Miwok 100K – The Unusual Moments

Miwok 100K was my first 100K and I had the incredible fortune to share some of the most amazing trails that Bay Area has to offer with ~300 runners. Miwok 100K was also celebrating its 20th anniversary. A race of this distance, it’s tempting and brain numbing to go over the play by play for two reasons. Well, there’s a lot of details packed into the 13+ hours of running. And frankly, I don’t remember a lot of it. These are some of the things that stood out. But first, here’s my Strava activity from the 62 mile, 11,000+ft run:

Miwok 100K

With my alarm set to 2:30am, I was in bed by 8pm. I had to wake up early to get my son out to school on Friday and that helped. Actually managed to get some sleep.


Miwok 100K Start Line
Nightmares: First I dreamt that I had run 10 miles, but forgot to bring my Suunto Ambit3, only to then realize it was on the wrong hand. And then as I was tossing and turning, I dreamt that I had gotten to the top of Cardiac Hill and bounded down for a while on the wrong turn. At this point, I woke up. The clock read 1:30am. Pre-100K jitters, in spite of the elaborate race prep.

Bagpiper: We all single-filed up our way through Dipsea Trail with headlamps, sounds of water trickling around us and the thick fog. As we got close to the summit, it opened up and through the fog came an unlikely sound. Someone was playing a bagpipe at the top of Cardiac Hill. Just surreal. It so felt like we were transported to Scotland. I’m sure the fog played a part too. Anyone know who this person is? Thanks to Scott Gold for letting me run with him (and his headlamp) until it got bright enough to see. I shouldn’t have dropped off my headlamps at the top of Cardiac.

Mystery Bagpiper on top of Cardiac Hill

Mystery Bagpiper on top of Cardiac Hill

Leigh Ann WendlingLeaving Muir Beach

Working up Middle Green Gulch

Working up Middle Green Gulch

David and Nam on MarincelloHalf way up MarincelloReckless Biker: After hiking up Marincello with David Wiskowski & Nam Pham (1st 100K and longest distance past a marathon!), I started heading down Bobcat Trail. And BOOM! A biker whisks past me real fast and I can’t really tell if he’s just reckless or completely out of control. Mind you, this is happening so quick that I can’t really react. There’s a runner maybe 30 yards ahead of me somewhat to the right of the trail. The biker goes even further right, hits the runner and then goes into this nasty tumble. By the time I got there, he looked like he had broken something and wasn’t moving much. A few of us runners had to decide what to do. One called emergency, a few decided to stay and some of us tried to run up to get to the nearest help. I really do hope the biker’s okay.

Bobcat Trail

SCA Trail

Golden Gate Bridge

Always an awesome sight – Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate SelfieTop of Old Springs Trail
The 4:55 Confusion:
Moving along to Bridge View aid station to Rodeo Beach and back up again, the morning fog stayed with us keeping it nice and cool. Down the descent on Old Springs Trail and back to Tennessee Valley Trailhead. I just followed the instructions on the race-prep cheatsheet. I was being fairly diligent on hitting the lap button on my Suunto Ambit3 before and after arriving at each aid station. I wanted to see, post-race, how much time I was spending at the aid stations. Leaving Tennessee Valley, I was kinda surprised to see a 4:55 entry on the screen. It took me a full 60 seconds to realize I had been running for close to 5 hours. And I felt strong, well fed and hydrated. I was almost exclusively on Tail Wind now, filling up either one or two of the Salomon soft flasks depending on the distance between the aid stations. I was occasionally supplementing with Okara Patties or Clif Shot Gels depending on what I was in the mood for.

pirates-covePirates Cove SelfieApproaching Muir Beach

With Dave & Scott

With Dave & Scott @ Mile 30

Blackened Toes: This one’s a new learning for me. By the time I hit Bolinas Aid Station at mile 42, both of my big toes were on fire. I was kinda hoping that there was no blood. And looking back I now know what happened. Normally, I pound on the descents, but this time around I wanted to save myself for the long day ahead. So instead of flowing with gravity, I was doing a lot of braking. This in turn caused my toes to bang up on the front of the shoes and were causing me discomfort. I need to think about this some more to see if not letting go on the downhills is really the right strategy.

Coastal TrailStinson Beach in Fog

Second Wind: You know, Scott Jurek apparently used to end all of his emails with this quote from William Blake:

Beyond the very extreme of fatigue and distress, we may find some amounts of ease and power we never dreamed ourselves to own; sources of strength never taxed at all because we never push through obstruction

Randall Aid Station, Mile 50

Randall Aid Station, Mile 50

I don’t think I’ve ever fully understood the meaning of this until I walked out of Bolinas Aid station. I was entering the shaded segment along the ridge with lush green forests and soft trails when I felt that second wind. This was mile 42 and I’d been on my feet for about 9 hours and I had this rush. I started running and covered the 6 mile stretch to the start of the Randall descent in just 45+ minutes. Just felt amazing. It’s like I’d discovered a part of me that I didn’t know existed. Walked into the Randall Aid Station and asked some of the volunteers if they had beer. They gave me that look. 🙂 I was tired, but still happy and clear headed.


Lap At A Time: Not exactly unusual, but a note to self. Of all the strategies, I’d say this worked the best for me. I had my Suunto Ambit3 configured to only display the lap duration & distance. I would start the lap each time I left the aid station and could only tell how far I needed to go to to get to the aid station. This really put a different perspective on the 62 miles and kept me from getting overwhelmed thinking about the distance.

Sobbing Frenzy: Once I got out on the Coastal Trail leading out of the Bolinas Aid Station. I got third wind and started running like crazy. Over the next 2 or 3 miles leading up to the start of the really technical Matt Davis trail, I must’ve passed at least 15 runners. I was grunting and just flying. One one of the downhills, I loudly said to myself: “Trails, bring me home”. And then the weirdest thing happened. I started crying. Not a few joyful-tears-crying, but a full-on Robert-De-Niro-in-Analyze-This type of sobbing. It’s so bizarre I can’t explain it. And this is while running at 7:00 minute/mile, after running for 55 miles. Looking back, I suspect it was my flow neurochemicals on fire, maybe excess amounts of Serotonin. Whatever it was, I’m glad it didn’t last for more than a minute or so. Ever have this happen to you?

Miwok 100K FinishThe last few miles on Matt Davis was tough. I’m so not used to technical downhills and coming down on steep steps with plenty of roots waiting to trip me up, after 60+ miles, was slow going. I could hear the finish line cheers, but the switchbacks were never ending. Finally it opened up and I sprinted across the finish line. My first 100K in 13:51. Thanks to Nate Dunn for handing me an ice cold coke at the finish line and Kristen Dymmel for the big high-five. Really appreciate your support. The volunteers were amazing (who was the pirate guy outside of Muir Beach aid station?), the weather just perfect and just a day on some of the best trails that the Bay Area has to offer. Two bruised toe nails and a little hot spot above my right ankle are but a small price to pay.

The one clear area of improvement is minimizing time spent at aid stations. Looking at the timing on Strava, it’s clear more than 45 to 55 minutes were spent at aid stations and bio breaks. I thought I was being fairly efficient and organized, but didn’t realize how every few minutes adds up over the course of many hours.

As I wrote in the farther & faster blog, this concludes the farther part of my 2015 goal. Well, except, maybe, huh, yeah, Dick Collins 50M. I now know the wheels didn’t come off running a 100K. Wonder how close I can get to a 3:00 marathon by the end of the year? Hmmm. Next up on my race calendar is Double Dipsea.

Did you run the Miwok 100K? How did the race unfold for you?