Tennessee Valley Takedown

So yesterday I found myself in Marin at a meeting.

In running clothes.

In the middle of the afternoon.

What else was I to do but run?

I jumped into my car, took an exit off 101 North, and headed to Tennessee Valley.

I was in the mood to run after taking Saturday and Sunday as planned (and unplanned, thanks Tiburon Wine Fest!) rest days. I had done Pilates yesterday morning but I love a good toning + cardio workout, so it was decided: 4 miles of hilly trails to the beach and back.

It was a muggy, overcast day and deceptively warm. I had on running tights and a long sleeve shirt and was sweating buckets and seriously questioning what the hell I was thinking with my choice in attire about .3 miles in.

I ran with Garmin but sans music and from the first step was struck with how beautiful the scenery around me was. I rarely have never run trails, and its pretty easy to see how you can fall in love with it – it’s peaceful, serene, scenic… and seriously good training.

I was huffing and puffing like it was the first mile I’d ever run. Between the uneven terrain, the heat, the 47 dragonflies buzzing dangerously close to my face and the hills – my road running self was quickly humbled.

Then there were the hills. Oh the hills. When running Tennessee Valley you have the option of the “Lower” or the “Upper” trail to get to the beach and back. For the love of GOD, always take the “Lower” trail. I thought I was being a badass, and decided the “Upper” was far superior.

To thank me for choosing it, it greeted me with this :

You probably think I’m being overly dramatic about the hill incline, size, length, etc (normally I would be, as I’m a huge hill wuss and only choose marathons that are not hilly), but I swear this was the hardest hill I’ve ever run up. It put the hill by the Golden Gate Bridge that I routinely complain about to the sorriest shame.

I literally stopped at the top, hands on knees, heart about to burst through my chest to catch my breath at the top. Last time I take the “Upper” trail. Tennessee Valley I bow to you.

Since I clearly don’t know when to give up, when I reached the beach, I took about 30 seconds to admire the stunning views and crashing waves.

Then my feet were itching to move again.

Naturally I needed more hills so to the top of the Tennessee Valley Lookout it was.

About a mile of this. Give or take. Worst decision ever. My legs were shredded by the time I headed back down. Although the views couldn’t be beat.

I ended with 3.5 miles of trails plus a half-mile cool-down (necessary, I felt like I just competed in the Death Valley Marathon), and all things considered, my splits weren’t terrible.

I was really surprised at just how hard running trails was! Runner’s World has a great article about how training on hilly trails can seriously help your running long-term… and I can 100% see why – it’s challenging, humbling… and hurts so damn good at the end.

Not bad for my first trail run! I’ll definitely be back – for that “Upper” Trail hill. For revenge. I really don’t give up that easily, I promise. 🙂

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9 thoughts on “Tennessee Valley Takedown

  1. That looks amazing! Just did my first trail run myself, though the woods of Long Island aren’t quite as nice as Marin County. The terrain was insane and hilly and totally kicked my ass as well!

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