Attempted Runner.

Race Recap: Double Dipsea


Double Dipsea.

:::shakes head:::

Double Fucking Dipsea.

What can I say? It was my first trail half marathon and two weeks later I’ve fully recovered over that traumatic experience and I still have the same thought, “That was also my last trail half marathon.”  Give me another month or two until that changes. Only because I considered doing Brazen Racing’s New Years Eve Half Marathon because it falls on the exact day of my birthday (and the NYE course is the hard ups in the first half when you have energy for it. The NYD has the hard ups in the last half) but we’ll leave that story for another day.


Today…..Today we shall talk about Double Dipsea. For those that don’t know what it is….its nuts. Basically its 13.7 miles of hell. You go up a really big mountain (you go up 4500feet) then you come down the really big mountain and go down 671 stairs. You turn around and do the entire thing in reverse. There are other stairs throughout the course, so I guestimate a total of 1500 stairs. Yea….I did that shit! I’m bad ass!!!!!

My Double Dipsea weekend started out with going to work early (I started at 6am. Its not that much early, considering I start at 6:30am) and it was one of the longest days ever because I was anticipating the upcoming events. It always seems that work is the longest on the days you want nothing more than to be out of the office.  Once 2:30 finally rolled around, I left the office like a bat out of hell and headed over to get J. We made some impeccable time and got to San Francisco running company around 4:45pm or so. We made it in time to do early bib pick up before that was over. In addition to my bib/t-shirt/goodie bag, I also got two extra GU Shot packs. image

We then went to go find our luxurious water front hotel. When I say luxurious water front hotel, I mean a very small room with an even smaller shower that smelt like it was from 1958. The waterfront, was a algae ridden……estuary? I don’t know what it was except for a body of stagnant water. That picture right up there…That was J checking out the shower. I was standing at the front door….Yes, that’s how small the room was. So small, I was able to read the sign in the bathroom FROM THE FRONT DOOR!! But Hey!! It was what I called home for less than 12 hours and there were no cockroaches, so I didn’t care. It beat having to drive 2 hours (at like 3am) to get to the starting line on time. I’ll take it.


After we checked in at the hotel….or are they called motel’s at that point? ::Shrugs:: We decided it was about time we got something to eat. The problem with places like Mill Valley is that they didn’t have 1. typical restaurants and 2. very many restaurants around, so with having two Gluten Intolerance gals, it made for very limited choices. Unless we wanted to drive farther out. We opted to go to Outback Steakhouse, which is perfectly fine with me. Its very hard to mess up a steak and baked potato. During Dinner, J was texting That Girl and talking about Dipsea and what we all gotten ourselves into. I….I was getting more nervous. That picture right there is my, “Why did I sign up for this?” face. I wasn’t as nervous as I was when I did the Disneyland Tinker Bell half (first ever half), even though I should have been. Disney was flat. Dipsea… not. Despite being nervous, I was still able to eat (again, unlike during my Disneyland Tinker Bell Half) and still cracked jokes.

We finished up our meal and made a few pit stops. One of those stops was to REI so we can pick up some added fuel. J was in search of that Salted Watermelon GU Shot but didn’t find it. I got NUUN Energy tablets, Honey Stinger Chomp things and an insult. Aaaaahahahhahahahahahaha. While standing in line, I was getting tired. Keep in mind, I was up since 4:30am that morning and it was getting close to being passed my bedtime (it was roughly 7pm) and with being nervous, it wears a girl out!

So, as I’m standing in line, I started to yawn at the same exact time Cashier Dennis, looks up to call me over. He said, “Tired?” I said, “Yea, just a bit.” Cashier Dennis then says to me, “Go home and freshen up.” Now….Some people may take that as a “What the hell? Freshen up? What are you trying to say? I look hideous? HOW DARE YOU!” Then you have people like me, who don’t think much of it but then crack jokes left and right about it. image

Example: I took this picture that I posted on Instagram with the comment/hastags of “Dennis from REI told me to go get some sleep and freshen up…..WTF? It took me 15 minutes to get this look [in the morning] and I worked hard on it all day long. #freshenup#thisisfresh#keepinitclassy#perfection.” I was giggling so much in the store [grocery store after we left REI] when I took this picture and posted it. Ask J, she knows. Now that I think about it…that could be why she walked away from me. HA… but I digress.

