Moody Road with a twist

I ran the normal Moody Road loop in Los Altos Hills except for the section in the ranch area where I took a steeper and longer route. I actually liked it better then the previous route because it was not muddy (the other trail was a complete mud pile the last few times) and the view from the top of the hill was awesome. Total time was 65 minutes with about 10.5 miles covered. I ran today because I am completely busy tomorrow, which is going to be the default rest day.

Swirling Clouds on Windy Hill

Another great run at Windy Hill Open Space Preseve! I did the exact same loop as the one last Tuesday – the Razorback Ridge/Hamms Gulch Loop with a side loop up Windy Hill summit and the Anniversary Trail. Total time was around 85 minutes with about 12.5 miles covered. The base of the run was partly sunny, but fog and low clouds shrouded the upper part. It was sweet to run in the swirling clouds streaming over the ridge atop the exposed Windy Hill. The temperature was comfortably in the low 50s the entire run, and I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed the clouds as much had it been cold up there! I am tempted to run everyday, but I know I am due for a complete rest day from running (or at most a short jog) so tomorrow I will probably just hit the gym.

Shake-out

Today I did an easy run around campus for 52 minutes. The weather continues to be gorgeous with temps in the upper 50’s and clear skies. However, the weather is expected to become much more active later in the week with rain, wind, and cooler temps. Some of the trails become super muddy (the sticky kind) during rains so today was a good opportunity to run them. I’ll definitely enjoy it while it lasts!

In other news, I am going to get started on my papers this long weekend (a 25 pager and a 35 pager). I have been delaying the inevitable for a few weeks and I really would prefer to finish sooner rather than later with no finals on tap. Therefore, I am starting riiiiight…. NOW!

Sequoia 20k Run

This morning I ran another Pacific Coast Trail Run (PCTR), choosing the 20k at the Sequoia event. I was aiming to beat the previous course record of 1:26.34 which I knew would not be easy. However, thanks to the great weather and good course conditions, I was able to better the record by 4 minutes coming in at 1:22.35. The first 4k and the last 2k of the course were in Joaquin Miller Park and the remainder was in Redwood Regional Park with a 5.4k stretch along the fantastically beautiful French Trail. The French trail features some steep hills, but running through the thick redwood forest more than compensates.

I was on target to beat the record throughout the first part of the course and I was feeling good so I was able to pick it up a little in the later stages. My overall pace was about 6:42 per mile, but as with most trail races, actual pace was quite variable, ranging from 8+ minutes per mile on the steep hills to sub 6 minutes on the flatter sections.

It was a pleasure to run in another great event organized by PCTR with superlative course marking, great post-race food, and fun mingling with other runners. It was also nice to chat with some fellow Stanford Law students who came out for some trail running.

15 Favorite Trail Runs Near Stanford

It’s amazing how much great running there is so close to Stanford! I honestly cannot think of anywhere else where there is so many miles and so much variety in the trail running opportunities. In addition, the moderate marine climate here is almost perfect for running. Here is my list of favorite spots I have checked out so far. All of these places are within 25 minutes driving from my studio on the Stanford Campus, and most are under 15 minutes.

  1. Huddart Park: Gorgeous single-track trails in cool redwoods that are graded perfectly for pleasurable running
  2. Windy Hill OSP: The Razorback Ridge-Hamms Gulch Loop is one of the best and views from the top of Windy Hill are amazing!
  3. Los Altos Hills: Miles of cinder pathways in a nice setting of mini-ranches
  4. El Corte de Madera Creek OSP: Tons of trails in deep forest providing a wilderness feeling
  5. Wunderlich Park: Great trails with a super nice stretch along the Skyline Ridge to Huddart Park.
  6. Portola Valley Ranch: Great paths in oak and madrone forest
  7. Monte Bello OSP & Upper Stevens Creek Park: Great mix of fire roads and single track through meadows and forest.
  8. Skyline Ridge – Russian Ridge – Long Ridge: Great running through meadows and forest with spectacular vistas.
  9. Rancho San Antonio – Black Mountain: Fantastic trail running, especially beyond the popular trails in Rancho.
  10. Hidden Villa: Tucked away off Moody Road with some great trails connecting to Rancho San Anontio and Black Mountain.
  11. Arastradero Park: Open grasslands and spectacular views
  12. Phleger Estate: Access via Huddart Park with some nice, but steep trails
  13. Foothills Park: The Los Trancos trail is a fun loop
  14. Baylands Park: Totally flat along the salt marshes of the SF Bay
  15. Edgewood Park & Pulgas Ridge OSP: Grasslands and oak forest with some great trails

