The DipSea race is a classic, perhaps the most famous running race in California. For a long time now, they've also put on the Double DipSea Race, which is an out-and-back from Stinson Beach to Mill Valley and back - 13.7 miles and 4,500 ft of climbing. It's put on now by Brazen Racing, which also puts on the Bass Lake Triathlon. Roughly a half marathon, but the toughest half marathon I've every attempted. Good training for THE toughest half - the Pikes Peak Ascent in 2 months. That one's 13 miles and almost 7,000 ft of climbing, all at high elevation, so the Double DipSea is pretty mild by comparison. The usual suspects arrayed to take it on - Dave and Diane, Joyce, Nancy, Jonathan, me, and Rick Molinar as well - all of us planning on doing Pikes Peak as well, and this was just one of many tough climb half marathons we've been doing this year. Jonathan had to drop Maria off at the Oakland airport on the drive up, for a funeral, and she would not be doing the race, unfortunately.

We converged on the Marin Hostel on Friday afternoon as our base, cooking up a big dinner and enjoying the sunset.


We settle in at the hostel. The ladies had gone on their traditional shopping spree in SF on the drive up. Joyce and Diane bought new Hooka shoes, which have a rounded sole, very different than traditional running shoes. Their first try-out would be the Double Dipsea - no problem... right?

I did a final easy run, at sunset, down to the beach

Dinner: Pizza, rice, salad, meatballs, some good beer - and chocolate chip cookies.

Out on the porch is a great view, and I do some core and roller work. Below, hostel-mates are enthusiastically playing a game of baseball with a giant beach ball.

As the sun got lower, a spectacular sundog appeared over the coastal mountains. Caused by certain types of ice crystals preferrentially oriented by the winds in the stratosphere. I'll take it as a good omen!

I was to be rooming with Jonathan and Maria, but then Joyce sub'd in for Maria. Oops - the room had a very tight double bed and a bunk above.. Someone had to sleep with Jonathan. At the prospect of timber-rattling snoring, I opted to sleep on the floor in the bigger room with the rest of the gang. That lasted till midnight, when the rock-hard floor was simply unsleep-able. I gathered my blankie and went downstairs to the living room sofa, where I had to curl up to fit. I did finally get a couple hours of sleep. Didn't seem to affect my race day, thankfully.

Packing up at 7am, Dave had a calf injury and would instead spend the morning biking up to Pt Reyes while we ran.

My breakfast: 1 hard boiled egg, my pre-made protein smoothie. I could tell that my left hip was, for the first time all year, going to be an issue again. I think the 77 mile ride last weekend into the wind, and the non-stop 4 mile daily beach runs barefoot were just a little too much for what should have been a tapering few days.

Showing off new shoes

The guys are locked and loaded (well, except maybe JC, who might need another cup of Peet's coffee).

The start/finish is in the parking lot for the beach at Stinson Beach. Dave's ready to start his ride, the rest of us wait around for our wave starts. Since the whole course is on narrow steep trails, it's important to spread out the runners this way.

Starting times: Diane started one minute behind me.

Joyce and Cat launch: 2 minutes before my wave.

I'm off! We're heading up to the shoulder of Mt Tamalpais. I brought my new Lumix pocket camera to document the fun.

Backward-over-the-shoulder shot, into the first mile, looking back you can see Bolinas Lagoon in the distance

First aid station at mile 2, up ahead

The volunteers were veteran and excellent. I drank at almost every aid station, and carried a bottle of water to refill periodically as well. Temperatures were low 70's.

Now, our first downhill segment, through tall redwoods

Diane catches up to me near the bottom of the first downhill. Turns out the Hooka's she's wearing were good for downhill, and tough on the calves on the uphill.

Diane gets a few steps ahead at the creek at the bottom.

There was an aid station at the road just past the creek - and after that I passed Diane again. I got a fist-full of pretzels here, guarded well, and the salt and carbs were perfect.

After the top of the second ridge, we head down towards Mill Valley and the formidable series of flights of stairs going STEEPly downhill. I stopped for a full ~30 seconds at the bottom, where there was an aid station - to drink deep, refill my water bottle, grab a few oreo cookies and potato chips. As I turned to head back up, I saw Nancy and then Diane.

I took advantage of my swimming muscles going up the stairs - grabbing the hand rail and pulling myself up on every other step.

My left hip flexors were really hurting by now as I got up the last of the stairs segments. Nancy passed me 3/4 of the way up, and looked strong going to the top of the ridge above Mill Valley. I see JC coming the other way, at the top - his wave had a late start. This shot is well beyond, looking towards Stinson Beach past the tree horizon somewhere.


A welcome sight - just a few more miles to go, all downhill


Diane finished a minute later, and Joyce a little after that.

Time for some calories re-fill. Ice cream was an excellent start on that project

Molinar, a well-deserved snooze

Afterwards, we head to the Dipsea Cafe in Sausalito, then home.