While Dennis was finishing up my transaction and began ringing J up, somehow the topic of us doing Double Dipsea was brought up. He even looked at us like we were crazy. The week prior was the Dipsea Run…We were the weirdo’s doing DOUBLE Dipsea. I can only imagine what look he would give to those special few who do QUAD Dipsea (Dr. Awesome has done it…Go figure.). Once we left REI, we went to Safeway to get some ice for our waters and eggs/ham. Yep, I brought my fancy Egg Sandwich maker because its very important for a runner to have a well balanced meal that doesn’t give you any side effects half way into your run.

We finally made it back to the hotel around 7:30 and got things situated. J and I both got our hydration packs ready with the essentials. I ended up carrying probably more than I should have. In total I had two GU shots, a zip lock back of Trail Mix, a pack of cranberries, a pack of Beef Jerky, a pack of Honey Stingers, Chap-stick, Body Glide, an Inhaler, Phone, Water (which was filled up that following morning), and a map! Hey, they map and everything else may not have been needed but I was a Girl Scout, Safety first and always be prepared! We also laid out our clothes, plugged in the Garmins/Ipods/Phones and had everything packed so when it was time to get up, all we had to do was take quick showers, get dressed and throw everything into the car.  It was finally time for bed and within 5 minutes of me laying down on the pillow I was out. I was so tired by this point that I didn’t care that I had to share a bed….a small queen, which I really think was either a Double or a Twin. I was just glad I brought my own pillow.

imageA few hours later, that crazy alarm went off!!! We got up at 4am…….I bet if Dennis was around, he would tell me that I needed to do more than “Freshen up.” I was even more nervous than the night before but tried my hardest not to think about it. I got dressed, made breakfast and we were out the door within no time. The thing is that both J and I, like to get to the starting line early. Like exponentially early. We do this, because we want to make sure that we get parking and that we are not late. However, J sometimes gets worried that we’re not leaving EARLY enough and I kindly reassure her that X time would be fine. This time though…this time I agreed with her because we had to drive over the hill and on a windy road in the dark. I like to think I’m a good driver and pay attention. Other people on the road….not so much. I preferred to give ourselves additional time, just in case and that is exactly what happened. I didn’t see one car driving over the hill and into Stinson Beach, so at least it was a safe drive. When we got to the parking lot, other than the volunteers/race staff, we were the 5th car in the parking lot and I’m pretty sure 3 of the other cars were volunteers. We also were doing the early hikers start (7am), so us arriving at 5:30 to the starting line was PLENTY of time!

I went and ate my breakfast on the beach because it was, for the most part, disserted! It was like my own private beach. As I sat there eating my breakfast sandwich, I again thought, why the heck did I sign up for this race? Is it not too late to back out is it? I tried to relax a bit but it was difficult.  image


I think around 6:15, we geared up and went over to the starting line to check in (we needed to get HIKER stickers so they knew that we were apart of the hiker start instead of the regular runners for prizes/timing purposes). As we’re standing there…..J decided that she didn’t like the outfit that she was wearing and wanted to change. We trekked it back over to the car, she changed pretty much her entire outfit (She started out in a black tank and silver sparkle skirt and ended up in a pink tank and her Nike Dri Fit capris).

That’s when I saw her.

Texas! My arch nemesis! Ok..not really, but the one person that I have promised myself that when/if we are ever running the same exact distance at a race….I shall ALWAYS come in first. Its not that I know Texas, but she is that person that know matter where I am, with thousands of people around me…I always seem to find her. She’s also kinda obnoxious and cocky, so it makes it easier for me to want to beat. I also…what you can call, Race Result Stalk, occasionally to see if she has been improving in her time (which she has! I gotta step up my game!). Its horrible, I know..but I can’t help it. Its what I do.

