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Night before the race I’m having an 11 course dinner at Coi with birthday boy ChefJamesO and his top chef friends, Bruce from Bix, Peter from Madeira, Elizabeth from Orson and James’ buddy Scott and his gay lover.  Having dated James years ago and hanging out with his clique I know what dinner with chefs of this caliber are like: long, delicious and a treat not to be missed.  For sure I’m going to get good nutrition for my race the following morning, but when you are dining with chefs like these,  11 courses is an understatement. We had 15 at the very least and Elizabeth made the krokenbusch birthday cake.

We wrapped up dinner by at least 1:30am and I deposited myself into a cab at 2.  Bed by 2:30 and up at 4:30 to head out for the race.

I dragged as I usually do with an early morning run.  Hit the snooze a few, showered, made some coffee, tweeted and got my gear and resort shit together. Cooler stocked and out the door a bit before 6 am for a 2 hour drive north to the race course at Salt Point State Park in Jenner, California.  First I had to dick around and put some brake fluid in the reservoir because the brake light had been flashing in the Contour for the last 3 months or so.

Dark, misty and foggy as hell as I drove out.  On the entrance to the Golden Gate Bridge, the lanes converged to one as the majority of lanes were blocked off for runners in the San Francisco Marathon.  I was on the bridge at the same moment the elite marathoners were running that part of the course and I saw the entire lead pack.  I had such a feeling of conviction and elation that I am part of the sport of running and was on my way to run my own race.  I love the niche-ness of trail running.  The road running those athletes are doing is a close cousin, but its a different sport.

Eventually the coffee kicks in and I have to take a shit and a piss at a gas station in Rohnert Park.  When I hit the road again, I’m doing good time so I decide to stop in Guerneville and refuel with a croissant and a capuccino.

At the local cafe the walls were covered in what were relief carvings done on highly varnished redwood slabs depicting painted scenes of local wildlife and vineyards.  The work was done by a local artist, I can’t recall her name, who won 1’st place for one of her pieces in the Sonoma County Fair 2008.  There was one piece in particular that struck me: 3 trout in a creek with rivergrass growing to the surface and a little red dragon fly buzzing in the corner.  The composition was so tight and had balanced Feng Shui and reminded me of my Daddy because he’s a Pisces, me because I’m a trail runner and Guerneville, because that’s the Russian River and that where that scene is at.  I drove down 116 to the Pacific Coast and couldn’t stop thinking about it.

Driving North up 1 the fog was intense, I had errrantly not printed out a mapquest and just went on the directions to Salt Point that I could recall from the website. Kept driving more north and more north but didn’t see any signs.  Started panicking as I realized I might miss the race or worse, might have passed it.  I pulled into the gate for Fort Ross and looked at a map that said Salt Point was still further north going towards Point Arena.  I had just camped there with Bob in May so I knew where I was heading, still I had no idea how long it would take to get there and I was running out of time.  I changed in the drivers seat of the Contour into my Nike running shorts and my blue Adidas tank, layering it over with the white long sleeved North Face T that really has seen its last day.  Drive out, head north and of course run into an interminable stoplight where the Coastal Highway turns into just one lane.

I finally hit a resort town with some people on the street and I slow down to ask a guy in the road where is Salt Point.  He’s taken aback and says its just about a mile down.  I drive and I find it, its 8:27 when I’m handing my $5 day use fee to the Ranger at the gate.  I tell him I’m late, and he’s all, “no, you have 3 minutes.”

So I park, get out and squat to take a long ass piss.  Set my GPS unit, RunKeeper on my iPhone and am strapping on my Camelbak as I run to registration to pick up my bib number.  Head out across the starting line and begin my race.

