Monday, July 5, 2021

Running from Mount Um to the bay

I had fun last year running from the bay to the top of Mount Umunhum.  Kip suggested a reverse, downhill version could be created since the elevation profile is significantly different.  It was done, Kip ran it, and all of that sounded quite appealing to me.

John offered to crew for me, making everything easier including less carrying weight and the ability to change shoes in between the trail and road sections.

We had lunch at the Crepes Bistro and then drove up the mountain in the afternoon.  I didn't mean to eat my entire portion of lunch, but it was so good I couldn't help myself.  I took my time getting ready, hoping it would digest quickly.  Mostly it did, but there was some burping involved all the way down the hill...


Checking out the San Jose view:

Guess it's time to go!  The trail right at the top was closed again (related to the scaffolding and work on the cube), so I ran down the road to the main trailhead and jumped in there.  Any way you want to get from the starting pavilion to the switchback trail is fine.

This picture worked out well:

Starting early with my podcasts and enjoying the shady trail.  The downhill was great, I just had to watch my feet for an occasional rock or root:

The tower is getting smaller already:

Coming down the side road with another view of the valley:

The beautiful Woods trail that traverses along the hillside, seen many times during my various training runs and races in the past few years:

John met me at the Hicks Road parking lot where I got a cold swig of Spiz and some water for my bottle.  It was warmer than I had expected, so I asked if he might look for ice for the next stop.

See you soon, John!

The little trail down to the Hicks Road crossing:

Kip had mentioned this gate at the service road entrance, where a sign says "Not a trail" but it doesn't forbid entry so I think it's OK to head up this road on foot:

There was a group walking in the other direction, and I nodded hello.  The guy said "Good evening" which had me mumbling and wondering exactly how late in the day it was?  I didn't think I'd been running quite that long.  A few seconds later he turned around and yelled "Good afternoon!"  Right on, sir, thanks for the smile!

Much of the vegetation is quite dry, but these pretty flowers don't seem to mind:

The obvious mine along the way - oh! and a look at my new cap :)

One of the intersections in this system of trails, as I near the top of the biggest climb in this direction.  The footing continued to improve and I could move more quickly without concern about tripping on anything:

The Guadalupe Reservoir, part of the upper drainage system that also runs all the way to the bay, just a bit more meandering-like compared to my route:

One last look at Um while it's still easy to see.  After this I would have needed to look behind me to watch for it as it receded in my rearview mirror, not as simple as in the "Bay to Um" direction:

Coming down to the McAbee trailhead.  Thank you, excellent trails, that was fun!

A couple streets later, and John was waiting in a supermarket parking lot.  Tandem photo taking:

John's view:

Ice in the bottle, a drink of Spiz, a quick shoe change, and I was off and ready to roll along the sidewalks of Meridian Avenue:

Crossing the 85:

The legs responded well to the change to flat (or slightly downhill), like they took the big downhill momentum and just kept going.  Maybe I was also fueled by crepes!

My pace made me happy, and soon I was back with John, this time outside a Starbucks (now if only all FKT crewing jobs could include at least one Starbucks location!)

John pointed out that the car next to us has a familiar emblem on the back, so I made a point to get an appropriate photo with it.  I'm quite amazed at how that turned out:

The guy in the driver's seat noticed me doing this, and when he pulled out of the parking lot a couple minutes later we greeted each other with Vulcan salutes.  Definitely made me laugh!

Soon I was in familiar territory, cutting over to Race Street to continue north.  Crossing I-280:

I veered left onto The Alameda, always enjoy that neighborhood.  Because I could, I took the underpass to cross to the other side of the street.  I love the artwork here, even if the lighting wasn't ideal for a photo:

Milo the pug astronaut is still here, yay!

Taylor Street, one more quick crew stop with John (hi John!) and then I was on the final stretch - the Guadalupe River Trail.

Kip mentioned the homeless camp, and yes, it's still here.  A rather elaborate setup, surprisingly.  Soon I was down along the river and onto quiet trail.

I was thinking this might be the final uphill of the route, but apparently I'd forgotten about all the upcoming underpasses.  Well, it's the final <steep-ish> uphill of the route:

Then the airport (not quite as quiet!) and eventually following the river through neighborhoods.  I'm not sure I've ever taken a picture of this bridge, although I've run past and across it numerous times:

Part of the great thing about this direction is having a mileage countdown for the last ~8 miles.  The zero marker is still maybe half a mile from the FKT finish, so I could take that into account and estimate how well I was doing.  It seemed like maybe I could break 6 hours?  Wow, I didn't expect that when I started today.  Keep on pushing, then.

