|Quad Dipsea Gear|
The infamous Dipsea Trail is about 7 miles one way with 2,300' of gain from Mill Valley to Stinson Beach in Marin County just North of San Francisco. Quad Dipsea is simple: run the Dipsea trail four times for a total of 28.4 miles and 9,200' of elevation gain. Each runner will run out and back from Mill Valley to Stinson Beach twice. There are two major climbs. The first climb to Windy Gap is about 700', while the second climbs about 1,300ft up to Cardiac. Since both Mill Valley and Stinson Beach are both at sea level, there is an equal amount of descent packed into this 7 mile trip. Quad Dispea is a very interesting race as it is short enough to maintain close to a marathon effort, but on trails with a lot of climbing and descent.
Long story short, I started in 7th place once the crowd of runners separated after a mile or two. Upon finishing the first leg, I manage to come into Stinson Beach in 5th place, and held this position until Mill Valley. On the third leg, I passed my friend Ezra on the climb up Cardiac for 4th place. Finally, I managed to catch and pass the 3rd place runner just after starting the last leg back to Mill Valley. I held 3rd place until the finish! Super excited to make the podium on such a challenging course in wet and muddy trail conditions. Strava link.
Thanks for all the support out there!
Leg 1: Mill Valley to Stinson Beach - 1:03
The first leg was somewhat uneventful as I maintained a comfortably hard effort. After power hiking the Dipsea steps two at a time, the initial crowd of runners separated by Windy Gap. I had established 7th place and was running behind Karl Schnaitter and one other. After running the entire climb up to Cardiac, I was looking forward to the long downhill to Stinson Beach. The trail conditions were wet and muddy, which although slowed us down a bit, was a lot of fun. I was able to pass both Karl and one other on the descent through the rainforest to Stinson Beach, which put me in 5th place. After a few miles to warm up and get accustom to the hard effort, I was feeling great. I stuck to my plan of two gels per leg/hour.
Leg 2: Stinson Beach to Mill Valley - 1:05
On the return trip back to Mill Valley, my goal was to simply maintain my effort and continue taking in calories. I ran nearly the whole leg except for the steps out of Stinson Beach through the rainforest. Like the first leg, I ran straight through Cardiac without stopping. On the way down the Dipsea steps, I realized I was only a couple minutes behind my good friend Ezra in 4th place. I eventually reached Mill Valley, quickly drank two cups of water and headed back up the steps. Unfortunately, I also noticed Jean Pommier was only a couple minutes behind me.
Leg 3: Mill Valley to Stinson Beach - 1:08
Of course, I hiked back up the steps to start the third leg. I was excited to reach Windy Gap and the nice downhill to Muir Woods. I did my best to run most of the climb up Cardiac, but I was forced to hike some sections. Unfortunately, the trail conditions deteriorated a bit with all the traffic. The Dynamite sections was pretty slick. Just after Dynamite, I caught Ezra in 4th place. We talked for a second, and he seemed to be struggling a bit. This climb up Cardiac seemed to take forever. At the top, I was informed by the aid station that I was only a minute or two behind 3rd. Soon I started seeing the 3rd place runner up ahead. By now, I was feeling it, but I keep pushing as I knew 3rd wasn't far ahead and neither was Ezra behind.
Leg 4: Stinson Beach to Mill Valley - 1:13
The fourth leg of Quad Dipsea is a special feeling. It is brutal to say the least. I caught the 3rd place runner at the turnaround in Stinson Beach and made the pass. Now, I was definitely running scared as I wanted to hold a podium finish. I did my best to run as much as possible back up to Cardiac, but was forced to hike up the rainforest steps again and also added a couple more hiking breaks on some steeper sections even though I would normally run them. Running through the Cardiac aid station for the last time was special as a lot of local bay area runners were out cheering. I pushed it down to Muir Woods, but had to be extremely careful on Dynamite since it was super slippery. After alternating between hiking and running up to Windy Gap and keeping an eye behind hide me, I couldn't be happier to descend down to Mill Valley to the finish in 3rd.
I can't thank all the volunteers, spectators and other runners enough for all the support and encouragement along the way. I tried to respond to everyone, but towards the end, I didn't have enough breath to speak. Also, huge thanks to all the runners moving to the side allowing me to pass by. With nearly 300 runners going back and forth on the same trail, passing on the narrow, muddy single track is very difficult. Big thanks to the race director for flawlessly executing the race!
Without a doubt, the best part of this race was the support of the local trail running community. Quad Dipsea is an local, old school trail race. It was so cool to be cheered on in Mill Valley, Cardiac and Stinson by the volunteers and spectators. Furthermore, the other runners were incredible and always shouting words of encouragement. The cheers and encouragement along the way were truly amazing and something I'll never forget. I am very fortunate and proud to be a part of such a supportive community. To me, there is nothing better than the encouragement from another runner/competitor in a race. They know the pains and difficulty first hand.
It felt really good to run a shorter race at maximum effort. I love the longer races, but this was a lot of fun. Next year, I want to focus a bit more on shorter, faster efforts in both training and racing.
1. Nutrition - I carried 10 gels on me from the start and consumed 9 of them during the race. My goal was two gels an hour with Tailwind in my bottle. This plan worked flawlessly as I never felt on the verge of bonking. For harder efforts, especially for 50k or 50 miles and maybe even including the marathon, I realized I might be able to consume more calories per hour than I originally thought.
2. Aid Stations - Especially in shorter races, you cannot waste time in aid stations. I only refilled my bottle at Stinson Beach. Furthermore, since I had all my gels from the start, I did not have to worry about calories. Therefore, I was in and out in seconds. If you are going for time, this strategy will give you a free minute or two.
3. Handheld Bottles - In the past, I swore by the handheld bottles. I hate vests and belts since they fatigue the core and may cause stomach issues. Handhelds are not the best either, since you are swinging heavy bottles far from your core wasting energy. Recently, I have been training with either the Simple Hydration bottles or the Amphipod bottles in the waistband of my shorts. These bottles are designed to fit in your waistband. These have been working out great for me.
Thanks for reading and Happy New Year! Hopefully, I will post a 2014 recap and 2015 plans in a couple weeks!