Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Wildwood, the hard way

Two years ago we did our first longer-than-a-marathon run, celebrating our birthdays which are only six days apart and right around the long Thanksgiving holiday.

Wildwood's end, our start, at Newberry Rd
That painful experience was the start of something. A hobby, a pastime, a sport... taken further. Over the course of the next year or so, we joked about running Wildwood the other way-- that is, from the far end at mile marker 30 1/4 to the near end at the zoo.

Decorated trees
The reason that's a big deal is that the highest hill is around mile marker 4, at Pittock Mansion, meaning that 24 miles in you're treated to a serious, switch-backing climb. Well, the jokes turned into not-really-joking, but last year we ran the North Face Endurance 50k in San Francisco and I was away over Christmas, so the timing didn't work out.

Decoration detail
But this year it did. And now we have hydration packs to carry 70 oz of water, so we didn't have to stash refreshments every 10 miles or so. We just ran right through. We chose December 26, the day after Christmas, for our run. Although it meant not drinking at our respective holiday feasts, we both got some serious carbo-loading in.

Ann clambers under a freshly fallen tree
John dropped us off in the morning at the Newberry trailhead. Our friend Jay started at Germantown and ran until he met up with us on the trail, then we all ran back to his car at the Germantown trailhead. It was uplifting to see a friendly face and chat with a running buddy we haven't had the pleasure of running with in a while, and distracted me from the annoyance of being surprisingly out of breath in the very beginning of the run. Wasn't I supposed to be fresh in the first 5 miles?!?

Fresh mud
Then we got down to it, and it went by so fast. We were delighted to see a few random decorated trees along the trail, complete with garlands, ornaments, and even birdseed candy-canes. My secret goal for the day was to run everything and never walk, but I wouldn't have been too disappointed in myself if I had to walk up a few of the switchbacks to Pittock.

More decorated trees, detail
Well, I didn't. We both ran the whole damn thing. Our breaks were pretty short, as it was much colder than the 50 degrees predicted earlier in the week. We finished in almost exactly 6 hours, and it felt great, really doable. So much so, in fact, that we started not-so-jokingly joking about doing the [what we thought was 80k, but is actually 85k] at the Tarawera race in New Zealand on March 15, 2014.

More decorated trees, detail-- for the birds!
Afterward and even the next day, we both felt really good: not sore and not particularly tired. Which pretty much sealed the deal. Training for the Tarawera 85k starts now!

The end; beginning of Wildwood

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