Alarm went off at 3:30 a.m. and we made coffee, got dressed and we were all ready to go at 4:30. We checked in at the start, mingled with a bunch of Oregon folks, took bathroom breaks then went back to the car to keep warm. It was going to be a pretty warm day but it was only 50 degrees at the start so it seemed cold. Tia announced it was time to make our way to the beach and get the show on the road! I got in the middle of the pack mostly to stay warm but I also didn't want to be pressured to run faster than I should when we hit the small bit of single track leaving the beach. Once we got out on the road and started the first climb I knew I was going to have a solid day because my body felt pretty good and my heart rate was very low. However, I immediately notice the shoes I was wearing we going to be to narrow, eeeeeeekkk. I have been trying the Mizuno Trail Ascend and liked them but was wondering if they were just a tad to narrow. I wanted to give them a whirl at Miwok to really determine if I liked the fit and the answer is a profound NO! On the first decent into Tennessee Valley (mile 11.9) my metatarsals were screaming. I have a wide forefoot and at a high instep so I need a lot room in my shoes or my 4th toe gets an impacted nerve from inflammation around that area. The squeezing on my metatarsals was pretty intense so I stopped an loosened my shoes giving them the maximum amount of slack but it was only going to help slightly. My last three toes on both feet were numb by mile 15 and I was just hoping the nerve would not start causing me a lot of pain. All of this non-sense kept my mind pretty busy but I worked on staying focused on the race not my feet.
I was on pace for 11:15 for the first 2 aid stations and was running pretty comfortable. My quads were not bothered by the training we did the weekend before and that was nice given my feet were be squeezed to death. At least my legs were feeling strong. I carried two water bottles, 6 gels and one Organic Food Bar. All the this stuff fit in my handheld pouches and my shorts so that was great. I felt pretty light with just those items. I lost 3 minutes on my plan from Muir Beach to Pan Toll (mile 16 to 21.7). I don't know why....I just didn't push the climb like I should have. Running uphill was hard on my feet because of all the weighting on your toes when you run uphill and to much of that was causing me pain. I was run/walking vs. maintaining a steadily running stride on the climbs. I know if I would have worn my Cascadia's I would have done better on the climbs but how much better....I don't know. I think sometimes when things aren't going well you become more focused therefore minimizing the effects of the problem.
Once at Pan Toll I grabbed my drop bag and put on my waist pack which had 8 gels, 1 Food Bar and some salt tablets. I filled both water bottles with only water, drank my Red Bull and ate my banana. All of that took me one minute and 45 seconds. The next section is long and exposed. Right after you leave Pan Toll you drop into some nice woods for about .5 miles then it's on to high meadows with a narrow trail running through them. The views of the ocean on this section are lovely but you can't really enjoy the views or the wildflowers because the trail is so narrow that foot placement is a priority. This section was awful on my feet and it was pretty warm already. Despite all of that I actually ran pretty well on this as it's a bit downhill and I was focused on getting through it. I only lost about 4 minutes from my predicted time, a surprise. At the Bofax aid station (mile 28.4) I was about 8 minutes off my 11:15 pace and I knew I would not be making up any time due to my feet. I had been running for over 5 hours and my toe was sending pain every time it flexed so I popped an Aleve and waited patiently for it to take the edge off. The section from Bofax to the turnaround at Randall is one of my favorites and I generally do pretty well here so I was looking forward to it. The rolling terrain followed by the plummet into Randall is a nice break from all the climbing we had done so far. In addition, in this section you start to see the lead runners heading back so it's exciting to see how everyone is doing and cheer on friends. This gets your mind out of your body and onto much more exciting things.
At Randall (mile 35.6) it is time to turn around and start to work! I filled one bottle with G2O and one with water then started up the hill. I ran about 80% of hill and when I got the top and started up the rolling terrain I maintained a steady pace. My toes were still numb but the pain was pretty much gone so that was a relief! I felt pretty good and was pleased with my ability to muscle through.
Arriving back at Bofax (mile 42.8) I had gained 3 minutes on my predicted split. That was great because now it seemed hot and I was heading back into the fields from h__l! Since I was on my way to Pan Toll I knew it was a gradual climb, very gradual but still uphill and it was that long section with the narrow, canted trail. I sort of had a "moment" in the fields. I was hot and I couldn't seem to get my stride going and wanted to get through this section so I could drop my pack get back to some better footing. I lost 7 minutes from my predicted time so now I am 12 minutes off my 11:15 pace and am looking at 11:30 finish for a best case scenario. I knew I wasn't going to shave off any time on my upcoming splits because they were aggressive and although my body and my systems were all in check my feet were toast. I settled on 11:40 and told myself to stay focused and finish this last 14 miles like you mean it! At Pan Toll (mile 49.5) I dropped my waist pack, drank my Red Bull, picked up new bottles filled with G2O and grabbed 6 gels for the journey home.
