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  • San Lorenzo River Trail Run 2012

    Posted on June 25th, 2012 Michele Sun 4 comments

    I’ve always wanted to try trail runs but was worry might get injured while training for Tokyo Marathon. Road races are fun because of the energy from the crowd, the destination, and rock bands..etc, but they are getting too big, too expensive, and attracting different crowds; in fact my last couple huge road races were almost nightmares. I have heard so many good remarks about trail runs/races from Max, so after we came back from Tokyo I felt it’s about time to try something different.

    The first trail race I did was the Horseshoe Lake Trail Run in Skyline, and I love the solitude of running in the woods. But at Horseshoe Lake Trail Run a good portion of the run I was exposed in the open, so it was dry and hot . When Max picked the San Lorenzo River Trail Run, another Costal Trail Runs event, I was very reluctant and even intimidated about this race. Because he showed me the course map that indicating runners will have to cross the San Lorenzo River twice (Half)  or  four times for him (Full.) I wonder how insane one has to be to run across a river, and gets his/her shoes & socks all soggy and shirt/shorts wet. So I was about 80% sure that I was NOT going to sign up for this one.


    However, one day I stumbled upon a post by Paul who has done the run last year, and he totally changed my perspective about getting wet in butt and sands in shoes.  Those are the trade-offs for a great run in gorgeous nature,  so why not?! I like his attitude of brushing off the “little discomfort“,  so went ahead to register the Half Marathon race.  I have this person to thank for showing me how to have fun running — it’s all about the perspective.

    On Sat 6/23, Max picked me up around 6:45am and we drove on the beautiful highway 17  to  Santa Cruz, unbelievable as it may but the cops were out early on Sat morning as we saw two cars got busted by 7:00am. So Max played good citizen for once, I remember the first time I was in his car we were also on highway 17 and he was teasing about how Americans don’t know how to drive; perhaps following speed limits isn’t a very French thing :-p

    The day before I was called into an unscheduled  meeting at 11:30am, and lasted and brain grilled till 3:00pm. Then entered meeting again at 5:00pm that totally sucked all the oxygen and killed billions of brain cells which I don’t have much to start with. I was dead beat and could not sleep that night from the torture at work and anguish of an unknown and scary race! Hence on the way to Santa Cruz I just stared at the redwoods along the road and wondering how this day would unfold.

    We arrived the Harvey West Park in Santa Cruz in time to pick up our bibs, and it’s a little chilly  when stepping out of the car but the sun was warm once we were in the open. We met up with other running buddies and took couple pictures before breaking off according to our race distances. The race director gave us instructions about how to follow the trail markings (the pink ribbon, orange ribbon, polka dot…etc) and told us the water level in the river today was about below waist height. The race started with the 50K and Full first, so Max went to the front while I stayed at the back with Halfers and I wished him good luck silently.


    The whole group went on a loop of the picnic area first, then entered the single file trail and it’s packed; I think for a good 5 minutes or so we were all walking, not running. Given the amount of runners on a single file trail, I was jogging in much slower pace but that’s fine with me since I was here to experience not to race, and I had no expectation time-wise. I am very humble when it comes to trail runs, lots of respect for those do well like Kiyoko, Adona, Tina and Max…etc. I know I joked about ” you are crazy!!” or “Aliens are looking at you (Kiyoko)!”  but you all know that I said that with great amount of admiration and respect, don’t you?

    Probably before mile 2 we came across many MTBers, 60+ maybe? They all stopped and stood aside for this pack of runners to pass because the trail was very narrow and after-all there were “No Bike” signs on this trail:-). The uphills slowed me down even more since I had to walk up couple times, but the redwoods were so deep and beautiful. My GPS signals kept dropping in the woods, so I wasn’t sure how far I have been running but guessed it’s about mile 3 1/2 that we came upon the first crossing of San Lorenzo River.

    At this point I had decided that I would keep my shoes on since I could see the rocks in the water and I remembered Max’s words before we started the race –  “keep your shoes on because there would be rocks at the riverbank and they could be sharp and cut you; you don’t want to bleed.”  There was a rope helping us to cross the river, and most Halfers were grabbing it tight and slowly moving forward, while only few people stopped to take off their shoes. The person behind me told me to make sure I find a good solid spot to step on then move forward, don’t rush, and his tone of assurance made me feel much more secure. But boy, it was very cold. My shorts and shirt tail were in the water, and my feet were freezing.

