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Quad Dipsea

Marcel
Joined: 14 Sep 2006
Posts: 36
California, United States
Posted: Wed 29 Nov 2006 01:47 am GMT   topTop
The Quad Dipsea is a short ultra in the Marin Headlands north of San Francisco, but there are a lot of ups and downs on the 28.4 miles as you run twice from Mill Valley to Stinson Beach and back. There are hardly any level sections, and much of the elevation gain comes in the form of wicked stairs, first leaving Mill Valley and then descending to Stinson Beach through Steep Ravine. In the end it all adds up to 9276 feet of elevation gain and an equivalent amount of elevation loss. The scenery is as beautiful as you would expect: mostly single track through coastal forests; dry at the higher elevations and lush in the Steep Ravine. Where the forests open up there are spectacular views of the Pacific.

In hindsight, this was an uneventful race, and that is what I consider my main accomplishment of the day. In recent runs the drama has always come from my bad habit of going out to fast, nearly crashing around the midpoint and then attempting an unlikely recovery. While that may make for interesting race reports it is a form of excitement I would rather like to outgrow. Therefore, my goals for the day were to finish in under 7 hours, to pace myself better, and if possible, to run a negative split.

The race started at 8:00 AM. Perfect weather, a little chilly, but within 30 minutes the temperature was just right. I ran the original Dipsea race for the first time this past spring, but didn’t much like it. It felt like the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona. Today we started at the more leisurely ultrarunner pace, which gave me time to catch up with other runners I hadn’t seen in a while.

The first lap was uneventful, except that I rolled an ankle in a section of redwood forest that was completely non-technical. It hurt badly for a couple of minutes, but fortunately the pain soon dissipated and never returned.

I started the race without a water bottle because I thought it wouldn’t be too hot and there would be enough aid stations to drink, but I realized that I was spending too much time drinking at the aid stations. For the second loop I grabbed my water bottle and headed back for the stairs. In hindsight I started the second loop a little slow, but halfway up to Cardiac I found my groove which would carry me through the rest of the day.

The Groove was something I hadn’t experienced in a while. I was able to push myself while knowing that I wasn’t going to kill myself. My legs were getting tired, but at the same time they were humming right along. As I hit the steps at Step Ravine for the last time, my quads came alive so vividly I almost felt the need to apologize to them. But all in all I felt wonderfully in tune with my body as we (my mind and my body) were moving back towards the finish line. At this time I was running alone, but occasionally I would pass some people.

I finally made it back to Mill Valley in 6 hours and 10 minutes. I missed the negative split by about three minutes (my splits were 1:30, 1:33, 1:34, 1:32), but I was glad for another fun day on the trails with the camaraderie of other runners and supportive volunteers and nothing dramatic to write home about.
backcountryrunner
Joined: 25 Aug 2006
Posts: 188
Utah, United States
Posted: Thu 30 Nov 2006 12:19 am GMT   topTop
Thanks for posting your report - a great read! Well written. I think you're right, an "uneventful" race is often the most successful. Gotta love it when the groove happens :-) Congratulations on the successful finish, and reaching your goals for this race.
dirtrunner
dirtrunner
Joined: 30 Aug 2006
Posts: 42
Texas, United States
Posted: Thu 30 Nov 2006 04:55 am GMT   topTop
I agree, an uneventful race is worth it's weight in gold. You West Coast runners have all the great races. I tried to talk my wife into moving for year just to run as many races as possible. That's not happening, so I'll have to live vicariously through the race reports.
Marcel
Joined: 14 Sep 2006
Posts: 36
California, United States
Posted: Sat 02 Dec 2006 12:20 am GMT   topTop
Thanks, guys! Dirtrunner, you are right, we are pretty spoiled. There is a race just about every weekend. Come on out!
lightinaugust
Joined: 05 Sep 2006
Posts: 71
California, United States
Posted: Wed 06 Dec 2006 11:29 pm GMT   topTop
I said this elsewhere, Marcel--those are some fantastic splits. Wonderful job.
CougarSnack
CougarSnack
Joined: 30 Aug 2006
Posts: 99
California, United States
Posted: Thu 07 Dec 2006 12:13 am GMT   topTop
I've never had the nerve to sign up for this race, and giggled at your running of the bulls description of the single dipsea.

Congratulations on your good time!
Marcel
Joined: 14 Sep 2006
Posts: 36
California, United States
Posted: Thu 07 Dec 2006 01:18 am GMT   topTop
LIA and CS, thanks for the comments; it's good to see you back over here. I still think we should tell everyone "over there" to migrate over here and make this the new home!