Saturday, July 7, 2012

Miwok 100k

Time to blow the dust off the keyboard. Since Bandera 100k  I really haven't had much to report about.  I had quite a few races on the radar but due to injury, I was either unable to complete them or unable to start.  In February Keira and I took a trip up to Washington to do the Orcas Island  50 K. But going into the race with an IT band problem I only made it 16 miles into the race, and ended up hobbling back the 8 miles that I was away from the start and finish line.  At that point in time I knew I needed to lay off the racing and training and give my body a break. That meant the races I had on my schedule, Old Goats 50, and  Zane Grey 50  were no longer possible. After one month of no running and another month of a very low mileage,  I began aggressively training and in the process caused a new injury to my hamstring at the attachment point up by my glute.( I had a pain in my ass!) on the opposite leg of the IT band. With two weeks of therapy, and a burning desire to not only race but to see what type of shape I was in I decided to race the San Juan Trail 50k. I had a respectable time although the distance was a bit short of a 50k. I don't feel that racing exasperated the bad hamstring, but it didn't help.
Going into Miwok I still had not done a training run or a race over 27 miles, With my longest training week being 80 miles and average being about 50. At the start line I was still tentative about whether or not I would have a good race. I had a week of poor sleeping as I was covered in poison oak that I received during the  marking of Keira's Leona Divide 50 mile course. I came around one corner that had the nasty oily leafed foe growing next to and leaning over into the trail. So armed with only a stick and wearing only my shorts and shoes I proceeded to hack it down. Well unknowingly every swat was spraying the oil on me. No I didn't wash with Technu as I didn't have any and didn't think I needed it, as I never touched it. Boy was I wrong. Anyway I went in with no elaborate plan, and my only strategy being  to enjoy these new trails in a new place and to run my own race. But come what may here I was on the start line, lined up next to fellow Rudy Project teammate and friend Chris Price, who was my pick to win it, with the knowledge that he has just been killing it, with his third place finish at Keira's inaugural Ray Miller 50 miler, and his win and new course record at the Old Goats 50 miler a little bit more then a month previous. That was until I saw Ultrarunner of the year Dave Mackey who was on the entrants list but had heard he was not going to race. Believe none of what you hear and only half of what you see, right?
5 AM start Mile  0 - 6.1 Stinson Beach to  Bolinas Ridge aid station:
Photo: Glenn Tachiyama
We started out pretty mellow with Dave and Chris being the only two faces in the lead pack that I recognized. We were a pretty large group as we started to make our across Hwy 1 and up a blacktop road. I didn't really want to be out front, but the pace was mellow and lent  itself to a large group running together, and I figured I would at least run with my buddy for as long as I felt comfortable.  The need for headlamps was apparent as Chris let us up the blacktop road and around a right hand corner while the markings for the trail told us to go left. In the darkness we did not see the markers but someone in the group yelled trail this way! At which point we turned around, now about 10 people back and now on singletrack.
Not too worried about my placement at this point. But as we continue up up up up and away I knew Chris was behind me, and would be itching to get around and get up to the front where he likes to run. As he worked his way up through the line I finally heard him come up behind me and I stepped off trail to let him by. It was only a minute or two before I  began to be annoyed with a couple of other runners in front of me, one for having his headphones on so loud that I could hear the music and the next one tripping over rocks and stumps. I also  felt the pace was a little slow, and saw Chris and Dave up ahead starting to break away from the pack, so I sprinted around the four or five runners that separated us, and slowly worked my way up to Chris and Dave. It didn't take long and I  noticed that I had started sweating. Although I didn't feel the pace was that fast, sweating was a good sign that I needed to slow down. I settled into a pace  that I was comfortable with. Dave and Chris would put a little gap on me as we hit the uphills and I would close on the descents. We carried on this way as the full moon now big and orange, lit the ocean waters that was now very visible as we ran through the open grassy singletrack area that was off camber, wet, and  barely visible, as the light was still dim and the grass and thistles were drooping over, hiding the uneven trail. After a bit of winding through up and around and out of  this grassy area and into a wooded section it was soon just me Dave and Chris. That was short lived as another runner came up on us, which  I was not too happy about, because I had the need to relive myself of my morning hot chocolate and seeming perfect hydration. I allowed him to go around me so that I could implement a skill that I have learned that if you can do as you run, slows you down a little bit but not nearly as much as stopping. I took a gel just before the Bolinas Ridge aid station which I had no idea we were coming up on, as I don't wear any sort of timing or gps system.  But it worked perfectly, gel, chased down with the remainder of my water and here was the fill up.
Mile 6.1 to 12.6 Bolinas Ridge to Randall Trail:
After a quick splash and go, and a  thank you to the aid station volunteers, we were off and  running again. Dave and Chris out first and then me and Marc Laveson. With all the excitement and activities going on in the aid station I  forgot to shed the headlamp! The next section was a roller coaster of ups and downs that lead us up to a beautiful vista that looking out to the east showed off the morning sun rise that caused me to be lost in the moment and reminded me that this is why I love to be out on the trails. It also was the section that led us into the soft forest floor of giant redwood. It wasn't really a group of four but rather two groups of two as me and Marc ran just a few seconds behind  Chris and Dave for the next few miles. As we began the descent down to the  Randall  Trail aid station this is where Dave and Chris really started to go, with Mark not far behind. It was at this point that I could feel my back beginning to tighten up and my breathing becoming labored, so I decided to back off and not chase. As we the trail switched back and forth I could see Chris had pulled a little in front of Dave and looked as if Marc was giving chase. Soon they were out of sight and the only indication that I had of there distance from me was when I heard the screams from the aid station. Just before I had a visual on the aid station I saw Chris returning back up with Dave not too far behind. There are some good highlights of this section that was posted to you tube by Jim Vernon, titled, 2012 Miwok 100 Trail Run . As I was coming in I saw Keira ready and waiting to switch out my bottles, one with water and the other with my secret mix. I didn't even break stride, just tossed my old bottles, and  headlamp, grabbed my replacement,s and turned around to head back up.  I Saved a lot of time with this because as I started up I could still see Dave just around 50 meters up on me, and Marc, who had arrived at the aid station ahead of me was now back behind me. Dave and Chris in at 1:42:00 and Me and Marc in at 1:43:00
Photo: Karen Bonnett

