Miwok 100K Race Report
I will really try to keep this one short. For those of you who have read my prior race reports, you know how much of a challenge that is for me!
Great year of running in 2022. Record mileage and elevation. First two 100Ks in the books. HM PR. Full marathon PR/BQ.
But the recovery from my marathon was brutal. Down for 3 weeks with a groin soreness/strain. And then as I started to ramp things up, my calf periostitis -- not seen since 2021 -- was back. And from what I read, the periostitis treadmill can only be stopped with rest. Running on it just makes it worse. But, with Miwok three months away, I decided to run through it.
Had a good training month in April, but my overall fitness wasn't where it for last year's Miwok
My primary goal was ultimately to just finish and get my WSER lottery ticket refreshed. My secondary goal was to improve on my aid station game from last year. I spent 1h2m aggregate in aid stations last year, and I was hoping to cut that in half this year. By doing things like eating while running instead of eating at the station. Maybe I cut enough off my down time to more than compensate for my inferior fitness, and improve my time from last year, but that was a real longshot.
The forecast was for 10C (59F) at race time, a high of 15C (60F) during the day. Rain in the morning, and otherwise mostly cloudy.
Had an AirBnB just 300 meters from the start/finish. Got up on race morning, took care of business, got geared-up (with a raincoat) and headed-out.
I learned from last year that the race bottlenecks at the trailhead and remains a conga line up the initial climb, and then down again to Muir Beach. So I made an effort to get at the front of the pack (maybe 100 of 450 runners) so that I might suffer less from the conga line. And I did. It was much faster getting up to Cardiac and then back down to Muir Beach. I made up a minute or two from last year's time just by doing that.
Just after Cardiac, things were just getting light (the race starts about an hour before sunrise), and I was listening to my podcast, when disaster almost struck: I missed a turn, and after about 30 feet of running, a runner behind me hollered at me to come back to the correct path. After kicking myself for missing the turn (it was marked, but Miwok flagging is not the really overt kind), I got back on-course and thanked my saviour for what he did.
With all the rain, there was a fair amount of mud. My trusty Salomon Speedcross shoes were great in it, except for the fact that I left my GTX version up north. And they were soaked. As was my pack, shirt, shoes, head, etc. That would be the case until the halfway point.
Muir Beach aid (the first pass through) was great. Didn't need to refill my flasks. Grabbed three oreos, and turned right back around to the trail. Very efficient.
Tennessee Valley (again first pass) was almost as great. Just refilled flasks, and ate three oreos walking out of the station.
Because of the rain/clouds, I got very little of the (truly incredible) views I got last year. A few breaks in the weather allowed me short views of the bay, and a bit of a view of the Golden Gate Bridge. That was nice.
The race organizers moved the location of Bridge View aid, so it wasn't comparable YOY. Kept going with the new routine, though, and it appeared to be working.
At this point I felt like I was running a little slower than last year, but making up time at the aid stations. And this segment analysis
of the first 55K indicates that. The big spikes in time are shorter aid stops, and I would burn that time off with slower running.
Tennessee Valley (second pass) was fast -- much faster than last year.
And then disaster almost struck again: Almost two hours after I missed a turn, I missed another! I got called-back by a helpful runner once more. Who turned out to be the same runner
that called me back from the first missed turn! What are the odds of that? From this point on, I was way more mindful of the course markers, and didn't let myself zone out into my podcast like I had done before.
As I got closer and closer to Muir Beach aid (second), I was really looking forward to seeing my wife, who was crewing me. And when I got there, she had everything planned for an efficient and complete pit stop. She's a pro already. I didn't save much time versus last year, but got so much more done. Changed my shoes and socks (which took a while), changed my shirt, got medicated, sunscreen (to guarantee more rain) applied, and fed. She had two pre-filled flasks for me ready to swap out. And mentally, it was great to see her.
Then I set out for the biggest climb of the race. Climbing is normally where I gain ground and feel good. Not this race. This 400 meter (~1,300ft) was brutal. I got passed over and over. What was wrong with me? Why was I so slow? I was 96th overall coming into Muir Beach (#2) and by the time I got to Cardiac (#2), I had dropped 50 spots. Many of those were due to my long Muir aid stop (shoes/socks/etc) but not all. I was a full 10 minutes slower on this climb than 2022. I shuffled into Cardiac doubting my ability to get through the next 45K. I was hurting, and slow.
After leaving Cardiac, I texted my wife "Leaving Cardiac 1231. Really fading."
And because she's awesome, my wife replied "YOU CAN DO THIS!".
There was still more climbing (about another 100m/330ft) out of Cardiac, but then I got to the top of the ridge. Lots of rolling hills here. I was behind a slow group of runners, and that was fine by me. I sucked. I needed to be slow. Who cares if I keep pace with last year. I just want my WSER lottery ticket.
I asked myself "Can I just walk the rest of this and still beat cutoff?".
Then, something flipped.
I don't know if it was the fact that things were flatter/rolling, that the rain had stopped, or that I had switched to caffeinated Tailwind (from the non-caffeinated kind). Probably some combination of all.
But after about 20 minutes of being behind the slow group of runners, I say to myself "enough of this" and pass them. Then drop them. And start to pass more runners. After having lost 50 spots in rank between Muir and Cardiac, I gained 18 spots between Cardiac and Bolinas (#1). And then Bolinas (#1) to Randall I gained another 9 spots. Even with the post-Randall 300m (990ft) climb (which I was terrible at on this day), I gained another five spots.
The biggest difference came on the last 10K: It's rolling hills for the first 7K, then a technical/steep downhill for 3K before the finish line. Last year, I walked a bunch of the runnable sections, and it took me almost two hours (1h57m) to close this section out and finish.
This year, I got behind a group of runners who were running sections that last year I walked. So I decided to try to stick with them. And I did. It wasn't a blistering pace, by any means, but I was moving faster than last year. As I got into the big downhill, I checked my watch and saw that if I could get down in under 30 minutes, I might actually beat last year's time! So I pushed over the roots and rocks, and under the trees, and over the streams, and worked hard. My "pacers" were in front of me doing the same. One in particular was cheering his friends on from the front. I made it a goal to stick with them. Which I did. After the race, I see I had taken 14 minutes off the last 10K versus last year.
At the end of the downhill, I emerge from the forest, cross a little bridge, and I'm 100ft from the finish line. There's a cheering crowd, and my wife (who missed me at the finish last year) was yelling louder than anyone else. I cross the finish line, a volunteer puts my finisher's on me, and I get a big hug (must have been gross for her) from my wife.
I check my watch, and I had beat last year's time by four minutes. On 14 hours of race, that's less than half a percent faster. But knowing how I felt at the top of the Cardiac climb (where I had written-off any hope of a faster race vs 2022), and that I had just beat "last year me", I was pretty stoked. And sharing that with my wife was awesome.
Had a good chat over some finish-line food with my "pacers". They were feeling it like I was.
- 14:01:17 (3m45s faster vs 2022)
- 116/353 overall
- 84/216 gender
- 28/81 AG
- 96 DNF
- 40 minutes spent in aid stations, vs 62 minutes in 2022 (didn't achieve goal of 1/2 the time)
Now I need to decide if I try to push through this calf injury until July (100 miler attempt), or shut things down and heal. Both of the PTs I have spoken with said I will have to do the latter at some point. And if I don't, things could progress into a stress fracture. Much to ponder.
But for now, I'll take my WSER lottery ticket for this year, and be thankful that I got this year's Miwok done faster than I thought I could. A nice feeling.