"...In the end, people either have excuses or experiences; reasons or results; buts or
brilliance. They either have what they wanted or they have a detailed list of all the rational reasons why not."

~ Anonymous
(taken from Matt Erbele's, It Takes Time to Get Good)

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Race Report: Angel Island 25k Trail Run

Race Report: Angel Island 25k Trail Run - Tiburon, CA

Alternative title: The Run that Almost Didn't Happen

Short cut details
(for those that like to see how slow I was this time and do not want to read 1000 words to do so)

25k (15.75 miles, plus I had to run 0.25 mile to catch the goddamn ferry. Total: 16 miles)
3:34:40 (self timed. I will get to that)


This run was cursed almost from the start. About a month ago Penny and Jo Lynn and I decided to do this run, then LA Run Buddy said she wanted do it too.

Totally awesome! Girl Power run. I was so stoked. (Every now and then I try to sound as stereotypically 'California' as possible, dude)

Then last weekend LA Run Buddy's knee went kaputt and she had to bail (ok, I told her she should NOT run and that she was a dumb ass if she did. I know, all sweetness and light that RBR). Then this week Penny got invited with her canine run partner, Velcro, to do a Runner's World photo shoot on Saturday (and ummm... hells yeah, I would bail too. Soo cool) so she was out. THEN Jo Lynn, in LA Run Buddy fashion, has her foot go kaputt and doctor says, "No running for you!"

And then there was one.


If you have read the last two posts (or the last 12 posts, I cannot remember a time when I was not blubbering about this stuff) I had a pretty emotional week (Run Buddy update will be at the end of all this.)

In addition to hubby recovering from cancer treatment surgery and my best friend being hospitalized for a unknown and scary as fuck brain type illness, my parents dog, who has been on chemo therapy for lymphoma for the last year, went into liver failure and had to be put down on Thursday.

In a former life, I was a veterinary nurse (still licensed, but not practicing) and am the 'go to gal' in the family for veterinary medical 'splaining. Which means, when they do not understand the options or diagnosis the doctor has given them, I explain it in more understandable terms. (I am sure it is hard to believe for anyone that reads my overly verbose rantings that I can make things more clear, but that is my job in the family)

Anyhoo, between testing and the specialist visits at my friend's bedside in the hospital, I was explaining to my crying mother and deeply saddened daddy, what liver failure meant and was having the dreaded "how do you know when it is time?" conversation.

Fuck me. Enough already.

Needless to say I strongly considered not even getting up to do the damn thing on Saturday.

Pre-run, part deux

This gets its own section because the other one was too long already and well, my blog, my rules. I can have 12 pre-run sections if I want. So there.

I DID get up on Saturday. I DID drive through fucktarded San Francisco with its fucktarded and convoluted detours to get to the race site in Tiburon. I DID fight with asshole Tiburon business owners that, even though there was a public parking kiosk and 47 fucking signs advertising public parking for $5 in their goddamn parking lot, said we could not park there. I DID eventually park my car and get to the ferry landing. I DID make it to the restroom before my bladder ruptured after 2 hours of driving and 42 oz. of coffee consumed.

Ferry Dock in Tiburon, CA

However, I DID NOT make it on the first ferry to Angel Island which was the one I was supposed to be on to make the 25k and 50k start time at 8:30.

I watched it pull away actually.

Standing on the dock, holding my little ticket.

*Alarms sound*
Whoop Whoop

My throat tightened, my eyes started to fill. I put my sunglasses on (trying to maintain a sliver of self-respect) and stared after the ferry.

RBR devil:
Fuck this. I am going to get breakfast and drive back home.

RBR angel:
Just wait for the next ferry and you can start late. There is no cut off for the 25k. You are fine.

RBR devil:
I don't even want to fucking be here. Why the fuck am I here?

RBR angel:
Even if you run a shorter run, just get out there. You will feel better once you are on the trail.

RBR devil:
There is an 8k right? Where are all the fucking fat people? Why am I always the fattest fucking person at these fucking things? Fuck.

