The shortened version applies both the the race, which was cut from 60 miles to 38, and the length of this posting because the race happened over a month ago.
This was to be a big race for me. Normally it would have simply been a nice season opener, but this year it was less than three months after having a foot of intestine removed and recovering for 6 weeks with no running. Going into this I only had one month of training on the legs. I was excited to finally get back to running a big event and nervous that I was ready for the distance. Miwok would be a gut check race, literally and figuratively.
I met up with young pups Christi Nowak and Ethan Richards at the airport. We were flying out and staying together before the race, then they were continuing on with a week of vacation afterwards, while I rushed home to get back to work. It was a pretty uneventful trip out to warm sunny San Franscisco and we chatted much of the way out, everyone excited about the trip. Once we landed and picked up the car we headed out over the Golden Gate Bridge into the Marin Headlands and our hotel. By the time we got settled in it was getting kind of late, so we hit the grocery store right near the hotel and picked up a bunch of food from the deli, along with the first of two 1lb bags of M&Ms we'd dominate.
We pretty much spent the next few hours squaring away our drop bags and clothes for the next morning, since we'd have to get up at 3AM to do the half hour drive to checking, and ready ourselves for the 5AM start. The weather was looking good, if a little warm, but hey, that's part of why we came down here.
After doing my best to sleep, I was still up before the alarm with pre-race jitters. Fortunately I had some entertainment listening to Christi talk in her sleep. Slowly, though Ethan and Christi both woke up and we were all on hour phones checking the weather out. The hotel was packed with other runners and we could here them milling about and heading out to their cars. We got our stuff in order and had what breakfast goodies were to be had and headed out to hit the road. Finding the race start was pretty easy since the only other folks on the road were runners also headed down to Destin Beach.
After we had parked down at the beach we joined the train of people headed up to the check-in, only to find out that due to fire danger (no actual fires) that the start parks had all closed and were permitting no visitors. The race was being cut down to 38 miles and the start time pushed back 3 hours (as well as check-in). At first it felt like I'd just blown a lot of money to fly down here for a non-race. There were a lot of disappointed people milling about. Being too much driving to go back to the hotel and rest, we just headed back down to the car to sit and try to grab another hour or two of sleep. After making it about an hour (Ethan was long gone, ADD child that he is), Christi and I headed up to the the starting area where we found Ethan and all hung out chatting with others while slowly more and more runners started showing up. I even got to see Susan Donnelly (I think she races every race every year), Clifton, and speedster John Maas sister.
Finally, after all the hoopla we were all ushered outside (it was chilly!) and up to the starting line. The start was a quick down hill for about 50 yards then nothing but climbing for the next several miles. Ethan took off ahead and Christi and I settled in and climbed together. Slowly, but surely, we made it to the top, ascending through moss covered red woods and up into the rolling prairies of the headlands. Before long I was by myself and working my way up and down up and down. The aid stations were well stocked and manned by experienced volunteers. They helped get me in and out very quickly.
The day quickly warmed up and became a cooker, at least for those of us from the north where spring was refusing to show up. Eventually I made it to BridgeView with it's great view of the Golden Gate, and the farthest point out on the course, and headed for home. There was still some of the biggest climbing to come, at least the longest, but then three miles of downhill to the finish. Finally making it to the last big climb, about 1500 feet in three miles, I was really feeling the distance and heat. It was at just a grade that it was hard to decide whether to run or walk. Hitting the last aid station I took off down the hill for the last few miles to the finish. Looking over my shoulder I saw Christi come in to the AS just a minute behind me. Fortunately I had the legs left to fully bomb the hill, and about half way down I came upon Ethan pulling himself up off the ground. I gave him a hand up and some water since he was out and cramping up. Not needing any further help I went on and finished a few minutes later in 6:08:25 for 24th guy and only Darcy Africa ahead of me for the gals. Ethan showed up 4 minutes later with Christi just 3 minutes after that to claim second for the women.
This was a very fun run, and I'd love to go back for the full 100k. It felt good to make it through with no issues from my surgery and still be able to get a pretty reasonable time.