A blog about my life, fitness and fun! (...and maybe a few cat pictures...)

A blog about my life, fitness and fun! (...and maybe a few cat pictures...)

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

La Sportiva Table Rock 30k Race Recap!

On June 22nd, I ran the La Sportiva Table Rock Race. There were three distances to choose from- 10k, 1/2 marathon, and 30k. My goal was to do the 30k, but I wasn't sure how my body would hold up. Spoiler Alert: I was able to do the entire 30k distance and finish feeling STRONG. It was like a DREAM COME TRUE!!!!

4,950 feet of elevation gain total!!!!

The course for Table Rock is without a doubt the most beautiful place I have ever run. The entire time I was running, I wished all of my family, friends, and readers were on the run with me to experience the beauty of Mt. Tamalpais and Muir Woods. "I'm so lucky," I kept saying under my breath. I'm lucky I'm able to run, have the time and the means to travel across the country. And of course I'm also lucky I have a husband who supports me in my adventures.

My goals for the race were: Have fun, feel good, and finish uninjured. I can safely say I reached my goals! 

My race plan was to: Walk up the hills, take my time, take a lot of pictures, and stay in the moment by taking one mile at a time. While I did take my time when I needed to, I am proud that I KEPT CHUGGING when I knew that I could- particularly miles 9-15. But, in the beginning of the race, it was really hard to mentally stay in the mile I was in. I don't do well with unknowns, and during the first 10k of the race, there were lots of unknowns up ahead...

Okay, here goes the lengthy recap. Hey, at least I took lots of pictures to share with you! (Note: The day after the race, Paul and I hiked the Steep Ravine Trail and took more pictures. Some of the pictures I am including from this section of the race were taken during the actual race but some were taken on our hike so I could show you more of the beauty!)

Our alarms went off at 5am. By 5:30, we were on the road and by 6:15, we were pulling into Stinson Beach, which was the start/finish of the race. I had plenty of time to get myself situated, eat, and go to the bathroom before the 7:00 start. Paul walked me over to the start line and gave me a hug and kiss goodbye, wishing me luck. It was hard to fight back tears. I was going to miss Paul! I had been with him 24/7 for the past four days of our vacation. Saying goodbye for what I thought was going to be 5-6 hours was tough to swallow!

Miles 1 - 2.5

The first half mile of the race was through the town of Stinson Beach. A lot of it was steep hills, so me and the other runners walked them. I was only a quarter mile into the race when I saw Paul cheering. He was at the perfect spot because I was already hot. I ditched my long sleeve and gave it to him.

The road turned to trail as we hit Willow Camp Fire Road. The next two miles were STRAIGHT UP. We gained nearly 2,000 feet of elevation. This was nearly all walking. Some parts were so steep you had to lean forward. 

At first, the clouds were above us. Then at one point, we were IN the clouds. By the time we reached the top, it was bright and sunny and the clouds were below us. So surreal. The whole way up the mountain, Stinson Beach and the Pacific Ocean were the views on our right.

During this first section, I was mentally worried. This was TOUGH. Am I going to wreck my body on the first 2.5 miles? What if my back starts hurting really bad? My groin was a little sore but it wasn't getting worse, just a constant "Hey, I'm irritated," type feeling coming from it. I told myself not to worry, I could drop down to the half marathon distance if I wanted to. I don't have to go through hell today if I don't want to...

Mile 2.5 - 4

We went through a short section of being in the "woods" and then we were out the other side to a breathtaking single track! I felt like I was in RUNNER HEAVEN!

We turned onto the Coastal Trail and this was my absolute FAVORITE part of the run because I never ran a ridge line like this before. There was tall golden grass(?) everywhere. I was able to do some solid running at this point but I did fall at one spot! (It was definitely the most BEAUTIFUL spot I ever fell!) Luckily, I fell toward the inside of the mountain. Most of the time, on our right side it was straight down the mountain! (Although I had a plan for if I fell in that direction... I was going to just grab onto the grass! That would either stop my fall or just slow my descent...)

Look at the little line of runners ahead of me!

 And behind me!

Mile 4 - 6:75

The Coastal Trail met up with the Matt Davis Trail, which took us through switchbacks to get down to Stinson Beach. I was able to run this part but needed to be careful of some rocky/rooted downhill areas. I did not take any pictures of this section for some reason, but I found some beautiful photos of it online, so I urge you to click here and just scroll through a couple so you can see what the scenery was like!

