There is no past or future, just the Now:
Mind and body fully in the moment.
No worry lines creasing the sweaty brow:
Just the warrior Spirit, ever gallant.
Above and below - I am everywhere,
As I take in the incredible views;
Up and down the slopes like a speeding hare
I run or walk, as I see fit to choose.
To do this race I will come back again
For it is how I choose to cleanse the Soul:
Through self-inflicted pleasure, not raw pain.
The fragmented Self once again a Whole.
Like Mol'luk, the Miwok's condor spirit,
I will soar each time this course I visit.
Date: May 5, 2007
Race: Miwok 100K
Location: Rodeo Beach, Marin County, CA
Saturday, May 5
I had to wake up at 2:45 a.m. in order to eat breakfast, shower and hit the road to pick up Anil Rao from his home at 4:00 a.m.
We stopped for coffee at a 24-hour Starbuck in the city (9th and Howard) on the way to Rodeo Beach, the start of the annual Miwok 100K. I had done this race before and looked forward to the spectacular views the course throws up all along.
We were so busy getting together our last minute stuff that we made it to the beach, a few hundred yards from the parking lot, scant minutes before Tia Bodington, the RD, set therunners off on their way. It was still dark but not so much that we needed a flashlight. Just like the year before, the runners came to a halt on the first climb of the day, at the end of the beach. 5 minutes had already elapsed on the race clock when Anil and I started our trudge up that slope.
The crowd soon thinned as we made our way up asphalt on Field Road and then Conzelman Road.
The views from here were spectacular. I walked for a bit with Julian Martinez, a runner I had befriended in the race the year before. At the top, we made a left onto McCullough Road and then an immediate left onto the Coastal Trail. This was approximately 4.5 miles into the race.
We descended on the Coastal Trail to the Bunker Road AS which was a water only aid station. Anil and I did not linger very long. My stomach had already started to protest but I knew that I could go to the toilet in the Tennessee Valley aid station, 11.9 miles into the race. There was a climb followed by a detour onto the Miwok Trail. Anil and I met and briefly ran with Molly Pelton, the 1st placed woman in the 2006 Rio Del Lago 100. She was gone soon after and the next time I saw her was coming back from the turnaround while Anil and I were heading down to it.
The views from here were wonderful and we soon reached the point where we got our first glimpse of the Tennessee Valley AS down below to our left. We could see a line of runners snaking their way along the trail beyond the aid station as we would be doing soon.
I hit the toilet as soon as we got to the aid station. Anil had meticulously planned our drop bags and I availed of the first of many Ensures of the day.
Jakob Hermann caught up with us right after the aid station and we ran with him for five minutes or so before parting company. We were soon on a climb up the Coastal Trail on our way to the Muir Beach AS. What sublime views we had of the Pacific Ocean and the coastline from the top! Anil, who was carrying the camera today, took numerous pictures. The Muir Beach aid station came up and we did not linger long again.
Out of the aid station we ran for a bit with Gary and Peggy Davidson. Peggy had finished RDL last year 30 minutes before me and I had bumped into her in the '06 Helen Klein 50 and the American River 50 earlier this year. She, Gary, Anil and I joked about how we were playing tag with each other.
We ran along the Redwood Creek Trail for a couple of miles. We soon found ourselves on the second sustained climb of the day, the climb up the Coastal Trail to the Pan Toll AS. This is where Anil and I teamed up with Carol Cuminale, Greg and Jennifer. We walked up the hill with Greg and I regaling the others with all manner of dirty jokes. We even had to find our way around a giant tree that blocked the path.
I had my second Ensure in the Pan Toll AS. I emptied my bottle of the Clip2 I had started with and switched to Coke with Succeed.
Bolinas Ridge was as spectacular as it had been last year. The green ridge sloping off to the left into a thicket of trees and the ocean beyond with the white topped waves soundlessly crashing onto the rocks near Stinson Beach was like manna from running Heaven.
(Stinson Beach from the Bolinas Ridge Trail)
Carol, Anil and I ran most of the ridge to the Bolinas Ridge AS.
