Sunday, May 5, 2013

Miwok 2013: welcome to the Mini Miwok 60K!

Thanks to my luck at the lottery again this year last December, this was supposed to be my 7th consecutive Miwok 100K run. As usual, I flew back from business just in time on Friday. This time, it was from nearby Vegas, a short flight except that it was delayed by 3 hours, officially because of high winds but potentially because of the gunfire incident at the Houston airport on Thursday night. I was so much looking forward to a good long night of sleep after a very fruitful but exhausting week at our Impact conference at Impact, not my luck as I got home by 1am on Friday morning.

We carpooled to the start with Pierre-Yves and Jeremy and I drove. After last year when I was still getting prepared at 5 am and missed the start by a couple of minutes, we were on our way by 2:45 (yes, that's a 1:50 am wake-up call...) and arrived to Stinson Beach around 4:15, a good margin, yet pretty far down the parking lot, a detail which will become important at the end of the day...

The start had moved to the Community Center, 0.4 mile away from the beach, and I was still at the car when I heard the big news: because of fire danger, the Rangers were closing the North section of the course and Tia had battled all night to either try reversing the decision or make a new 100K course in the South section. She had found an option but it was crossing one main road and, by 10 pm on Friday night, was not able to get the authorization and approval from the local police. The backup plan was then to run 60K (37 miles) on what remained from the original course, and start by 8 am so the aid stations were ready per the original pace chart.

I wasn't at the start area when the news broke, I just heard that a few people were devastated because that was their main long run training for instance before Western States. Fortunately, we are reminded to be flexible in ultra and appreciative of the blessing the Race Directors, the volunteers, our supporting crews or even the local authorities give us in order to allow us to run on such wonderful courses. I felt bad mostly for those coming from out of town, like this runner from Ohio who was parked next to my car, but at least the South section of the course still had the most amazing views of the Marin Headlands, and they were indeed stunning throughout the morning under such a blue sky (the traditional fog covering the coast in the afternoon...).

By 8 am, the mood was up and great among the starters and, even Tia, could smile again at the start line. There was so much excitement that I never seen such a fast start. It was like the 100K was all of a sudden shortened to a half marathon. Come on, guys and gals, respect the distance, we were still on an ultra race! Anyway, with that, I probably had 30 runners ahead of me as we were climbing up Cardiac, challenging our hearts with the irregular stairs. I gain a few spots before the Cardiac aid station and a few others as I flew down Cardiac. Carrying two bottles, I did not stop at the Muir Beach aid station and, by mile 8, I was still 3 minutes behind Mark Lantz and had no sight of the leaders, including three of my teammates, speedster Master Gary Gellin, our co-captain Marc Laveson and, our newest addition, international elite ultra runner and coach, Ian Sharman.

After Muir Beach, the second significant climb was on the recently-renovated Middle Green Gulch, with a consistent grade and a great combination of switchbacks allowing to see runners in front or behind. Seeing Mark ahead as well as Jonathan (Gunderson) provided some motivation and I did close a large part of their lead in that section. Not stopping at the Tennessee Vally aid station either, I did pass them at the bottom of the Marincello fire road. I had trained on these trails right after the Big Bunny 5K on Easter weekend and it helped a lot on the mental side. I was able to run this third uphill section of the course without stopping, thinking of Hal Korner whom I had seen on that section at the end of his North Face 50-mile, 3 years ago. To keep running uphill I alternatively use two mental images. The first one, from Scott Jurek: lean forward and think that you head is pulled by a string/cable. The other one, from Hal (and to some extent Graham Cooper too): engage a lower gear, switch to the diesel engine mode. It took me years to be able to leverage the second one: several years ago, I had hard time slowing down the pace so, too many times, had to stop to catch my breath, which is particularly bad as you can't even power walk if you are breathless. I haven't completely nail it down, but I'm getting better. And therefore faster, hey...!

The first aid station I stopped at was Bridge View, at mile 17.5 that is about mid way, an aid station manned by the friendly pirates of the Coastside Running Club (thanks Ron!). I refilled my Gu2O bottle, and finally ate something: 4 potato chips and 2 pieces of cantaloup (delicious by the way). Thanks to Vespa, I was clearly fueling my run with my own body fat!