Even while thinking about my speed, I still took too long (with a couple tries) to get some kind of a picture with a dang mileage sign...

John was waiting near the house for one last crewing opportunity (so I could finish the last swallows of Spiz, which had evolved into a Spiz mocha.  No need for a flashlight today!).  I'm apparently in this photo but I'm very small:

One last highway, an underpass at the 237, then an up-close view of the new Top Golf facility - looks like fun!

People were gathering along the path to watch fireworks in Alviso, but they were mostly off to the side and I only had to ask one group to let me run through.  Little fireworks were starting here and there.  Must be the 4th of July.

And then I was at the gate, yay!  5:52 and very happy with that.

The bay I'd been running toward all afternoon:

And the Um, now tiny in the distance, but still visible!

A sign on a nearby bench describing the Guadalupe River, which I'd been basically following.  Super cool:

The boat ramp...

And actually touching the water this time, since the park was open and it just seemed like the thing to do:

Fun day, thank you legs, and Thank You John!

Golden Gate Dirty 30 - trekking and spectating

Since we were going to Colorado anyway, we decided to go see our friends Taylor and Andrew as they were running their first ultra race.  The race was the super-challenging Golden Gate Dirty 30, a 50K with a ton of vertical feet and some sections of technical trail.  No crew or pacers were allowed, but the park was still open, so John and I started from the north side and did some running/hiking on the course.

We arrived super early to make sure to get a parking spot in a small lot, took a nap, and then set off on foot to track them down.  What a pretty place!  It was wonderful to explore many trails we hadn't seen before, and the scenery is really nice.

Detailed trail markings, including precise race mileage:

Hey Andrew!  He had started in the first wave and was moving really well, near the front of the pack early on.  John is either letting him know which way to go or poking him in the ear...

And there's Taylor, looking strong  :)  She had been battling an IT band issue (which I can relate to) but was determined to finish this thing.

I did a 3-mile loop that included trails from later in the race, enjoying a peaceful moment next to a pond:

Then I cut over to another part of the course to see runners come through.  I missed Andrew but got to cheer Taylor through, yay!

Next quest = the big loop down the hill to aid station 3 and back up the other side.  The aspen grove is just lovely:

I went in reverse direction from the race route in order to say hi to runners.  Hi Andrew!  Looking good!  I think he wasn't feeling quite as peppy as he was earlier, probably something to do with the big hill he just climbed.  He said something about questioning his life choices, which means he's well on his way to being a true ultra runner.

Organized chaos at the aid station.  It was hot and exposed and full of people, so I stayed only briefly.

Not long after I started up the other side of the loop, there was Taylor bombing down the hill and smiling the whole time.  Nice!

It was a long climb, gradually tapering off with the number of runners coming toward me, and then at the top I found a great view of the Rocky Mountains:

Also, one of the more technical sections of the course.  Yes, the trail goes along the ridge and over these rocks:

Columbines on the way back to the field near the top:

After that big downhill and back uphill, I was starting to respect this course.  The next several miles reinforced that view.  I went backward from race miles 13 to 9 and discovered why the runners had already looked slightly beat down when they arrived at the top of the col.  The course pretty much always goes down and up, over and over.  There's a steep, rocky uphill as well:

Looks like fun, unless you're going 30+ miles in a day:

On the bright side, the scenery is great everywhere you go in this park!

John headed for a different part of the course, the last few miles.  He found Andrew and his friend Steve at aid station 4.  They were feeling the effects of the efforts, but ready to go see what this "Windy Peak" thing was all about.

John took a short cut to the top of the mountain and met up with Andrew again - nice job!  It's (almost) all downhill from here:

Back on the lower trail, Taylor is powering through her IT band problems and still smiling!

We stayed away from the bustle of the start/finish area (and crazily, missed seeing our friend Jason who was doing the announcing, unbeknownst to us; would have been really funny to run into him there).

So we didn't get to cheer them in at the end, but we met up the next day for stories, congratulations, and delicious biscuits.

Plus we got to see Danny and Emilio in Denver!  Here they are taking a selfie, with us in Tug in their rearview mirror:

Hello everyone!

More smiles and joy for being together again finally:

And then it was back to the mountains and rivers...