As it gets closer to 7am, I start to get a little more nervous, but try to play it off and act all “bad ass…I got this” like. I most likely looked a lot more cooler in my head than I did in person…Because, seriously…..I think the picture below says it all…..

What a dweeb.

Mr. Brazen started hollering out the pre race instructions for the Hikers start. You know, the be careful, aid stations/course monitors/etc. may not be set up yet so be prepared (they all were out and ready though because Brazen is Amazen!). We took a few last pre race photos and then, it was go time!!!






I totally photo bombed J and stranger lady….then cropped stranger lady out!

So…my original plan was to, for the most part, run the flats/downs and walk the ups. The starting line excitement got to me and I ran from the starting line to crossing Highway 1 and up the very first set of stairs. Since there were a few stairs, it was a mixture of running and walking. I didn’t take a whole lot of on course photos so if you want to see what I’m referring too, please review the two posts I did when I hike’d the Dipsea trail here.. The first 5 miles and the last 2 miles (one way).


The first mile was slow going. I felt extremely tired and all of the sudden that overwhelming sense of….”I can’t do this! What was I thinking? I’m close enough, I’ll just turn around and give up. This is going to be difficult! I can’t finish!” all set in. I hit that stupid wall at mile 1…How ridiculous is that! The entire second mile consisted of me trying to convince myself that I can do it and the faster I go, the sooner I’ll be done. It was also me thinking that those stairs seemed a lot harder this time around than they did when I hiked them a few weeks prior. After painstakingly making my way up Insult Hill, Steep Ravine, and Swoop Hollow I finally felt “warmed up.” I even was able to run the last bit of up and into the flat portion of Cardiac Hill into the first aid station. This is the highest section of the entire trail. Somewhere around here, “Old Man” (he was 76), told me I was doing great and he liked my pace.  “Old Man” played a vital role for me in the next 10 miles.


When I stopped at the first aid station (mile 1 – Insult Hill) I just grabbed some sports drink. At the second aid station (mile 3- Cardiac Hill), I got some more power aid and grabbed a few Ruffles for the salt and an orange slice then carried on my merry way. I also used one of my GU packs and remembered that I don’t like them. I think I actually just had it sit in my mouth for a few seconds against my check (not touching my tongue so I couldn’t taste it) and hesitated before swallowing. Like I said, its gross! Well, since I FINALLY was warmed up, I was able to run. It was also downhill which helped. As I was going down Hogsback Rise, I felt great! I ran along, caught my breath (from the three miles of up!) and even stopped to take another picture.


As I’m coming into Muir Woods, I felt like I had to pee. I figured I would stop at the bathrooms. Except when I made it into Muir Woods and crossed that water bridge, I had a second boost. I ran to the aid station, grabbed some more power aid/orange slices/potato Chips and just kept going…..back up! Back up, wait for it….Suicide Hill. Who comes up with these names? Around Mile 4, I ate my beef Jerky. I can’t just survive off of sugary stuff and noticed that the protein/sustenance of the beef jerky helps me feel normal.

Anyway,  “Old Man” wasn’t too far behind me and I started to slow down. He said for me not to stop because I’m (again) doing great! I ended up telling him he can lead the way and I’ll pace him. So I did, for the next 1.5 miles through Windy Gap and down the stairs to the turn around. That whole time, I didn’t really think much about the actual course and everything because  “Old Man” was telling me stories about Double Dipsea. He was telling me the difference between this year (Double Dipsea has been put on by The Dolphin South End Runners club and this was the first year that they partnered with Brazen Racing…whom I believe (Brazen Racing) took over and did most of all the planning and stuff). “Old Man” said that the Hikers start was one of the best things they could have done because it helps people beat the crowds and take their time if needed. He also liked the impeccable aid stations.  “Old Man” was telling me about the alternative routes on the course that they use to take. It was a nice little break from the thoughts of ” Why am I doing Double Dipsea?”