Mile 12.6 to 19.1 Randall Trail to Bolinas Ridge:
As I turned to head up I thought I would give my hamstring a little test and put in a little turn of speed and force my body to do a little work on this climb to see how it would react. As we started up I could see Chris and Dave for a couple of the turns but it wasn't long before they were out of sight. This being an out and back I could also see how close everyone else was to me. The gaps back were not huge but there was a little cushion as long as I could hold my pace. But it was still early and a lot could change. This was a very fun section for me, as I got to see all of my friends that were running in this year's Miwok as well as every other runner that had started the race. They energy and excitement from all of my friends and other participants seemed to help me along. Although it seemed that Marc was able to catch me with great ease at the start of the climb back up to Bolinas, I kept waiting for the moment when  he would just  fly around me. It never happened. Instead he would close the gap and the next thing I knew I would put some distance on him, we yo-yoed like this all the way to the next aid station. I kept getting updates from the other runners that the leaders were only a couple hundred yards up, but I  never saw Dave and Chris, and at that point I didn't even care. I was just happy to be in the position I was in and had Keira's words ringing in my ears to just run your own race and enjoy yourself.  I hit Bolinas Ridge aid station for my second and final time and was happy to be still feeling rather fresh, the tightness in my back had now loosened up. It was another quick stop, one water bottle fill up and one piece of cantaloupe in hand and I was off.

Mile 19.1 to 26.2 Bolinas Ridge to Stinson Fire Department
I was only a short distance from the aid station on the single track when I lost concentration for a split second and rolled my ankle, it wasn't bad enough to cause massive swelling as I was quick enough to transfer my weight off of it.  I knew what I needed to do and that was to  just keep running on it and it would stay loose. Marc was soon with me again and we ran together back through the of camber grassy singletrack.
photo:Brett Rivers

Photo: John Medinger

 This did not feel good on the ankle. I kept trying to look up in the distance to try and catch a glimpse of Dave or Chris as the last I heard from the volunteers at the aid station was that I was 4 minutes down. Then as I rounded one corner there was Daves white shirt off in the distance. But could not take my eyes off the trail long enough to see if Chris was with, ahead, or behind him. I think it was his green shirt that made him blend in with the green grass that made him impossible to see (perfect plan my friend!) or maybe he was just that far out of sight. The descent down to the Stinson Beach fire station, I took it a  little easy due to my rolled ankle, although I really wanted to rip it as I was feeling pretty good considering how far into the race we were and my low training mileage. I came into the the 26.2 aid station in good spirits, how could you not with a large crowd cheering you on. I was pumped to see Keira again, who had my fresh bottles ready and waiting. I nearly did a flyby hand off until I remembered that my Salt Stick salt pills were in my water bottle pocket that I had just tossed and saw that Elissa Price had my Rudy glasses in her hands, so I stopped for both only briefly. Oh yeah and decided to loose my INKnBURN  Socal Coyotes shirt. As I took off Keira yelled out that Chris was 6 minutes up on me. Me and Marc came in pretty much together at 3:34:00
photo: Chan-Chan

