Miwok 100k

I honestly thought this blog post was going to be about our first DNF. Luckily it's not. But let me back up a little bit before I get to that. 


The race namesake trail sign


After running several 50 milers last year we knew we wanted to run a 100k this year, it really was a matter of which one. I really wanted to run Miwok 100k, because I had heard great things about it and I also wanted to run in the Marin Headlands again since we didn't get to fully experience them when we ran a very wet and muddy North Face 50k a few years earlier. Susan wasn't as easily convinced about Miwok, since her husband didn't want to go back to the bay area for yet another race. My stepsister, Gretchen agreed if we got into Miwok she would fly to California and watch Susan's son while we ran. 


Ann at a viewpoint I remember from the North Face 50k in 2012


We both signed up for the lottery December 1st, luckily they have a buddy system. Meaning if we both sign up and only one of us gets in, then neither of us gets in. Given our 5-year track record of not getting in with the buddy system for the McKenzie 50k, I didn't have high hopes. But to both of our surprises we did get in. As soon as I was notified I quickly booked a house a 1/4 mile from the start and across the street from the beach. 

Soon after we contacted Willie from Animal Athletics for coaching, which we started in January. Luckily (at least for training) we had a pretty mild winter and were able to venture out into the Columbia Gorge for a few long runs, which allowed us to get more elevation gain than we would in Forest Park. Miwok is ~12,000 feet of elevation gain, I think our long runs in Forest Park average ~3000-4000 feet. We were even able to run a 40-mile race a month before Miwok, which is about as perfect timing as you can get. Our training seem to be going off without a hitch, that is until we got an email a month before the race about cutoff times. 
Golden Gate Bridge-- luckily the fog was lifting

The email said that the finish line cutoff time changed from 15:30 to 15 hours, which is an hour shorter than the previous year. Ultra Signup predicted I would finish in 14:10 and Susan in 15:22, I thought my predicted finish time was insane comparing it to my 50 mile finish times (12:48 and 11:18). Looking at those times now, I don't think it was insane but the last minute time change made my pre-100k anxiety skyrocket. I obsessively looked at every woman’s time from the previous years and compared myself with her and how she preformed in other races. I even took the time to write a pace calculator program, which would adjust your time based on how long you thought you, would spend at each aid station. We came up with a plan to carry pace charts, to spend less time at the aid stations and eat while we walked, especially on the uphill. We also planned to carry less with us, so we weren't weighted down with unnecessary crap.  I felt like we had it and we could finish in less than 15 hours, that is until we got another email about a cutoff time change. 

The good news is the cutoff for the finish got changed back to 15:30, but a new cutoff time got added for the last aid station, Bolinas of 6:30pm, due to new park regulations. Which meant we had to run ~55 miles in 13:30. Again I freaked out a bit, Susan was handling the changes better than I was. I felt like we had spent months training with certain cutoff times in mind and now that we were tapering and there wasn't much we could do training wise to change the outcome. 
Alcatraz, Bay Bridge, the city, Golden Gate Bridge

I spent plenty of (too much) time monitoring Miwok's Facebook page. There were several people who thought that because the race was being run in the opposite direction that gave us an advantage, since the previous year there was a lot of congestion going up the single track out of the start. Tia, the race director did a good job answering most of the questions posted on Facebook, she even responded to all (3) of my anxiety-ridden emails. I think the week before the race, or maybe the day before the race I finally decided at some point I will DNF a race and if I do I will at least have a good story to tell. 

Race day! We could not of asked for more perfect weather, after all the crazy weather races we have had; it was nice to have near perfect running weather. I think the high got into the low 70s. We were finally able to see all the views of that we missed when we ran The North Face 50k. Despite having a lot of elevation gain (~12000 feet) all the hills for the first 50 miles were really manageable, especially since none of them got over 1800 feet. 


Miwok proof


We were cruising along, feeling great and really enjoying ourselves. We talked to several people, but one in particular stood out. His name is Guf; we ran and talked with him for a while, we chatted about everything from the Grateful Dead, vegan desserts, to running coaches. I hope our path’s cross again. 


