May 4, 2011

Race Preview - Miwok 100K

Not a bad place to run all day long
"The Miwok 100K is very hilly (approximately 10,000 feet of cumulative elevation gain) with spectacular views of San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge, Mt. Tamalpais and the Point Reyes National Seashore. The course is a modified out-and-back, consisting of mostly fire roads and single-track trails with less than four miles on roads. The race is extremely competitive at the front, a rewarding challenge for the mid-pack and a glorious long day in the forests and fields for those not in a hurry."
I have been looking forward to the Miwok 100K for the last six months, and I'm thrilled that it's finally here. This is the "A" race that I've had all spring, and all of my training has been leading up to this.

However, this race will be one of the hardest I've ever run. I will constantly be running against the clock, trying to avoid being pulled from the race for being too slow. Going for me is a strong training season where I've not missed a single day of running and I have two very strongly-run 50-mile races under my belt. Going against me is the fact that, regardless of how much I've improved this year, I'm still likely to be the largest guy out there. Even though I've literally never been this lean or well-trained for an ultra, I'm still at least 50 pounds overweight.

Staying ahead of the cutoffs

I am 100% positive that I can complete 100K with 9500' of climbing. The question is- can I do it in the 16.5 hour time limit allowed by the race? Here are the intermediate cutoffs:

Randall Trail - 33.9 miles - 8 hours 15 minutes - 14:36 per mile pace
I'm worried about this. My 50K (31 mile) PR was set in March 2009 on a largely flat completely asphalt course. I finished it in 6:47, averaging a 13:06 per mile pace. I was about 15lbs heavier (~290lbs) then and not as fit as I am now - I'd easily PR a 50K if I was running one this weekend. The big unknown for this weekend will be the hills. Can I average 14:36 per mile when I'm climbing 4000'-5000' over 33.9 miles?

Pan Toll - 47.8 miles - 12 hours 25 minutes - 15:35 per mile overall
If I make it past 34 miles, I can afford to slow down a little (not a lot) before the next big cutoff a half-marathon later. My 50-mile PR - 12:21 - had a 14:49 per mile pace - but again, that was with half the elevation change that this will have.

Tennessee Valley - 57.6 miles - 15 hours 5 minutes - 15:42 per mile
No doubt about it - this will be the crux of the race for me.  If I'm close on the 48 mile cutoff than I'll have less than three hours to complete these ten miles, which is normally easy but not after 50 miles. It'll likely be getting dark by now so there will be a lot of psychological crap going on. I'll really have to focus to make it.

Finish - 62.6 miles - 16.5 hours - 15:48 per mile
Making it past Tennessee Valley will be tremendously relieving, and that relief will color my last five miles. I still have to stay focused because the stakes at this point will be as high as ever, but at least I'll be smiling.

Itinerary


I fly into San Francisco Airport late Friday morning. I'll check in on Friday afternoon, race on Saturday, and then hang out with my parents on Sunday. I fly home on a redeye Sunday so I can be at work Monday morning.

Weather


Looks nice! As of this writing it'll be mostly cloudy in the morning, which then clears up. Probably fog, especially in the A.M. High: 61ºF. I'll take it.

Links


Live webcast: http://www.ultralive.net/miwok/webcast.php

Karl Meltzer doesn't think I have a chance: http://karlmeltzer.com/2011/05/miwok-100k-coming-saturday/

Photograph is by Flickr User Mindgrow