Next up for me in two weeks is the Miwok 100K, one of my faves and right in my soon-to-be backyard, as we are moving back to the Bay Area next week. I love this race!! Ever have races that you keep going back to where you feel like things just click ?
62.4 miles (note that this is over 100K) is a long frickin' way. It's like driving from Boulder to Colorado Springs on I-25, and the thought of having to run this makes me nauseous. A few years ago I would pop in the car at the drop of a hat to train on Pikes Peak. But to run on thatdrive? Ughh..
The only difference between I-25 and Miwok are the surface underfoot and about 10K vertical feet of climb and descent, as well as all the attendant race-day circumstances, friends, banners, glory, bbq, etc. But the biggest real difference is simply running through the woods and fields of the Headlands, the best place to get lost and forget about how far you have to go, much like the Colorado mountains. Under these circumstances and in these places, you can finish these incredible distances with MORE energy than when you started. I have competed in so many races, including 5 day adventure races, where the next day I've felt more alive, refreshed, invigorated than before the gun went off. I am not sure why this happens given the huge distances traveled over gnarly terrain with minimal resources. Is it massive releases of anti-oxidants? Is it excessive fresh sea-level air? Thin mountain air?
Then there are the few races when I feel like a Mack truck just ran me over the day after. Primal Quest 2006 in the seven-day summer desert heat of Utah and Western States in 2009 come to mind; coming into WS immunocompromised didn't help, and PQ '06 was simply hard-core suffer-fest of atronomical proportions (like running 1000 miles of WS.. without water.)
Any way I look at it, long trail running gives back much more back than it takes...most of the time.
So I will run Miwok... if this goes well then I will be primed to finish the Montrail Cup series of four required races, which has $5000 for the first place series win. I didn't start the season aiming to run this series, and didn't even want to run Miwok. As for Bandera 100k I planned to race only because it was an excellent early season race that Geoff, Tony, and others planned on racing and I wanted a piece of the action. Winning Bandera gave me Montrail Cup points, but the anticipated elite competition didn't happen. For AR 50 I wanted redemption to better my time from two years ago and I was in Cali anyway, so those Cup points more or less materialized naturally. Now school starts and I can only race locally, which lends Miwok 100k and WS to align well... may as well finish the series.
Next year, I am need to run some new races. It is my clinical year of school, so who knows where I will be or what level of training will happen. I have run so much in California and need a change of pace. It's where I've lived so it makes sense to race in CA, but I also live in Colorado half time, miss racing the high stuff. Never ran Leadville, HR, been years since I ran at San Juan Solstice and Collegiate Peaks, but have run Pikes recently and the Greenland (CO) trail races.
I said I was going to post my splits for the American River 50, but they unintentionally were deleted from my watch database. I am bummed about this I know runners try to find the elites' splits from prior years to pace themselves, and I like to look back and compare my times to current performances. All I can offer is though is this link, which has some interesting stuff.
The data regarding the second half of the race shows who ran smart the first half. For example, the women's winner, Ellie Greenwood, ran the second half (3:16:38) faster than many of the guys who finished in front of her. So in a longer race it is possible that she would have passed these guys. Perhaps not though, because the guys would have likely paced differently in a longer race.
I hope most racers can learn from these splits and apply them in future years. As proved time and time again, we all go out too fast in ultras.