Most everyone is gone except for some stragglers, and I assume I’ve given the field at least a  3 minute head start.  Adjusting my straps on my Camelbak on the go I just start trudging up the trail which is mostly rocky single track through an oak forest.  I adjust my outer layer and stow the long sleeve.  More single track and I’m catching up and passing various packs of runners.  Down to a creek bed and back up it.  I’m finding that I am having to walk on some uphills most of the time, but the field is doing the same.  From my training I pick spots to accelerate and I’m doing good, keeping up with the men my age constantly reminding me to just run my own race.  We get up to this meadow which is sunny and bright and I see another pack of runners up in the lead and have just separated from the last pack.  I catch them as we leave the meadow.  The trail curves and now its down through a redwood forest.  Turning on the jets and relying on my technical down hill training, I fly and catch a group ahead.  I’m running alone downhill through a redwood forest making  7:25 mile splits for two miles straight down screaming so that my sound waves fight gravity to keep me upright.  I emerge into grassy marsh and see a male runner ahead of me.  I’m making good pace to catch him and at the appropriate time he steps aside to let me pass.  I’m going, keeping an eye out to see if the runner I passed is gaining, he’s not, and the other eye on the trail below.  In the foggy mist I see a runner emerge on an intercept course and he appears to be running road. (?) I’m on the trail and he catches me from behind.  I let him pass.  I notice he’s running in the same Adidas Kanadia Trails in slime green and rave red that I am, and I also notice his little stocky rocky bald headed physique, makes me need I need to do some hours at a gym.  I just keep going and its single track on a rocky bluff, all flat now.  I get passed by another girl.  I’m wondering, where are all these people coming from if I started last and never passed them on the way up?  I’m getting gassed trying to finish strong but I trip trip over a rock and skin my knee.  Pass another road and its a little up hill to the finish.  Tried to sprint it, but was only successful at bursts.  Coming to the finish line and seeing the clock ticking up at 1:17:40, I gave all I had to beat the clock under 1:18.  My official is 1:17:54 – 16th overall out of 61 entrants.  Here is a breakdown of my stats:

  • Official Time:  1:17: 54
  • Distance: 11k
  • Pace: 11:08/mile
  • 16th overall out of 61
  • 11th out of 30, men
  • 8th out of 13 men age 40-49

You can see my age group rocks.  The first and second places were earned by men in my age group.  The overall winner, Tim Lohrentz (47) from Petaluma won the race in 56:28 with a speed of 8:04/mile.  As far as my performance is concerned, the guy ahead of me who emerged from the mist (and on the road) beat me by 5 minutes, and Jim Trotter (45), the guy who let me past I beat by 2.  I congratulated him with a fist pump when he crossed the finish. I was quitting my GPS and trying to catch my breath.  I had to get some first aid for my skinned knee and waited around until results were posted.  I am fabulously pleased with my performance despite the late start.

So I go back to the Contour and realized I had left my window down with my wallet in the glove compartment and no one had touched it.  It gave me a new love for my sport.  I stretched it out got in the car and put in a cassette tape of SLAUGHTER and drove down the coast and to Guerneville.

I had to go and pick up the Fish carving immediately.  It was still hanging in the cafe where I left it.  I was so happy about that and let me tell you its a beautiful piece.  I have to get the environment at my flat just right so I can hang it and give it the respect its due.  Drove down to the Russian River Pub which is truly, just like the sign in the parking lot says, “the best breakfast on the river.”  Wanted Juevos Rancheros, but they were out so settled on the Crab Cake Eggs Benedict which was so rich I could only eat one and saved the rest to go.  Drove to Safeway to get beer and up to my resort where I methodically consumed that 6 pack of Hefeweizen laying out naked in the shade by the pool at the Highlands Resort.

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2 Comments

  1. crazy co-inky-dink: i was driving from Stillwater Cove (just south of Salt Point) into SF that very morning, 7:45am to 10am, and passed many of the SF Marathoners in GG Park in my car.

      • polynesian69
      • Posted Sunday 2 August 2009 at 12:18 pm
      • Permalink
      • Reply

      If you saw somebody going north in an old beat up Ford Contour in Torreador Red looking frantic and lost, it was me!


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