Editors Intro: Drew is a November Project – Denver regular, who just happens to run long trail miles on the weekends. He loves the trails of California’s Mill Valley and has been amped-up about the Miwok 100K throughout the cold winter training months. Best of all, Drew responded to text messages and sent pics from the trail while he was racing! Love it!!
Take it away Drew:
I went in to the Miwok 100k not having ran as many training miles as I had initially planned, an Achilles injury earlier in the year kept me from running some mid-week runs and cutting short a couple of my weekly long runs. The week leading up to the race my Achilles and feet were feeling pretty good but I wasn’t sure how they would hold up after several hours of running. All in all, I felt ready for the 62 mile, 11,800 ft. elevation gain run.
The race started at 5:00 AM, still an hour away from sunrise but you could tell there was a thick marine layer, which would keep the morning nice and cool, but very humid. We ran just an eighth of a mile down the PCH to the Dipsea trail, which is single track so there was quite a bottleneck. You were only able to go as fast as the person in front of you, but the Dipsea trail was almost all up hill so I was fine with mostly walking and slowly jogging the not so steep parts. As I got to the top of the first and one of the steepest climbs I could look back and see a line of headlamps headed up the trail, it was like nothing I had ever seen before.
Once at the top, the race headed south along the Redwood Creek trail toward Muir Beach and the first real aid station. Along the way the trail went through Muir Woods just as it was getting light enough to turn off my headlamp. Muir Woods was one of my favorite places to run when I lived in the bay area, I love the smell of eucalyptus trees there (and a lot of other places along the race) and running by all the giant red wood trees.
After stopping at the Muir Beach aid station for a PBJ sandwich it was 5 miles over a ridge to the Tennessee Valley aid station where I would fill up my camelback for the first of many times. The race continued south with another 2 miles of climbing before getting on the Coastal trail. Along that ridge I had great views of the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco. At that point, I was about 18 miles into the race and feeling pretty good, no real Achilles pain. I was trying not to pay much attention to my mileage because I was not even a third of the way through at that point.
After the bay view aid station just north of the Golden Gate Bridge the trail dropped about 800 feet in elevation before we turned North on the Rodeo Valley trail and back up to the top of the ridge. At the top I could look to the East and see that the marine layer was starting to retreat back to the ocean, I knew I only had an hour or so left of the cloud cover that I was enjoying. The race went back through the Tennessee Valley and Muir Beach aid stations but taking different trails to get there. The support was great at both of the aid stations, it was awesome getting cheered on by crowds of strangers, and there was always someone there to take and fill up my camelback pack while I ate chips, cookies and PBJs.
After the Muir Beach aid station, which was at mile 30, there was the longest climb of the race back up to Cardiac Ridge. I was happy to be almost half way done and I tried to keep positive thoughts running through my head. One of the good things about the course was that most of the elevation gain and loss was during the first half. The second half would have 2 long stretches of up hill, the first of which I was on. After getting to the top and stopping at the aid station to fill up on water again and having a little snack I was onto a relatively flat section of narrow single track. In my opinion, this section of the Coastal Trail is one of the most beautiful trails there is with great views to the East looking down at Stinson Beach and the Pacific Ocean. I tried to enjoy the views as much as possible hoping that it would take my mind off the race that I had been running for 8 hours at that point.
At mile 38 I hit my first mental wall, I was getting a little tired but still in good condition to finish the race. I was enjoying the race but really wanted it to be over, and I still had 24 miles to go. I was on one of the most beautiful trails I know of but wanted to be almost anywhere else. Although there was not a lot of up hill during this section I found myself walking quit a bit, I really just wanted to keep moving forward. At that point I was really looking forward to the mile 49-aid station at the Randall Trailhead where I would pick up my pacer, my sister Rachel. To get there I had to run a couple more mile to the next aid station, then a 7-mile stretch of mostly down hill through another redwood forest.
It was great arriving at the Randall Trailhead, I was greeted by my sister and a couple friends, and was cheered on by quite a large crowd of people who all seemed to be having a great time cheering on all the runners. After filling up my camelback and getting a snack, my sister and I headed back up the trail I had just came down. I told her we would be walking the next 2 miles witch would be up a steep grade. It was great having some to talk to during the last 13 miles, I tried not to complain too much about how tired I was, and how I just wanted it to be over.
I was very happy to get to the last aid station, which meant that we were almost done with the up hill and just a little over a 10k to the finish. After running about 12+ hours a 10k felt like nothing. After filling up, we headed out toward the finish line in pretty high spirits. Those high spirits left me pretty quick about a mile later when I hit the wall again, much harder, both physically and mentally. The flat sections of the trail were feeling like up hill and it was hard to keep running the downhill. I didn’t recall ever feeling this tired before in my life, no particular part of my body hurt more than another, I was just tired. We were back on the Coastal trail but this time headed south, the marine layer was coming back over land which helped me out by cooling me off and making some very pretty views, or maybe not and I was just delirious.
It took longer than it should have but we finally got to the Matt Davis Trail that would take us down to the finish. This is one of my favorite trails, it is very steep and technical with a lot of stairs and switchbacks. With fresh legs you feel like a rock star bombing it down hill dodging all the hazards and hearing the ocean in the background. But I did not have fresh legs, and having already run 60 miles I can safely say that was the slowest I have ever ran that trail.
The trail let right out to the community center where the finish line was. It was great running the last 100 yards with such a big crowd cheering me on, it truly made me feel like I had accomplished something special. I crossed the finish line at a time of 14 hours and 14 minutes, quite a bit longer than I hoped it would take but I was just happy to have finished it.
miwok 100k 2015