03/31/2012 Angel Island and Hwy 1
I had been encouraging Richard to sign up for a run. On Thursday I
finally found one that looked fun and was just the right mileage. A
10 mile trail run around Angel Island. The adventure would have us
taking a ferry boat to an island where we would run through beautiful
forest paths and get to see all the bridges around San Francisco,
Alcatraz, the San Francisco skyline, etc. The photos of past events
looked so fun, so I dropped some cash and signed us up. Yes it
was raining when I did that, but this run is 1.5 hours south of where
we are staying, and it was two days later.
6:30AM Saturday the rain was still pouring down. But we got ready
and headed out anyway. I was still hopeful that the weather would
clear up before we got to Tiburon, CA where we would take the
ferry. Nope. We got there at 9:00, and had to wait an hour for the
ferry. Not only was it pouring rain, but it was so foggy you could
barely see across to the island, and the skyline was almost not
visible at all. And it was cold. So cold! I took this pic right after
Richard said to me, "you be sure and tell me when we start having
fun, in case I miss it."
Richard likes boats, so his mood improved a bit when we got on the ferry. All the
other runners were crowding in on the lower, enclosed deck, but Richard wanted to
see, and so we ended up on the top deck, in the wind and the rain. I was FREEZING
but since it was making Richard happy to be up there, I wasn't about to suggest we
go back down with the smart folks. From the ferry, we got a lovely view of the foggy
San Francisco skyline. Be sure to notice the rain dripping off of Richard's hat.
We also got a nice view of the quaint town of Tiburon. Since it was so close, the fog
didn't obscure that view.
It didn't take long after the boat started moving for us to
figure out we weren't going to make the entire ride up
there in the freezing wet wind, so we retreaded to the
lower deck with the rest of the folks. When we got to the
island, we still had about 20 minutes to wait until the start
of the race. Since 10:00 was the first ferry, the race
director, his staff, and all their stuff for the timing and the
aid station came across on the ferry too, so they had to
get set up, while we waited in the cold rain. My toes and
fingers were numb, and I was kicking myself for suggesting
this. How am I suppose to get Richard to fall in love with
running when his first run is a cold rainy mud-fest? Finally
the 10:50 start time came, and off we went. There were
three distances, and three paths. Each path at a different
height of the island. The five milers went straight to the
summit and back. The 10 milers, us, went half way up,
took a loop trail around the island to the finish, then all the
way up to the summit where the 5 milers had gone, and
back. The 15 milers did a low perimeter trail first, then ran our route. This meant that since we had to climb to the middle loop trail, we were with the 5
milers for the first mile and a half, and it was on a single track trail so there was no stopping. If you stopped to walk, everyone behind you had to stop
to walk because there were very few spots to pass. In front of us, about 10 people up, was a gal who kept stopping to walk. It was a major uphill, so
that was understandable. But as small groups of people found places to pass her, it was finally just Richard and I directly behind her, with a line of
folks behind us. Dang it. We had to pass her. So we did, but there went our excuse to walk. Fortunately, it wasn't much farther after we passed her
that the 10 milers split off, and we had a nice wide path so we could walk at our leisure.
We didn't want to walk, but we stopped often to take pictures. It had
nothing to do with needing to catch our breath. Nope. Nothing at all. It
had finally stopped raining, and the fog was slowly beginning to lift. All
the way up the 1.5 miles where we couldn't stop had been beautiful
flowers and mossy trees, then we popped out and saw the bridges and
skylines, with no rain, so we were starting to get happy. Here Richard is
pointing out a lovely bridge, that has a name, but we can't remember
what it is, and below we are posing with the famous Golden Gate Bridge
Because of the rain, the path was very muddy. We were hopping and
jumping to avoid puddles, and in some areas you just couldn't get
traction. My shoes were sliding out from under me.
To avoid slipping, we ran up in the grass when we could, but the right side of
the trail dropped way off down the hill, so it wasn't always possible to stay out
of the mud. Below we are about to mile 4. Richard is happy, and loving the
scenery. Those blue flowers were everywhere, and they just don't show up in
the picture like how they looked in real life.
Although some areas had nice wide paths, most were just single
track, with obstacles. There were some downed trees, and a ton of
puddles. You can see the edge of the stream I had just jumped over
in the bottom corner of the picture. If you lost your footing at all, you
would roll all the way down the mountain and fall into the ocean. I was
worried about Richard (okay, me too.) getting tired legs and falling off
The blue flowers finally showed up in this pic of the two of us. We are
at about mile 6 in this picture. Can you tell he is cranky?
About then, since we were heading back down hill to start up on our
second 5 mile loop, Richard started speeding up. He really can run
faster than me, he just usually runs out of breath first. However, on a
downhill, he can get a long ways ahead of me. I was surprised he was
going so fast, and finally caught up to him as we were back to the flat
part and cruising past the ferry dock. As we neared the aid station
tent, he muttered something hateful about no port-a-potties. I pointed
out that we had just passed the bathrooms at the ferry about 50 yards
back. He grumpily muttered how they should have had a sign. Me
pointing out that not only was there a large sign that said restrooms,
but that we had both used them when we got off the ferry didn't help.