As I’m coming down the hill and approaching the stairs (mile 6) my calves started to cramp up.  “Old Man” instructed me to drink water (as I have been) and grab a banana at the Old Mill Park aid station. Bananas……Bananas make my belly hurt. As we’re descending the 671 stairs,  “Old Man” gave me the history on the stairs, showed me the original set of stairs and told me the trick on how to go down/up them without using too much energy (taking two stars at a time in certain segments, etc.).    “Old Man” and I finally crossed the timing mat at the turn around point. The first three miles, I did in an hour and 5 minutes. Roughly 22 minute miles. HA!!! Going down Dynamite Hill and into the third Aid station (Mile 5 – Muir Woods), I did it in 29 minutes (15 and 14min. miles). I felt like I was flying! Even though I wasn’t because there were a lot of roots and trees on the path, but it was still 1. negative splits and 2. a lot faster than the first 3 miles. My “Halfway” split time was 2:27. I hung out at the aid station for a few minutes. I drank a small Dixie cup of coke, power aid, and water. I ate more Ruffle chips (when I say ate ruffle chips at all the stations, it was only like 2-3 chips at a time) and 2/3s of a banana (they had bananas cut into 3rds). I took 2 orange slices and a handful of gummy bears and turned around and started the trip back. I never went pee, but still had to go. As I come up to the steps….all I can think is…




I had a few options…..think about why I even bothered to do this, my legs cramping up still or counting the stairs. I ended up doing some math. I figured that if it took me 2:30 to make in it…MAYBE! I can do that in the same time and finish in 5 hours. I noticed  “Old Man” was getting farther and farther away as I went up the stairs. I finished all the stairs and walked up to Windy Gap. I stopped a few times to try and message my calf cramps out and that was when I noticed really fast runners coming at me.

Shit just got real!

While I was going down Suicide Hill, hundreds of runners were coming back up! It was crazy. Pretty much two way traffic on a small narrow one person trail! It was so extreme. It gave me a crazy runners high and I pushed through the calf cramps (keep in mind…they never went away and just got worse). It was adrenaline pumping! People coming towards you, reading your name on your bib and telling you “AR, you’re doing awesome!” “Keep up the good work AR!” “Good job!” I think mile 7-8.6 was the best time I had on the entire course! I told other runners that they were doing fantastic too. I moved to the side in all the appropriate times for the blazing fast people to pass (they were coming in both directions at this time. Heading straight for me, bum rushing me from behind).

It was epic.

I made it back to the Muir woods aid station, ate more bananas all while deciding what was worse, the calf cramps or the stomach cramps that I was bound to get from the bananas. Then the portion of the entire course that I was the most worried about was before me. After overhearing people all day, it seemed like everyone had the same concerns and were worried about the same part….having to climb back up Dynamite Hill. It takes you back up to the top of Cardiac Hill (the highest spot) but it was steeper and EVERYONE was breathing heavy. I would say that 95% of the people were walking, even the people who looked like they can run for 50 miles without stopping were walking.  Except, they were walking faster than me. I was getting passed by people. I was slowing down. I probably stopped every few hundred feet because my calf cramps were getting worse. They were so bad that they physically stopped me in my tracks because my legs didn’t want to work anymore. It was torture. I took another GU shot. Wanted to barf because Salted Carmel, does not taste like Salted Carmel. Everyone behind me kept saying, “You’re almost to the top.” “Just a little farther to go.” It felt like that “Almost there” was never there.

Old Man” caught back up to me.

Old Man” asked how my calves were doing, wished me luck and passed me up.

At times (and throughout the entire race) I was the only one on the trail. It was eerie. Quite literally, no one was in front or behind me and it was like that for long periods of time. Both J and That Girl said they had the same thing happen to them. Least I wasn’t alone in…well, being alone.

I still had to pee.

I wanted to cry.

I wanted to fall down and tap out.

I was done.

