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Following an encouraging brick on Saturday, I sprung out of bed bright and early ahead of Taylor’s first race of the year.  After catching a beautiful sunrise, I dropped Taylor off at Hot Chocolate 15K and set out for the Dipsea trail.  I felt very strong following some foam rolling and use of my new recovery tights by Skins, and was inspired to run the Double Dipsea solo.  From the first set of stairs, I could feel the makings of a good run: I was well rested, nourished, and loose.

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Summiting Cardiac in record time

The 688 stairs from Mill Valley up to the Dipsea trail are never a great predictor of success.  When it came time to run, I ascended Hogsback in what felt like record time, and most importantly, ran almost the entire way without hike breaks.  By the time I reached the top of Cardiac, I was on track for my fastest crossing from Mill Valley to Stinson Beach, and ultimately hit the turnaround point at 1:16: a 5 minute PR.  I stood on the Double Dipsea finish line at Stinson Beach without anyone knowing; I even pushed hard on the final quarter mile like I would at the race.  There was nobody there to refill my hydration pack and pat me on the back like before my fourth and final crossing at the Quad Dipsea; I was on my own this time.

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Once I got moving again, even the grueling 3 mile climb from Stinson Beach to the top of Cardiac didn’t slow my pace: I ultimately summited Cardiac under 40 minutes, another first.  With four miles remaining, I knew that beating my Double Dipsea PR was well within reach.

Standing on the Double Dipsea finish line at Stinson Beach

Standing on the Double Dipsea finish line at Stinson Beach

I hit the downhill to Muir Woods hard, dipping below a 7 minute pace down Hogsback prior to slowing down due to treacherous wet stairs.  As I crossed through Muir Woods, I knew that sub-2:40 was a reality barring a last minute bonk.  After descending the final flight of stairs back to Mill Valley, I hit it hard, and crossed the bridge in Old Mill Park just as fast as I did at the Quad Dipsea when Taylor was waiting with the camera ready.   I ultimately finished my crossing from Stinson beach in 1:18 – a near even split, and at 2:34 total, I beat my previous Double Dipsea PR set in 2011.

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My self-imposed Double Dipsea provided a major confidence boost.  Unlike the Double Dipsea race, I ran the entire Dipsea trail point to point without the (allowed) shortcuts, which tacked on roughly an extra half mile overall.  Despite the extra length and difficulty, I still managed an 8-minute PR over what I considered a massive effort in 2011; one that put me out of commission for weeks afterwards.  Sometimes the most rewarding PRs take place when nobody’s watching.