Last Saturday, I joined a couple hundred or so eager souls taking on the Cinderella Trail races put on by Coastal Trail Runs. Those who have run the Sequoia races in this area know it get hard. Well, Wendell and crew found a way to make the Cinderella course even more challenging. Sweet!
I’d signed up for the marathon distance, which was offered along with the 50k, half-marathon and 10k. My main goal was to run this race well and definitely finish. I desperately needed a long run in my overall training schedule.
The weekend prior to the race, I had taken a 48 hour trip to the East Coast for a wedding, which included 4 flights and over 6 hours of driving lots of dancing and a grand total of 6 hours of sleep. This madness caught up to me on Saturday. On the very first mini climb, I could tell my legs had no juice, which is a bit of an issue since this course is full of mad climbs. So, I just settled in and enjoyed the early flattish sections in anticipation of a hard day of climbing.
On the first big descent I was passed by two marathon runners. A guy running with a pacer and a tough looking lady named Penny. Paced runner literally blew by me in no time while Penny and I yo-yo-ed for a bit and eventually just ran together. I was blown away by her aggressive downhill running. It was unlike anything I’ve seen in person and it was hard for me to keep up. At the turn-around, I noticed another marathoner, Kennet DaSilva, ahead of paced guy, so Penny and I were running in 3rd/4th with fifth place runner, David LaDuc, right behind us.
Penny and I bonded over our respective Euro-roots climbing back up the brutal, sandy West Ridge. That was three miles of nastiness right after a very steep descent, so everyone’s quads were pretty busy. Towards the top of the climb David caught up to us and I started running and talking with him for a few miles. You see, I can get chatty sometimes. Penny fell back a bit at this point.
I gave David a low down of what I knew of the front runners and he was off in their pursuit eventually winning the race. This was around the midway point, and I wasn’t feeling so hot. Running into cheery Caitlin Smith, out on a training run, was certainly uplifting and gave me a boost.
Eventually, I caught up with paced guy at the beginning of the French Trail, which surprised all three of us, I think. They turned up the heat immediately and were out of sight in no time. I was content just running my race. About ten minutes later, I caught up to them out of nowhere again. My suspicion was that they expended too much energy trying to gap me. The little psychology I know told me to make a strong move, and so I did putting myself in 3rd place. I would not see them again the rest of the day.
At the turn-around, I was a bit surprised to run into a fresh looking Penny. She’d unfortunately gotten off course and cut off maybe a mile or so. As before, we made our way up the West Ridge together and stuck within 50 yards of each other the rest of the way. In all we’d run about 15 miles together and with the finish line in sight, it seemed appropriate for us to cross it together. And so we did.
I enjoyed a great post-game spread (lots of fresh fruit), a kiss from my wife and exchanging war stories with Kennet and Penny before I was off to enjoy the rest of the weekend and finally get some sleep.
My thanks to Wendell and all the volunteers. The organization was superb!