MR seeks MR in M

A hypothetical personal from the pre-tinder era

Marin runner seeks Marin runner.  Bay bird calling all BUFF wearing buckled bearded men.  Must be willing to go to bed early on Tuesday nights and wake up early on Wednesday mornings.  You from MV downtown Equator, me from MV shoreline Equator.  North side men OK as long you have easy widow maker access.  Perfect date is IGing sunsets in TNF gear overlooking Muir and a night cap at the 2AM club.  August vacationing in Chamonix is a must.  Please include 2013-2016 summit numbers and Strava CRs.

Who am I?

[Brief background. While in Scotland on a trail run in May of 2015 I fell and hit my left knee HARD on a rock.  Ended up with a big cut and nothing else….so I thought.  Since then the pain in my knee has been creeping up in intensity to the point of causing me to limp in the mornings or stop in the middle of my runs.  Over the last two months I finally did something about, seeing the orthopedist, getting an MRI, and having a surgical consult.  This post is about the next step psychologically, not physiologically]

She stated firmly, “Nobody wants to read a blog post about an injury”.  Like most things I realized Bridget was right (thats why I’ll marry her).  So instead of writing about acquiring a potentially life changing injury, I’ll write about the prospect of losing a significant part of my life.  Thats inspiring, right?

The last couple months my Strava page is beginning to look like that of a technophobe.  As my kudos numbers atrophy away I wonder what other people think.  Are they thinking that I’m doing “secret training” (pre-Strava, called training).  I imagine once a week, on a group run people asking aloud, “What happened to Matt Laye”.  However, in reality its more like off of Strava out of mind and thats the crux of my problem.  Without running, who am I?

I secretly hope that my cartilage is superhuman and unlike those of others which are incapable of repairing themselves, but deep done I am starting to come to grasp with my own mortality in a purely running sense.  Bone on bone lack of cartilage does not repair itself, it breaks down until you need a repair.  At the moment all repairs are temporary despite some amazing treatments being developed. I imagine no number of second opinions will make me insured for experimental treatments reserved for multi-million dollar athletes and those who live moment to movement with excruciating pain.  So, I’m again faced with the question, without running, what do I do?

Now that I live in Boise I have a number of ways to reinvent myself.  Amazing mountain biking trails, skiing 15 miles from my front door, rock climbing 20 minutes away, and even a triathlon scene that is welcoming and down to earth.  But on a day like today when I get back from work tired and beat down its always a run that beats that beer in the fridge (at least initially).  For the last 20 plus years its on the trail and the road on my two feet which helps troubles, seasons, and time pass effortlessly.  Its comforting, its familiar, so its not just who am I or what will I do that I ask, but what will I become.

I’m fascinated by self-improvement.  Devouring books like “The Willpower Instinct”, “The Power of Habit”, and “Mindset”. I listen to podcasts about happiness, so called deconstructing world class performers, and improving my teaching constantly in my ears.  So I know a beginners mindset is a good thing.  Trying new things, stretching yourself, and even failing all make you stronger. But yet even thinking about letting go of running, of that massively important part of my ego, source of happiness, friendships and successes, is downright terrifying regardless of the benefits I fully know and truly believe await me.

Filling the void left by running is so much more than finding a competitive outlet.  As my high school coach Brian Davis said, “running is not a sport, its a lifestyle” and its been my lifestyle for so long.  Hence if I was a runner, who am I now, and more importantly who will I become.  I know that feeling a void left by running includes try to come to grasp with Matt Laye the non-runner and coming up with a better blog subtitle than “Adventures in non-running by a scientist”.  For now know that I’m not secret training offline.