I was happy to be back in the woods and running down hill. Feeling strong I worked the terrain as well as my feet would allow.... running pretty hard. This down hill is at least 2 miles long on a wide dirt road and not technical so if you have the quads you can really move well. After the descent you cross a road and head back onto single track for some long switchbacks that gradually climb uphill to the Hwy 1 aid station. I named this single track section "Evil Oak Alley" because it was really overgrown this year and there was poison oak everywhere! I ran about 70% of this climb and keep in mind running now is more like a consistent shuffle :). I got to Hwy 1 on schedule so that was refreshing because that meant I still had a shot at 11:30. I didn't need anything from the aid station so I didn't stop and just kept moving. From Hwy 1 the course takes you around the hills on a dirt road that has a slight uphill grade. It's the kind of grade you need to jog or shuffle because walking is not going to gain you much. I fiddled with my shoes once again with no relief then just shuffled up the hill. At the top of this hill the course takes a sharp right for more uphill road but now you can see the ocean again you know your getting close. What goes up must go down......so down we went into Tennessee Valley (mile 58.4). Again I made my split so all I needed to do was continue this streak for another 3.8 miles and I could make it in 11:30. This is my third year at Miwok but had forgotten how much climbing has to be done after Tennessee Valley......aaaaargggggg. I was feeling pretty tired and was so ready to be done but off in the distance high in the hills I could see runners making their way further uphill, they were a long ways away. With a quick top off of water at the aid station I began the last climb of the day. I was really warm through this section.....I know it was only 70 degrees but for an Oregonian that's a heat wave! I poured some of my ice water on my head which made me feel better but the water drove the salt and sweat right into my eyes. Blinking and tearing like crazy I was happy to be going uphill so I didn't need to see where I was stepping. The climb just seem to go on and on and I was obsessed with my watch checking it every other second. I knew we were going to descend all the way back down to the beach and was working the numbers in head.......how much time will I need to plummet more than a mile downhill.....10 minutes....12 minutes......okay that gives me 36 minutes to get to the top......tick, tick, tick......get you butt moving.....oh yeah you butt is tired......shuffle your feet......oh yeah you can't feel your feet......."pain is weakness leaving your body".....stupid saying, who came up with that! All this is running through my mind as I climb, climb, climb. I could only run about 40% of it. The grade was just to steep. Finally at the top I can see the finish and I have exactly 12 minutes to get there. It seemed doable until I saw runners going around a hill instead of straight down. I took off like someone on fire heading to the ocean. I ran and ran then finally came to the stairs and I knew I still had a chance so without killing myself I pushed as hard as I could to finish in 11:28:54. Funny how all of the sudden I can run like the wind when 30 minutes ago I was pouting about everything. :)
Micheal was already cleaned up and waiting for me. He had a great day finishing just under 11 hours, Stacey did 12:25 and had a solid day, Steve was on fire and finished in under 14 hours.....he likes to try to be last but he's got to slow down to reach that goal.
What a great weekend! Even though I didn't reach my goal of 11:15 I am pretty happy with my race. It gives me a predicted finish at WS100 of 23:00:00 and that's under 24 with some room. I don't know how much faster I could have run if I had chosen the right shoes......maybe 11:15 but I don't know. I won't be wearing those shoes again because I took them off and threw them away! My last three toes on both feet are still numb meaning there is some inflammation so I will be icing my feet which I can't stand because it hurts. I haven't had to do that for years.
This year it seemed like I ran with the same people all day. Kind of interesting to be leap frogging the same group of runners all day, it was nice because I actually got to spend some time talking to people.
This week is a recovery week and I am looking forward to it. The following week is a build week and I am doing 2X50M hill repeats on Friday while Alex is in school and Saturday I am going to run McDonald Forest 50K. It's been over 3 years since I have done this race and though it won't be a great performance I am looking forward to seeing everyone.
Tomorrow is Bill and I's 13th wedding anniversary, I just can't believe it. Time has gone by so fast and that makes me think about all the wonderful times we have had together. It also makes think about all the great adventures I get to experience all due to his support and his desire to see me live my dreams. I feel really fortunate to have such a great man. This weekend once again will go down in the calendar as a great memory with awesome people.