Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Things I got at Miwok

Besides running a well organised and fabulous 100K course, there are other things I took away from Miwok. Of course there was the cool shirt, (not pictured), which will come in handy if the weather every warms up, it's like May-vember here in Seattle. Included in the swag bag was a local brewed Miwok Beer with pint glass, a very spacious grocery/after running/misc bag;
a running hat;
and a copy of the latest issue of UltraRunning magazine featuring an article on trail running with dogs and one of the featured dogs is none other than Struth! He is Struthie the Ultra Dog, having run lots of 50k's with me and other long training runs. My faithful companion.

What WASN'T in the swag bag, but which I did acquire is a lovely case of poison oak which has been keeping me up at night and generally making me pretty uncomfortable.

However, after I drink this Miwok beer, maybe I'll feel better....

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Miwok-ed, Mi-Ran and Mi-finished

I've heard the views at Miwok are amazing and it is one of the more beautiful runs. Being from the northwest, there are quite a few beautiful runs here and I was looking forward to seeing some new scenery. Well, we all checked the weather incessantly the days and night before Miwok on Saturday and it didn't appear there would be too much of a view; rain was in the forecast for at least part of the day. Oh well, those of us traveling from Seattle to San Fransisco for Miwok are quite used to this type of weather. That being said, I was looking forward to warmer weather and some sun but reality presented itself in the form of rain, fog, wind and then some more rain fog and wind. However, I really can't complain and I hope it doesn't sound like I am. The day was awesome and the race was awesome. The volunteers were perfect and the race was very well organized. I'd do this race again and again.
Of course I was super nervous having never run this distance before. The night before was restless and I kept dreaming the same dream over and over again. I dreamt that we were late to the start, couldn't find the starting line despite people yelling at us with a bullhorn "OVER HERE!" Once we started we were a full 30 minutes behind and I could not catch up with a single person. The aid stations were in people's houses and we would have to sit at people's kitchen tables for turkey sandwiches before heading back out to the next aid station. At one point I was running next to a parked car and for the life of me, could not move past it. It was at this point in my dream that I became somewhat conscious and said to myself, "you know this is just a dream right? There is no way an aid station would be in some one's kitchen and that you couldn't run past a parked car in under 30 minutes." So I would wake up, look at the clock and think to myself, "man! I am never going to fall asleep!" Repeat....until the alarm went off at 3:30 AM.
I figured I wouldn't get a restful night's sleep, so I was prepared with lots of good night's sleep earlier in the week.
We got to the race at about 5:20 or so with a 5:40 start. It was still pretty dark but quickly becoming dusk and soon enough, before we hit the second mile, it was light. Having never run this distance before and with only one 50-miler under my belt, I really didn't know what to expect with regards to time and pacing strategy. After looking at previous results, I had made 3 goals for myself, besides to have fun. The first was to finish, the second was to finish in under 14 hours and the 3rd was to finish in under 13 hours. I thought that if I was having a good day, I could run 12:15-12:30.
I hit Tennessee Valley AS, (mile 12) in about 2 hours and was feeling pretty good. It was starting to drizzle and I had started listening to my iPOD about an hour previous. On the way to Pan Toll AS, via Muir Beach AS, the rain and wind had picked up. It was so foggy that I couldn't see more than 25-35 yards in front of me. I didn't really mind, it's not like I really knew that course so with each step, the course was revealed to me. It was a real mystery and with many many miles in front of me, a mystery kept my mind busy. The 6 or so miles before Pan Toll were pretty rowdy. The wind was really picking up and so I just cranked my iPOD and really, I was feeling pretty good. I knew it would be a muddy mess on the way back, but that wasn't for hours so why think about it. I hit Pan Toll, ~mile 21, and I was at 4 hours. I overheard a few people say they were dropping. I was feeling kinda fired up with being 1/3 of the way done and got my drop bag and reloaded with delicious gu's in my water bottle holders. Off I went, onto Bolinas AS. Wow, the rain was really picking up here and I was thankful that it was not too cold.
(this photo courtesy of Victoria Folks)