 

My Top Strava Segment in Marin (Mount Tam Hill Climb)

#10 (Rodeo to Wolf Ridge)

#9 (Coastal – Matt Davis to Willow Camp)

#8 (Pirates Cove)

#7 (Fox Trail Descent)

#6 (Ninja Loop)

#5 (Hogsback descent)

#4 (Fern Creek descent)

#3 (Marincello)

#2 (Dipsea)

#1 – Mount Tam Hill Climb

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https://www.strava.com/segments/2176386

Location: Downtown Mill Valley (clocktower) to the East Peak Fire Lookout
Distance: 3.2 miles
Elevation Gain:  2533 ft of Gain
Overall Runs: 2040 Attempts By 330 People
CR:  Galen Burrell in 30:58 (!) and YiOu Wang 40:53
My place: 9th, 36:08
Why:  This is the route that really brought me into the trail running community of Marin and no other route can match that in importance for me.  From my first time up the summit meeting Brett for the first time on a Tuesday morning to the my last Wednesday morning jaunt with Brett plus an amazing community of runners I have covered this segment as much as any other segment in Marin (77 times, with countless numbers of friends).  When run at the same time throughout the year you are treated to a different sunset at a different point on the trail with different weather to boot.  Its amazing, as are Galen’s and YiOu’s CRs.  They are the king and queen of the Marin climbling trails for a reason.  Watching them hold court is every bit as inspiring as the downhills of Jorge and Vitor(s).
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A rock star in so many ways, Mr. Galen Burrell

Insider Tip:  The scramble at the top of the route can be tricky to find, loose footing, and lead you astray easily.  There is a race every labor day where you can get a little competition on the normally casual, friendly, and gentlemanly paced route.  Don’t expect to nail it on your own and touch the fire lookout door, overwise it doesn’t even count as a summit run.
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The Godfather

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Sunny and shirtless

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Rainbow summit season

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Headlamp season

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Silhouette season

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Sunset season

My Top 10 Marin Segments #2 (Dipsea)

#10 (Rodeo to Wolf Ridge)

#9 (Coastal – Matt Davis to Willow Camp)

#8 (Pirates Cove)

#7 (Fox Trail Descent)

#6 (Ninja Loop)

#5 (Hogsback descent)

#4 (Fern Creek descent)

#3 (Marincello)

#2 Dipsea

Dipsea

https://www.strava.com/segments/2756047

Location: Downtown Mill Valley (clocktower) to the Stinson Beach
Distance: 7 miles
Elevation Gain:  1348 ft of Gain and loss
Overall Runs: 485 Attempts By 288 People
CR:  Alex Varner 48:01 and Sarah Bamberger 1:00:05
My place: NA (ie not a true Marin resident)
Why:  Why? With only 288 official runners, why? Really, you are asking why?  Clearly you don’t live in Marin.  First run 1905, the Dipsea race is the oldest trail race in America.  And if you live in Marin….and you run….then it’s the Superbowl (side note: similar to the Superbowl it takes money and/or luck to compete).  Fittingly Alex Varner (blog) who grew up in Marin and has lived close to the start of the race is a multi-time winner of the fastest time (but not the race itself) and has the CR on the mens side.  The race is quirky (handicapped, black shirts, and short-cuts) and worth learning more about (great documentary on Vimeo here).  However, even if you don’t/can’t do the race the route itself is iconic.  Its starts with 3 flights of stairs (688 in total), plunges down to Muir Woods, climbs Cardiac Hill (complete with heart-stopping views while your heart is jumping out of your chest), descends through Steep Ravine, and completes the route at Stinson beach.  The race website has turn by turn directions here.
Insider tip:  While the trail is technically 7.4 miles long, notice that the segment is 7 miles in length.  That’s because on Dipsea day all routes are valid….well thats mostly true as some short cuts are forbidden many are still allowed.  That saves those in the know 0.4 miles.  Do I know them? No not really.  So go figure it out for yourself.  Also, there is the double Dipsea and quad Dipsea for those not able to get into the race.
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The man, the legend.  

 

Marin Top 10 Strava Segments (#3 Marincello)

#10 (Rodeo to Wolf Ridge)

#9 (Coastal – Matt Davis to Willow Camp)

#8 (Pirates Cove)

#7 (Fox Trail Descent)

#6 (Ninja Loop)

#5 (Hogsback descent)

#4 (Fern Creek descent)

