Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Miwok 100k Trail Report

Ohmygoodness, ohmygoodness! What a fantastic weekend at the Miwok 100k. The weather gods prevailed and I got to do the 100km running tour of the stunning Marin Headlands on a calm, clear and warm day. And I finished! Woohoo!

Postcards from Marin

I had decided to stay at the Marin Headlands Youth Hostel the night before - can you say location-location-location? It was only five minutes from Rodeo Beach and the start line and there was a good sized group of runners who had also decided to stay and sleep there.
It was great fun to hang with the other runners and there were even some familiar faces from my weekend at Diablo. There was even another mountain girl from Truckee (sorry....forgotten some names!) who confessed to reading the Leslie blog!! How cool is that??
My friend Jen Silverthorn and her husband Terry met me there as well - they had driven all the way from Calgary and were volunteering for the day. Jen had been registered and super-excited to run Miwok when she came up pregnant. Last weekend, Jen rocked a half marathon last weekend in 1:36 while being 5 months preggers.

While I loved the hostel and enjoyed the great company, I did not quite get the night of sleep I had envisioned. My bunkmates were snory-snorer pants and I ended up abandoning the bunk in the middle of the night and crawling into the mens dorm (I'm such a tart) where I knew Geoff from Portland was sleeping alone. I thought my chances of sleeping might be better with him. The alarm came quickly and I reckon I got 3 hours worth of shut-eye. Hmmm.

The race started from Rodeo Beach at 5:40AM - an incredibly beautiful way to start the day with a very special start directly on the beach. Everyone was cold and shivering except for yours truly, this Banff girl was already enjoying the warm temps and feeling half naked, clad only in a sleeveless jersey and some army warmers to take off the chill.
I had enough time to enjoy the vibe at the start of the race, everyone was excited and ready to go despite the early time of the day. I even saw a few familiar faces at the start line, including Catra who gives great hugs and was excited to be pacing her honey. There was also Randy from Victoria, who I had met at Orcas Island and Fat Boy who I had met at TransRockies! As well, I ran into lots of familiar faces from Diablo including Erin from Oregon, Chihping Fu and many others whos names I've forgotten.

Starting on the Beach = Very Cool.

We started off from the beach and started climbing immediately. There was already enough lights that no headlamps were required! We climbed up some single track before joinig up with a small section of a few kilometres of road. Normally, this might cause me to bitch and complain and bemoan the fact that ROAD = EVIL, but in this case, the road was very, very, very good.

That's because it was a scenic highway overlooking the city and in this case, it was so early in the morning that it was closed to car traffic!! On our first climb, we were rewarded with fantastic views of the Bay, the city of San Francisco and the Golden Gate bridge. I love being a running tourist!! I actually took 100 pictures in 100km. All of them are here if you want to see them!

The race course was awesome, because we got a little taste of urban beauty and then a whole lot of natural beauty. The best of both worlds!! I have wanted to come run the trails in this area for quite some time and it didn't disappoint - it really was supremely beautiful.

Stopping to smell the Flowers - er, Lupines

After the tour of the scenic highway, we jumped back on the trail and everyone was moving pretty quick as we descended on some great singletrack. It was already warming up, the sun was coming out and the singletrack was easy and cruisy through the ranch country. From there it just kept getting better and better. We made our way back to the coastline and got to enjoy views of crashing surf and steep hills dropping right to the ocean. Before you knew it, we had travelled 16 miles and reached Muir Beach.

Checking out The View


Muir Beach

My race was going good - apart from nursing what felt like a hangover from a lack of sleep the night before, I was enjoying myself, some good company on the trails and the awesome views.

From there, it was all kind of a blur in to Pantoll and Bolinas. We climbed a fireroad as the day heated up and then got some sweeeeet rockin' singletrack with more views of the ocean.

On this stretch I got to tag along with a group of 5 runners and together we rocked the single track as it wound it's way across the hillside. For many kilometres I followed a massive flowing mane of BIG HAIR which I thought was pure California. When I finally caught the Man with the Hair, it turned out he was Japanese and told me he lived and trained near Mount Fuji!

Behold the hair....and Ricka Fukuda!!

After the rolling singletrack, we headed back into a shaded cedar forest for a loooooong stretch on some doubletrack fireroad, all the way to the turnaround at Randall Trail. It was on this long stretch where we got to see all the other runners and see the faster super-studs in action. We also got to swap smiles, grimaces, words of encouragement along the way for a little welcome distraction.

Me and the Boys - my new best friends

Olga V, still smiling and working it up the hill!

Even though it was shaded, I was hot. I kept hoping, looking, dreaming of a creek crossing, a puddle, any bit of water to stick my sorry-hot-flustered Canadian head in. Around the same time, for whatever reason I had neglected my fluids a bit and the next thing you know, I was finding myself a wee bit nauseous with a big bloated belly. At the turnaround, I didn't even need to refill the Camelback because - oops - it wasn't anywhere near empty. So I fueled up and started drinkin' lots on the next 10k.

I was feeling really rotten, so it was good to have the company of Debra through the forest and we babbled nonsense for a few hours. Debra and I got onto the subject of age when she revealed she was 52. And I thought she was my age! Damn, I've got to keep running my way through the next decade...'cause Debra, you look gooooood.

I wasn't moving too quick, but I was still moving. Unfortunately, the aliens had taken over my small intestine and I developed a bad case of the poo belly which would remain with me all the way to the finish line which was many hours away. I stopped taking pictures and sucked it up and kept moving.

