pace for endurance length runs. The second half of this climb was crowded single track in the dark, so the pace was mostly fixed for about a mile. Reaching the top, we ran down the coastal trail while sunlight was slowly growing. I kept speed in check here, and also along the flat stretch through the valley to the second climb up Hill 88.
The second hill (up Coastal, down Old Springs) was steady, but not my fastest effort here, since there was a lot more course to go. I realized I was working harder than I thought as I started the descent, since my hamstrings were feeling sore. Coming into Tennessee Valley, some wild turkeys were on the attack, chasing us while a park service worker watched from his truck with a smile on his face.
Pirate’s cove was fun, as always—it was great being this far along this early in the morning. I made my first water refill at Muir Beach, since it would start to warm up soon, and the next stretch of the course would be 7.4 miles. I kept the same steady pace through this loop, along Redwood Creek (where the 50 milers split off to visit Stinson Beach and Muir Woods), up Miwok, and back along Dias Ridge. By the time I finished this loop, it was hot, and I was sucking down water, now refilling my pack at every aid station. I was also well ahead of my stretch goal in terms of pace.
New trails were next, heading up Middle Green Gulch, which passed through a farm and into a hot climb where I had my first moment of feeling tired, although it only took a few minutes to walk myself out of it. At the top, we switched to some single track I haven’t run that parallels Miwok. A few of us got lost for a moment at a confusing intersection before heading back down to Tennessee Valley, but we managed to stay on course after deciding on the single track.
Marincello, I could complain about this all day, so yeah, let’s do that. It was hot, slow, steady, and about as long as usual. It was much more fun in the dark back in December. Reaching the top, I backed off the pace a bit and just enjoyed the run along the ridgelines and back down to Fort Baker, since I was still well ahead of my stretch goal. I finished in 6:55:12, my second fastest 50k, and my fastest time in the headlands. This really surprised me, given the amount of climbing on this course. Keeping the steady pace throughout really paid off. I stuck around to watch the 50 mile winner come in about an hour later, and it took about that long to reconnect with the world, since the heat had me beat down a bit.