As I came through the Cardiac Aid Station for the second time with roughly two miles to go I glanced behind me and saw third place exiting the woods less than a hundred yards back. I had already given up on the win when I entered the aid station and was informed that I was nearly 5 minutes behind the leader, which had shocked me slightly. While I was not having my best ever performance I was certainly not having a bad day.
The trip started well, with a great pre race run the day before where I previewed some of the course, ran down the beach, over some boulders and inadvertently through a naked game of Ultimate Frisbee. The race had started well too with a steep climb up from Stinson Beach. After leading for about a mile I could feel that everyone but one competitor had dropped off the pace as we climbed through the early morning fog. Temperatures were perfect and just as the race began to thin out we broke out of the fog to see the top of Mt. Tam ahead of us with an ocean of clouds sprawling beneath us.
I relaxed on the beach for a bit went for a swim and then headed back to Stinson for dinner. I was going to relax for the rest of the night but the coastline was so beautiful that I had to keep exploring so I parked up on highway 1 south of Stinson and climbed down the ocean. For the next couple hours I climbed and navigated boulders along the water’s edge as I took pictures and headed south.
I finally found a destination in the form of a huge rock jutting out from the mountain and after a steep climb using ropes left by other adventurers before me I reached it. I sat there for a long time as I watched the sun set and then hiked up to the highway and headed back to my car.
By the time I reached it I felt like I had run an ultra but all the beauty I had witnessed was worth the soreness. It was nearly 10 when I reached the car and I crashed for a few hours in the back seat before heading back to San Francisco for the flight home. I should have been tired as I wound my way back highway 1 but somehow I felt incredibly energized and alive by the early morning air streaming through my windows. I could smell the freshness of the sea, feel the adrenaline of my recent adventures, and the excitement of heading back to my wife and soon to be born son, and in the moment, life was good.