Phleger Estate

Today I checked out the Phleger Estate, a park that is adjacent to Huddart Park, for some new trails to run. The “entry” trail into the Phleger Estate from Huddart Park, the Mirramontes Trail, is fantastic trail running for about 1.5 miles. From here, it was essentially all uphill, first on the Mount Redondo Trail and then on the Lonely Trail. The Mount Redondo Trail was steep and then the upper stages of the Lonely Trail were very steep. It was so steep for so long that I had to stop and walk for a few seconds at one point, but it turns out I didn’t have much hill to go so next time there will be no walking there! After I finally made it up to Skyline Blvd., the rest of the run was on familiar ground in Huddart Park and I got into a rhythm. Total running time was 70 minutes and distance was probably about 10.5 miles with 2,000+ elevation gain. This is definitely a beautiful place to go for a challenging hill climb up to Skyline Blvd. Next time I will also check out the Raymundo Trail which looks cool and would likely make for a 75-80 minute loop.

Image: The famous trail signs in Phleger Estate Park.

Windy Hill

The running at Windy Hill was so good last weekend that I returned today! The run was about 12.4 miles and took 85 minutes. It definitely helped knowing the trails and how much uphill I had left to properly allocate my energy. The first part of the run was the same as last time running from the parking area off Portola Road to Razorback Ridge via Eagle Trail. Once atop Skyline Ridge, the Lost Trail was awesome as before. Instead of turning off to Hamms Gulch Trail, I continued on to the Anniversary Trail and the summit of Windy Hill making a small loop and then returning back to Hamms Gulch Trail and the descent. This side run added about two miles to the total and featured amazing views of the entire Bay Area as the evening light was perfect. With bluebird skies, temps in the mid 60s, great trails, and awesome views, I can’t complain!

Elena Road

After a couple hilly runs I was ready for a relatively flatter outing that would allow me to get into a rhythm and open it up. The Elena Road Loop in Los Altos Hills fit the bill. I felt pretty good aside from tired legs on the hillier sections and ran it quite fast covering close to 10.5 miles in 62 minutes. Gorgeous weather definitely helped with clear skies, temps nudging up towards 70 degrees, and a light breeze. The great news is that the nice weather streak is set to continue through this entire week and next weekend! Fantastic!

La Sportiva’s Fireblade & Windy Hill

There were two first time events today: the first time running at Windy Hill Open Space Preserve and this first time running in La Sportiva’s Fireblade performance trail running shoe. Both were successful!

First, the La Sportiva’s Fireblade (pictured to the right – mine are gray). This shoe won the Runner’s World Best Debut award last year and has received phenomenal reviews. I decided to try them out and from the beginning they felt super comfortable. The shoes handled everything on the trail masterfully with excellent traction up the hills and muddy sections. Coming in at 11.89 ounces, the Fireblade was able to provide sufficient cushion without weighing me down. I highly recommend checking out the Fireblade as a lightweight trainer for trail running!

Second, the run at Windy Hill. I had previously overlooked this open space preserve thinking that it was nothing more than an exposed and windy area with steep fire roads. While running in Portola Valley last week, I realized that most of the hillside is not barren and is in fact heavily forested – my kind of running! Also, I found out that only one trail is a fire road, the Spring Ridge Trail, and the others are single track trails. I decided to go up the Razorback Ridge Trail and down the Hamms Gulch Trail hoping for the best. I was super excited to find excellent single track switchbacking up the hillside in thick forest consisting of oak, madrone, and fir.

The 2.3 mile hill section up Razorback Ridge is one of the best hill climbs I have ever done! Great slope grade for running (and maintaining a rhythm), super nice surface, and great scenery. Moreover, on a warm (68 degrees!) and sunny weekend afternoon, there was nobody on the Razorback Ridge trail! Once atop Skyline Ridge, I took the Lost Trail for 1.7 miles to the Hamms Gulch cutoff. This flatter section of trail was awesome with great views of the bay near the Hamms Gulch junction. The Hamms Gulch Trail downhill section was tons of fun. I started from the Portola Valley parking lot near Sausal Pond and added a small loop of Meadow Trail; total running time was 77 minutes for ~11 miles. All smiles on this run and I will definitely be back to run this loop again :)

Redwood Regional

Today I did a 12.5 mile run (1:32) in Redwood Regional Park and Joaquin Miller Park in the East Bay outside of Oakland. The run featured about 2,000 feet of gain, but most of it came in very steep sections. The downhill parts were steep, rocky, and muddy making for slow going. I am a hesitant downhill runner so I need to work on opening it up when possible. I felt ok today, not great in the beginning, better in the middle section, and then not so great on the final set of hills. The first run after a day off has a tendency to feel stagnant so hopefully tomorrow I will feel light as a feather!

As further motivation, I am super excited to test out the La Sportiva Fireblade’s I received. The shoe is lightweight at 11.89 oz (477 grams) but still burly with some cushion for the rocks and roots. The shoe was voted the best debut in Runner’s World. The Fireblade comes in gray as well, which is the color that I chose.