Marin Headlands

GOOD FOR THE SOUL RUNS

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Sunrise over the Bay

The first part of the year I spent a lot of time increasing mileage. And it wasn’t always enjoyable either. While I increased my mileage, I had to deal with IT band pain and a constant weight battle.

It’s funny, after my disappointing San Francisco Marathon finish, I felt as if a great weight had lifted. I had put so much pressure on myself to do well (I wanted to do BETTER than at CIM (Calif International), that the closer the race got, the more I knew I would be luck to merely finish. After it was all over, I went back and readjusted my training to try something new for the second half of 2016.

This weekend I prepared to go running in the Marin Headlands. I don’t get up there as often as I would like or as I should. It’s so close to San Francisco, yet it feels as if I’m hundreds of miles away. It’s accessible by bus which makes it the perfect place for me to go. No need to spend tons of money on a rental car or wait for someone to go with me (like that happens).

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One of the many uphill parts of the trail

Friday night I bought myself an early Christmas present. I picked up an Osprey hydration pack. It was on sale and I was going to buy one anyway. Sunday was the perfect time to try it out. I’ll get to the review later.

I woke up at 4am and caught the 7:17am Golden Gate Transit bus. It’s a beautiful ride across the Golden Gate Bridge. I reminded myself that the last time I was there in the Headlands, it was foggy, windy and bitterly cold. This time it was a beautiful day. Breezy but not cold, warming in the sun, but not hot. I couldn’t ask for better running conditions.

The first part of the run is always very hard. It’s one mile straight up the side of the mountain, nearly 1,000 feet gain in elevation. Highway 101 gets smaller as the noise disappears once I reach the top. I decided to go to the right, on the SCA Trail. Then it’s level for a very short time, but mostly uphills and downhills, lots of both. The way I took eventually got me to Rodeo Beach the long way around the mountain with much to see and plenty of energy to use.

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Headlands Panorama

When I’m out on the trail, I love the sound of my feet hitting the dirt. I love the sound of the wind wrestling through the brush and the songs of the birds. I love the rhythm that sets in once I find a good pace and it is then when I’m able to relax my mind and exorcise all those toxins I’ve been carrying with me. What negativity I might have had when I got up that morning are gone by the time I finish this strenuous but very worthwhile run and I am tired and happy.

THIS, this very day (!!!) is why I run!!! Find your trail, exorcise your toxins!

Cheers!

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MARIN HEADLANDS

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View of San Francisco from the top of the trail

I stepped off the bus into the chilly morning air at the north end of the Golden Gate Bridge. It was early enough that few tourists had weaved their way across the Visitors Map to this farthest end. I thanked myself for taking these three days in between Christmas and New Year’s off; it was the perfect time to decompress and get some nice weekday runs in while the was sun up.

The first mile of the Coastal Trail in the Marin Headlands is nearly straight up, so I spent a lot of it running when I could and hiking up as quickly as I could. My time was abysmal, but I’m not used to trail running, especially uphill, so I’ll give myself a pass.

I passed a few people, but not too many. I put my Yurbuds away as I got higher and farther away from the constant hum of 101. Now the music I was enjoying were the sounds of birds, the breeze and my shoes stepping on the dirt and gravel.

Marin headlands 12-29-15

Looking west towards the Pacific Ocean

The trail wasn’t easy; the rains had done a superb job of loosening the small rocks and creating tiny riverlets within the path. I passed a woman who nearly lost her footing going down a steep part of the trail. When the way got extra steep I took my time, even I was running downhill, it was far too easy to lose my footing.

Away from the trees near the start of the path the sun shone warm and it felt great to be on top of the hill. I’ve always loved this area. As I ran, I vowed to visit here at least a couple times a month, even for short runs like today. I need to get to know these trails better.

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A dolphin

I ran around 5 miles in total on trails, which was enough for today. The next time I’ll run more. I walked back to San Francisco via the Golden Gate and looked over at the water, and got to see sea lions swimming without a care in the world. That was a familiar sight, but then I spotted the pod of dolphins! That was a first for me. In all my years I’ve never seen dolphins in the Bay. There must have been a school of fish in the area because there were hundreds of sea gulls around them. It brought a smile to my face that I still have. What a wonderful world. My picture of a dolphin isn’t the greatest, but I only had my phone and it’s all I could get.

I’ll write my goals for 2016 in my next post!

Cheers!