Hasan and Tantek side by side holding raised hands between them, smiling and about to cross The North Face Endurance Challenge finish line in Crissy Field, San Francisco, with the Golden Gate Bridge and Marin Headlands in the background under a clear blue sky.Tantek and Hasan in the morning sun in front of The North Face Endurance Challenge starting arch on a sports field in Marin City, with a forested area in the distance under a clear blue sky.Tantek in the distance power-hiking up Alta trail, with the bay, Tiburon, and the East Bay behind him under a clear sky.Tantek on the Alta trail’s forested area, with a numerous trees, some with ivy, rising up behind him.Tantek on the Marin side of the West sidewalk of the Golden Gate Bridge, run south toward San Francisco, with Marin hills and blue sky behind him.Hasan and Tantek smiling side by side holding raised hands between them, just after they crossed The North Face Endurance Challenge finish line in Crissy Field, San Francisco, with the Golden Gate Bridge and Marin Headlands in the background under a clear blue sky.Tantek standing on Crissy field with blue skies over the Golden Gate Bridge with the Marin Headlands behind it, and the blue bay below it.Wearing The North Face Endurance Challenge 2019 t-shirt with both 50k Finisher and 13.1 Finisher heat decals added, and 50k with blue ribbon and 13.1 Half Marathon with yellow ribbon medals hanging from the neck.🏅🏅🏃🏻‍♂️🏃🏻‍♂️We did it. 3:22:19 @thenorthfaceECS #TNFECS #ECSCA #halfmarathon #FBF to last #Sunday

Dad’s first half marathon #trailrace. My first half the day after a 50k.

Clear sky, sunrise start(2). My dad and I jumped into wave 8. We started in the middle of the pack, passed through the arch, and the struggle began. After a brief jog out of the field and part way up the Marin City suburb street, my legs dropped to a walk before even reaching the first trail.

I power-hiked off to the right as best as I could, letting all the eager #runners pass. My dad started to pull ahead. I encouraged him, just reminded him to look behind him every 30 seconds or so and keep me in sight.

Pacing dad became chasing dad.

We reached the Alta Bobcat intersection and saw a friendly group cheering us. One of them recognized me from yesterday, and asked didn’t she see me yesterday, I said yeah I did the 50k, and am pacing my dad today, motioning in front of me with a grin. This seemed to catch her attention, and she ran to catch us.

She ran up ahead to my dad and asked if she could interview him. He had just taken a photo of me(3). After her interview she ran back to me and introduced herself, Brianna (who I’d later find out was @bri_sacks from LA, mutual friends with pal Vanessa https://instagram.com/justnessinaround/! Small world indeed).

The race leaders, having finished their down-and-up loop, passed us on the way to the Alta aid station. We reached the shady forest at the top of Alta trail and I almost caught my dad again.

At the Alta station we topped off our waters, and headed down the moderately steep Rodeo trail. Memories came flashing back from ECSCA 2014 where this very trail was the long downhill of the marathon relay, my first 10k trail race.

Passed a few runners on the way down. Started to close the gap with my dad a few times, yet he kept pulling away. Finally caught him at the second aid station at the bottom of the downhill, and we started power hiking our way up the Bobcat trail.

I hadn’t felt hungry until then, and since this was the last big uphill I tore open a Simple Energy packet and ate it.

Finished our Rodeo Bobcat trails loop, once again hiking up to the top of Alta trail and down through its shady forest. My dad took another photo of me(4). Topped off my water at the Alta aid station where one of the station volunteers warned us that we were behind pace for the cut-off.

Even though technically we were about 5 minutes behind that cut-off checkpoint, I was a little annoyed at being told (hoping my dad didn’t hear it and get discouraged), as having just ran the mostly downhill subsequent six miles the day before, I knew we would easily make it to the finish before the four hour cut-off.

