Quick thoughts: Headlands 50K

  • -       Oh my gosh this race is hard. Despite ultrarunning’s normalization of the insane, from any objective standpoint 31 miles in the Headlands is difficult. There was maybe 2-3 miles of flat running yesterday. The rest was up or down. If you are contemplating ever running the North Face 50 mile, this race would be a great tune up or preview for the world of pain you’ll be entering.

  • -       The race directors and volunteers were great. There was incredible support out on course. Thanks in particular to the volunteer at mile 11ish who pried open my handheld when my hands were too sweaty to twist the cap off. Volunteer crews were yelling cheers after runners even as they were 100 yards out from the stations. Pure awesome. It was also fantastic getting some love from the SFRunCo and other fast folks as I jogged out of Tennessee Valley. Thanks so so much!

  • -       Ivan Medina is tough as nails. Galen Burrell practically skips up trails. It was a pleasure to watch them eat up trail over the first ten miles. After that, they were out of sight. They were a league of their own yesterday. Outstanding and inspiring performances yesterday, gentlemen!

  • -        I’ve never struggled up the Dipsea climb like I did yesterday. This was a disappointment as I usually enjoy this rambling ascent from Muir Woods. While it is continuously uphill, the steep pitches are punctuated by a few sections of lower gradients so you can recover a bit. However, yesterday I was in misery after only ten minutes of uphill. My stomach felt gross, my exertion level was much too high for a 50K, and strangely I had a headache. Worse, when you feel that bad with so much running to go, you succumb into real despair. At mile 17ish, at the aid station atop Cardiac Hill, I stopped for a couple minutes. I sipped a Coke and looked up the trail toward Pantoll campground. If I kept running from here - down Matt Davis to Stinson beach - I would be committing to running the full distance. ‘Live to fight another day,’ echoed through my head. Yes, I should stop, chalk it up as a loss, and jog back to the start. But, then I thought, ‘Hell. This IS another day for me. Who do you think you are, Mo Farah? Got some big Euro champs race coming up, eh? Didn’t think so. Quit feeling sorry for yourself, harden the fuck up, and get your ass to Stinson.’  Or something along those lines. So I got my ass to Stinson.
Photo courtesy of Pam Wendell
  • -       Those 28 switchbacks on Heather Cutoff were designed by Satan. He used his pointy tail and pitchfork to carve out a trail that progresses in 30 yard increments down the hill.

  • -       This makes three consecutive marathon to ultramarathon efforts where I've avoided vomiting. Slowly dialing in my metabolism and energy consumption. Maybe I’ll figure it out before I switch sports to team racquetball.

  • -       I think Rolling Rock is the greatest post-race beer. Does Rolling Rock sponsor athletes? If so, sign me up.

  • -       Later in the day, I caught myself jogging up the stairs from my apartment. Perhaps I’ll recover quicker then I thought.  See you in Bend.


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