I don’t even know how but as miserable as I was, I kept going and finally made it to the top. It took me almost an hour to go 2 miles. That killed me. All that was left was a 5k though. I grabbed two more bananas (I opted for stomach cramps over leg cramps), coke and orange slices. I looked at the Medics and had a decision to make. Just STOP putting myself through it, hang out with the medics and wait for them to drive me back to the starting line and take a DNF. I took one last look at the Medics before putting myself back on course.


3 miles.

I can do this!

I managed to run the flats, although it was difficult but had to walk/jog/stumble all along the downs. Every time I even attempted to run the down portions my calves would seize up on me. I caught back up to  “Old Man” and I told him how important he was to me. I told him that he was what kept me going the entire time. He’s 76. If he can do it. I can do it. He kept me motivated throughout the course. He was there when I wanted to quit and he kept going. He forced me to keep going. I told him how much I appreciated him and I thanked him greatly. He was very humble but said thanks and hearing that was like music to his ears….and then that’s when he cracked me up the most because he said, “I’m gonna take a short cut…I’m done!”  He veered off the course and cut about 1/2 mile out maybe.. I did eventually catch back up to him and passed him, but all in all, I was grateful for that old man.

I eventually made it to the stairs in that forest looking part and had no choice but to walk down those. It was difficult to step down and even go down them with people passing me and not getting knocked over. Those people are fast! They took 3-5 stairs at a time. It was amazing but crazy. I hit the last aid station (Insult at mile 12.7) and took Salt Tablets, Coke and more bananas. Only one mile to go! After the salt tablet, I felt surprisingly good for all of like 10 minutes. I even made it to a 9:17 pace at one point. That was probably the fastest pace time the entire time! I’m coming down that last set of stairs. All I had to do was cross a street, a few more big (as in wide/long) steps, cross highway 1, run down the driveway, turn the corner and cross the finish line.

That’s all I had to do.

I’m coming down that last hill and my legs started cramping up again. I had to walk down those steps.



I tried to run across the road, but couldn’t do that. It was more like I shuffled. I walked down the last set of stairs, walked across highway 1. The driveway was in sight. All the crowd was cheering! Yelling my name. I got pumped and started to run. All I had left to go was .10 miles.


Every one is cheering me on…I’m smiling…I start to laugh….I start to scream…I laugh even harder! My calves cramped so bad I once again physically could not move another step. Everyone kept telling me to keep moving but it wouldn’t happen. A few of those shirtless guys that I’m assuming had one too many beers, all gave me high 5’s and told me to go! I was laughing in pure frustration and just yelled out, “THIS IS HILARIOUS! I’M SO CLOSE BUT I CANT MOVE!!!” Finally after standing there for a minute or two, I slowly…and I mean SLOWLY limped my way to the finish line. My head down the entire way….yes, all .05 of it now. It was embarrassing. I was so freakin’ close.


5:27:06 craptastic hours later, I was finally done! As I’m sitting there on the curb with J, I see “Old Man“cross the finish line. I was happy for him. When J and I were both able to move again, we stopped at the post race snack area. I didn’t get anything though because I wasn’t hungry (from all those stupid bananas). I no longer had to pee either. No, I didn’t pee on myself, I just didn’t have to go. I must have sweated it out. We make our way back to the car and I was upset because that was one of the most horrible runs I’ve ever done. I’ve done two half marathons and both turned out to be horrible. Rather than dwelling on the shitty-ness of the situation, I tried to think of the positives…and who would of thunked it! I thought of some Pros.

  1. I finished.
  2. My Hip Flexor did not hurt one bit!
  3. My knees never hurt and I didn’t even use KT tape.
  4. I came in before Texas.
  5. My hydration level was good.
  6. I’m still qualified to be a 2014 Brazen Streaker.
  7. My blood sugar never dropped (That’s been an issue I’ve been having lately, even if I’m just at my desk at work doing nothing).
  8. Garfield’s battery life is only 5 hours. Although I stopped/saved the run when I got the low battery warning (at 12 miles), I started him back up again and was able to track the entire 13.7 miles even if it was in two segments….Garfield didn’t quit on me!
  9. I didn’t quit on Garfield.