Mile 26.2 to 33.5  Stinson Fire Dept to Muir Beach
Well this stint didn't start out too well. Your on blacktop road and you make your way down to what I think may have been hwy 1, turn left and then you are SUPPOSE to continue straight following the orange ribbon hanging all over the trees on the side of the road that leads you to the trail about 100 meters up. But not me, no, I turn the corner and then take my immediate next left onto someones driveway that leads up to there house. I was wondering why I didn't see any trail markings as I was heading up the road. Keira and I always say when we mark the turns at her races that you have to be a re-tard to miss this turn. Well on this day I was definitely a retard. As soon as I came back down and looked left there I saw plain as day all the ribbons leading the way to the trail. That cost me about 2 minutes, and put me back into 4th as Marc scooted around me into 3rd while I was off adding distance and checking out the neighborhood around Stinson Beach. I hit the trail and was back on track and after about a half mile noticed Marc about 30 seconds up on me. I slowly worked my way up to him, finally catching him as we hit the Dipsea steps. I hiked, yes hiked past him. Telling him that I don't care what I've heard how if your going to finish this race in the top 10 that you have to run the whole course. I'm hiking these steps. And he agreed. We developed a sort of pacing friendship out there on the course. Didn't really talk much but silently kept each other company. I made it to the top ahead of Marc, but felt my hamstring starting to give me some trouble. I hit the bottom of the descent and tried to get my turnover going on the one of only 2 FLAT sections of the whole Miwok course, leading to the Muir beach aid station.  As I ran into the aid station there was Keira with a  fresh bottle in hand and another bottle that she handed to me with the words "drink all of this"! I didn't know its contents and didn't bother to ask, just followed orders. What I did know was that she had a bag full of watermelon that I reached into a took a handful of. I also voiced that I need some ibuprofen at the next stop, Tennessee Valley. Her reply was that she couldn't get there due to road construction. Although it was great to see Keira at the aid stations, for a quick shot of enthusiastic encouragement and for quick transitions, I had already prepared for her not to make it there by sending a drop bag that would be waiting at Tennessee Valley with everything I needed to make my 20 mile round trip, except for ibuprofen.  I now had to prepare myself for a long painful 20 miles of trails before I would be back to this aid station and get some pain medication.

Mile 33.5 to 38.1  Muir Beach to Tennessee Valley
As I headed out from the aid station I saw Marc heading in, so I knew that he had fallen off my pace a little bit as we had previously been step for step into each aid station, but now a little over a minute back. I turned the corner to make my way up the first climb, and there was Jim Vernon again with his camera, filming as I climbed. He was feeding me course info, telling me the splits for Chris and Dave and giving me a boost of confidence as he said I was looking fresher then the other two. I turned to look down as I approached the top of the short climb and saw Marc in pursuit but no one else heading in to the aid station. That was a good sign. The open fire roads were steep and long, providing good opportunity to see ahead and behind. I kept looking up but saw neither Dave or Chris in the distance. I only looked back a couple of times but each time I was not able to make out Marc's blue jersey. My gait had started to change due to the hamstring and I could feel the other muscles in my leg beginning to fatigue. I started to see more and more hikers and runners out enjoying the beautiful San Francisco weather and as I descended on the singletrack leading into the Tennessee valley I kept getting reports from them on my placement and distance behind what would now be just Chris because they would say your not too far back. That was encouraging news. As I started to near the blacktop road I could see a lot of parked cars and  hear crowd chatter and figured the aid station must be just ahead. I began planning out what I needed from my drop bag but as I hit the 200 foot stretch of  blacktop that leads you to the aid station, there was my Keira with fresh bottles and a slew of stuff to drink and most importantly some ibuprofen. Such a nice surprise and SO needed.  So off I went with my hands full, two bottles in one hand and oranges and a couple potatoes in the other. The update was that Dave was 16 and Chris was 8 minutes up on me. I guess not too far back is a matter of perspective.