RBR angel:
Just get your whining ass on the goddamn ferry! Fucking A, you are a baby. Damn! (Well, it IS an RBR angel. It is only so angelic)

And so I did. I got on the goddamn ferry.

The Run

I talked to Sarah (the very kind woman that runs the PCTR runs) and she let me and this other gal, a 50k'er that also missed the first ferry, start when we got there. She asked if we could keep our own time.

If you happen to look up my results on the website it will show my time as about 30 min slower than I report here. To prove I am not a liar here is a shot of my Garmin. Yeah, I like I would lie to make up a 13:39 pace. *eyeroll*

I was not sure what I was going to run when I got there. I wasn't sure how far I would go for almost the entire run. I decided this run was purely therapeutic and when it stopped being that I would stop, whether that was at 1 kilometer or 25 kilometers.

First kilometer was climbing a shitload of stairs. Hmmm.... may be a short day. We got to do these 3 times for the 25k.

The 50k'er was excited to have someone to run with and that we would be on the same trail for about 8 miles.



She was super fit and clearly MUCH faster than me. I know she thought we were going glacially slow, but I was at a pace I could not maintain and we were climbing so I was DYING. She was really nice and very interesting and I usually LOVE running and chatting with people, but yesterday I just needed to be alone and run.

So I did something terrible.

I mean, really terrible.

I played the cancer card. Yep, I dropped the 'my husband has cancer' bomb. NO ONE, no matter how nice or how co-dependent, wants to run 8 miles (or even 2 miles) with a stranger talking about cancer. I know, that makes me an asshole, but I did it and it worked, which only reinforces my bad behavior.

About half a mile after the cancer bomb. She was a seriously cool person and on any other day I would have been thrilled to run with her.

After that I settled in for the run. Not knowing if this was going to be the only loop or if I was going to continue for 2 or maybe even all 3. For the 25k you run three loops the Perimeter Road loop, and two interior trails that I can not remember the names of. Each one is about 5 miles give or take.

Profile for the Angel Island 25k. 2035' ft of climb. Little cruel that the climb gets worse on each successive loop.

Running alone somewhere beautiful and away from everything was exactly what I needed. I was completely alone for 90% of the run since I started 30 minutes behind the 50k'ers and the other 25k'ers and about 10 minutes before the 8k'ers 16k'ers. I would love to say I had some great catharsis of the last few months or deep spiritual epiphany, but mostly I thought about nothing and ran.

View of the Golden Gate Bridge

Action Shot of me and the GG bridge. I am going so fast the background is blurred. Ok, fine maybe it isn't, but I was running.

Where's RBR? More self-timer silliness.

Angel Island has a mix of dry grass, full sun trials with panoramic views...

...and magical feeling, fern lined forest trails

This one is to make Penny feel better about missing the run. It was full sun and got hot. Not oppressively so, but certainly not the typical overcast, cool San Francisco area weather.

Cool house that we ran by.

This is where I missed a trail ribbon and went off course twice. Some visitors doing a walking tour of the island had to scream up to me that I was going the wrong way. Then since I was slow on the uptake and changed course to go the wrong way AGAIN, an older woman hiked back up the hill to show me where the trail was (in my defense the ribbon was on the ground and the "trail" was little more than flattened grass.) Her comment when I finally was headed in the right direction was "You have some catching up to do the other runners came by a long time ago." Awesome. Thanks.

Flat grass "trail"

Before I knew it I was headed in from the full 25k run. As I crossed the finish line they announced that the ferry for Tiburon would be leaving and the next ferry was in an hour. Fuck that I am not waiting an hour. I grabbed my t-shirt and a Diet Coke and took off running the 0.25 mile to the ferry dock to make the ferry. Thankfully I did not miss this one.

I was, however, the very last passenger to load. Kind of poetic, no?

Oh, and this one? This one was just for you, G. Smooches from Angel Island.