We exited the trail onto the road and were greeted by the first aid station. It was pretty pimpin'- water,Tailwind, pbj, fruit, etc. I topped off my hydration pack with water, gulped a few cups of Tailwind (never had it before but it ended up agreeing with my stomach just fine), and off I went toward the Dipsea Trail to run up Mt. Tam one more time!

Mile 6:75 - 9.25

The next mile was on the famous Dipsea Trail. There were rolling hills here, which I walked up. 

Then we hung a left onto Steep Ravine. OH MY GAWWWWWWWWWD!!!!! It was a climb but I felt like I was in a MOVIE, it was so freaking gorgeous! I wished so hard that Paul could see it. (We ended up hiking it the very next day so he did get to see it!)

At the top of Steep Ravine was another awesome aid station. I did the same thing- topped off my water and gulped some Tailwind. At this part of the race, half marathoners turned right to go down the Dipsea Trail to the finish line. 30kers still had a 5.5 mile romp through Muir Woods. I assessed my body. I felt GOOD! My groin was irritated like before but it wasn't getting worse. My back did not hurt. I knew I had 5.5 miles in me, and if I was wrecked at that point, I could just walk the last couple miles to the finish, which would be all downhill. I WAS DOING THIS!!!

Mile 9.25 - 14.75

The trek through Muir went like this: Old Mine Trail to Dipsea Trail to Ben Johnson Trail to Bootjack Trail to TCC Trail and back to the same aid station. I am most proud of my running on this section. I powered through and only walked up the steeper hills. I passed a lot of people on the uphills. I felt strong and capable. I hadn't felt that way in a long time. Muir Woods was filled with beautiful redwood trees, but unfortunately there were a lot of hikers I had to get by.

I could've taken more pictures here, but I was in the zone!

At the aid station, I did my normal routine... I topped off my water, gulped Tailwind, and off I went down the Dipsea Trail to Stinson Beach and the finish line!

Mile 14:75 - 18.6

Like I said, the Dipsea was all downhill including some stairs. My knees were achy (not ITB, my actual kneecaps) from all the downhills. If it wasn't so foggy, I would've had a clear view of the Pacific Ocean the entire way down!

 Lots of hikers on the Dipsea too!

Not only did I see hikers on the Dipsea, but I also saw three deer bound across the trail!

The Finish

I felt so strong as I sprinted to the finish line. I also had tears in my eyes. It had been so long since I finished a race. It had been so long since I felt like a STRONG BAD ASS RUNNER. I felt so happy and strong that I can't even adequately describe it to you. The run was gorgeous and I felt like an ATHLETE. I can still run long distances and hills and do a damn good job at it.

Finish Time: 4 hours and 28 minutes!
I thought it was going to take me 5-6 hours!

Just a bit teary eyed...

4th in age group (30-39)
15th woman
59th overall

The post race food was awesome! I enjoyed a hot sausage, string cheese, and chocolate milk.
I didn't eat at all during the race so I had some making up to do...

We got a cool sticker! 
Where should I put it? Not my car.

Later on in the day, my quads and calves were sore. They were pretty sore the next day too, but I managed to hike 3.5 miles anyway! The soreness didn't start to subside until Tuesday. Today is Wednesday, but I don't plan on running again until tomorrow or Friday. No need to rush things! I have some lifting to catch up on anyway!

Just a couple more things I wanted to mention:

1. I didn't talk to anyone during the race other than "hello" or "good job" when I passed people or they passed me.

2. I didn't eat during the race but before the race I had a peanut butter cliff bar and apple cinnamon oatmeal.

3. I probably drank the equivalent of one full hydration pack plus about 12oz of Tailwind. (My best guess)

4. The course was marked VERY WELL. They even had blue ribbons on trails we WEREN'T supposed to go on. So if we ever took a wrong turn there would be a blue ribbon. Blue = bad.

5. I only looked at my Garmin TWICE during the race- at the second and third aid stations!

6. I listed to two podcasts during this race, from mile 6.5 to mile 15. They were both Big Brother podcasts. Hearing Rob Cesternino's voice was homey and calmed me down.

7. Paul missed my finish! At the top of the Dipsea I told him my ETA was 11:45 but I showed up early! It's okay though. He's seen me finish tons of races!

Welp, that about wraps it up! Good for you if you read this whole dang race recap! I don't race often, so when I do, I have a lot to say!

If you are ever thinking about doing a race in Marin County, I highly recommend any race that covers the trails I was on. I cannot recommend a race more highly than I recommend the Table Rock 30k!
What is the most beautiful race or place you ever ran?
When was the last time you felt like a BAD ASS?
Did you ever fall during a race?


