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  • San Lorenzo River Trail Run 2014 Write-up

    Posted on June 30th, 2014 Michele Sun No comments

    This is going to be lesser a race report I guess, so hope I won’t disappoint anyone. It’s a very personal day and race for me in several ways, so I felt it deserves a proper race write-up. Certainly  it’s not going to be as epic as Western State 100, but it’s my personal accomplishment nevertheless!!

    Prior to 2013, I used to do lots of races and there is not one month that I didn’t have a race somewhere! With all the destination races under my belt there are two races that always hold special spots in my heart, and interesting thing is they are not in faraway lands or with some 30,000 runners surrounded me. I guess the experience is more or less tie with personal experience and feeling, and one doesn’t have to travel far for his/her journey in this case. Though I am not close to where I used to be before in fitness level and training wise, but earlier this year I had already penciled  San Lorenzo River Trail Run by CTR into my race calendar. This is a race I would not want to miss if I can make it, regardless how slow or weak I might be. Couple weeks ago I started getting emails from several readers of this blog talking about this race, which reminded me that I should sign up for this one properly. Happily took out my credit card and took care of the registration, and I particularly was looking forward to meeting a girl from Austin, TX.

    I had done San Lorenzo River in 2012 and 2013, both time with Max and this year would be the same. The thoughts of going to a trail race with him erased some uneasy feeling I had, because I wasn’t sure how and if I could handle it; even without a time goal in my mind the idea of running a hilly and technical trail race had me worried the night before the run. I reminded myself to carry insurance card in my Salomon hydration pack and hope he would never have to get me a helicopter ride :-p

    Sat June 21st, 7:00am, we were to meet up at Los Gatos High School, and as usual I showed up on time but he was not there yet. I walked around the high school track and watched runners gathering together for Sat morning run, a bit chilly and foggy but I could see it’s going to be a beautiful day. Soon I heard that familiar roaring engine and we took off for our race in Santa Cruz Mountain. It didn’t take us long to drive down to Santa Cruz, but our a bit late arrival did cause us harder to find good parking spot and be bathroom ready.

    A small fiasco at the registration tent when they could not find my name at first, phew… don’t want it to happen again. When I finally got my bib and waited in line for porta potti, a young friendly smile walked up to me and asked “Are you Michele?” Ahha and she sounds Texan to me!! We hugged and exchanged “Good to meet you” while Wendell was on his usual megaphone talking about pink ribbon, polka-dot ribbon and that big no no blue ribbon.

    I saw Max taking off because he was in his racing mode, therefore I didn’t get the chance telling him about where my insurance card was. We probably would never need it then:-)

    This year I signed up for the Half as before, and after coming out of porta potti most of the runners had gone already. I was the 2nd to the last entering the trail but it’s OK with me since I wasn’t pushing for time. The earlier part of this race was on single file trail and many people were walking, which allowed me to slowly warm up my muscles. Though I couldn’t remember exactly how the course was like, I did remember from the previous two years about crossing Highway 9, railroad track, and YES the river!! When I made my way to the top of first hilly portion of today’s run  the trail opened up and I could pass some runners there. The terrains were really dry and hard this year, so I wondered how deep the river water would be. After crossing Highway 9, the redwoods were tall and thick and I was reminded again how much I have loved this run.


    I caught up with and past some runners, and very soon I came to the river by mile 4, and WOW!! I can’t believe how shallow the water is this year. Previous years the water was a bit below my shirt tail, but this year it’s just by my knees and I could clearly see the bottom of the river. The rope was there helping runners to cross the river, but no one was using it since it’s not that hard to balance yourself. All the runners stopped there taking off their shoes, and I just stepped right in and started making my way carefully across the river. Coming out of the river was a bit tricky, as the rocks near the edge were very slippery and no one was there helping me to get out. But I made it alright and that big hill was there just the way I remembered.

    I saw the Texan girl sitting on a rock and putting her shoes back on, so I decided to slow down my pace to run with her and we chit-chatted about her visiting Bay Area. This was her first trail race, and I laughed “see what you put yourself into on your vacation!” There was a huge fallen tree trunk in the middle of the trail, so we had to bend and duck to underpass that trunk. I took several pictures for her and thinking it would make a great story when she returned back to work on Monday.

