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Headlands 2010

Saturday, 3:50am – I am rudely awakened by an alarm. There it is – the decision. Stay in bed, or get up and try to run? For a while, my mind starts ligning up reasons why I shouldn’t go, and there are plenty of good ones, actually. My shin still hurts a lot from bruising it at Swan Crest last weekend, and come on – I can only lose, right? But still, due to some no longer retraceable sequence of events I feel like I have to go … and yeah, I made plans for Harry to pace me. Can’t let him down, right? And if I couldn’t handle this, what business would I have at TDG (of course this is the dumbest argument of them all)? No turning back now …

6am, Rodeo Beach. Sitting in my car trying to contort myself so I can tape the remnants of my deep heel blister with leukotape, a second skin moist patch and benzoine tincture. It’s cool outside, foggy. Lots of friends though. Nervous.

0m – 7am – start … bringing my ultralight poles to see how they feel on the pack, much to the confusion of my fellow runners. Taking it slow I think – aiming for maybe a 6-7 hour first 25 mile loop. Shin hurts, but it doesn’t get any worse. The new out and back to the golden gate is fun – you come around the hillside and first catch a view of the city on the other side of the bay, alcatraz, the bay bridge and then the golden gate, in all its glory. However, once you get to the vista point parking lot, there’s a little surprise – you continue on the road and drop all the way to the base of the bridge! It’s a solid hill, but how cool is that?

Best crew ever

25m – First loop is done in a little under 5 hours – way too fast! Probably a bit short of 25 miles, but with 5k gain. Must slow down. Quads feel totally empty, hurt on downhills. Not promising. It stays very cool and overcast.

30m – My right ankle seems to have enough, very disconcerting, injured it at Bighorn. Prepaing to drop or for deathmarch. That’s what I wanted to do though, see if I can manage it. I re-tie my shoes – voila, it works. I feel strangely detached from my run – like a training run. My emotional mind is like a floating baloon away from my body, only connected with a thin string of pain. Or maybe more like an observer, intently analysing what happens in my legs, taking notes and calculating adjustments.

Down to the Golden Gate

50m – 10:47 50m split – I had planned for 12 hours originally in the best case. Damn am I happy to see Heather (the best Crew ever, she adopted me for this race, fortunately for me her runner Roy is always close by me) and Harry! My legs feel seriously beaten up. My mind refuses to think about another 50 miles, it seems so repulsive an idea.

Golden Gate Aid Station

I can think about 25m for now, so that’s what I’ll do. 25 more. I change socks, and Harry and I leave before the 11 hour mark … I had promised live FB updates, but it’s cold and wet, which doesn’t work well with the capacitive touchscreen and takes too long. Gotta go.

50-75m: My legs hurt. My other ankle starts to hurt. My heel blister develops another heel blister underneath. It’s good to have Harry there, he keeps me going. I’m still going ok on the uphills though, don’t really feel too fatigued. I’m starting to make a little time on Roy, but not much – Norbert is
pacing him, and they are quite noisy. The weather is cold, the fog so thick it’s almost rain, and on the ridge to the golden gate you almost get blown off, it’s hard to run in a straight line. Still, I feel strangely detached from everyhting. Don’t really have any emotions, different from other races, except for the aid stations, I’m just always happy to see Heather with her professional-level crew station.

Pirate's Cove

People from the alps are strange. Norbert and I at mile 50.

75m: I’m trying not to think at all, just get out and once I’m on the way, I guess I’ll be too lazy to turn back. We’re still doing reasonable time. It’s so cold you can’t linger at any spot for long, which is good. I’m totally wet. My legs really hurt, my feet hurt, but I can imagine the finish now. For some reason I don’t feel fatigued, and I am starting to push it a little harder.

85m: The finish is in reach … I’m pushing it on the downhills. We are overtaking people who walk, Harry later tells me about the disappointment in their faces.

Harry and I, mile 54

But I have stopped thinking, now all I want is to finish. We’re overtaking people both up and downhill, and I feel like I could go on like this forever, at least energy wise. I bark “good job” at other runners when I pass them, but I don’t really see them, I’m totally focused, totally concentrated. My left ankle hurts, but I keep it just under control. It’s sort of fun, this crazy rush, I won’t let is linger at the aid stations, hurrying. In those last 15 miles we overtake 11 or so people. Harry and I talk about getting under 25 hours.
100m – 24:13: I can’t believe it’s done. My time and place are much better than I expected, but somehow I don’t really feel anything. Did this even happen?

Splits: 4:55 – 5:51 – 6:43 – 6:44

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