We topped off our bottles, ate a few cookies and started the trudge to the next aid station, the turnaround point at Randall Trail aid station (mile 35.6). We saw most of the frontrunners, save for the first 5-6 (including Scott Jurek and Brian Morrison) whom we saw along Bolinas Ridge, here. We met Chihping Fu here and he looked a bit low but he got stronger soon after (in his recap of the race) and finished in 12:12, a week after running the brutal Diablo 50M.
The cutoff for the Randall Trail AS was 2:20 p.m. (8:40 into the race). We were out of the aid station at 8:00 on the race clock i.e. at 1:40 p.m. and found ourselves climbing up the 1.7 miles to the top. This is where my lower back started hurting a bit.
The run back to the Bolinas Ridge AS was a bit tough for both of us.
Anil gave me some Tylenol in the Bolinas Ridge AS and the pain soon disappeared. My low had now turned into a high that lasted the rest of the 20 miles to the Finish. I flew up and down the slopes on the trail between Bolinas Ridge and the Pan Toll AS. 3 of our friends were pacing us from Pan Toll to the Finish.
I hung around in the AS for almost 10 minutes before Anil came in. He changed his socks (fresh socks stored away in the drop bag), we each had an Ensure, got our flashlights and left the AS 11:34 (5:14 p.m.) into the race. The run down the Coastal Trail was fun and we soon found ourselves taking the left turn in order to climb up to the Highway 1 AS. I passed Gary, Peggy and Christine here and found myself waiting once again in the AS for the rest of my gang to come in.
Our pacers drank and ate a bit as did Anil and I and we left to begin the climb and eventual descent down to the Tennessee Valley AS. As soon as we got onto the Miwok Fire Road, a mile and a half climb up to the junction with the Coastal Fire Road, I told my pacers that I was not going to let this climb get the better of me. I accelerated and found myself settling into a fantastic rhythm and pace.The climb was soon behind me and I waited at the top (the descent down Fox Trail) for the rest. I took off again down the Fox Trail and came into the Tennessee Valley AS. I met Kevin here (Anil and I had shared the bus ride from the Finish to the Start the morning of AR50 3 weeks ago - he went on to finish AR in 8 hours!). Kevin was the designated sweep and had been working the AS from early morning!
Anil and the rest soon caught up and we left the AS with the intention to (a) finish while there was still light left and (b) do so in under 15 hours. The initial climb up Old Springs was not steep and I ran the last part. After the right turn onto Miwok, I power walked the climb up the Wolf Ridge Trail. This trail met a paved road at the top, a right on which took us down to the Finish.
I FLEW down this last part reaching 6:00-6:30 min/mile in parts. Something inside me told me that I had an outside chance at finishing in 14:42 (an hour faster than last year). I gave it my all down that last part. I finally finished in 14:44, a satisfying 58 minutes faster.
What a fantastic race this one is. The course is breathtakingly beautiful. This year's experience was almost zen-like for me. I was always in the moment, just like I had been at the AR50 a few weeks ago. Something inside me has changed, both in my quotidian existence and my running (isn't running ALL that makes up life???). I have stopped worrying about the next moment or the next hour or the next day. I refuse to waste the Now for it is all I have to spend.
Carol came in a little bit later followed by Jennifer.
Karen Hanke, whom I saw just once in the race on the way back from the turnaround, finished in 14:07. She is an amazingly strong runner and I will have to be on my toes while pacing her in the Western States later this year.
The race volunteers were simply fantastic. They would walk yards out of the AS to take our bottles and fill them for us. All of them had large smiles writ on their faces. If the race was a Who's Who of running, the list of volunteers was one too. Dave Combs was the official "scorer". I met Nicole Whiting who was helping out in the Finish area. She and her husband John were assigned the task of sweeping the course near the Finish soon after the last runner.
Heartfelt thanks to Tia Bodington and her superb crew of volunteers.
Immense gratitude to our pacers Arun, Kiran and Bharti for driving all the way to Pan Toll from the South Bay to be with us on the way to the Finish.