So then I started to feel a bit better about the run. I’ll admit, that was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done in my life. The most physically demanding and mentally draining thing ever. I hated every second of it (except that epic time between miles  7 and 8.6) but in the end, I am glad that I did it. I can say I did it…and at this moment, I can say that I’m never going to do it again. Like I said earlier, usually a week later that thought changes, but its now been two weeks and I still do not want to do it again. EVER.

After J and I loaded up into the car (OMG! I still had to drive 3 hours home!!; 2 to J’s and 1 to my house) we went back up over that windy road and into Mill Valley. We stopped at In&Out because we needed actual food and not junk but they were ridiculously busy. We got back into the car and continued driving. We made a detour and went to another In&Out. I didn’t think I would of been able to eat much because of the whole banana thing, but by the time we made it to In&Out, that subsided and I got fries and my protein style cheeseburger. It was heaven in an a lettuce shell.

I dropped J off and although I was getting stiff my legs were not having the cramping anymore. Relief. When I got home, I took a shower and I may or may not of fallen asleep and drooled all over my pillow (I only drool when I’m in a DEEP sleep).

I was dirty but I was home.

It was over.


The next day, I woke up and A (who was working outside the whole day) said that his body hurt and he felt like he got hit by a Mack truck. I told him that I felt like I got hit by a locomotive. He said…”You win.” I was so stiff and my knees were really hurting, specially when they were bent and I had to extend them straight and vice versa….but…BUT!!! MY HIP FLEXOR WAS GREAT!! Hopefully (knock on wood) that issue has resolved itself.

I also thought that I lost my very first toe nail from running, but alas it was just my nail polish that fell off.


Pro #10: I have all my toenails.

Pro #11: This TINY little blister was the only (visible) battle wound that I suffered. I’ll take that as a win.


For the next following days, by body (specifically the knees) just hurt. I didn’t want to do a thing. I pretty much felt like this baby elephant when trying to do anything.


Two weeks later, as I recall everything that happened…it was still one of the worse runs I have ever done but I’m glad I did it.

On a final note, I know I posted it on Instagram immediately after the run, but I just want to again thank a few people (in no particular order…except for the few who can put themselves wherever they wish on the list):

Biggest thank you to “Old Man“.

Thank you to the amazing volunteers and runners who encouraged me along the way.

A million thanks to the entire Brazen Racing Crew. They’re just…the best ever.

Thank you to J, That Girl, Amer, the Chef and MLou for noticing me on course and telling me I’m doing amazing and that you were proud of me.

To A, Dare and Big D, although I heard the “Dings” and “Pings” from email/texts notifications and didn’t read one word of them…I just KNEW what the messages consisted of (I knew they were from you when I went to take pictures and saw the notices) and it kept me going.

All of you, You all meant the world to me and helped me get through that effin thing.

I couldn’t ask for a better FRamily (friends/family).





8 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Fantastic recap. And you’re an effin beast. Boom.

Comment by Runningfromitall

I really enjoyed reading your recap… and now I have zero desire to ever run it, lol!

Also… I totally race result stalk people too. I wish I didn’t, but I do.

Comment by Pandora Viltis

Maybe just the single 7 mile Dipsea race can be put on your bucket list. If that was the one I did thos recap would be completely different. I think everyone race stalks someone. It’s healthy competition.

Comment by Attempted Runner

Great job on Dipsea, that sounds ridiculously hard. I totally race stalk, if I can find results, I look them up and analyze anything I can.

Comment by Falyn @ Slacker Runner

I’m starting to think race result stalking is common. :0) welcome to the club.

Comment by Attempted Runner

I’ve nominated you for a Very Inspiring Blogger Award on my site. 🙂

Comment by Judith / soveryslightlymad

Bad. Ass. 🙂

Comment by dgobs

Something like that. Haha thanks

Comment by Attempted Runner

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