I was running alone at this point. I hadn't seen anyone in a while and the people at the aid station were a welcomed distraction in my head. I fueled up and onward I went, mostly downhill, to the turn-around, Randall Trail, mile 35. I have never taken an Advil in a race, but my hips were really quite sore, an issue I have been dealing with the past 10 days, so I decided to take 2 Advil. At the turn around I was feeling pretty good but kind of anxious about what the last 27 miles might bring. I hadn't run more than a 50k in a race since last July and so I felt as though I was reaching uncharted territory. I remember Owen telling me to look for people running my pace and try to stick with them. I had been running behind a woman who looked tough for the last 3 or 4 miles so I thought, well, maybe I can stick with her for a while and see how that goes. I was behind her until we hit Bolinas AS station again, mile ~mile 43. I refueled and then continued to run behind her. I turned off my iPOD in case we were going to have a conversation. I didn't want to be annoying and run right behind her, yet I wanted to run behind her for pacing and even if we never said a word, for company. We talked a little, she told me her name was Betsy. We chit-chatted while we ran in the most windy part of the course. It wasn't even single track, it was more like 1/2 track with a slant and it was muddy and slippery, and IT band irritation waiting to happen. But thankfully, that did not happen. We hit mile 50 and as I approached the aid station I hear..."ALLISON!!!!" I'm thinking....WTH? Who is this? Well, it was my dear friend Annie and her boyfriend Mark who had showed up to the race despite the weather. What troopers and an amazing lift to my spirits! This is what they sat through....
I thought I might change my shirt because I could tell I was chaffing under my arms. But I saw that Betsy was cruising through the AS so I didn't want to get too far behind her so I said hi to Annie and Mark, refueled and was on my way. I was at 9:17 for 50-miles and thought I had a chance of doing a good time. So, I ate my 2-quarters of PB&J with a small piece of banana and ran behind Betsy. I was feeling pretty fatigued at this point. I don't know if this is where she told me that she would be running her 10th Wasatch this year and her 9th Hardrock or if she told me that before, but I knew I was running behind one tough chick with lots of experience. So I stayed with her the best I could. As we approached mile 55, we were talking about all kinds of things. We were at 10:24. With 7 miles to go, I was wondering if I could make it in under 12 hours. She gave me 2 Anica tabs to help my fatigued muscles and gave me some good pointers in how to train for a 100-miler. She was absolutely amazing and I felt so lucky to be running with her. As we approached the last AS, there was a slight uphill on the road. I don't think I would have run that if she was not running it, I was just focused on staying with her great company. At the last AS, Tennessee Valley, with 3.8 miles to go, I was knackered. I ate a bunch of watermelon. I had never felt this fatigued before and the uphill route that I saw in front of me looked so daunting. At times I was pressing on my legs as I stepped up in the hopes that it would make the climb easier. Who knows if that was effective or not, but I was still moving forward to maybe it did. As we got to a lesser grade climb, Betsy turned to me and said, "shuffle with me." So shuffle we did. We shuffled at what felt like a crawl. If I was alone, I wonder if I would have shuffled or walked. Her experience and company was price-less to me at this point, so I followed her the best I could. As we approached the top, I could hear the finish line. OMG! The finish line! As we crested the top, I could see the tent and finish line and that it was downhill, all downhill to the finish. As we were running down, I heard someone yelling into the bullhorn, "11:53!". Wow, I was going to finish in under 12 hours. Betsy was a few steps in front of me so she waved me on to run side by side so we would finish together. We did, we crossed the finish line together at 11:55 with high fives and hugs. I was just so appreciative of her company and her expertise. I didn't know I had that in me....and with a little inspiration, I found out I did. Betsy gave me her number so we can go on some runs when she comes to Seattle next. I later looked up Wasatch and saw that she has won it 5 times, including last year. I knew I was running with a bad ass, but WOW, she is SUCH a bad ass. And a very genuine person as well. Wish I had a finish line photo, but I don't. But here are a few race photos of other things.
Jonathon and I after the race cheering people on.
Linda finishing with her best time and just right there behind her, after a 100-miler only 3 weeks prior is Jess finishing!
I had such a great time and can I just say that I have never been so sore as I was the next day in my life. It was well worth it. Everyone did great and now it's time to recover and eat lots of good food and sleep.
next up: Watershed 12 hour run! (yikes)