Thursday, June 07, 2007

Run like a Convict


The Run

So far so good. Tackle the swim, check. Ride up and down monster hills, check. All that's left is a 8 mile run. No problem. I've been loafing - there's plenty in the tank. Actually there's too much in the tank! Remember, no port-o-potties? As Blink was frantically hitting F5, I was frantically searching for somewhere to GO! Thank you little baby Jesus, so soft and cuddly and even though you can't talk yet you're still Omnipotent, there was a public restroom just off the run route - ahhhhhh - now we can continue with this adventure!

A full 4 miles of the 8 mile run are on desperately needed flats. Right along the Bay at sea level we started out on a nice, wide path with folks running past me on my right finishing up their race (we were instructed to stay to the left - it never did sit right with me through the whole run part of the race). At the 2 mile marker everything got familiar as we started heading up hill fast. Concrete Stairs? Doesn't' have the same foreboding sound as Sand Ladder, and shouldn't be as difficult, right? I guess...after the series of steps, the path continues to swirl upward while hoards of age groupers barrel down hill, all competing for a very narrow bit of foot-space. The concrete turns to dirt and becomes even narrower along the side of a hill with a great view of the bay and the Golden Gate bridge.


We reach the tunnel - and you do have to duck to make it through the far side going out. After negotiating the tunnel, you climb some more to the top-most part of the run where you are greeted by the 2nd aid station at mile 3. Wow, still not half way yet?!?! The worst part of the whole run for me follows next - steep downhill sections of roadway and dirt that snake down to the beach. I got passed by a bunch of folks here - I'm not a very good downhill runner it turns out. My knees and quads were screaming at me, plus one of those mysterious aches in your ankle you just can't get to go away...know what I mean? Anyway, this long downhill section empties out onto the beach.

The tortuous RDs put the 4-mile turnaround mat as far up the beach as they could - there was no running on the "hard" sand except for a small patch of this beach section. I think I even managed a dirty look to one of the volunteers at that 4 mile aid station - it was uncalled for, and I apologize. I wasn't very happy at that moment (just kidding about the dirty look). At least, now, we are on the way back! Half way home!


And lookey, lookey; now that is a Sand Ladder! They place a timing mat at the bottom setting in motion some sick, demented internal desire to make these stairs my bitch. At the beginning of the trek the stairs are just wooden poles that form the steps of a sand staircase. At one time, I'm sure the sand even covered these wooden poles, but erosion has taken it's course and left the wood exposed until you get higher up on the stairs (and more tired).

I seem to shine when running up hill - I finally met up with the guy carrying the Stars and Stripes and offered to help him with the flag for a bit, but he declined. Then I saw the guy I was after - the guy I had traded places with on the bike back and forth, the guy who took off after our restroom break - yea, him. He was cracking, and I was just getting warmed up...I didn't use the flexible tubing they have at the sides of the Sand Ladder to help pull yourself up - it reminded me of my old wrestling days running stairs - I caught him at the top of the Ladder. Then I kept running, while most of us back of the packers were walking. I never saw him again.

After the Sand Ladder its pretty much all down hill - which again, sucks for me. I got passed again and again gingerly strutting down the way we had came, but I had gotten all of my wind back by the time we hit the 2-mile-to-go aid station. It was all flats from there, and I thought I'd do some reeling in from there. Any dude over 180 lbs was fair game and in my sights - well, to be honest, I don't think any of the guys left out there were under 180... My Garmin had been on the fritz for the whole race, so I really don't know what that final pace was, but it was fun to have the last two miles be anything but a suffer fest like usual. Down the final shoot, I was running fast enough to beat the older lady who at the last second decided that I wasn't going to beat her in - ya know, go ahead, but you are going to have to want it. She didn't want it bad enough and I felt her quit the last few steps. I tried to give it to her, really...

I finished up with a run split of 1:25:52 for a 10:44 pace. My sand ladder was done in 3:35, but ya know, none of that really matters, just like the fact that I finished in 3:43:32 is simply irrelevant. Finishing that race meant that you conquered everything they threw at you - the cold, windy weather, strong currents, hypothermic water temps, shark phobias, fog, steep grades, hilly runs, soft sandy beaches and sand ladders. All in one of the most beautiful cities (one triahtlete fellow I met would have described it as "delicious"...) I've ever been in. Mrs. Bigun and I had a great time sightseeing and raceing and would recommend the trip to anyone - IT WAS WICKED AWESOME!

17 comments:

J-Wim said...

Sweet- now you made want to run if SF.... I am definitely going to need another job to be able to afford my race habit...
Thanks for an awesome race report, sounds like a lot of fun, ya know, except for the sand, and hills, and sharks, and....wait why are you smiling?

Duane said...

Nice report Bigun! You overcame a lot! Way to go!

bigmike600 said...

That smile is contageous. Found myself smiling while reading your post. Looks like you had a great time giving yourself pain. In the words of Napoleon Dynamite....LUCKY.

JohnnyTri said...

Now that is totally Sweet! Love the lil lady running with ya but your right she slowed last couple of steps.

Hey when we gonna see the Finishers Medal, pics?

Great Job Bigun, cant wait till you come to Houston!

rockon`

JohnnyTri said...

Oh yea, I so love the pics from the swim with the H2O camera! That is the best!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

rockon`

Dan Seifring said...

Again great job Bigun awesome report and you really make me want to start training in the swim. Not sure if I will ever be ready for the ESCAPE but I got to try the TRI. The pictures from both you and Mrs. B are awesome.

Myles said...

Epic race..great job! I'm no fan of running dwonhill either, uless it's slight.

greeneyedlady said...

You went, you saw, you conquered - even Clint would be proud of you!

Spokane Al said...

Wow - what a magnificant, tough, great race. I would have sucking wind big time going up those stairs.

Nice job Bigun.

Bolder said...

wow! that was epic!!

you've taken race reports to a whole new level -- well done!!!

Wrenching Winz said...

Yes! Take down by the beer wagon! Lookin great in the run. I still say you shoulda just pissed while on the bike.

tri-mama said...

I started reading with the swim, thinking, oh I think I'd like to do this race some day. not so much anymore. What an amazingly tough race-and you did it with a bad cold. loved the report-way to go!

and I'd love for you to be the 101 expert! Does this mean you are going to race it too?

LBTEPA said...

What an inspiring report - and thanks to Mrs Bigun for the photos - you can tell you're revelling in it all :)

greeneyedlady said...

Maybe you could call this threesome "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly." I'm just not sure what order you want them to go in here...

Comm's said...

great great job on teh run

momo said...

bigun, i waited until all three installments were done to read and i'm glad i did, each one was like a cliffhanger!

great, great job! i can tell from your writing that although it was hard, you were having fun out there - enjoying the mental, enjoying the physical - and in the end THAT is what it is all about.

well, and your time wasn't too shabby either. :-) congrats and thanks for sharing with us.

blink140pnt6 said...

That race is hard core.

Your smile at the end, that's what it's all about.