Sunday, March 20, 2005
The Catalina Marathon was March 19, 2005 under overcast skies and strong winds. Although it was drizzling steadily at 5:00am in Avalon, the boat ride to the start at Two Harbors was blessedly calm. About 50 runners/walkers opted for the early start at 6:30am while 530 runners started at 7:00am. Many runners who were at the rainy Buffalo Run (Catalina Island 2/12/05) were immediately recognizable by the amount of grocery store apparel they wore. Hefty, Glad, and Zip-Loc attire was almost as popular as Adidas, Brooks, and New Balance. I didn't recognize one of my friends at the start line because only her left eyeball was visible from beneath her tightly bound hood. She told me her plan was to get "half as wet" as she did at the Buffalo Run, so she had to wear "twice as much plastic." The clouds looked ominous and there was a headwind for much of the first half, but a strong mist didn't actually start falling until around 9:30am. Somewhere around mile 18, the cloud cover became extremely heavy and the visibility was limited to about five feet (measurement based on the fact that I couldn't see my own feet). Then, for a while, the sun played hide and seek with the clouds. Eventually, I figured out that it was actually me in control of the weather: every time I put my sunglasses on, the sun disappeared behind a cloud, so whenever I wanted to work on my tan, I simply removed the sunglasses again. Although the rain & mud was not nearly as bad as it was during the Buffalo Run, there were numerous river crossings so everyone's feet got wet and I personally had about six juicy blisters. I had hoped to see a Buffalo or two, but didn't see much of anything due to the cloud cover. However, it made for good running conditions, assuming you weren't wearing too much plastic, didn't mind wet feet and remembered to wear a fog lamp.
Sunday, March 06, 2005
The Palo Alto Trail Race was March 5, 2005. Race distances included the marathon (5 runners), half marathon (91 runners, including me), 10K (89 runners), 5K (21 runners). The weather was perfectly clear and sunny with a slight breeze. The courses consisted of out and back single track trails with lots of hills. Every time the beautiful scenery lulled the participants into a tranquil zen state, a brutal uphill would shock them back to an agonizing reality. In fact, the half marathon had nine hills ranging between 2,000 to just over 2,500 feet. Somewhere around mile 12, I realized that "granny gear" was not enough to get up that particular hill and I started looking around for some mountain climbing gear, but none was found. As I pondered a particularly lovely patch of shade, perfect for a nice picnic or brief nap, another girl who was about six feet tall with legs that were at least four and a half feet long passed me. My suspicions that someone that "peppy" had to be at least five years younger than me were confirmed at the finish, so I still managed to finish first in my age group and second overall female. To put this race in perspective, my finish time at the muddy & rainy Catalina Buffalo Half Marathon two weeks earlier was actually twelve minutes faster than Palo Alto during ideal conditions. Afterwards, Eric Gould, the friendly race director, handed out ribbons while runners munched on generous servings of trail mix, licorice, P&J sandwiches, gummi bears, muffins, pudding, brownies, pretzels, potato soup and hot chili. So be sure to check out Eric's other races and bring your appetite, your camera, and your mountain climbing gear!