Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Rambling in Woodside CA, Inside Trail 35K


My company is based in San Jose, which offers me the opportunity to visit the Bay area several times a year. One of my favorite places to run are the mountain trails in Woodside CA, starting from Huddard Park. Two years ago I ran my first 50K there, and since then, these trails have a special place in my running heart. The combination of mountain trails, big climbs, single track through 75' trees and playing hide and seek with the sun, makes for a transcending running experience.

The course is very popular with locals and several different racing organizations each hold multiple runs at Woodside each year, providing 6 or 7 chances to run a 35K or 50K. Having to spend a week in San Jose for work, I was able to arrange to stay through the weekend to run Inside Trail Racing's December race, which offered a 50K, 35K, 1/2 marathon and 10K. I registered for the 50K, knowing I wasn't trained for that distance. All week I could hardly wait for Sunday to come and get out on the trails.  A nagging, dull pain on the inside of my knee convinced me to drop down to the 35K and take it easy.

Waiting for the start in the morning sun
It had been cold (for the Bay area) all week, with temps swinging from the low 30s to 60s. Race morning brought sun and low 40s. Being used to the east coast temps, this felt perfect. RD Tim Stahler provided a few announcements, then kicked off the 35K & 50K races.

RD Tim gets us ready.
The start is in a field in Huddart Pk, with about 100 yrs to enter the trails.

We're off

Head for the trails

The first half mile is down hill, then starts a 1500 ft climb over the next 4 mi, all on trails within a beautiful forest. I previously found that pushing hard on this climb will come back to get you in the second half, so I ran easy, throwing in some brief walking breaks, enjoying the woods.

I decided to try taking some pics as I ran, not realizing my camera was in the wrong mode for capturing motion shots. This only exacerbated my poor photog skills. Some interesting shots did appear to highlight the wooded track.

. . .  and everything started spinning 
With the right 3D glasses, this one may come to life

Eat'n up the single track thru the woods

Sun lapping thru the trees
After the climb there is some up and downs for a bit, as the course turns along Skyline Drive and soon appears the first aid station (Dunlap AS) at mile 6.5

You never know who you will meet on the trail. Scott Dunlap (Inside Trail team runner) and his daughter were out taking some pics just before AS1. Check out their shots at Scott's blog

Scott and photog protege
The AS volunteers were fantastic, ready to help feed or load your bottle.

Thanks for the help and smiles . . .
. . . and the trail grub!!!
Then we head onto Skyline trail, with 5 mi of constant ups and downs towards the the 2nd AS, at Bear Gulch.

Sunny glow on Skyline trail

Miles of this 

with some of this

and a bit of that.
Skyline held some interesting natural items.

Glad I brought my light saber. 
A back scratch for bears?
Made it to the Bear Gulch AS, nice and easy.

Thank you. Thank You VERY MUCH!!!
After the aid station, the 50K takes a 9 mile loop, through Wunderlich Park. The 35K turns around at the AS and misses out on the huge downhill and climb back.  (During my first 50K, I hammered the downhill into Wunderlich only to have my quads give out at mile 17; nubee trail runner mistake.) Shortly after leaving the AS, I was fiddling with my camera as I ran. Starting to think "shouldn't be doing this", a momentary premonition, as I took a spill, catching a toe on a root. The left knee took a shot, and bled a bit the rest of the race. Getting up, I decided to retire the camera and kicked up the pace for several miles along Skyline, enjoying the the undulating single track and occasional views of the through the forest.

A brief peak out from Skyline Trail
On the decent from Dunlap AS, the switchbacks through the tall pines were just so enjoyable and my legs were not complaining. With a few miles to go, some of the 50K speedsters passed me on their hunt to the finish. Shouted encouragement as they blurred by. Inside Trail's version of the Woodside course includes one last climb in the last mile or so. I really enjoy this, and was looking forward to it, having run the WS Ramble last year. Then its down to the finish and it was done. I didn't want it to be over! It was an outstanding, memorable run.

As Schwarzenegger says, "I'LL BE BACK"

Want more trails! 
Thanks to Inside Trail Racing for hosting a great race on a beautiful course.
Tim and finish line helper. Thanks for a great run.

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