My route: I went over to Marin county today and did a nice 6 hour run on the north side of Mt. Tam on Marin Municipal Water District land. I've hiked and run on Mt. Tam a few times before, but always on the southern/western/Pantoll side. I generally don't like to drive to start a run, but I knew I'd be out long enough today to make it worth it. Traffic through Richmond and over the bridge is generally not that bad, and parking was easy and free, so that's points for Tam over Diablo or anything in the South Bay or on the peninsula. I started at Natalie Greene park above Ross Commons, up Tucker and Indian Rd., down a ridge to Lake Lagunitas, up to Collier springs, on Upper North Side and Benstein to Rock Spring, down the Cataract trail to Alpine Lake, Helen Markt, Kent, Bon Tempe Shadyside, and Fish Gulch back to Phoenix Lake and back to where I started.
I liked the area. Not giant trees like in Muir Woods or even the French Trail in Redwood Regional, but generally a good amount of shade, and a good ratio of singletrack to fire-roads. (Definitely a better ratio than Diablo). There are hundreds of trails in this area, so as a newby I carried a map and had to pull it out every ten minutes to see which junction I was at. That's annoying but it's my fault, not the park's. I liked bombing down the Cataract trail a lot. It maybe wasn't Bald Ridge Trail on Diablo, but it's good, lots of steps and roots and rocks to jump off of. The Lagunitas Fire Trail ridge I went down earlier had too many sections that were fields of unstable rocks about the size of my foot for my taste--bigger and you don't set them in motion, smaller and you run right over them, but the middle size makes me slow down a bit. Helen Markt, Kent, and Bon Tempe Shadyside were all good too. They're just lakeside rolling contouring, but there aren't unnecessary ups and there's good shade--much better than the route around Briones reservoir.
My gear: I don't usually think much about running gear, because I don't run enough as it is, so I just need to shut up and go do it, but I did a little thinking about it this time. I read Tony Krupicka's blog, and most of the time I think "Dude, would you put on a shirt already?" but sometimes I think "does that guy wear socks?" When I ran on Wednesday, I wore a pair of WrightSock cool-mesh lo-quarter socks and loved them. I was surprised, because I normally wear full quarter socks and have found no-show or low-cut socks to slip down and then my Achilles rubs painfully. (Do you build up resistance to this? Based on how raw this area can get on long hikes with full socks, I'm just imagining it getting progressively worse.) Anyway, these lo-quarters were fantastic. The extra inch or two of breathing room made my feet feel great, and they were just high enough that there was no rubbing. So I bought another couple pairs and wore one today. They slipped all the way off my heel and up to my toes and I was constantly having to pull them up, meanwhile they were soaking up blood from my raw Achilles. Wrightsocks always feel extra slick when I wear them before washing, so I'll give these one more try before I try and find another low or no-show sock with a tab that's big enough and will stay up.
Headphones. It seems that most companies have moved away from earbuds towards what I'll call "earplug" type headphones. I just got a new pair since my previous ones started cutting out in one ear, which is inevitable. I totally meant to keep the receipt since they often don't last their waranteed year, but I failed to do that. Anyway, I don't like them. They stay in my ear less well than the old bud kind (but they do have different sized plug attachments, so I need to experiment with that) and they act like ear plugs, so you can't hear what's going on outside, and your pulse and chewing food are now crazy loud. Are these better for my long-term hearing somehow? I think loud concerts are screwing me on that account anyway, so I just want something that doesn't bounce out, and I don't like the behind the ear do-dads because they're like grappling hooks and get caught on stuff when they're in my pocket/backpack.