On Sunday, I turned 45. I was actually kinda sorta looking forward to 45 because it meant a new age group and because my Boston Qualifying time would go up to 3:55…which feels a whole lot more doable than 3:45. :)
Who knew that running would give me a different perspective on getting older! That right there is an awesome gift but I decided that I needed an adventure to celebrate my 45th birthday. I decided to run the Horseshoe Lake Trail Marathon in Palo Alto, CA. It’s one of Coastal Trail Runs races in the Bay Area and I’ve been wanting to do a race in the hills up there. Plus, I knew one other RIFer was doing it and I thought maybe I would get to see RIF #2 Naresh (@iamarunr) while I was there. It would have to be a quick trip though.
THE BIRTHDAY ADVENTURE BEGINS
On Saturday, I ran my last run as a 44 yr old…
Then I flew to San Jose later that morning and spent the afternoon doing a little sightseeing at the Winchester Mystery House. It’s this wild house that Sarah Winchester built to accommodate the ghosts/spirits of those killed by the Winchester rifle. At one point, the house was 7 stories tall and had over 200 rooms but the 1906 San Francisco earthquake knocked off one of the towers so now it’s only 4 stories with 160 rooms. Not only is the history of how/why the house was built strange, but the architecture and the decorations are pretty wild too with stairs and doors that lead to nowhere, skylights in the floor, secret passages and more. Oh, and it’s filled with spectacular Tiffany windows and doors. Sadly, you aren’t allowed to take pics inside so I could only take pics of the outside.
Then I checked into my hotel, got some dinner, and went over to Whole Foods for snacks/breakfast. I mostly read for a while and then went to bed fairly early. The race didn’t start until 8 but I had to find my way there first and I wasn't sure how long it would take. So I set my alarm for 5:30 and went to sleep.
On Sunday, I woke up, ate breakfast, got ready, and packed up to leave. It took longer to get to the race site than I expected. Mostly because I had to stop and check my maps/directions a couple of times because I thought I was lost. But I made it! Good thing I'd already picked up my bib! The bad part was that there was no time to hit the port-a-potty and I desperately needed to go.
I had time for my first selfie as a 45 year old...
45 year olds wear pigtails, right? :) And I got to meet RIF #140 Dennis (@dennar)...
(although there was no cell signal up there so I couldn't post them) and then we were off and running!
AND THEN IT GOES SOUTH
The Horseshoe Lake Trail Marathon was gorgeous. Let me say that right off the bat. It was hilly and there was no fog or overcastness like I expected there to be up there. The course was a lot of fun - dirt road and single track and nothing technical. We ran thru redwoods and along the ridge and I kept looking around thinking how lucky I was! Here are some pics of the course:
Pretty amazing, right? I can't think of a better way to spend the day. :)
And it did turn out to be a "day". I think I did a couple of things wrong going into this. First, I didn't carbo load and second, I did a terrible job of hydrating on Saturday. I got so caught up at the Winchester House that I forgot to drink water and I got really thirsty. Lastly, it might not have been the wisest thing to take a 2 hour and 15 min tour where you are wandering around and climbing stairs the day before a trail marathon. ;) But it is what it is. And the result was that on the way back on the first loop, I started crashing (it was a double out and back). Enough that I briefly thought about dropping to the half marathon. But when I hit the turn around, I found myself heading back out.
The out part on the second loop was miserable. I got hot and I had no energy in my legs it took forever. My black RIF shirt was white with salt by the time I got to the aid station at the half way point (there were only aid stations at the start and the end of the out and back). I took some time there to eat (though I didn't want too) and replace electrolytes and the return trip was just as slow but less miserable.
Now, usually when I have a day like this I am beating myself up out there...I am so slow...I don't deserve to be in a club called Run It Fast...I should just stick to half marathons...etc. But while it wasn't the most fun I've had in a race, I can't say it was bad. I was in a good place mentally and really just enjoying the views and how beautiful it was. The only thing that nagged me was that I'd told friends and family I would probably be done by a certain time and I was going to miss that by 90 minutes and I couldn't tell them because I had no service. But I tried not to think about that and just kept moving.
My only saving grace in this was that I didn't have a cut off that I had to worry about so that took some of the pressure off. I finally finished and got my medal:
Then I headed back to the car to head down the mountain. But I'd forgotten my drop bag! D'oh! I had decided to wear my new shoes for this but since it was an out and back, I put my Hokas in a drop bag at the start. I'd also put my fave pair of sunglasses in there (which I'd forgotten to put on before the race). I honestly considered leaving the Hokas I was that tired and ready to leave but remembered my sunglasses in there so went back!
But finally...finally, I drove down the mountain.
BUT TURNS INTO ONE OF THE BEST BIRTHDAYS EVER
As soon as I got signal, my phone started making all kinds of noises...notifications about missed calls, voice mails, messages, and emails. Tons of them. It made me smile to think of all the love from my family and friends. :) For once, my family was pretty patient and just let me know they wished me a happy birthday and to call when I could.
The texts that made me smile were the ones from Josh (@bayou) and Naresh. I mean, you take one trip to the ER because of heat exhaustion and suddenly they worry about you dying! ;) I guess they were trying to reach me and anyone they knew who had been there. I think they were about to call the RD to make sure I was alive when I finally got a hold of them! Ha! But it sure did make me feel loved. :) I pulled over to clean up a little and texted my family that I was done and would call them later. Then I called Naresh and texted Josh so they would know I was alive and the two old worry warts could stop worrying about me. Then I made plans to meet Naresh for dinner. Yay! I haven't seen him since the Jackson Jackass in February 2012. It felt like forever!
So we had dinner together and caught up...
And he brought me a fabulous cake and had them sing to me!
And then we hung out at Starbucks until I had to leave for my plane.
AND THAT'S HOW YOU CELEBRATE A BIRTHDAY
I was sad to see my adventure end but it was a good 2 days:
- I had a quick weekend getaway to the Bay Area.
- I got to visit a strange and mysterious mansion (totally right up my alley)!
- Got new trail shoes that I love!
- Ran some stunning trails and finished my 12th marathon!
- Had dinner with Naresh!
- Who bought me a delicious, chocolate cake.
- I got to meet a cool RIFer (Dennis who finished his first 50K).
- And got some heartwarming affirmation that I am blessed to have such good, supportive, and caring friends.
Pretty darn good birthday weekend, wouldn't you say?
Yeah, 45 is going to be a good year...
Thanks for reading!