Running and chatting with Guff as the bridge comes into view

Dirt tan while changing shoes at mile 26 aid station

Gretchen texted me and told me that she was going to meet us at the next aid station. I didn't tell Susan, just in case they missed us for whatever reason. As we crossed the bridge to the Muir Beach aid station Susan saw her son and was completely surprised and even teared up a bit. This was the first time we had ever had anyone meet us at an aid station. It was such a great feeling running into the aid station and seeing Gretchen, Leif and John. Muir Beach is almost the halfway point (30.2 miles), we were more that 30 minutes ahead of fastest pace chart, which allowed us to spend a little more time at the aid station with everyone. 


Coming into Muir Beach

Happy tears seeing my son at mile 30 aid station


Around mile 42, we came to the Bolinas aid station for the first time, there is an out and back from Bolinas to Randall at mile ~49. We were starting to slow down a bit and walking more than we had the previous 40ish miles, but given the amount of miles ran we both commented that we were feeling pretty good. By the time we made it to the hill down to Randall, I knew I needed a break. If I recall correctly, the hill is 1.2 miles, but it felt like 5. Again waiting at the aid station for us was Gretchen, Leif and John. This time they could tell we were haggard, Gretchen and John asked what they could do to help us. They filled up our water bladders and got us food. We finally knew what it felt like to have a crew. 


Leif at mile 49.2 aid station



Beautiful views of Pirates Cove along the Coastal Trail


Stairs down the Coastal Trail


As we hiked back up the hill out of Randall we hit the 50-mile mark at 11:40, which still put ahead of our projected fastest time. Somewhere right before getting to Bolinas my stomach started to hurt and it felt really bloated. It was really hard to run and because of this and all the miles we had behind us, mentally I was starting to hit a dark spot. I figured once we got to Bolinas I would be able to go to the bathroom and clear up my stomach issues. Sadly that plan didn’t work, but luckily we made it to Bolinas 10 minutes before the cut-off, which meant we had more that 2 hours to run 10k. I was pretty sure we had it.


Ann on the Coastal Trail

Running happy at the Randall aid station


But not long after we left Bolinas my stomach really started to hurt and walking was even a struggle. We were on a single track with over grown grass on either side, which made it difficult to let people pass but also I didn’t want people right on my heels listening to me complain. I kept getting out of the way and holding my overly bloated stomach telling Susan that I didn’t think I would make it. Susan did her best to try and tell me stories to keep my mind off things, but at that point we had both been out there for 14+ hours and were tired and struggling to find new things to say. 

At some point I sent a text to John and Gretchen telling them I wasn’t doing well and it was going to take us longer than expected to finish. I thought the text message made perfect sense, but I think me saying I wasn’t doing well made them panic a bit. Gretchen texted me back saying that John is on his way, which I assumed meant he was on the way to the finish line.


Looking back south along the coast


We finally made it to the Matt Davis trail after what seemed like an eternity. It was less than 2 miles down on the Matt Davis trail to the finish. I finally knew I was going to finish this race. It started to get dark so Susan pulled out her head lamp for me, then I said, “John… John”. I wasn’t speaking in complete sentences; Susan thought I was asking for John until she turned around and saw John hiking up the trail to find us. He was worried about how I was doing so came to see if he could help me. He started to tell me how their day was and some other random things, but all of a sudden having him there and listening to him took my mind off my stomach and I was able to run again. Shortly after meeting up with John, Susan and I took off running to the finish. We finished in 15:24, with 6 minutes to spare. 

The fog comes rolling back in as the sun sets


What an incredible journey, which we would not of been able to do without a lot of amazing support. We definitely got a taste of what it is like to have a support crew and a pacer, even if it was only for ½ a mile. 

Looking back on the race, I think what happened with my stomach was I ate too many peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at the aid stations. I don’t eat that much wheat and I think all the bread caught up to me. I normally don’t have an issue with food at aid stations, but I also haven’t run a long race since I cut back on wheat. Live and learn. 



Cloud bank dissipating over Stinson Beach, far below

Wreck of a 1941 Pontiac on Mt Tam


On the Coastal Trail, nearing the final descent on Matt Davis Trail

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