On the way down Coastal Fire Road, I was thinking that the leaders were way ahead an I kept pushing the pace. To my surprise, teammate Loren was directing traffic at the bottom the hill and told me: "Gary and Marc are just 5 minutes ahead, or maybe more..." While the more made sense, the 5 minutes didn't. To my second and even greater surprise, I found Ian coming back on the course at the bridge leading to Rodeo Valley and Bobcat trails. He had went off course for a mile (and another mile to come back), was in third by then and thought others also went off course so thought that I must be on the podium. This was all so confusing, especially the fact that we were getting on Bobcat Trail, back up to the ridge, without going to Rodeo Lagoon and beach, I even hesitated following Ian, despite the numerous marking ribbons (yes, Tia, white with orange dots). I said twice and aloud "this is very wrong" but went on. Ian was quite devastated himself of losing so much time so he was alternating running (fast) and walking uphill. I did pass him before the ridge and he literally flew by my on the way back to our second passage through Tennessee Valley. There, that is around mile 24 or 25, I took my first Gu. I followed Ian all the way on Coastal and saw him one last time at the turn around of Muir Beach, with 8 miles to go. I took a second Gu there, knowing what was ahead (Cardiac...).

Unfortunately I did walk much more than I wanted up Cardiac and lost precious minutes. Up the hill, I found Marc at the aid station who had hit the wall but would still manage to finish in 7th. As John Medinger said, I was still looking good and indeed kept going, just getting iced water at the aid station, to cool down in the last 2.5-mile stretch. Since I broke my shoulder last year, I'm more careful than before in the technical down hills and, although I though I was still doing a good job hopping the steep stairs, I got passed by a runner just before Insult Hill. So long for 5th place, I did finish in 6th overall, 2nd Master, in 5:24:

Gary got 2nd and Ian 4th. Here are a few other teammates: Pierre-Yves, Clare, Scott, Greg, Adona.
The men race was won by Dylan Bowman (94% rank in UltraSignup). I heard that Gary pretty much kept up with Dylan until the second passage through Tennessee Valley. Tia sent a message this Sunday morning that she was still working on sorting out all the hand-written notes, hoping to publish the official results by Sunday evening. Stay tuned...

Back to the parking lot, and the detail in the introduction about where we parked, it took us 90 minutes to get out, as both runners and beach visitors were trying to squeeze onto highway 1; talking about average pace, that was quite a slow-moving experience, a blazing 180 min/mile pace... Thankfully, the great company of Pierre-Yves and Jeremy made up for good discussions to kill the time.

A HUGE thank you to Race Director, Tia Bodington, for managing to keep a great event up despite the challenges. We were all kidding at the finish that this made for new course and personal records at an odd distance, hopefully this is only a hiatus in the Miwok history and the Rangers will let us run on Bolinas Ridge again starting next year. I didn't spend much time in the aid stations but it's always a blessing to count on so many volunteers who give up their Saturday (and more to set up and tear off the event...) to support us. And a special mention to the sane competition without whom these races wouldn't be as good of training runs! ;-)

Sorry, not too many pictures today, but here is a worthy one: Marc teaching Greg how to open a bottle of beer. And not any bottle, the coveted Miwok "100K"'s Trail Ale. And, yes, that's the first time Coach Greg is drinking... ;-)
See some of you again on the trails next week at our Club's Quicksilver 50K and 50-mile, and a warm thank to Pierre-Yves for directing that event.

PS: I went out for a 9-mile recovery run this morning: ouch, so much soreness because I missed the Monsters of Massage and didn't even stretched after the finish. My goal was to see the tail of The Relay, the 200-mile 12-person relay between Calistoga to Santa Cruz. It was almost noon on Sunday so I only saw one van and one lonely runner. I heard 300 teams participated, I hope everybody made it safely to the finish by now!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

je t'ai déjà félicité pour la 6ème place
bravo pour être 2ème master!