Mile 38.1 to 42.8 Tennessee Valley to Bridgeview
This section started with for a little change a long gradual climb. The gradient was runnable but the legs said walk, that is until I looked back about halfway up it, maybe a bit over a half mile from the aid station. What I saw was not Marc's blue shirt but rather an orange shirt and it was moving pretty fast. I didn't know if it was a racer or just someone out on a training run, but I couldn't take any chances, so I picked my pace up a bit. I was hoping the pain meds would kick in pretty quick as the hammy was hurting pretty good. The only thing that seemed to help was to keep my hand on my butt and push on the muscle as I engaged it, but that would only work on the uphills, on the downs all bets were off and I just had to deal with it. I don't remember a lot of this section but I do remember the view of the golden gate bridge and the last downhill coming into the aid station and the inspirational signs that were posted on the sides of the trail that I was barely able to get a glimpse of as I was too worried about my footing. The volunteers at this aid station were great in the fact that they ran at me to get my bottles and fill them with what I needed. Just fill em up with water I said, as I had my Nuun ready to drop in and go. One piece of melon, a small cup of coke, full bottles and I was out in less then 30 seconds. Time gap at this aid station was exactly as it was at Tennessee Valley. So I was able to maintain or at least match Dave and Chris. 42.8 miles Dave Mackey 6:00 hours, Chris Price 6:08, Myself in at 6:16

Mile 42.8 to 50.5 Bridgeview to Tennessee Valley
I now began to switch my gaze from behind me to in front of me to see if I could catch a glimpse of Daves white shirt or Chris's bare back, as I was sure he had dropped his shirt already (actually surprised he even started with a shirt to begin with). I had no idea where the course went, but the open expanse displayed many trails and open roads which lead me to think I might catch sight of the prey. Not exactly ready or even able to go hunting at this point but would have still been nice to have them in sight. Yeah I never saw them. Had a nice descent that ended with a left turn through a gate which I took advantage of as a stretching apparatus for my hamstrings. The next mile or so the trail began to close in and soon the trail enemy began to show its ugly face, POISON OAK! I took great care to touch nothing green but was very glad that I was wearing my INKnBURN leg sleeves which protected me very well I must say. Came up onto a road crossing where the volunteers were waiting to make sure we made it safely across. Another mile or so and I hit the beach, to do a little bit of sand running to break things up, ugh!
Photo: Glenn Tachiyama

 As I headed up to the little bridge crossing, there was Glen Tachiyama and Greg Lanctot throwing out cheers, taking photos, and giving time gaps. 10 minutes to Chris and another 10 to Dave. The cheers got me going and I think the Ibuprofen finally started to kick in just in time as the climb up to Wolf Ridge began to smack me in the face. I again tried to look up the mountain to see if a ten minute gap meant Chris was still in sight. There were so many hikers out that I wasn't able to get a fix on Chris, but I told myself that the one that was furthest away was him. I hit a section of steps which I attacked as if it was one of the high rise stair climb competitions that I have participated in. A quick glance back at the top of the steps revealed that I was still under assault by Mr orange shirt, although I estimated it to be about a 10 min gap. At the top of Wolf Ridge I could look down to the east and see the Tennessee Valley aid station and what looked to be 5 miles of tail to get to it, good news though, mostly down hill. As I neared the aid station I let out a coyote howl to let Keira and any other SoCal Coyotes know I was coming in. Sure enough there was Keira with arms full of different things to eat and drink. "Down this, take this and drink all of this!"I don't ask questions, just do what I'm told. That is all except for the Ibuprofen that she had for me. I told her I didn't need it. The only item that I knew the contents of was a Guayaki Yeba Matte energy shot. grabbed a package of menthos and grabbed my fresh bottles from Dominic Grossman, who I found out later was asked by Keira to help out when I got in to fill them up. Reason being, my lovely lady not only drove to the Tennessee Valley aid station after she said she couldn't get there in time due to construction back at Muir beach mile 33.5 and just got there a minute before I arrived but she also drove back to Muir beach not knowing T.V. was a double aid station and we would hit it twice, at mile 38 and then again at mile 50.5. When she found out she then drove back to T.V. again getting there with only seconds to spare, all to make sure I had what I needed before my push back to Muir Beach! Wow thank you honey!

Mile 50.5 to 54.6 Tennessee Valley to Muir Beach
Photo: Dominic Grossman ( unicorn)

With Dominic running along side , taking  pictures, and excitingly feeding me course info that I had a bit of flat then a pretty good climb up to and then down and around pirates cove and then back up before I hit the muir beach aid station, and the time gap back from Chris now at 6 minutes, he gave me just the boost I needed to begin my chase. That didn't mean that I was able to increase my pace, I just mentally switched my focus forward and not on what was going on behind and I never looked back again. I crested the hill to see another jewel of the Miwok course, Pirates Cove.
Photo: Myles Smythe

