Sunday, February 3, 2013

Cypress to the Sea #3

Cypress to the Sea, or CTTS, was my original motivation for getting into trail ultra marathons.  I had set the arbitrary goal for myself to be able to run from my house to the ocean.  This seemed like a worthy goal to me at the time because it was the purest motivation to go out for a run: to get somewhere.  To get to the point where I gained the confidence to finally try it, I put in a lot of miles in the hills, and tried a couple of 50k races.  This run is a little over 50 miles with significant climbing.  I first did it in January of 2011, then again in January of 2012, and went for again yesterday.

This third iteration of the run I had doubts about my fitness level going in.  I took december off, and have had a tough time getting back to where I was before the break.  I have probably had four of my lowest mileage training weeks since I got serious about my running a couple of year ago.  I have also been working through nagging issues like achilles tendonitis that resulted from me trying to up my mileage too fast.  But I felt pretty good after the run last weekend, and this week was pretty much pain free.  The weather was looking good, and I decided to give it a shot!

Since I was not as confident about my fitness I had told Joanne that I was aiming for 11 hours.  The first year I did it, I took 11 hours because of a one hour break up at the Saratoga Gap waiting for Joanne.  The first year I wanted to have a resupply point halfway at the Saratoga Gap, and had asked Joanne to meet me there at a specific time.  I had overestimated the time and ended up waiting there for a while.  So I think it took me a little over 10 hours of running.  Last year I did it without a resupply and got about 10 hours.  I intended on taking it easy this trip, being extra conservative with my pace, because I really thought that I wasn't where I was at with the other two runs.

I set off at about 5:30 from the house.

Time I left the house.
 I got to Rancho at about 7 a.m.
PGE Summit
It was pretty foggy in the morning, and I got pretty wet, but the temperatures were great and I ended up putting away my cold gear (headband, arm sleeves, gloves) pretty soon.

Black Mountain looking down at silicon valley

Time at Black Mountain
Black Mountain at 8:15 a.m.
Black Mountain looking towards the Pacific

On the Canyon trail between Black Mountain and Table Mountain I came across several newts.  Here is a vid:

More Madrones.

Time at Table Mountain
 Table Mountain at 9:40 a.m.

Getting closer to the ocean

Ancient Oaks.

Time when connecting with STTS
Hooked up with the STTS around 10:15 a.m.

Getting closer
I get a kick out of passing this old school station wagon every time I run the STTS.  This section of trail parallels Highway 9, so someone must have missed a turn and went down this cliff into the forest.

Dude, where's you car?
Toshi said I had to eat young Poison Oak leaves to gain immunity.  This might not be PO, but then again, almost everything is.

Time at Waterman Gap.

 Around 11:15 a.m. at the Waterman Gap.  At this point I realized that I was moving pretty good.  I thought I was being conservative, but it seemed like I was just effortlessly covering ground with no issues.  It was a pleasant surprise.

Time at China Grade Road.
China Grade Road by 12:20 p.m.
Cool Rocks

Time at BB Headquarters
 Big Basin Headquarters by 1:12 p.m.

Big Trees
Berry Creek Falls

Time at Berry Creek Falls
 Berry Creek Falls by 2 p.m.

Weird thing.
Cool Marsh.

Bride from trail to trail, crossing... nothing.

Almost there.

 I got to the Ocean at 3:15 p.m.  About 9 hours and 45 minutes after I started.  I was really happy.

Looking back.
It is always fun looking back at this valley and the hills in the distance because you get to reflect on the journey that you just took.  It gives a sense of enormity of the task.

Once again, because of my overestimation of how much time it would take me to finish, it took a while for Joanne to get there, so I ended up hiding in a bathroom to stay warm while I waited.  Not fun.

I am very thankful for my wife who would load up all the kids and drive all the way to Wadell Beach just to pick me up from one of my adventures.  It is key to have a supportive spouse when getting into this sport...

Finally, I took this video of my legs after I was done running.  I don't know if other runners get this, but after a really long run, my calves contract on their own, presumably to pump blood through my lower limbs.  I have no control over the muscles at this point, it is just what they do.  Joanne thinks its weird.


  1. Weird leg thing, but cool! And sorry you had to wait in the bathroom this time, but I know you were glad we arrived fifty minutes earlier than you had told us to!

  2. Awesome! I don't have the leg twitch after a run or a race, but may be I just don't notice it. The young leaf didn't look like poison oak, but it looks good enough to eat. Let me know if it works for you or if you end up applying tecnu on your bunghole.