#3 Marincello

Marincello

https://www.strava.com/segments/641879

Location: Start at the Tennesse Valley Parking Lot and Climb to Bobcat
Distance: 1.3 miles
Elevation Gain:  677 ft of Gain(6%)
Overall Runs: 14972 Attempts By 3782 People (popular!)
CR:  Galen Burrell 9:35 and YiOu Wang 11:04
My place: 9th, 10:40
Why:  Sometimes called the 10,000 dollar hill as its place at the end of the TNF50 miler in December, this consistent mile plus climb can make or break a number of trail races in Marin.  While normally it is a nice runnable grade towards the end of a long ultra it can feel like a death march.  Adding to its place as #3 are the very stout CR’s by Galen and YiOu at 6:55 and 7:59 mile pace respectively.  I was fit when I attempted it and only managed 7:42 pace.  Currently the top 5 are all from current/past Mill Valley residents.
YiOu Fast

Marincello CR or Lake Sonoma win, which one would YiOu rather have…

Insider Tip:  When climbing up you will notice double white posts which represent 800m in.  This make a great hill repeat option if you are not up for the full-length route.  You can sometimes find the SFRC racing crew doing repeats out here on Tuesday nights.
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You have arrived at the correct spot.  See you in a little while when your HR maxes and your quads no longer work.

My Top 10 Marin Strava Segments (#4 Fern Creek Descent)

#10 (Rodeo to Wolf Ridge)

#9 (Coastal – Matt Davis to Willow Camp)

#8 (Pirates Cove)

#7 (Fox Trail Descent)

#6 (Ninja Loop)

#5 (Hogsback descent)

#4 Fern Creek Descent

FernCreek

https://www.strava.com/segments/1354319

Location: Start at the East Peak Parking Lot at the Top of Tam and End at Railroad Grade
Distance: 0.6 miles
Elevation Gain:  672 ft of Loss (-21%)
Overall Runs: 2800 Attempts By 695 People
CR:  Victor Ballesteros 3:44 and Naomi Plasterer 5:25
My place: 15th, 5:15 (and I was trying hard!).
Why:  I’m probably a little biased because I ran this segment weekly during Tam Tuesdays and 6:11 pace does not seem that fast for a 0.6 mile, 672 ft loss section of trail, but for THIS section it is.  Whereas the previous two downhills (Fox and Hogsback) require massive turnover, Fern requires massive risk taking.  Over a several week period in 2014 the CR exchanged multiple hands and there was an all-out assault on who could take more risks.  Not surprisingly Victor Ballesteros came out on top by a solid 15s margin.  Personally, I can not imagine going under 5 minutes, yet alone 4 minutes on this switch-back, stair-filled, rocky and loose, and pipe popping out of the middle section of trail.
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One of easier sections of trail

Insider Tip:  Be prepared to take some risks.  I think most of the time can be gained on the upper section which is loose and slick. This is a great section to practice for that crazy European trail race you scheduled. Which of course you scheduled, you live in Marin.

 

Victor

Victor is the man with the plan to fly down technical trails.

 

My Top 10 Marin Strava Segments (#5 Hogsback Descent)

#10 (Rodeo to Wolf Ridge)

#9 (Coastal – Matt Davis to Willow Camp)

#8 (Pirates Cove)

#7 (Fox Trail Descent)

#6 (Ninja Loop)

#5 – Hogsback Descent

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Location: Firetrail where Hogsback Ends and Intersects Railroad Grade
Distance: 0.2 miles
Elevation Gain:  261 ft of Loss (-18%)
Overall Runs: 2948 Attempts By 688 People
CR:  Victor Mier 54sec (3:18 mile pace) and Lydia Gaylord 1:42
My place: 4th, including breifly had the CR for a 3 month period.
Why:  Because witnessing the abandonment at which Victor attacked this brief stretch of trail was crazy.  This is not a smooth stretch of trail by any means. Ruts, loose rocks, and often a chill that would water the eyes make this stretch tough to stay upright when you are just cruising.  3:18 mile pace for quarter of a mile is sub 50 seconds for 400m but rather than the metronic style you see circling the oval this was a form of controlled chaos which took skill in addition to fitness to harness.  I thought my 1:06 was good.  I was wrong.
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Brett can Ninja, but he can’t Hogsback

Insider Tip: Sunglasses, wear sunglasses if you are really going for it.  Oh yeah and a running start helps as well.

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When not descending like crazy Victor can be found living in a van or traveling the world.  A true renaissance man.