Run Buddy Update

Thank you again for your kindness and well wishes. She is home. I was able to take her home. Thursday afternoon. She does not have a brain tumor, or MS, or any other scary neurological disease, She was diagnosed with pseudotumor cerebre. It essentially presents like a brain tumor, but is caused by increased intracranial pressure associated with the cerebrospinal fluid (it is also known as idiopathic intracranial hypertension. Which translates to: "We don't know why, but you have increased pressure in your head")

She has more appointments this week with the ophthalmologist and has started some medication. I am still freaked out, but at least some of the scary stuff is off the table.


Pam @ herbieontherun.com said...

Great news about Run Buddy!!!!

Kudos to you for going ahead with the run. If it had been me I'd have taken the missed ferry as a sign and left. But then again I'm not as strong as you!!!

Tricia said...

kudos for getting through it

and she is in my prayers

S. Baboo said...

Hopefully the time with a blank mind was somehow refreshing.

Anne said...

Holy crapoly, you are one tough lady!! I can't believe you ran that 25K...you're unbelievable!

So glad RB is home and that nothing too scary has been found!

Unknown said...

So sorry to hear about your parent's dog. Here's my cancer card - my dog has lymphoma. She's in remission now, and every day is a blessing. Give your parent's a copy of "Rainbow Bridge". It helped me through losing my last dog to cancer.

Loved the recap! Your pictures are great!

Diana said...

I leave in 3 damn days for something I'm not even sure I want to do anymore-then I read this and love how you turn shitty, crappy, never-ending shit going on in your life to humor.
I guess I have to "flip off" fear and get my arse out to what I've trained my arse to do!
Sorry to hear of the dog, happy to hear of your friend.
Congrats on doing the run-I absolutely LOVE running alone. I think of nothing and yet everything all at the same time!

Jo Lynn said...

I was so sad, having to miss this run. I totally LOVE that course (especially the 2nd and 3rd loops). The first one sucks ass because of the FLAT PAVEMENT!
How about those stairs, huh? I did the 50k there last year. Those stairs killed me.
You did great. I would have estimated finishing around 3:30. ;)

Anonymous said...

First off...glad to h ear Run Buddy's update.

Second...I TRULY enjoy reading your blog. It is incredibly entertaining...U need to have SOMETHING published a some point...

Third..the pixie bit was amazing..I was dying..and can TOTALLY relate....

Fourth...awesome that U kept on keeping on...good shtuff. 25k trail run would kick me in my balls...several times over.

Maryland Girl aka Michelle said...

Well you got out there!

doctorval said...

There's a nasty ass set of stairs like that at the beginning of the Dipsea. It's as if they're saying "let's crush your spirit and then make you run for two hours".

Christi said...

I am happy for Run Buddy! I hope they are able to narrow it down more but it is good to hear it is nothing really serious!

Congrats on a great run! The pics are great and it looks like you had a great although warm run!

SteveQ said...

ALL angels swear. At least, that's my experience.

You haven't run with enough ultrapeeps if you think the cancer card wards off all; I spent the first half of a 50 Miler talking anal fissures with a nurse. And half the old guys I run with joke about "cutting weight" by "getting their prostate yanked out."

You seem to be doing a lot more long trail races than I am. That sucks, except you write about them better than I would.

Regina said...

Dang woman, that is a big week. way to stick out the run despite your peeps dropping like flies. I need to move to CA, I am so over NYC.

Glad to hear about RunBuddy. I hope she continues to improve.

Glaven Q. Heisenberg said...


What am I? A fucking math major? If I say I'm first when I'm clearly not, I'm obviously rounding down from the nearest 15. This is a perfectly acceptable math technique for English majors and fucktards. Guess which I am.

First off (or perhaps 15th): The elevation on that third loop was so shapely and tit-like that I wanted to give it a Brunsky

Tell the Angel Island foax they should make you run that last loop twice next year. Because the run is looking a little lopsided with just that one tit. And you can't give one tit a proper Brunsky.

Second: Hahahahahaha! You ALWAYS make me laugh, B*tch! Even when you have awful things happen to you, you are able to keep your sense of humor. You must be a BLAST to be around!

Way to tough it out on the run!

