Monday, 4 May 2009

Muck and Bullets

Who would have thought that my first race of the season out here in "sunny" California would turn into a mudfest worthy of well known UK mountain marathons?

I had rather hoped that the "rain boy" tag I acquired many years ago had departed me but, no, it seems to have followed me dutifully across the pond.

The Miwok 100 takes place on the Marin Headlands area just over the Golden Gate bridge from San Fransicsco and it is a beautiful course. I know this because as soon as I got here I put some time on on the trails and saw the beaches, the headlands, the glimpses of the SF city skyline through the hills, the wildflowers (oh, and of course the snakes!!)

To be fair, as we drove over to Marin in the pre-dawn it was, at least, dry with a little hill fog rolled in from the Pacific. Starting at 05.40 I was quickly strippped to my sleeveless top as it felt quite mild too. The rain really started at about 7am but really only got going properly about 8am. But then that was it for pretty much the rest of the day.

A bit of background, Miwok 100 is 100km/62miles, has been going for at least 13 years but like so many other races is now well oversubscribed so just getting an entry means being successful in the lottery for the 350 runner spots accepted. The course starts on the beach about 20 metres from the Pacific at an elevation of, oh about 2 metres, and consists of around 5% tarmac, 40% singletrack and 45% fire/jeep road. Much of it is pretty smooth and runnable but there is 10,000ft of height gain. So, it's Fellsman distance with a little less height, a lot less tussocks and, ordinarily a lot less mud but not this time!!

The record for the course is 7 hours 52 minutes!!

So, I mentioned that the rain really set in around 8am, initially it was quite refreshing but by the time I got to the section of singletrack between Pan Toll and Bolinas ridge it was a stady downpour, fully clagged in and with 30mph side winds. I was wearing my windproof and a buff on my head (because thats all I had!) and it was quite chilly. The next section heads out to a turnaround point where you retrace your steps for 15 miles before heading off onto different trails for the return home. This section, Bolinas Ridge, was quite comedy as is on forest track - all in the trees - and presented a series of increasingly difficult to avoid and deep puddles. By the time I was returning it was simply wet wet wet so I and everyone else on the return leg was ploughing through the water, muck and bullets in survival mode - those on the outbound leg were rather more circumspect - still tippy toeing arounf the minor lakes in the vain hope that they might stay Californian.

So, I am really glad I had some great music lined up. With no views and a very spread out field I spent much of the time running in my own little world. The shoes (Vasque Blur) were fantastic and Ihad no hint of blisters or hot spots, I ate reasonably well all race (being fired up by around 20 caffeinated gels and Shot Bloks) BUT all that was "only" good enough for 16th spot and 2 days later I feel worked.

I guess I just have to accept that the days of things like a back-to-back Fellsman and Scottish Islands race are behind me - the body demands more recovery and rest. I am very impressed by the standard of the field out here and most people ran a pretty smart race (I was passed by no-one from mile 20 and only passed 3 people). Once I realised I would be well out of the top 10 I was shooting for a sub 10 hour time (because I have never managed that for 100km). The one section of the course I had not run was the final one so I pushed hard up what I thought was the final climb only to find that there was a little more...and a little more. Finally saw a sign for Rodeo Beach; 1.7 miles and I had 14 minutes according to my watch. OK - lets go for it! Finish comes into view, careening down steps, tarmac, tight bends on trail and I finally haul over the line with 28 seconds to spare on my watch but about 6 minutes to spare on the race clock! Interesting though - it showed me that my body can still respond when the adrenaline and the desire are there. So 9hrs 54mins and a few seconds.

OK - gotta rest up now as we are off to Utah - Zion National Park - on Wednesday for a 50 mile trek across the park and then a Grand Canyon crossing at the weekend. More on that in a few days.

Now go running!!

1 comment:

Air Force One Shoes said...

Informative content. Just wanted to point out some helpful buying tips for those looking to buy sports shoes.

If you are planning to buy your sports shoes online to save you the trouble of travelling to a sports store, then make sure you are buying your shoes from a reputed and genuine online store. There are many online stores that are now selling counterfeit products not only in watches, handbags and perfumes, but also in sports shoes.

Make sure you enter your search query as “genuine sports shoes” or any other keyword with the words “genuine”, “authentic” or any other word that signifies quality real stuff. This is important to ensure you buy shoes that last you long and also provide the actual comfort which any fake shoe cannot provide.