  1. Ok, this made me want to sign up for a trail race immediately. I listen to the Ten Junk Miles podcast all the time, which is about ultra running, but those crazies are doing 100 and 200 miles. I don't have the motivation for that, but you've given me inspiration to find something I can do that will be beautiful like this was! I love hearing about how emotional you were, I get emotional sometimes even on my little local trails, so I can't even imagine the feelings you had. You did amazing!

    1. Thank you Laura! I'm glad my description made you want to sign up for a trail race! There's all kinds of distances out there, so no need to run 100 miles to enjoy a trail race. 30k was just the right amount of challenge for me right now. I honestly can't believe my back didn't start hurting... I was so lucky my body held up.

  2. This looks like a gorgeous race!! The golden grass looks gorgeous!! if it wasn't because of the people in the picture, it would look like a big golden hill, almost like a rock.

    You did so well! and I knew you would! I'm so happy for you and for how much fun you had a this race!

    1. The golden grass was my FAVORITE part. I couldn't even believe it when I came out of the woods and saw that beautiful sight.

  3. Oh Megan, this is absolutely gorgeous! I'm so glad you got to experience this and am so proud of you. I can't believe the stairs and ladder were part of the course. I'm glad you got the golden grass pic at the angle you did because for a while I thought it was just sand. Absolutely lovely. I can see why you wanted to take Paul back there. So, where was Paul if he wasn't at the finIsh line???

    1. Thank you, Meranda! There were TONS of stairs on the course, lots of bridges, and one ladder. Paul had a little adventure in the town of Stinson Beach while I was running. First he got a big breakfast at a cafe, then he went to the library to do some work on the computer and fill out some post cards for our family. He was walking back to the finish when I finished. At the top of the Dipsea I texted him my ETA was 11:45 but I finished early so he missed it! I was a little sad because I wanted him to see me running so strong, but it's okay.

  4. Congratulations on an excellent race! And what gorgeous scenery too. I'm doing my first ever trail race in August and am starting to get pretty nervous. What was I thinking?! I like roads. I'm definitely stealing your goals to just have fun with it and walk the uphills.

    1. Oh you will be awesome! Having easy breezy goals like mine could calm your nerves. I did struggle with the "stay in the mile you're in" goal, but the more the miles ticked by, the easier that was for me to do. I hope you have a ton of fun at your trail race and want to do more.

  5. That looks ABSOLUTELY INCREDIBLE. You did so well! Congratulations!! I can't believe that you went back the next day and hiked some of it!!!! You are seriously badass!!! I love it! WOOHOO!

    1. Thank you, Suzy! I had to go back to show Paul. He NEEDED to see the Steep Ravine Trail and he was so glad he got to see it. I wish I could've shown him the whole race course.

  6. The course I ran in Eugene went through some pretty places, but none like this. I think I need to do a race on the coast just to see the Pacific.

    1. I really recommend the races in Marin County that go on Mt. Tamalpais and Muir Woods. There are so many to choose from, I'm sure you would find something good. I would like to visit Oregon someday. A Washington/Oregon trip is definitely on me and Paul's list of vacation destinations.

  7. Way to go! I had no doubt you would kill this race--it's in your badass genes!! So proud of you!

    1. Thanks Susan! As you know, I did have doubt but it turned out more than okay!

  8. I fell during a trail race once and another girl who was behind me (a friend) stopped and helped me up. That meant a lot and I feel like that doesn't always happen in other sports, but it's the beauty of running. All of your pictures are really gorgeous, and I'm glad you had fun and were able to do the race because you were so doubtful a few months ago when you had the glute/knee issues! So glad you got to do a race as a part of your vacation, too.

    1. That was nice she helped you. I think runners are VERY polite. Every single person I passed or who passed me, we always said, "good job!"

  9. Thanks Karen! I can't say I put in a lot of hard work... I definitely put in a lot of worry! The trails were different from what we are used to. If you ever sked a NorCal trip, see if you can line it up with a trail race. Yes I climbed the ladder, of course! There was no other option. :)

  10. Just catching up on all that I missed during my vaca. WOW, this looks awesome! I'm so glad you had a great race. Kudos to YOU!! I really want to go to Cali now! Maybe I can talk Alan into a trip around this. Now what to do with my kids for 4 hours...? haha!

    1. I didn't know you were on vaca. Where did you go? I can't wait to hear about it! Leave the kids at the Stinson Beach Motel. HAHAHA JUST KIDDING, TOTALLY JUST KIDDING!!!!