Now I knew why he was going so fast... I suggested he just go back,
but he was too cranky. He just had to pee, and dudes have the luxury
of peeing anywhere, so I told him he could go when we got back up
on the trail. Then we were supposed to stop at the aid station. I was
happy, filling up on aid station treats, and thinking about refilling my water bottle, when off he trots. What? NO aid station stop? He had ran about 20
more yards down the trail, and had set his coat and hat on a table, and was looking back at me. So I grabbed him some M&Ms and ran towards him so
we could continue. Sheesh. I didn't know he had to pee so bad. I got grumpy up the trail and around a corner so he could take care of business,
then I got him an Aleve and pulled out my bottle of water so he could wash it down. Only half full. Damn it. Why did I let him rush me through the aid
station. At this point, grumpy piped up and said he was only putting his jacket down, and was going to come back. He wouldn't run 50 yards back to
the bathroom, but he was going to run 20 yards out of his way and back just to put his jacket down, even though there was a pile of jackets at the aid
station? Someone was cranky about missing the bathroom, and on top of it, he was starting to have foggy-logic runners brain. As we trudged back up
the narrow path, I barely convinced him to stop to take some photos.
Onward and upward. This time we were heading for the summit so it was
more climbing. When we finally got out of the forest onto the perimeter, this
time well above the last perimeter trail we were on for the first loop, Richard's
mood was still foul. But he knows what's good for him, so he was trying to
play along and have fun. This pose is the best he could do when I told him to
stop so I could take his picture. He is pointing to the Golden Gate Bridge, but
be sure to see the narrow, wet path we have been running on.
With the San Francisco skyline showing through the fog in the
background at around mile 7, Richard tries to make up for being such
a grouch for the last 3 miles. It didn't stop him from being a grouch
for the next three though...
Earlier on he had asked me if I was embarrassed that we were going to be
the last ones. I told him that no, it was about time I was last in a race, and
besides, I was sure there were other 10 mile runners behind us. By this
time, we knew there were a bunch of 15 mile runners ahead of us, since we
had moved over to let them pass, but on the final trail up to the summit was a
short out-an-back section. As we climbed up, a gal doing the 10 was heading down. This always fires me up, since I know there is someone just
barely ahead of me that I could potentially pass. It didn't do a thing for Richard, so we plodded on at our same old pace. As we climbed back down
from the summit, we saw a guy head up who was also a 10-miler. This also fires me up since I worry they will catch me. Didn't do a thing for Richard,
so again we plodded on at our same old pace. I wanted Richard in front of me, so I didn't push the pace to fast or to slow, but it was clear I was going
to have to lead my foggy-headed, grouchy runner back to the finish line. As we were descending on the narrow path with Richard behind me, there
was a huge puddle in the middle. We had been avoiding puddles like this all day. Since the trail is below the grass on either side, and well below
when there is standing water, you either have to straddle the path and run looking all crazy with your legs spread open, or you have to get enough
speed going, so that you can run tilted up on one side without falling. This puddle was about 4 feet long, and about 2 and a half feet wide. It would
have been hard to straddle at the widest point, so I hauled ass and got up on the side of the trail and past it. About three strides later I hear behind
me, slosh, slosh, slosh. I turn around, hoping I would see a smile on his face, like he was splashing in puddles and having fun. Nope. I saw a
worn-out face, and he said, "I'm just tired of trying to avoid them." A mile and a half later, we got to the finish line.
I was sure Richard would have gotten an age-group medal, so I was all excited
for him, and I kept checking for them to post updated results. He wasn't excited
at all. We had to wait for the ferry anyway, or he would have just left without
knowing if he had one. They finally posted the results, and I made him come
over and stand there while the guy called his name and gave him a 2nd place
medal. Then I made him stand there so I could take his picture, but grouch-o
wouldn't stop eating his banana, so I had to take this shot between bites.
Then, while Richard was still being a butt, I waited for more 10 milers to come in,
hoping there would be another in Richard's age group. (Because taking 2nd
place out of two isn't nearly as impressive as taking 2nd out of 3.) That guy we
had passed at the summit looked like he could be the same age, so when he
finally came in I started waiting for updated results to be posted again.
Unfortunately the ferry came before they got posted, so we still didn't know if
Richard was two of two, or two of three.
Although it was super cold on the top deck again, this time we toughed it out. It
was very windy, and there were sailboats everywhere doing amazing things, so
Richard was a happy boy again. He even pointed to the summit to show you
just how far he had climbed.
We were wet and muddy, but the sun was finally shining, and it was only 2:00
when we got back to the truck. There was lots to see where we were, so I
changed clothes in the truck while Richard drove us to scenic Coastal Highway
1. I had mud that had gone through my shoes, through my socks, and was
stuck to my toes. Gross! It's amazing how clean you can get with just a
hankie and a bottle of water while driving down the road.
The first stop we got to was Muir Beach Overlook. I insisted Richard get out
and walk around so he could keep his muscles from getting tight. It was windy
and cold. Damn, the sun had made it look so nice. I even made him go down
a few stairs, just for good measure. It was so cold we jumped back in the truck
and headed on.
We cruised past several more beaches, state parks, etc that looked
lovely. I kept suggesting we stop, and pointed out that these were much
lower than that overlook, so probably out of the cold wind, but Richard
just wanted to drive. I think he was afraid I would make him get out and
walk around. I had made him take his wet shoes and socks off, and he
kept using the excuse that he didn't want to put his other shoes on.
Finally, I was able to make him stop - at a gas station. And I had to get
out and fill the truck. Oh well.
About 5:30 we got to a beautiful natural bridge formation out in the
ocean. Richard had his blinker on, about to turn into the parking lot so
we could get out and take pictures, when it started to rain. Damn, just
our luck. He didn't turn in, and off we went. We followed the Russian
River in the pouring rain, through Guerneville and up to 101, and finally
back to our trailer in Cloverdale at 7:30, where Richard immediately
climbed in bed to take a nap.
I woke him up a half hour later, and was warming up leftovers for supper
when the power went out. What? Fine, I finished warming things up on
the stove since I had no microwave, and then we went to bed. Hoping
for sunshine and electricity tomorrow.