I completed the PCTR Muir Beach 33K yesterday. As the title implies, it became more brutal over time.
I ran the first half beautifully, coming in well under two hours. It was probably the most gorgeous run I have ever done.
Around every curve you could see the Golden Gate Bridge, or the Bay Bridge, or the hills of Marin, or the Pacific Ocean. Magnificient. The first 1000′ foot climb was tough, but I ran the whole way.
The next four miles or so were mainly down hill, with slight ups and downs. Not too bad. At one point the runner in front of me mentioned this was his favorite trail run yet.
And then, the brutal course began.
The second 1000′ climb was so steep that steps with railings were there to help. I did not see anyone running this hill. It took a considerable amount of time even though the actual distance wasn’t that far. Frequent comments like, “Is this a joke?” and “Will it ever end?”, came from many a runner.
More nice downs, through a small tunnel, around some horses and then the third aid station appeared. I knew we had another major climb before the end. The comedian at the aid station said, “It’s not too bad and you only have three miles to go. The climb is right over there….”
Twenty minutes later (!), I had made it to the top. The woman right behind me said, “Well, at least we are going slow enough to enjoy the views.” Ahhhhh yes, the silver lining. There it is! I took a good 45 seconds to enjoy those views before starting back down.
A few minutes later, with a mile to go, the sky turned dark and the clouds began to pour. Thank goodness I didn’t have far. In fact, I actually enjoyed the rain. I really felt for the 50Kers passing me as they went back up the hill. They had 17K left, with two more 1000′ climbs, and dark skies up ahead. Bless them.
A lot happens over the course of a four-hour run. Far more than can be captured in a quick blog. There was the runner with cerebral palsy who ran at a great pace. There was a 50-ker who’s husband or partner or friend met her at every aid station. There was the Santa Claus ultramarathoner — hat, beard and all. There were three of my friends who I saw at the beginning and again at the end (makes all the difference when you see people you know).
I ended up middle of the pack, as always, but I beat my estimated finish time by 19 minutes. It was gorgeous and brutal, and I am absolutely up for it again next year.