Monday, May 16, 2011

So Far. So Close.

Not quite how the saying goes but then again nothing we do around here ever is! That's about the best way to describe the usual events in ultra running that have taken over Rogue Valley Runners, it's employees and agents.

So off to the Miwok 100k everyone went, and when I say everyone I mean about 10 to 15 people.  I must be careful with what I write here but it's really no coincidence that we have such a strong turnout and the fact that the race director lives in the valley.  Now I don't mean that the RD plays favorite and bypasses the lottery for locals, no no, it's just that she does such a good job of hyping her event that everyone wants to do it, and by everyone I mean 15 to 20 locals.  Really though, how much hyping does this race need?  I've run it 7 times but only needed one to know that this is one of the top 5 most scenic races in the country.  I'm sure that's why 400 plus people are entered each year with many more knocking on the door.

Thursday at RVR was filled with the usual, stinky socks and obligatory leaf blowing on the sidewalk. And foxes trying to get at the new lunarglides.  I was lucky enough to be heading out of town so as to avoid the hustle and bustle of a Friday departure, not to mention the 5 hour drive and cramped legs. I also had a meeting with the North Face performance apparel team. I then got the chance to hang out with new team member Ian Sharman a little more.  Did I mention we are heading to Marathon De Sables next year! Product is already being developed for Spring 13 and after looking at Spring 12 product to buy for the store I really didn't need 20 year old Dakota Jones to exclaim, "Hal , you've been doing this for awhile haven't you" to feel really old.

Onwards and upwards as they say, literally as all get out.  Miwok has seen some changes over the years,  and I've witnessed a great deal of them.  My first Miwok was in  2002 when the course ran out of Bolinas to Olema, staying on the fire road through the trees til it popped you into a grassy meadow and you returned from whence you came.  Coincidentally, this was the best race I had experienced on the course.  At the turn around a band of younger runners, including Scott Jurek, Mark Richtman and myself, marched back to Pan Toll together before splintering into a one, two, three finish some ten minutes apart.  I was happy to have barely beaten Ann Trasons course record at the time.  So when the course abandoned the Olema turnaround and sent runners on the plunge to Randal I was more than upset, the route was already difficult and did it really need all that extra elevation?  After coming to terms with the harder destination, the race course then found new routes at the start due to road maintenance and erosion control.  Although the course is virtually the same, the direction change certainly added up to what I would deem the most challenging yet.  Here it is via Garmin.

I told Timothy on Friday that the heavy front end of the new course and the successive climbs leading up to Pan Toll would really define the players in this years race.  So on our first ascent I tried to stay calm and "take it eeeeassseeyyyyy."   If you call being 10 seconds off the lead after 8 miles and the last in a band of 14 or so taking it easy I probably did a good job.

Luckily the climb up to Wolf Ridge was not as daunting as I thought, and I joked with Dakota that we would see our first technical trail of the day, and perhaps our last as the really dangerous stuff now ran uphill rather than down as in years past.

Lewis leads in Tennessee Valley.

Shahid Ali from Ashland (RVR computer tech) in his first 100k!

Jamie Arvizo in her first 100k too.

Through Tennessee Valley and up to Highway 1 the bevy rolled over the hills and down them at a breakneck pace, and so I thought something or someone was going to break.

Up to Pan Toll I knew we had a race but as I had witnessed in years past I thought the S*@t would really hit the fan later on the Coastal Trail.  There was a group of five that included Mike, Dominic, Dave, Yassine, and Timothy followed closely by Dakota, Aaron, Dan and myself, as we tore up through the redwoods to the multi-use aid station. I knew it had never been done faster or luckily, easier.  I continued to ingest Gu's every 20 to 25 minutes and stayed well hydrated as the sun was still sitting low on the horizon.  

The group stayed intact out the ridge to Bolinas with the exception of Timothy, Yassine, and Dominic. They were never out of my mind as even the slightest falter will have you eaten up by the mass of talented runners who bask on blood in the water.  It was amazing running as the group of six ate up miles and climbs without hesitation, we were like silent assassins barely making a sound, waiting for one another to make the next deadly move and, well, because no one had uttered a word for hours.  Ultimately, the climb up Randal consumed the next batch of runners and the group of Dakota, Dave, Mike and myself continued on.  I mean, Aaron and Dan weren't far off the leaders but on that stretch 20 to 30 seconds per mile adds up fast.  Or as Aaron put it, you guys must've been running 4-4:30........ km per minute.  I love Canadians, it always sounds so fast.  And yes Jen, we did think that we were moving fast even when watching it again on the videos, ugh!