Dark times in the Dark Trees

When I finally hit the last aid station, I had been walking on and off for a few hours. Nancy who I had met in Diablo blast right by me at the aid station looking strong and determined. In Diablo, I was the one reeling in runners for the last 10 Miles, but here, I found myself being the one that was being passed and rapidly falling off the pace. The aliens were still in my gut. And they wanted out.

I hooked up with big Jim McIntosh of Florida for the last 4.5 miles. It was great to have the company and distraction and we chatted all the way to the finish. Jim had enjoyed some quality time in Banff on holidays a few years back and remembered it fondly. Being an ultra veteran of 25 years, he also had a bottomless supply of Tums to feed me!! Thanks Jim!! I had been flirting shamelessly with him on and off for hours - everytime I came up behind him I would whistle at his great legs.

The Sun is Setting

One Big Descent - Jim with the finish line and Rodeo Beach below

As we crested the hill up and over, the finish line and Rodeo Beach came in to view. This was just such a special way to end the race - to finish in such a beautiful place! I'm sure the views inspired more than a few runners to hammer that downhill and pick it up right down to the finish line. It was an awesome and inspirng way to end a great day and a great run!

Rodeo Beach and the Finish

Getting Closer!!!

This little beach we passed not even a minute from the finish line as we descended. The Miwok course had delights to reveal, right to the end! I was a pretty happy girl when I crossed the finish line and it was great to have Jen there to share the fun and excitement. Thanks to all for another great day on the trail!

Some photos from the finish line...and Race Results!

Happy Leslie!

Thanks, Jen!

The lovely and charming Erin of Oregon

Julian and his Arrogant Bastard Ale

On Rodeo Beach Post-Miwok

Thanks to all for another great day on the trail!

Miwok 100k 2008 photos are here.


Meghan said...

Absolutely hilarious write-up, Leslie! "Behold the hair." Made me laugh out loud. "Poo belly." Made me laugh out loud for you. "Big stairs comedy" from your pictures. Awesome.

So glad you had a great time, despite the icky poo belly. Hope recovery is going well for you!


Mike said...

Wow Leslie, you're my hero!
The trails down there look amazing, you got some really great shots of the beautiful scenery and I'm sure anyone seeing them would want to go run this race.
Glad to hear you made it back in one(ish) piece. Blackfoot should feel like a walk in the park after this.


Backofpack said...

What a gorgeous place to run! You survived the icky tummy too. Way to go!

CoyoteGirl said...

Yay! Great pics Leslie! And congrats to finishing even when suffering from poo belly! (love that description - I'm gonna steal it).

King Arthur said...

Beautiful pictures. Congrats!

Dave - Atlanta Trails said...

Wow! I'm so jealous. The Miwok 100 is my dream race. One day I will run it. In the meantime, I'll make do with great reports like yours.


Journey to a Centum said...

Thanks for the report. I've never seen a photo documentry of the course before. Really looks like a beautiful experience.

Congratulations on your 100K! Thanks for sharing with us.

Leslie said...

Thanks friends! It was a pretty sweet course. The big stairs the day after did make for some good giggles.

Technically, I had "exploding projectile poo", but I was being polite with the poo belly!

Dave and Mike - hey - I have an idea! Why don't you both run it next year??

Five days post-Miwok and I am feeling really, really good.

jm said...

Leslie - Great race report and great photos...... I'm clipping the "great legs" excerpt for my permanent scrap book! It was wonderful sharing the trail with you at Miwok.

Glad you're recovering quickly.... you'll be able to enjoy the rest of Banff's "summer" running in the mountains. Back in Orlando, I'm feeling good except for a blister or two..... went kiteboarding yesterday. No trails or mountains, but it's sunny and the wind is blowing again today!

Thanks again for making the last miles of Miwok fun for me. See you on the trails!

"Big Jim" McIntosh from Florida

jm said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gary Robbins said...

Hey Leslie, too bad we didn't meet down in S.F. I actually lived in Banff for five years and still have some great friends out that way!!
Great write up and incredible pictures, do you mind if I link up to some of them myself?
Hope you're enjoying all the fresh snow...what a sight to come home to!!

Leslie said...

Yo Big Jim,

It was a pleasure! Florida is sounding pretty good right now with all this talk of kiteboarding....


Leslie said...

Hi Adventure Gary,
I heart Banff!!
I betcha' I know your friends - as you know it's a small town! I used to adventure race as well, but now I am happy running around in the woods, skiing and riding my bike. You are a speedy-speedster, you should focus on the running for a bit and see what you can do!


Norma Bastidas said...

Hi Lesie,

I am humbled that you even read my Boston race report. I had a blast, but it was nothing compared with your Miwok, you rock

I am looking forward to meeting you at the Blackfoot


Rachel said...


Glad to see that you finished. I was sorry I didn't get to see you at the end of the race. No poo belly for me, but I did have some interesting metabolic moments after I finished. Hope to see you out on the trails again.

Geoff from Portland.

Laura H said...

Just getting around to reading this - what a great day despite the poo belly. I love your new best friends the Boys! You're truly inspiring! Hope the summer is good to you in Banff...

Gretchen said...

Awesome report and great pictures! It was great to meet you at the hostel and see you out on the trail, you looked awesome out there. Sorry to hear about the snow, it can be such a tease to have a taste of summer then get dumped on.
Hope recover is still going well, nice job Leslie!

Leslie said...

Why Hello Jeff of Portland,

Thanks for letting me sleep in the boys dorm!! You were flying out there - glad to see you had a great run, it was great to meet ya!