O, and as for giving me the finger? Yeah, I'm holding up a digit specially for you right now. And it's not on my hand. Or foot. (Though it is roughly a foot long.)

Before Morgan, we had a female sheltie named Sushi. When she died, I blubbered as I hadn't done since my mother died. I am really sad for your parents over their loss.

I know run buddy isn't out of the woods, but the news is pretty good! Yay for that!

Another great post, B*tch! My car semi-broke down on the way to work today, but this post still provoked a laugh from me.

KJ said...

For the record....I think you are as amazing as hell. Seriously. You kick ass, as a person, a wife, a friend and a runner. Fucking amazing.

Beautiful photos, excellent job doing the full 25K given all the shit life has handed you lately.

Love your blog, babe!


Unknown said...

You never cease to impress...I'm fairly certain that *I* would have interpreted the ferry incident as a good excuse to skip the whole darn thing. You ROCK!

Good news about Run Buddy. Hope better news is on the horizon for her....like figuring out what is wrong and FIXING it.

Southbaygirl said...

Wow!! I feel like such a loser friend now! (except for the sunny fucking San Fran shot? Seriously??)

I so wanted to run this race-and after my photo shoot debacle, fear, nervousness and all around shitfest-I wish i had driven up on saturday with Velcro and run! What was I thinking. of course I'll change my tone if I actually make it into Runners World!

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE give your parents the biggest hug you can from me! I am dealing with GI Lymphoma with one of my cats. Our pets are our furbabies! They dont live long enough damnit!!!

You definitely needed that run!!! You have so mush shit you are dealing with: hubs and Run Buddy, that I'm kinda glad you dropped the "cancer bomb" because I think you needed to run that race alone!!! There is something so amazing about running a race just with yourself and your thoughts! I sometimes find myself crying and talking to myself-when no one else will listen!!

I really promise I wont be such a flake! I really want to run up there with you!!

I hope hubby is ok and that Run Buddy has good news!!!

I'm planning on Pacifica on July 3rd...of course I think you might be speedy compared to me!!!

Love you!!!

Southbaygirl said...

shit nearly forgot, here is the original Rainbow Bridge Poem:

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.
When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.
They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....

Author unknown...

GufiFoot said...

thank you, thank you so much

Aileen said...

You are a better woman than me. I would have cried, and then gone home. Congratulations on finishing!!! Trail races are way hard. No lie.

Hope you are feeling better.

Lindsay said...

Love the big smiles in your photos, even after all the crap going on in life and in just trying to get to the stupid race. Not sure my "angel" wouldve talked me into it... heck I doubt I wouldve gotten in the car and attempt to go. I can be the worst sulker/little miss depressed sometimes.

Glad RB is doing well and that the bad stuff is ruled out. Contined thoughts to her, the hubs, and now your parents. Sheesh, busy summer. Good thing the fam has you to professionally explain things :)

SteveQ said...

Heard this song and thought of you ("I love a girl with a dirty mouth...")http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=urdKYYTLU74

Kendra said...

Hang in there even through these tough times. You're remarkably strong and awesome.

Kate Geisen said...

Way to go on going ahead and saying screw all the signs, I'm going to run anyway. Looks like a beautiful course...except all those hills! And you're adorable in your pictures. Fat person, my ass. If I lived closer I'd run with you and you'd feel thin as all get out. And fast, too.

Glad to hear about Run Buddy, and sorry to hear about your parents' dog. That's hard. :(

And now I'm off to catch up on everything else I've missed over the past week.

P.S. I love the fact that you're...um...wordy because it makes me feel better about my own loquaciousness. That may be spelled wrong, but it's a great word anyway. Just figure that maybe someday you'll be paid per word and be a rich woman. :)

Tortuga_Runner said...

Just found your blog. I love PCTR and the Angel Island run. I have a few of their runs on my schedule this year. Congrats on the choice to run, I am fairly sure I would've headed over to San Rafael for blueberry pancakes if I missed they ferry...usually my treat for actually finishing my PCTR runs in Marin. 13 minute miles with that kind of climb is great..general a range I try and stay within.