Timothy descending into Randal.

Some fun racing!

So we surged and faded over the next coming miles back to Pan Toll dodging runners, hikers and yes, flies. Luckily this was not the year to exclaim as Chris would, "mi wok now, mi lay down now." Although I imagine some were doing that a few miles behind us, I've been there.  By the time we exited 50 miles Dave, Mike and I had passed Dakota and rallied off down to the Redwood Trail.  I felt really good through here and closed the gap on Dave however I felt he too was holding back and I didn't have the guts to pass him, it was still too far out.  Through the nettles we went and I was a little distracted, but not as distracted as when we left Muir beach.  As we curved around the estuary path everyone was in site, perhaps 30 seconds separated all of us but that was as close as I got.  

You can barely see the two white blips up ahead, Mike and Dave.

I knew we had plenty of runnable terrain, and downhill at that, so I decided to not blow up on the climb (see above) but that was easier said than done.  This climb and the stairs to Pirate Cove are the crux of this new route.  They certainly aren't runnable and really put a hitch in the seven minute per mile average, well high seven minute per mile average that comes with wining this race.   I never liked going down them and now I can attest to not liking the reverse!  

The next 4-5 miles felt like my toes were going to pop off the end of my feet, I let everything go on the downhills and managed a steady pace on everything else but Dave and Mike held strong.  I would give a little push but Mike would answer and the gap wouldn't close.  I was however pleasantly surprised by my time, sub 8:07.  Extremely fast and well deserved.  Where it ranks on the all time Miwok list is up in the air.  Courses are different but this is one I will not soon forget, and I better get my rest for I feel I've got some more of this type of hammering on the horizon

I want to congratulate Carly on a grand followup to the not so distant Zane Grey 50 with her 11:45, just a minute or so behind Ashland resident Tamara Ellis (seen in the video below.) 

Krissy and Carly all smiles.

Also extended Congratulations to Dana Duvivier, Shahid Ali, and Jamie Arvizo as well as Annie Crispino Taylor for representing Ashland once again! And a very special thank you to Tia Boddington for making the Miwok 100k an incredibly difficult race to get into! 

Not enough filming like this - thank you Jim Vernon for the memories, I think.


Aaron said...

It sounds pretty slow when you change the units! I might have been running 4.5km per hour by the end of the race, but I think you guys were probably closer to 4.5min/km pace:)

Awesome watching you pros get it done. Learned a heap just watching you guys over that distance.

Rogue Valley Runners said...

yeah, I think I'll change the units.

always good hanging with you ordinary joe! By the way, didn't find your shoes but if you ever need a pair.......


willgotthardt said...

Incredible race, and another excellent recap...was fortunate to be hanging with Jim Vernon (race video) as you guys rolled throughout the first 41M, then had a pacing gig there from Bolinas with 9th place finisher Joel Lanz. Big congrats and admiration to all the top finishers, it was really something to watch.

I don't know you personally Hal (have been around you a few times over the years either during crewing/pacing, or post race)...besides the awesome running ability, most impressed with your relaxed/funny/friendly attitude towards it all.

Rooting for you at WS '11.

Cheers, Will G.

Dominic Grossman said...

I'm pretty sure you talked the ENTIRE way to Pan Toll.. so would you, or could you call it conversational pace.

Mike and Mackey weren't very talkative, I asked Mackey if I could call him the "Bondi Bomber" and he didn't seem to care for it.. At least Mike let me call him Wolfeman.

Scott Dunlap said...

Looks like all of the Ashland contingent did well on a tough new Miwok course. Congrats!

Slowman said...

Do you think all that color coordination slowed you down? One couldn't help but notice Dave was in your basic black and white.

Rogue Valley Runners said...

Dominic, Dave like to to listen to his body in races while not talking to anybondi. Wolfman is pretty original, I'm sure he's open to new suggestions on nicknames.

SO experience, I am colorblind and I think Dave is too. It's pretty amazing I've been able to get this far in life.


Dominic Grossman said...

Sounds koerny, but it seems like it works for him..

Greg said...

That video was pretty phenomenal. Great run out there with the other leaders. It's always nice to see the lead pack when I am usually mid-packing it. See you at Pine to Palm for sure. My buddy and I just need to coordinate a ride to the start. LOL

Yassine said...

Nice the writing style, humor, and comments....and oh yeah...good run out there Hal and everyone else! :-)

megatomic said...

Wow, that was great in-race footage. Excellent. And that course looks amazing, I haven't seen anything like that out here on the east coast.

Thanks for posting the report and the video.

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