Double Dipsea! Of all the trails in our little corner of the country, the Dipsea trail holds a very special place in this runner’s heart. It has a personality all its own, at once constant and varied. It can be depended upon to provide an interesting run every time. It can be depended upon to give you a wide variety of climates within a 7 mile distance. Being able to run it twice, out then back, only adds to the fun of traveling on foot through several microclimates.
Last year, Laura and I got to meet up with friends Brad and John for this race, and this year continued the meetup tradition. This time, Brad returned to tackle Mt.Tamalpais once again, and the reclusive Mr. Bacon had traveled all the way across the freaking country just to run this race (I guess he also had some anniversary trip or something going on, whatever). I’ve always enjoyed reading his blogs, and when I snagged the chance to hang out with him in PA a couple months ago he turned out to be one of those people you just click with. Conversation and humor was easy, so I was looking forward to some Baconian good times on the mountain. Or at least before and after the race, as I expected him to drop me on any kind of flat parts.
To add to the greatness, Megan had recovered spectacularly from her brutal first 50 miler just one week before. She was cheery and ready to attack the mountain with her usual saucy flair. We even got word the day before the race that Will, who had been there for the TrailFactor 50K extravaganza back in May happened to not only be in California, but would be there for the race. So many friends at one race!
We all met up in the crisp morning air at the foot of the mountain. The atmosphere was buzzing and smiles abounded. Before we knew it the first waves took off, and soon after Brad’s group hit the bricks. A couple minutes later the lovely ladies sped off toward the incline. Bacon and I stood around, trying to guess where an appropriate position in the incredibly diverse crowd might be. We settled on a place about midpack, behind the twitchy dudes made of beef jerky and ahead of the paunchier guys wearing 3L packs for this 14 miler. As the “scratch runners”, male 39 and under, it was the most varied group of all. The clock counted down and the crowd rushed forward toward the first bottleneck of the day!
As we began climbing, I wondered how our different past experiences and particular niches in running would translate into performance in this one race. Sure I run more of this kind of thing, with long inclines and technical terrain, but he’s obviously a lot faster and has been running for a lot longer than I have. That kind of long-term conditioning helps out in general endurance. We found ourselves talking about our ailments pretty early on. Hernias on his plate and a bum hip on mine. As it turns out, we had both decided to ignore them, push the whole way, and enjoy the ride.
The first half went extremely well. To my surprise, Bacon and I actually fell into a decent rhythm and stuck together. As you probably know, I usually run with Laura and by now we’ve got a mode so natural we hardly have to talk about when to hike, drink, pass, etc. Besides her I haven’t found that rhythm with another runner. But there we were, approaching the stairs down through Mill Valley, passing Brad and the girls on their way back, totally in step and cruising.
The return trip was just as fun, but really began to warm up as the sun blazed down on the exposed parts. However, the beauty of the Dipsea Trail is that there are so many little pockets of different surroundings that you feel like you are on an epic journey crammed into a much shorter distance. As we chugged up inclines, bombed down hills, hopped and skipped over roots, and dodged around hikers, the joking and stories made the miles fly by and the continually changing climate kept things fresh.
My hip continued to bother me, but not so much that I was willing to stop. I pulled Bacon on the ups and struggled to keep up on the flats. All in all, it was a perfect balance. Before I knew it the trail popped out onto the short three blocks of pavement before the finish. We both gave it a strong finishing sprint and crossed the line at 3 hrs flat, a 6 minute course PR for me. On a hot day and a bad hip, I’ll take it. We could have killed ourselves to catch the others, but I’m glad we didn’t. I had a great time.
Everyone had run a strong race! Brad’s recent initiation into his area’s trail goat community had paid off with a speedy effort, Laura had blasted her way through the miles in signature badass girlie style, and Megan had evidently shaken off the previous week’s 50M to beat us all across the line. In fact, we all finished within a six minute window!
Megan and I hung around the finish line to cheer in Will, and unfortunately Bacon had to get back to his darling better half, so I missed giving a hearty goodbye handshake and sweaty runner hug to one hell of a running buddy, but the rest of us headed down to the beach (a whole 200 yards away) for some post-race beer.
A huge reason for my loving trail running so much is the feeling of dirty legs, good friends, and aromatic hops. The combination is magic, especially when you are looking out over the expansive and beautiful Pacific ocean. Simply breathtaking.
Here’s to another wonderful memory in the bank!
P.S. I’ve since seen an ortho specialist about the hip problem which plagued me at the Marin Ultra Challenge and Double Dipsea. It is likely a torn Labrum, with an MRI soon to confirm. I haven’t run since this race and am getting restless in my inactivity, probably annoying DW more with each passing day. Please kindly direct all sympathy to her.
Run happy and healthy, my friends!!!