Onto SCA trail we went. Single-track and a bit rocky, it’s the most technical part of the ECSCA half marathon course. Being more familiar I took the lead and my dad followed, til he caught up to me on the brief uphill where you get a great view of San Francisco, the bridge, the bay, and the 101 Freeway. Back to the rocky descent I started to close in on him again.

A race volunteer directed him down the left turn towards the bridge. I’d almost caught up and he took off down those stairs, opening up a bit of a lead again. This was it, my last chance to actually catch him before the Golden Gate Bridge. I focused as I had the day before and started leaping downward as quickly and deftly I could, passing others in pursuit of my dad who had somehow also picked up speed. Caught him on the last switch back, and we crossed the road together onto the brief bit of trail before the bridge.

Apparently there were enough of us running the half marathon that The North Face was able to reserve the West side sidewalk on the bridge just for racers. It was pleasantly warmer than the day before, with a nicer Pacific Ocean view. Once again the concrete path was no fun to run on, so dropped down to a power-walk, swinging my arms forcefully for extra forward momentum. My dad pulled away again, and took another photo(5).

Only near the end of the bridge did I start running with another racer who wasn’t sure where she was going. We realized we needed to cloverleaf under the bridge back towards the finish. Race volunteers were there to direct us yet again. I had my whistle ready, the warm sun had really brought out the toursts.

No need to use the whistle, we were able to get past the tourists with some kind requests or yelling out “on your left!”. I saw my dad enter the sweeping downhill path toward The Warming Hut. Last chance to catch him, so I pushed extra hard. He paused briefly and whistled for me, seeing me approaching he kept going. By the time he reached the steps I was mere feet behind him. As he hestitated for the tourists, I launched down the steps as I had the day before.

Last chance to build up a lead before he’d catch me again on the flats. At the bottom of the steps, race volunteers were once again stopping traffic so we could cross. Dad caught up to me on the gravel path to the field, and we stuck together for the remainder. Tight right turn from the gravel onto the Crissy field green to the finishing chute. Told my dad to step carefully and look out for the gopher holes.

With mere yards to go we grabbed hands and raised them up as we crossed the finish line(6) under bright blue skies.

We finished in 3:22:19 with almost 13 miles, and just over 2000' climbed. Easily beat the four hour time limit. Walk in the park. Like a typical Saturday morning SFRC run. Sore feet but otherwise I felt fine. Nothing else hurt.

My #50miletraining had begun.

Epilogue: Afterwards we walked around, loosening up our legs. My dad grabbed a seat and elevated his legs. I walked a bit more to round up my total distance to an actual 13.1 miles half marathon (We’d only ran ~12.8 miles at the finish line), and also just to savor a moment reflecting on back-to-back race days(7).

We picked up our drop bag with clean clothes and extra layers, though we’d already dried off in the warm sunshine. I decided to check The North Face merchandise tent, felt I’d achieved enough of a feat to pick up something to commemorate. They had a nice “coordinates shirt” with the latitude longitude of the race finish, however were out of medium and large sizes.

I found a plain medium blue sports shirt and asked them to add the coordinates, as well as 50k & 13.1 Finisher heat decals on it. While they were preparing it I pulled out my second red ECSCA t-shirt from packet pick-up and asked for the same double finisher decals. Took a shot the next morning with my #ECSCA2019 #medals for #medalmonday(8).

Still feels surreal that I finished both races, and felt fine. I can only imagine how unfamiliar it might feel in the future, when the memories fade.

I know I have a long hard training cycle ahead for my first 50 miler, with its own ups and downs. When I'm feeling down or having doubts, I’ll be putting on one of these shirts to remind myself of what’s possible.

#runner #WorkHardDreamBigDoCoolShit #InstaRunner #TrailRunner #UltraRunner #GrassRootsGear #NovemberProject #NPSF #LetsDoThis #SundayRunday #2019_321 #20191117 #latergram #nofilter

Previously: https://tantek.com/2019/323/t1/did-ecsca-50k-ultramarathon

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