#Off-Road on Mt. Tam, Run a Race Up The Mountain.

#Off-Road on Mt. Tam, Run a Race Up The Mountain.

It’s a week after the 10K Table Rock Trail Run at Mt. Tamalpais, and my legs still feel like jelly. Little did I know when I ambitiously signed up that Mt. Tam is unforgiving to soles, calves, sunshine, WiFi connections and apathetic runners. It’s an all or nothing course with a 2,000 foot slope to climb to get to the top of the mountain.

Marin County’s Mount Tamalpais has been ground zero for biking, hiking and running ever since the mid-70’s when guys like Gary Fisher and Joe Breeze were just mutton chopped, bike-loving hippies. Today, my running buddy and I just ran a 10K up the mountain.

I discovered just how unforgiving the trail was when I arrived at the entrance with fellow running friend Diana to pick up our bibs. Bright eyed and busy-tailed and doped up with Stumptown coffee, we thought we could handle the course, however hard it would be.

The event organizer, sharper and far wiser than I, knew otherwise:

Hey guys! Thanks for coming out. In case you didn’t know, you have to climb 2,000 feet in elevation for the first 2.3 miles. This is not for the faint of hearts. It’s too late to go home. There’s heavy fog cover so be careful. And, your legs will feel like jelly.  OK, good luck!

victory selfiesThe next two hours were a true testament to the unforgiving ways of Mt. Tam and how I really should come prepared next time.

10 minutes before start time, I realized my newly created Spotify playlist didn’t work out here. No WiFi connection and no music, I had to ditch and go a la natural. As soon as the gun sound rang in my ear, I felt my feet lifting off before I was mentally ready.  Apparently, my feet were thinking with my head and not my sinking heart. 400 runners of all shapes, ages and sizes ambitiously started the race. After 5 minutes, about 300 of us were still only .3 miles up the mountain, myself included. Why the hell did I sign up for this?

I was warned about the fog making it dangerous to run, but it was only when I reached the top, breathing heavily and side aching, that I realized one step to the right and I’d slip off the mountain. Literally. I kept my eyes peeled to the ground, ears attuned to the shuffling gravel and hands balancing in mid-air, as if it helped somehow.

I slipped and fell near the end catching the gravel, but luckily a runner pacing me stopped to make sure I was OK.

I’ll never do this again.

1 hour, 46 minutes and 16 seconds later, I crossed the finish line, sweat rolling down my cheek, my feet feeling as light as air and a salty reception in my mouth. I didn’t even care about my time, but I guess the sun gods were looking out for me. I placed #12 in my age group (20-29).

I’ve still got visible battle bruises on my thigh from that slip-and-fall, but for the first time in my life, I can truly say I’ve have never been more proud to call this medal #worthit.