Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Miwok 100k: A Run Report

After the race; Jason, Olga, Stephen and Myself. Jason paced Olga, Steve paced me.Click here for more of my pics.

When I Run...I become the kind of man I wish I could be for every single day of my life. When I'm out there I am thankful/appreciative, for my resources and good health. I am joyful and at peace, just danged happy to be doing what I'm doing. I am courageous, taking it all on - flinching sometimes, whining even but moving forward nevertheless. I am hardworking and persevering, giving my best to achieve goals and challenges. I am non-judgemental and all loving. I don't care how slow or fast people are, I'm just glad they're out there. I'm especially gratefull for all the volunteers. I am inspired and in awe of God's creation, from the flower to the mountain, from the valley to the sea - always blown away. When I go long, especially on the trails, for a moment I become all these great things. It's an amazing transformation that reminds me who I should be all the time, on and off the trail. Does that make sense? Long distance running brings out the best in me.

This was my third year running Miwok and I was out to prove something, to myself and to my friends. The first year I got lost en route to an 11:30 finish, finishing at 12:15. The second year, vowing not to make the same mistake, I get lost on the exact same location! - finishing at 11:57. "I can do this!", I've yelled internally for the last two years.

I was nervous and anxious the week of the race. Couldn't sleep much and even lost my appettite. The kind of nervous energy that comes from knowing you have it together and this could be the big PR (personal record). Unlike the last two years I was coming in fresh and strong, no previous races. I was also better trained, a new training plan that emphasized intervals and recovery had me feeling strong and prepared. I'm a bit heavier than in the previous two years but I didn't think it would be factor. Finally I had a pacer, first time ever. Not even in my two 100-mile races did I have a pacer. I was as ready and set up as I was going to be. My goal was 11 hours, my secret goal was 10:30-10:45.

Race weekend started the moment Jason and I picked up Olga at BART on Friday night. Seemed like it was just yesterday when we said our goodbyes after American River 50. She was looking pretty damn cool with her new Montrail/Nathan Labs team jacket, they picked a good color. We had dinner and I dropped them off at Jason's apartment in North Beach. Saturday morning I'm running late, dumb MP3 player memory card was having problems. I didn't get to Jason's until 4:40AM, 10 minutes late. Olga apologized right away for not being a morning person. Well neither am I. I was only able to get an hour and a half of sleep (normal night before a race is 2 hours) and I left my coffee at the apartment because of all the rush. Coffee flavored energy gel, not ideal but it had to do. The moment we pull in to the parking lot the game was on. I was cool, calm and collected - ready. I picked up my number, used the bathroom and hurried back to the warmth of the car. Olga was out saying hello to everyone and they were all probably thinking "What the hell are you doing here? Didn't you win your age group last weekend at Zane Grey?" Race starts promptly at 4:45AM on the beach. Everyone runs down the beach and I position myself towards the first quarter of the field to avoid the bottleneck that develops when a beach full of runners try to squeeze into single track trail.

Wearing my HRM for the first time in an actual race, I keep a close watch on my heartbeat. Goal is to keep it at 20-30 beats below maximum, where you want to be for long, endurance efforts. My friend Brian who started behind me is nowhere to be seen, he just took off. I fully intended to go after him, but I kept my patience. "Easy Baby", I keep whispering it to myself. If Brian was truly faster and stronger I never had a chance and would have burned myself trying to catch him; however, if he simply started too fast then I have a chance down the line as his strength waned and my own continued to rise. I planned on a negative split, for you non-runners that means running the second half faster than the first. Anyway the sun came out but the weather remained cool. Everything was moving like clockwork. The volunteers as usual were terrific. Normally being very chatty and social, I keep the talking to a minimum. I say hello, introduce myself to some but never staying long enough to develop long conversations. 2 hours into the race I turn on the music. I sing as I run, unfortunately the player runs out of juice by the 5th hour - defective battery, it was new. Major bummer, the player was loaded with mellow music to help keep me in check and then some real loud agressive stuff for the second half. It wasn't so bad though, in one way it connected me back to the race. After a little over 5 hours I start attacking, 1.5 hours earlier than planned. The decision was prompted by the rolling terrain leading into the turnaround point at mile 36. I wanted to up the pace on the short downhill sections. On my water bottles I had Olga's splits from last year taped on the outside. The year before she finished at 11:07. My goal was to match her splits, her times at the different aid stations. Up until the turnaround point I was consistently 3-4 minutes behind her time, it was only at the turnaround point did I catch up. From that point on I started gaining, coming in a few minutes faster at every station heading back to the finish. I've never done splits before and it was really great to have them. It broke up the race into sections, it also tells you if you are behind or ahead of schedule. It was at this point that I stopped chasing other runners and concentrated on the clock. Passing runners became a consequence of my time goal and not the other way around. As I told Steve during the race, I don't care how many runners pass me as long as I stay ahead of Olga's second half splits and continue to gain on them.