    After we got out of the river he told me “big hills coming, just walk up.” And from there we climbed about 600 to 700 feet non-stop, and my calves were really hurting and couples time I almost tripped because I kicked rocks or tree roots. Shoes and socks were still wet and constantly making the swish swoosh sounds while my shorts clingged to my legs as I continued to run. At one point I caught up with a guy who looked like an experienced trail runner, and I followed his feet landing and pace and from there I had good running rhythm.

    After mile 5 1/2 we started running downhills and I had to be careful not to twist my ankles since they were injured before this race already, however no matter how careful I had been I still twisted them several times and I was in pain.  Then I saw Max charging uphills and running very strong and focused, so he had passed the turn around point and came back,  way to go Max! That strong image of him gave me motivation even though my glutes, quats, calves and ankles were all hurting.

    The aid station at the turn around point was as good as last race at the Horseshoe Lake, and I stopped for some graham cracker, water, and trail mixes. I did not linger too long this time since I knew going back there  would be serious hills waiting for me, and I did not want to tighten up my muscles by stopping for too long. During this race, I started noticing different running forms and styles, and I thought I would try running on balls of my feet when going back on those uphills.

    The redwoods were really deep and beautiful, and there was a railroad track went through the forest, but I wasn’t sure if train actually goes by or not. Later on our way home Max asked me if I had heard the choo choo train whistles, though I didn’t hear them  but definitely sounds really  interesting.  So it turned out the Santa Cruz Roaring Camp trains do run through these redwood forests, letting people experience old time trains on an actual line used for lumbering more than a century ago. I did ride it once before on Memorial Day with whole bunch of smelly Civil War soldiers from the South :-p So the choo choo sounds Max had heard was the actual train whistle in far distance. So very good legs and good ears, Max!!

    There were still a lot of people on the trail doing their first split as I started running downhills and toward that crazy river again. When I reached the water I saw it was pretty empty and only one person on the rope, and there was a camera situated at the other end. I held on to a rock with my right hand and carefully stepped into the water, “ahhh… this feels good.” My ankles and knees absolutely loved the cold water!!  But as soon as the person in front of me left the water, there was less weight on the rope and it bounced above my head, so I started swinging from the left to the right as I lost some balance. I had to inch forward very slowly while steady myself to prevent falling into the water.  Being the very goofy me I did a quick “V” sign with my free hand and posed in the middle of  the river. If it’s not for the phone and Max’s car key in my Camelbak, I probably would take a dip and swim!!

    It’s getting warmer but I was feeling pretty good in spirit, despite I was a little unhappy about my slow pace;  just had to remind myself to be humble in trail races and continue to train harder. I knew that I should come across Max pretty soon since he is about 1/3 faster than I am, therefore I should see him not far after the river crossing. And I was right, I saw a shirtless guy running downhills and Max was trailing right behind him. The shirtless guy was running very hard which I could tell from his face and his form,  while Max was very collected and just focus and on that guy’s heels,  so I figured Max would beat him easily once in open or uphills, no doubt about it! Roughly about 6 or 8 minutes later I ran pass the 3rd guy in a yellow shirt and I knew he wouldn’t be able to catch up with Max since the break was pretty big already.

    The run was all uphills from here till around mile 12 then the trail started to descend, and right there I heard wheels coming from behind and they sounded very fast, so I thought “oh oh, mountain bikes.” I had to move aside and let the three bikers plus a fast running (and cute) black beagle passing me. I heard conversation and laughter and got glimpse of  rooftops between tree branches and leaves, so I knew I was returning back to civilization and felt a little sucky about that. I truly enjoy the solitude and quietness the forests had offered.

    Soon I saw a small aid-station and some people standing in short distance, and in no time I was existing the shady redwoods and entered into the sun. Finished!!

    Walked to the aid station and had some trail mixes, cut watermelons, cinnamon roll bits, and a very yummy (cookie dough flavored) & chewy sweet that I had never have  before, and they look and taste almost like the Dunkey Balls from Kona :-) . Being me just me,  of course I would find out what they are!! Turned out it’s the Cliff “Shot Roks” which has 20g of protein and I just absolutely love them. I chatted with friends who all came back before I did (of course), and we all loved the river crossings!!