    Not sure how the 30K course went, so I was surprised when Max touched my shoulder while running past me, and too bad that I didn’t get a chance to snap a good picture of him. But I knew aid station would be coming up soon, so hopefully I would see him again once he turned around. I have discovered since last winter that pictures are for memories, and they are great to remind whom you have been with and the paths and stories you share with them. I am collecting memories  of people I care, and  pictures of him speak so much memory and emotion reside in me.

    The aid station had those typical trail races aid station food, and I had no appetite for any of them today. After making PBJ sandwich for 10 hours at North Face 50 last Dec, I got pretty fed up just looking at aid station food:-p I took out my own Salted Watermelon GU Gel and had it with the GU Brew I was carrying in my hydration pack. I am so self efficient at races that I think I might become no fun to aid station volunteers, so took a small cup of Coke and later found it’s a mistake because I was getting uncomfortably bubbly.

    My new Texan friend had refueled herself, then we started running back and some random guy joined us who was in for his first half marathon. Time past by fast when running in trails, soon that river came in front of us again. I went ahead first and crossed the river with shoes on again, so I could take pictures for Texan when she carefully inched her way across the river. She and her colleagues back home would LOVE her pictures I bet!! I hope she had fun and great memory from running in Santa Cruz mountain, with stranger Michele 🙂

    After river crossing there was only about 4 miles left, and I wanted to really run this last portion of the race now. So I picked up my pace and took off, made a wrong turn immediately, but luckily two guys calling me out “wrong way, wrong way.” Haha.. glad that they saw me, otherwise I probably wouldn’t notice I was lost for a good while. From there it was no-nonsense uphill and back to that Highway 9 crossing,  and I recognized the volunteer at that water stop was Alison. I didn’t need water but stopped to thank her for being here volunteering. She kept saying “you are so brave, so strong, and you look so good.” Wow, that’s too much credits for a snail paced me though. But thanks Ali~~

    I charged up those hills and back to that open area soon, and at this part of race course I reminded myself to duck for a tree branch which some guy hit his forehead last year. I amazed myself that I even remembered this an year later though!! I safely avoided that tree branch, but before I saw what caused it or  how it happened, I tripped and fell hard on the ground. Immediately I felt the sharp pains on both knees and right palm; a guy running from behind crossed over me and I thought “really?? are you serious?” He stepped over a wounded runner on the ground and for what?? Since he was behind me that meant he wasn’t much faster anyway!! No time for self-pity, so I stood up and gave myself a quick glance over. It’s ok Michele, every runner got to fall and hurt at least once to call him/herself a trail runner! The last half mile was seriously tough because my wounds were burning and my knees hurt badly.

    When I ran across the finish line timing mat, I saw Max was sitting on a picnic table sunbathing his feet, and I was sorry that I made him waited for so long, and also worried that he would scold me for not being more careful. I didn’t stop for any aid station food and just wanted to see myself to get cleaned up quickly since I was covered with dirt and dry blood. Ran into another runner friend Tatsuru and his smile quickly changed into a worry frown “oh.. what happened? Let me find Wendell and see if there is medical kit here.” Wendell gave me some disinfectant wipes and I tried to clean up the wounds as best as I could. I painfully walked up to Max and saw him wearing a 2nd place medal!! Never disappoint! Always bring home medal! But I was in too much pain that I couldn’t properly congratulate him, lack of enthusiasm and my bad.

    Max found a drug store not too far from here, so we could get some first aids stuffs and I carefully cleaned my self up and applied some Neosporin. Very unexpectedly some memory came back to me while I was standing against a bike rack taking care of the nasty wounds, and it completely caught me off guard. I was deeply lost in my sorrow remembering someone tentatively taking care of me once, and tears quickly formed in my eyes; got to be from the sting of that stupid disinfect spray!!  I shook off those bitter-sweet memory and told myself not to look back, and “today is a good day!” Because I ran one of my favorite races, and a personal victory to be back to where I love to run with my dear friend. Plus I now officially became a trail runner because I have blood and wounds to prove it!!



    1. I did have my celebration lunch and drink afterward, thanks for sharing this very special day with me, Max!!

    2. Couple days later I found out my time at San Lorenzo River this year is actually 15 mins faster than last year, which makes me wonder how sick I was last year??


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