Month: November 2005

Stairs, hills, more stairs, and more hills…

…and do that four times — description of the Quad Dipsea course.

I decided to do this race on a whim, when I felt like I needed to get away for a while, and thought a weekend in the Bay area would be a welcome retreat. I thought twice (ok, at least once) about doing another race after SD, but I wasn’t going to “race” it anyway — it’ll be just a long training run. Right…

My weekend started very early Friday morning driving to the airport the day after Thanksgiving, which I thought was a better day for traveling — well, I was right to an extent. Since I’m usually not out and about on that day, I hadn’t realized that all the shopping maniacs were already heading for the stores for what’s supposed to be the biggest shopping day of the year. I kind of knew that, but didn’t realize it was that bad until I couldn’t even stop to get coffee since everyone was using the Starbucks parking lot because there were no spaces in the main lot, and traffic on the streets were just as heavy at 5am as normal work days. Ok, so I just needed to get to the freeway and to the airport, thankful that I won’t have to deal with the holiday chaos. Wrong — this was just the beginning of how the rest of the weekend was going to be.

Because I left home earlier than I needed to, I had plenty of time to get to the airport, so I drove into LAX Lot C, and realized how crowded it was — there were cars parked in areas that were normally empty. Well, my theory about how everyone that was traveling that weekend had already left town was correct, but what that meant was that they left behind theirs cars obviously, and many of them happened to use the same parking lot. No problem — I’ll go to a different pay lot that I used to use when I was able to claim it as a travel expense when I was traveling for work. I hadn’t really paid attention to how much I was paying until I saw the sign at the entrance, and realized I’d be paying almost twice as much as the other lot. Oh well…I didn’t really have a choice at that point.

Arriving in SF, it was cloudy and drizzling, and hoped that it would clear up before race day, as I remember reading race reports as to how muddy and slippery it can get on the course. My wish came true — the weather cleared up Friday afternoon, and remained clear through the rest of the weekend. The temperatures though, were really chilly — I had to guess it was in the 50’s.

I stayed at the Sheraton Fisherman’s Wharf — great deal for $75/night on Priceline, but failed to take into consideration the cost of parking in the city, which turned out to be more than half the room rate. The other problem with that area is that it’s VERY touristy, and being a holiday weekend just made it much worse.

For lunch, I had fish & chips and a couple Corona’s at Joe’s Crab Shack — it was horrible, especially compared to Lucky Baldwin’s at home. I had a nice view of the water, but didn’t make up for it. Went back to the room, and got ready for the race — not much to do really for a short race. I decided to take one water bottle, and a hip belt, just to hold my camera, electrolytes, and gel — turned out that this combo worked out well. As for clothing, nothing different really — shorts, short-sleeve top, and arm warmers. I was a little concerned about rain/wind since i hadn’t brought anything in case the weather turned, but based on their history (only rained twice in over 15 years), I felt I would be ok.

Later that night, I decided to go to a Japanese restaurant a few blocks from the hotel, just around the corner from the Patagonia store. The food was good — pretty authentic style, with fresh fish. Speaking of Patagonia, I was concerned that it would rain during the race, and because I hadn’t brought any rain gear, I bought a light shell — the Houdini. I never did wear it, and still haven’t had to.

The following morning, the air was cold and crisp, especially by the water, and the drive out over the Bridge was nice. I had never been this way before, only having been to the East Bay and up towards Berkeley, and hadn’t realized how nice it was until then. The park was a pretty short drive from the city, especially at that time of day, so I got there quickly. I was one of the first ones there, and parked along the street across from the school, right at the intersection.

People started showing up about an hour or so later, and saw a bunch of folks wearing Vasque team apparel. Hmmm…didn’t know this was going to be a “race”. Turned out that almost their entire team, including Jorge and Andy J-W were running, which was pretty cool to see.

The start line was at the intersection where I parked, then headed down into the park, then up the first set of flights shortly thereafter. I was concerned about congestion on the stairs, but it worked itself out pretty well — I never felt like I was slowed down, or slowing down others. We cross the road a couple times, then pop out near the top, then onto the first stretch of dirt. The conditions were great — not muddy like I was expecting, since it had rained off and on the last few days, but apparently not enough to be of significance. There were no clouds at all, which made the views absolutely spectacular, especially when starting the descent towards Stinson Beach.

I was with a group of the same runners, a couple wearing Vasque jerseys — hmmm…they must be holding back or something. Of course I was the one who was going out too fast as usual, which is evident by my splits as I progressively started to fade after the half. I didn’t know what I’d be capable of doing this course in, but had in the back of my mind a sub-6 should be doable, but I had started off at a 5 hour pace.

At the top of Cardiac Hill, I saw Chuck Wilson from Costa Rica, who I last bumped into at Massanutten earlier in the year — he was in charge of that aid station. I also saw Bob Cowdrey at some point, ran together briefly, then I believe after the half-way, he passed me, and never saw him again until the finish. While we ran together (mainly on the first time out to Stinson), we talked about him doing Comrades this year to celebrate his birthday.

All in all, it was a great run, although it’s hard to justify a trip for such a short race, but would definitely like to do it again. The stairs are tricky, but once you get the hang of it, it’s not that big of a problem.

Here are my splits:

  • Single: 1:14
  • Double: 2:34
  • Triple: 4:11
  • Final: 5:53:20

Full results here.