Posted by: runwithgarrison | May 10, 2012

Post-Race Miwok 100k

Aloha Everyone,

Hellacious–Slang Adjective–Formidably Difficult

So far, that is the best word I have found to describe the 2012 Miwok 100k. Wow that was tough! I am very excited that I was able to participate in such a challenging event, I just wish my current fitness matched the absolute brutality of the course. I knew the race would be tough and hilly–heck, I think that is why I signed up, but wow—The downhills actually hurt more than most of the never ending climbs!

The plan heading into the race was just to stay very conservative and run within my boundaries and I do think I accomplished that goal. The start was absolutely incredible–Full Moon over Stinson Beach @5am. As we left the starting area and began the first long climb of the day, it was amazing to look down the mountain at the long line of headlamps snaking along the hillside. The first 26.2 miles was an out and back section with a few aid stations along the way. P and I developed a nutrition/hydration strategy that worked perfectly. I would first see her at the 12.6 mile Randall Trail Aid Station and we would swap packs. I ran the entire way with 1 of 2 Nathan endurance packs filled with Skratch labs drink mix and stocked with a few packages of parmesan potatoes. Very simple and easy to digest—Great Hydration and Rocket Fuel for a long day in the mountains. I felt good heading into the aid station but steep downhills were already starting to take their toll on my legs. The tough climbs were manageable and I never felt out of my zone. Today, the downhills just felt funny–not in the haha way—more like very uncomfortable and sometimes painful. I was hoping this would change as the day progressed, however, it would only get worse.

The trip back to the 26.2 mile aid station in Stinson Beach was absolutely beautiful. The sun was now up and the trails were visible and runable. I stuck with the plan of staying within myself and things did not change much, the climbs felt good, the descents—not so much. I came running into the Aid station and P handed me the next pack with food and drink. I don’t think I could put into accurate words how awesome it is to know she is at the aid stations awaiting my arrival—it feels pretty darn good. Leaving the station, I was right on time, about 4:20, but I knew that the toughest parts of the race were still ahead of me.

The run to Muir Beach and the 33.5 mile aid station were just plan brutal. We ran on the famous Dipsea trail filled with stunningly beautiful forest and climbed up the famous stair steps that help make the Dipsea race one of the toughest around. At this stage of the race, I saw very few people and at times it felt like I was out by myself on a run (at times it was a hike) and I knew that once I arrived in Muir Beach, that I would be more than halfway to the finish. In Muir Beach, P greeted me with a quick hug and kiss. I was feeling pretty good at this point. P said that people were already dropping out and wanted to make sure that I was careful with my hydration and nutrition since it was starting to heat up a bit. We decided that I had enough fluids and food to get me to the next stop 4.6 miles down the road and I headed out of the aid station.

The run to Tennessee valley was a nice change of pace. Very runable and it felt like we were transitioning from the covered forests to the wide open hills that resembled the hills I grew up running in the East Bay. It was starting to heat up and I focused on my fluid and food intake. The drink and potatoes were perfect–I will continue to keep these as major weapons in future efforts for sure! The Tennessee Valley Aid Station was the largest of the race because it served runners at the 38.1 mark as well as the 50.5 mile mark. Tons of activity all around. P found me right away and we swapped packs, doused me in sunscreen, took a couple of swigs of coke from a volunteer wearing a UC Davis Sweatshirt–Go AGS!–and I headed out. By this point in the race, I forgot exactly where the climbs were and how long they lasted in duration–I was starting to really feel the effects of the effort. My body was feeling good on the climbs, put the pain and discomfort intensified on the downhills.

The next hill started almost immediately after leaving the aid station. It was steep and it felt like it had about 4 false summits. I was starting to get a little frustrated but I made sure to enjoy the climbing because it was rapidly turning into the only time I felt like I was getting somewhere on this long trip. The 12 mile loop was absolutely beautiful…The Golden Gate Bridge looked amazing–truly worth the price of admission. By this point, the focus of the race was simply to finish and not put myself in any dangerous situation. The battery on my Garmin had run out of juice so I was simply just running/hiking without any care of what my pace was at any moment–Blisters had formed on my right foot and I had a few irritating chafing spots and I was quite simply–ready to finish this thing up and go home. Right around this point, I re-entered the Tennessee Vally Aid Station at mile 50.5.

At the aid station, P filled me back up with a loaded fresh pack and I took a little time to just sit for a few minutes in the back of the truck. It was already 3pm and I now needed to make sure i made an effort to finish before dark. I really did not want to have to run down the Dipsea trail in the dark. The next leg was of course…very hilly and we headed back to Muir Beach. By this point it he race, people were passing me on a regular basis. Many runners picked up a pacer at the 50.5 mile mark and were now running with a buddy. I just chugged along listening to my ipod and tried my best to stay positive. I have to admit, I had my fair share of negative thoughts but I was now in survival mode and I just wanted to get finished. I kept running/jogging the climbs the best I could and then walked a bit on the downhills. I arrived at the Muir Beach Aid station again and I needed to sit for a few minutes. P was a bit worried about my nutrition/hydration because she had seen so many people drop out of have issues along the race route. I assured her that I was fine. I was simply tired and frustrated that the downhilling took so much out of me. The last 7.6 miles is still a bit of a fog to me. I know I ran along the route with a few really nice women for about a mile and we chatted and that took my mind of the suffering for a while. Without the Garmin, I had very little idea how much further I had to go and I just went into auto-pilot.

I finally descended the Dipsea trail and I knew I was almost home. I finished with a time of 13:28 in 92nd place. P was there to greet me and snap a few photos that she already posted. I took a seat, ate a nice spicy sausage and started to reflect on how tough that really was. Sean Blanton (we ran the last few miles of the Diablo 50k together) told me a few weeks ago that the right races would choose me and that we could not choose the races. I really took that to heart and Sean, if you are reading this, thanks!!!

Sometimes you are the hammer
Sometimes you are the nail

Saturday at the Miwok 100k, I was certainly the nail but I am quite satisfied with my effort. Thanks everyone for your love and support.
I am now looking forward to a little recovery and a nice 12-14 week block of training.




  1. Congrats, Mike! I’d say you had a pretty darn good Spring 2012 Ultra season. What’s on the schedule for fall?

    We often fear height, but it’s not the height that kills you, it’s the fall. Running 12,000 feet up is a pain in the butt. But running 12,000 feet down is the slayer of quads, knees, shins and feet. Better to have learned the brutality of downhills in this Miwok 100k than in an event like WS100.

    Anyway, keep on trucking, G. You really make me want to over come my ankle/achilles/calf issues and get out on the road.

    • Thanks Cuz, that really means a lot. I am working on the Fall schedule now and I want to run the 2 local ultra races–Tantalus Triple Trek 50k early September and the Peacock 100k at the end of October. I will probably head to the West coast 1-2 times also for a 50k in Castro Valley on August 11 and either the US Championships in Bend or the Noble Canyon 50k in San Diego. Hopefully we can get you back out on the trail again soon. Give the family a hug for me.

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