 But again I was unable to fully enjoy the beauty as I began to descend I again rolled my right ankle. And this time it hurt enough to let out loud verbal cursing.  The trail now demanded my full attention as I could not let this happen again. So down into the cove I went and came to a spot where the trail split. I paused just long enough to look for ribbons, and to give a quick glance up the climb. I couldn't believe what I was seeing, there was Chris cresting the hill!  That was the first time that I saw him since mile 13, hours ago!  It looked to me like he was around 4 or 5 minutes up on me. As I approached the spot where I saw Chris there again were Glen T and Greg L taking photos and encouraging me to go get Chris. I was on the small steep downhill that I had climbed a couple hours previous that lead to the aid station and now I could hear the cheers that I thought were spurring Chris on but could have very well have been cheers for runners heading out for their 20 mile out and back.  Either way Chris was out of the aid station and on his way to the finish line without me able to catch a glimpse of him. That was fine with me, I would rather he didn't know I was catching him.
Photo: Chandra Farnham

 Coming in to the aid station was Chandra Farnham telling me how far up Chris was and asking if I needed anything, I asked if they had any potatoes at the station as I reached my Keira who was waiting with the usual fresh supplies of  water, nuun and a quick 300 calorie shot of CarboPro mixed with 6oz of water, and the shot of encouragement that is always the most needed. As I turn to leave Chandra puts a dinner size portion of potatoes in my hand and tells me to go get Chris. My reply was I am still going to buy my time up the climb and attack descending the dipsea steps with 3 miles to go.

Mile 54.6 to 62.2 Muir Beach to FINISH
This section started with the mile or so of flat that we had on our way out to Muir beach. I tried my best to keep a fast pace through this which proved to be a little more difficult then it was I my initial trip as now I was hitting many oncoming runners and a tad bit more fatigued. As I started on the climb I could feel every mile that I now had on my legs and found it hard to keep pushing my pace, but knew if I wanted to catch Chris I needed to dig deep and keep it moving. I now did one thing that up until now I hadn't since the race start, that being stop to pee, that takes time! I was still hitting oncoming runners although far and few between but I didn't want to chance it. After my short break I came upon Gary Gellin who was running toward me and stopped his forward progress to tell me he was on his way out to pace a runner in, and gave me some much needed info about Chris. Looking at his watch he tells me that he passed Chris 2/10ths of a mile back which equates to about 2 min and I can surely catch him.That should have lit a fire under me but I couldn't remember how much more climbing I had before I hit the downhill and the Dipsea stairs and didn't want to get into a sprint war with him this far out. As it was I was pushing pretty hard although I still had a little left for the last couple miles. I crested the climb and began my descent and let it all go, although all I could think about was if I turned my ankle one more time that it might just finish my day and all that I had worked for would be over, so I held back just a little to make sure my foot placement was on solid ground. I hit the bridge crossing and turned left and knew that I was now on the final couple miles of the course as I had run this portion of the course the day before with Keira and Jimmy Dean Freeman. What I didnt remember from the day before course preview was how hard the climb out of the dark forest was, so different on tired legs, but I told myself if I was able to run it yesterday then you can surely run it today, so get moving. As soon as I got to the open area that gave me a glimpse of the inviting ocean on my left and the massive hills that we had climbed at the start of our venture hours ago on my right, my eyes focused on at first the switch backs that lead to a couple of rollers but in the distance a more inviting moving object. I couldn't believe it. It was Chris going over the rollers and looked to be less then a minute up! But I was running out of real estate. I reckon he had about a half mile to go and I had a little less than 3/4 of a mile. I immediately attacked with everything I had left. I hit the blacktop road, crossed hwy 1, and made the left hand turn toward the beach and saw him right before he turned a corner a little over a  hundred meters up. All I could think was I hope we finish where we started because if we do then I got him! The spectators were out, the cheers were loud, but as I rounded the corner the finish line was right there, along with my fellow Rudy Project Ultra Running team member and buddy Chris Price welcoming me in.

Photos: Tanford Tahoe

 9 hours 28 min and 55 seconds over 63 miles and 13,000 feet of climbing left me in third place 25 seconds behind Chris Price at 9:28:30 and 14:49 behind  Dave Mackey at 9:14:06.

WOW what a spectacular course! Great aid stations with awesome volunteers!  Thank you Tia Bodington for rerouting the course so that Miwok 100k still exists, even if it is tougher and longer then then original.
And of course the person that is responsible for making it the best race ever my girl Keira. Thank you INKnBurn for making the most comfortable running clothing with the raddest designs anywhere! Thank you Rudy Project for making the most technically cool eyewear to keep my eyes dust free and comfortably shaded all day. Ellisa Price for bringing the Technu to wash off whatever poison oak oil I encountered on the course. Brooks Pure Grits for giving me the cush ride that kept me connected to the ground and blister free.

1 comment:

  1. Fun to (finally) read how it went down!

    Do you work out? Looks like it.