May 12, 2011

Miwok 100K - DNF (Missed Cutoff)

The Miwok 100K (62 miles) was held on May 7, 2011 in the Marin Headlands north of San Francisco.

I am not, as is my custom, going to go into a detailed account of my race. Instead, I'll just report the facts, acknowledge a few people, and post a bunch of pictures that will speak for themselves.

The facts: I completed 34 miles with 7200' of gainin 9:05. I felt very strong initially, and even though I slowed down on the uphills, they never got difficult. I did get very week on the downhills, such that by the end I couldn't manage to maintain even a 12-minute per mile pace for more than a few minutes without a walk break - downhill. The first 15 miles or so went extremely well, and it wasn't until the section between Tennessee Valley and Pantoll when I started to feel the effects of the distance and downhills. However, the climb up to Pantoll, supposedly the longest of the race, felt positively easy. I took it nice and slow, of course.

After Pantoll, I was treated to some of the most amazing trail running I've ever seen: soft smooth rolling singletrack through grassy meadows with views of the ocean 1800' below. After five miles of that we went through the Bolinas Ridge aid station and were then treated to a fireroads through a forest of coastal redwoods that were so tall as to be simply unreal. After a few miles of that, the trail drops dramatically off the ridge down to highway 1, which is where I missed the cutoff and was pulled from the race.

It was great to see many friends at this race - Jeff and Linda, Rick, Sean, etc. - Dusty, you're awesome for sending me encouraging texts during the race - and to people like Jenny and Russ who I know online and said hi. Because of the out-and-back course, it was also fun to see the front runners who I admire so much doing what they do best and making it look easy.

Ok! Pictures!

Got my bib!

Rodeo Beach - where the race starts

Another view of Rodeo Beach. The hill behind it is the second big
climb. The course continues to the hills on the horizon there.

My father at the Nike Missile Site turned into a museum. Mile 1 is on that hill right behind.

Not part of the course, but nearby.

That hill on the left, 720', is the first climb with incredible views of the Golden Gate Bridge.

The coast just south of Rodeo Beach (not part of the course). Lighthouse at the end.

Previous photo, but from the other side.

Near the bottom of the first climb

Looking back towards that lighthouse, halfway up the first climb

First climb is pretty much the only asphalt of the course

The road has an 18% grade!

Above the top of the GGB's towers!

Cruise Ship going under the GGB at 6am. 

Singletrack Ascending a small hill at mile 5-6

At mile 7 we come back across the beach with that has the starting line.

Near the start of the second big climb

We go by this tiny cove after climbing a hundred feet or so

Later on in that second climb, we hit a staircase.

Looking back after a good ways up the second climb, we see the starting area
and the first hill on the extreme left.

Looking north from Tennessee Valley. 

Looking east after the climb out of Tennessee Valley

Miles and miles of amazing singletrack between Tennessee Valley and Pantoll

Between TV and Pantoll - The singletrack

Singletrack between TV and Pantoll

Singletrack between TV and Pantoll

Fireroad on the way up to Pantoll

As we climbed to the higher elevation, suddenly the enormous
coastal redwoods appeared.  These trees can be 350+ feet tall!!

After Pantoll, we come out into this grassy meadow which overlooks
Stinson Beach and Bolinas Bay, 1800' below.

This went on for five miles

It was the most unforgettably enjoyable trail
I've ever head the pleasure of running on.

There's an amazing scenic drive right above the trail, by the way..
perhaps too scenic for this fellow. 

This trail alone was enough to make me want to come back.

After the meadow, it turned into miles and miles of more redwoods.. 

Map of portion that I did

Elevation profile
GPS Data:

Distance:33.92 mi
Elevation Gain:7,194 ft
Calories:5,860 C

Moving Time:08:44:01
Elapsed Time:09:05:51
Avg Pace:16:05 min/mi
Avg Moving Pace:15:26 min/mi
Best Pace:07:17 min/m

Elevation Gain:7,194 ft
Elevation Loss:6,741 ft
Min Elevation:2 ft
Max Elevation:1,867 ft

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.


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.


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.


Live webcast:

Karl Meltzer doesn't think I have a chance:

Photograph is by Flickr User Mindgrow