Let me start this off by saying; San Francisco has an outrageous amount of stairs. Like a lot.
I found myself frustrated as I huffed and puffed up part of the Dipsea trail to catch Rudy the weekend before The North Face Championships (TNF) in San Francisco. How the heck Alex Varner ran the whole thing 4 times sub 8 minute/mile pace, I have not a clue. Beast.
“At least I know I won’t be running this part of the race!” I thought.
I couldn’t mentally get over the difficulty of running these stairs and I had been in SF for 4 days! Where was the top floor? It was like a never ending staircase, except you wouldn’t end upstairs and be able to crawl into a comfy bed or hot shower, you would have to continue running for over 20 miles. I don’t care how ludicrous this logic sounds, it made me laugh, and honestly that is how I managed the stairs on race day with a smile on my face.
Anyways, the race weekend came so quickly and soon I found myself loopy at 3:30a.m. happily drinking a large coffee and jamming to some obnoxious rap songs en route to the race. I was excited. Sure, I was ready to race; but I was more excited for all of my friends who were also running and how many familiar faces I would see throughout the course. Finally, I said goodbye to my rock star crew of 1, Mr. Rudy Rutemiller, and I scurried over to the elite wave, turned on my headlamp, and we were off!
Running through the dark, early-morning is a surreal experience. It almost made me feel ninja-like. Sneaking through the dark made the time fly by. I took the first section of the race rather easy, absolutely forcing myself to eat, with a goal of making sure I felt good going into the second half. About 13 miles in, and nearing the top of a coastal ridge, I suddenly found myself looking back at the most incredible sunrise I have ever witnessed.
“Guys, we have to stop and turn back around and run up the other way to see the sunrise better!”
I exclaimed to a couple of runners nearby. I got a polite giggle, and 2 annoyed stares as I laughed and ran away, with the occasional “Woop!!” up the climb. Some joined in on my madness, others did not. Sometimes I wonder if I am too weird for this sport. Or maybe I'm just not very funny.
The next thing I hear is, “Yeah, Big Girl!!”
I looked up to see Kelsie laughing at me as I trotted up the hill. I gave her an evil eye, she knew I hated that nickname, but I couldn’t help but laugh and be grateful to see her. She was awesome throughout the whole race.
With the sun up and calories in my stomach I was feeling great and keeping a steady, but not overwhelmingly fast pace when I caught up to Larisa Dannis. I awkwardly said I knew of her through Rudy and some SFRC people and she surprisingly was not creeped out and responded well and we got to run some of the next miles together and chat away. I love chatting and running.
Finally, we were at the mile 22 turn-around to go down to Stinson Beach and I knew I would see Rudy there!
I went into the Stinson Beach aid station at mile 28 with intentions of changing out of my shoes. I had underestimated the miles on my old Helios SR going into the race and ended up repping a brand spanking new pair for the race. My feet were a little unhappy to say the least. But running into the aid station with Amanda Basham, an ex-Portlandian and runner friend, I was feeling good.
I decided that my feet would probably hurt regardless of what shoes I put on at this point, and told Rudy that I was going to keep them on. It was probably a good decision, but who knows. After grabbing some gels, and a lot of words of encouragement, I left smiling, knowing that the Dipsea climb was next.
I slowly found myself catching a lot of people and rounding out the women’s top 10. As the later miles came I continued to feel good and rolled into mile 44 with the 7th place female. Rudy was stoked and told me to "Go get her." I snagged a last minute kiss (aww), and we started the final big climb of the day. After the first bit, she turned on a second gear and scooted ahead.
We passed the 6th place female, which then put me into 7th and I was stoked. "Maybe I can catch 6th on the down hill," I thought. The final 5k I held ~6:40min/mile, but still didn’t catch her! She earned that spot, woof. I crossed the finish line to crazy cheers from Rudy, Alex Varner,and Kelsie Clausen, among other crazy cool people, and couldn’t keep the giant smile from sprawling across my face.
My immediate thoughts upon crossing the finish line:
1. That was amazing.
2. I did not fall once.
I had finished 7th female in 7:42, a little faster than I thought I could, with a smile on my face and so much gratitude for the experience. It was one of the best weekends of my life, every aid station was stocked with someone I knew, the scenery was amazing, and even my monkeys Ed and Kyle met me at the finish to congratulate me. It is race weekends like this that solidify the fact that I will never not see myself immersed in the ultra and trail running world. The sense of community is amazing, and I cannot wait to see what the future may hold!
Thank you to La Sportiva and Bobo’s Oat bars for your support. And thank you to everyone on the course who brought a laugh or smile to my face, Rudy, my Trail Monkeyz- Ed and Kyle for making my training for this much more enjoyable, and all of you who believe in me. Happy running everyone!