I won’t keep you wondering, so I just say, I finished Miwok in 12:22, and I am very happy about how it went.
I flew to SF on Friday night, took BART to the city, met up with Jason and Rick, we had dinner at some Arcade place (?) and finally retired to bed close to midnight. Jason had some obligations to fulfill in the morning, so crewing idea turned into pacing from mile 42 and carrying my own stuff in a newly bought Gregory pack. It was obviously going to be an enjoyment run.
Race morning was usual, I was complaining why am I not a normal person who stays in bed and doesn’t go idiotically crazy to run some wild distance in wild Mother Nature. 4:30 am Rick picked me up and we drove to the start. This is where was all the fun – I must have said “hi” to every second person! Miwok 100k has the same popularity as WS100 in a shorter distance. Everybody makes sure to show up there. Between PNW runners, all the top runners, all those who make WS100 their yearly adventure – it was a big family reunion.
We went off at 5:40, and in less than 10 min I was sorry I didn’t leave my long sleeve shirt in the car. The race starts at the beach, you wind in the sand for a few short minutes and hit a single track (usually bottle-necking) for about a mile. At the end there is a bathroom as we come out to the road, where I stopped and took the shirt off. Next goes a long 5M section on the road all uphill, at 2 places steep, but the rest is somewhat runnable (if you wish, I don’t). I run with Van Phan, WA runner and MM, who at this time is leading Trail running series. We did this first section together last year too, so it’s fun.
At first I feel pretty good, nothing hurts, HR is fine, life is wonderful, and the sun came out, I am looking around. It’s so great to come to a race for a second time, I get to see so much more! The first time all in my mind is head down – watch the trail – race for time. Now the route is familiar, and I inhaled the beauty of Marine Headlands. Ocean and green slopes – what can be prettier?
We hit a mile downhill on dirt and entered the first water station 5 min behind my last year’s splits. Next section begins with grasslands, my least favorite because of disgusting smell, wet dirt and high grass to run on, as well as the fact there is a longish stretch going flat to slight incline. Too consuming. But we run and talk with Van, and it’s still feels fine, and the uphill starts and we walk, and all goes as usual…but for some reason after the long up and long down I come to second AS 15 min behind now. I found it interesting that I didn’t really feel drained, yet I my pace was slower. So at this point I figured if I’d be going like that and loosing 10 min per stretch I am not breaking 12 hrs. And made peace with it.
Van ran with me for one more section, after what I sent her off to make some time up. I was just enjoying my run and must have slowed down even more, as by 4th AS I was 40 min back, and though it didn’t throw me off, it hit me that I don’t have a flashlight and will need to hassle to get in under 13 hrs, before the darkness falls.
The most beautiful section goes for 7 miles along the side of the slope with wild flowers and open views on the bay. But it’s all rolling, what also makes it one of the hardest for me – the slopes are not steep enough to walk, and running up and down takes out quite some energy. Despite that by now my hamstrings are tight, my left hip flexor is killing me with pain, I am popping pills non-stop, my attitude improved tremendously. It was never bad, but here, somehow, I knew I will finish, and strong, and it’s gorgeous, and I am running, and I feel strong (well, at least that was my perception), and life is good in general…On this section I soon hook up with a woman Angie , and we do “push and pull” together for about 3 miles before the AS.
By the way, having a pack to carry my drink mix and gels worked wonderfully. I would slide the pack off one shoulder, reach in and grab whatever I need before I come in, put it in a bottle and let the volunteers fill the bottles with water. No biggie.
Leaving Bolinas Ridge at 28 miles, I said to a guy next to me – and now we are in for a treat to see all the leaders. He asked “when”, and I was like “any minute”, turn my head and there comes first! It was funny. I had no idea who the first dude was (and still don’t, some local who finished 4th), but third was Scott Jurek, nice and relaxed on the uphill, and forth came Mike Wedemeyer, our own Portland guy (they later placed 2-3 after Phil Kochik). Then there was a great deal with “who is who”, first girl was also unknown (and I didn’t look at final results), Nikki Kimball was second there and happy, and third was Bev Abbs, even more cheerful. After Krissy Moehl the elite field stopped for a bit, with trickling people once in awhile, then the mid-packers streamed up. It was so fun! I never shut my mouth, saying “hi” to those I knew and “good job” who those I didn’t, and if I start naming all, I won’t have enough blog space…
I cam to run-around, 35.6M, and lingered there for a bit. Just because – I don’t eat AS food, but I just wanted to know how interesting is it to stay and talk. So back we went, up, cheering the rest of the filed, still with Angie. By the time we cam up to Bolinas ridge, I was 1 hr back on schedule. Jason was waiting me to start pacing, and I said – honey, I am drained and hurting, and my new goal is to get before sunset, but I am very happy. And off we went, letting Angie drift off, talking and laughing, scarring hikers and the runners who decided to tag along (just because of topics we discussed). I was glad he started with this section, those were the rolling 7 miles on the side slopes, and we pushed through pretty well.
Pan Toll AS (mile 50) came and went, and I bonked, as usual, on the clock at 52 miles, walked slowly, got queitter, swung my left leg from the side, dealt with dry heaves…you know, the normal stuff. We already knew we’ll beat the daylight, but having Jason with me kept me honest in check for making an effort on those rude uphills. I whined and swore, but continued to go. As horrible as I felt last year on the final climb, this time I wasn’t afraid of it and even picked it up. And on that last 1 mile downhill – oh, boy, was I cruising! As if this was the end of my whole life! I saw Angie ahead (she pulled away when I bonked), and, on top of repeating mantra “lets break 12:30”, I wanted to catch her. Photo by Rick That turned out to be a hoot! I got near with a 1/4 mile to go, streamed by, but then suddenly remembered last year, when a woman did it to me, elbowing me away on a narrow trail, and beat me by some 30 sec…and it felt so wrong…and we ran so much together with Angie, pushing and pulling each other…and it’s not what the ultrarunning is about…and we are so in mid-pack…I tuned my head and said: Let’s finish hand in hand, Ang, we deserve that! She couldn’t push anymore, and I was on cruise-control, so I ran on to the finish, stopped, waited a couple of seconds, got her hand and we crossed the finish line. That was great!
I must have done something right in a second half again, as if in the first 35 miles I lost an hour, in a second part it was only 15 min. I am still a second half runner:)
I was drained and excited and popped and completely out of energy. I am out of time, so I won’t bore you with details of post-race chatting, retrieving the car from pacing start, dinner, trip back to SF to my Russian friends (if there is a Heaven, it's a hot shower after a long hard run)…I’ll just add that my friend Rick used my splits from last year, was well trained and had a great pacer, so he was on the spot for 42 miles, after what he beat my time and ran a perfect 10:47! Yeah, man! As he said: it was weird to run with your times like I had been followed by a ghost of Olga, but then we dropped you. Great performance! Photo by Rick Biggest thanks to Jason, I owe you so much! For the third time in a row he has to endure my stinky presence and my nasty jokes and my whining and my ear-plagging talking and my slow pace at the end…one day I’ll pay you back. By now our running partnership works to the last detail, like a Swiss clock. Thatnks to Tia and her volunteers for working up a great race and letting me in after the fill up. It was a great day after all!
I am off, so pardon my not stopping by your blogs, I will try and catch up in a couple of weeks. Enjoy the outdoors!
p.s. Melissa from Texas, so cool you found me (how did you do it?)! It was great to meet you too, you rocked, girl! Hope to see you again, you know where I am heading:)