    Time was about 11:20am now so I went to get out of my sweaty and wet cloth, wiped my face and legs clean, took off my wet socks and shoes…etc, and found my left ear got sunburned, weird!! Limping back to the Finish area and wanted to take pictures of Max when he crossing the finish line. While I was waiting, a girl was also standing with a camera so I chatted with her a bit. I told her I was waiting for a friend and “my friend is going to win“, and she told me she was waiting for her husband who was aiming to finish a little over 4 hours. I went on telling her that “Really? 4 hours? I think my friend’s time will be around 4 hours also.” Strangely there was a little competition in the air suddenly, but it’s not unfriendly — runners are best buddies when it comes to supporting!!  She joked “I don’t think my husband is your friend.” I let out some good laugh and thinking “Michele, this is silly.

    Earlier I had checked the signs where the medals and prizes would be handed out, and I found out the course record for full marathon was 4:10, and now the clock just ticked 3:59. Runners for Half continue to coming out of the woods but I could not  see well due to the light. But I was getting really excited and antsy because I knew Max would come back anytime soon now.

    Seems that my thought was heard, and in no time I saw the familiar silhouette sprinting out of redwoods like lightening bolt and I quickly took a picture of his signature finishing style — sprinting. I turned and glanced at the clock “4:06″… Yeh!! He won!! He broke the course record!!

    I still can’t believe that I was just limping earlier but now I could manage to run up to him, leapt with excitements and hugged him to congratulate his remarkable accomplishment and victory. He won First Place for his Age Group, First Place Over-all and he broke the course record at 4:07. I don’t know how and why he was so calm, but I was so thrilled that I started shouting “You won! You won! You broke the course record.”

    My excitement must be really contagioned because bright smile came to his face as he telling me his legs were stiff and he was really tired!!! People started coming up  to shake hands with him, and I was hopping around because I could not conceal my joy and excitement. This is not the first time we were in a race together, and I had seen him grace and awesome sprint before. But somehow this time was very different!  I guess it sort of making up my own regrets that I did not watch him crossing the finish line in Paris Marathon two months ago.

    On our may home I was still too excited about how the race went, so I started doing victory dance in the car and giving thumbs up to drivers in other cars. Yeh, I am a complete goofball but a very happy one!  So how did this day unfold? At a Sushi Bar in Mountain View to celebrate Max’s victory, I was talking to total strangers sitting  next to us that “He just won First Place at a trail race today and he broke the course record!” Guess you can say that today turned out to be such a fun and adventure run for me,  and a glorious day for us!!

    *Footnote

    1. I found out and confirmed the person behind me during first river crossing was Paul, the reason that I signed up the race to begin with . I also found out he mentioned me as well is his latest post and referred me as the “slightly tentative person that fell behind a bit:-)
    Thank you Paul!! What a good karma!!

    2. Have received couple inquiries about who Max is because he sounds like a very fast runner; I am glad and proud to paint him with words. He is such a graceful runner and always a true joy to watch him run. I am sure you will see him again at other Costal Trail Runs!!

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    3 responses to “San Lorenzo River Trail Run 2012” RSS icon

    • Hi Michele!

      What a coincidence! Thanks for stopping by my blog to tell me.

      The reason I signed up was I was seeing all this traffic on my blog to that old race report and so I knew it must be coming up..found out it wasn’t fun and signed up!

      So in a way you caused me to be in the race too 8)

      Glad you had a great race!… your friend Max, whoa, he is one fast dude.

      Yes, you have to be more picky about road races..sometimes I like the huge thing but mostly I like smaller-ish ones. For PR race CIM is pretty close and can’t be beat! Not a beautiful course but fast and uncrowded. I found Eugene also had a small town feel but was well run.

      Happy running!

    • “Found out it wasn’t fun”

      should be

      “Found out it wasn’t full”

      Silly computers. 8/

    • Paul, Thank You!! If it’s not for you I would not even have the desire to register!! And totally did not expect to have actually met you, especially during this “fateful” river crossing, and your words provided so much assurance. Good karma!!
      I have signed up CIM for this year as well, so we will be seeing each other soon?!
      Happy Running!!

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