At mile 42.8 I was supposed to pick up Stephen my pacer, he wasn't ready. Jason and him were fussing around in the car when I came through, Jason was pacing Olga. They had been waiting for an hour but went back to the car to grab some stuff. Stephen however is a faster runner and with fresh legs he had no problem catching up with me a half mile later. Stephen proves to be an amazing pacer. I give him an update on my race and I let him lead. He pulled me psychologically, I ran at a pace faster than I would have by myself. Is having a pacer cheating...it's been debated. I however have no guilty feelings since up to this point I've never had a pacer. Besides considering my less than ideal experiences at Miwok, I needed it. 2 miles from Pantoll I start to develop stomach problems, weird, I almost never have stomach problems. It slows me down until I realized that talking only made it worse. So after apologizing to Stephen in advance for the silence that was about to follow, I appointed him entertainment director. He could talk all he wanted so long as he understood I was only going to answer in grunts.

Stephen: So Amy and I rented "Memories of a Geisha"
Me: grunt
Stephen: Yeah we thought it was okay.
Me: more grunting...

Anyway I had the urge to stop drinking and eating but I forced the food and liquids down anyway. Too many stories of people getting worse when they succumbed to the loss appettite and thirst. One sure way to sabotage your race is to stop your nutrition. During the entire race I consumed the watery energy drink that they had, sliced boiled potatoes with salt, energy gel, switching to caffeinated energy gel late in the race and salt tablets. Worked like a charm for the most part. Lucky for me I didn't have nausea or the desire to hurl. That's the worst, you need the nutrients but you can't hold down food.

Right ITB starts to bother me again at mile 52-53. It bothered me at mile 15 and now it was back. I stopped to rub it and to my surprise I hear Georgia yelling at me. Err....didn't I drop her by mile 49. Georgia is a runner I met at the Quad Dipsea three years ago. I keep having to introduce myself because she keeps forgetting who I am. After Sunday I don't think she'll forget cause she chased me for half the race. She passed me at mile 33 and I passed her back at mile 34. During that time I reintroduced myself for the upteenth time and she never stopped chasing after that. She wasn't specifically trying to pass me, she had a time goal as well and I just happened to be there. I can totally relate. Stephen turns on his jets and encourages me to follow, "don't think so Stephen, too tired...well okay". We did this the whole way to the last aid station, passing people as we went, then again to the finish. He'd throw me a cookie when I pulled through, "good section, that was a good climb". I said "Stephen I think it will be close, maybe 10:58" and he said "uh no way" and proceeded to kick my butt even more. At certain points along the course he was as much as 15 yards ahead of me. The only way to talk to him was to run after him (by this time the stomach had settled down), damn it worked. We never got passed. At the top of the last climb I let out a victory yell. The downhill from the top of the hill to the finish was a favorite of mine's, in fact I would practice it while day dreaming that I was finishing Miwok under 11 hours. Well I was living it. I bombed downhill for the last time, finishing very, very strong and fast. So what did I say? 12:15 the first year and 11:57 the second year. Saturday, it was 10:47! I felt like a rockstar yet indebted to so many. The time placed me in 40th place out of 230 finishers. 15% of the field didn't make it.

Post race was filled with stories and meeting new people. Couldn't eat for 30-45 minutes but I finally managed to down a hotdog and some watermelon. Even got some Ice Cream for the road. My favorite memory was when I was on Bolinas Ridge on the way back to the finish line, I was looking back to see who was following me, you get the clearest view here. The runner chasing, just in front of Georgia, looks up and waves at me and yells "Good Job!". That just about killed my focus when I waved back and started laughing. It's hard to be competitive when they urge you forward. So later I paid it forward. I waved at a runner who was looking back at me, hehehehe. I love, love ultra. Anyway after picking up Stephen's car we all got some Mexican food then it was off to bed for me. Got home by 10PM, cleaned up, repacked a bag, printed new maps and was in bed by 11. I was on my way to the second half of the weekend, the last day of the Wildflower Triathlon.


  1. That's a busy weekend you had! Congrats on finishing MiWok! Being from the East, I can't even fathom running at altitude.

  2. Thanks Kim. Did you mean running a race with lots of elevation changes? Altitude wise we are still pretty low. The highest point in Marin county...I believe...is 2500ft. But while we may have a small mountain our hills don't stop, they just roll and roll and roll.