Thursday, May 8, 2014

Miwok 100k 2014 Race Report

"You know, Jeremy, you have to be careful about your decision to drop.  It is all too easy to drop out of one race, then do it at another, and then a pattern emerges.  It is something that is hard to recover from if you want to finish these races."

These were the wise words from the race official that was trying to talk me into finishing the race when I wanted to quit.

Mile 56.5, only had one more thousand foot ascent and then descent to finish the thing off, 5 to 6 miles!  And I couldn't/wouldn't do it...

So I recorded my third DNF in two years and the negative thoughts start creeping in:

Am I cut out for these long races?

I'm pretty fast, maybe I should just concentrate on the shorter races where I do pretty good.

This is just your body trying to preserve itself, don't you want to live?  Maybe these ultras are for weirdos who don't care anymore.

Etc, etc.  And yet, almost a week removed from my disaster and I'm already thinking about what I can possibly do to make a comeback.  What can I change to become a better ultra-runner.  There is something about this sport that keeps me coming back.  Maybe it's because it's like a puzzle that I haven't solved yet.  Or it's the awesome community.  Or it's whatever.  But I'm drawn to this crazy stuff.

So what happened?

Flyin.  Is there any space between my shoes and the ground?  LOL.  Technically I think this is called "walking".
credit: Marc Laveson

Obviously I didn't last.  At mile 56.5 is when my leg cramps had gotten to the point where I knew it was probable that my next hill was going to throw me to the ground the way it did at TRT last year.  And in an act of self-preservation (cowardice) I decided I wanted NO part in a half hour painful session on the side of a trail, quite possibly in a poison oak patch, where I was reduced to curling up in the fetal  position, wishing I was dead.  And so it seems, I probably set too hot a pace for myself.  Some people say electrolytes, others say specific leg strength.  I am of the opinion that the cramps are just the muscle saying that they are done.  And that is ok.  The body really is a wonderful machine and that is the way mine works.  What that means from a practical stand point is that I need to pace myself better.

You know:  The ego can really be a pain in the butt.  The three DNFs (and numerable awful racing results in my last couple of years) really prove it.  I used to be fast.  I used to be competitive.  I used to beat a whole bunch of people that just jog past me now while I wallow in my own self-pity, limping to another "finish" (if I'm lucky).  The ego is what keeps me trying to match my old self, when my new self just is not in the same league.  And that has bad consequences.  Why I'm not in the same league is a story for another blog post.  But I need to come to grips.

What about the 4 mph challenge?  The 4 mph challenge really is a genius ultra race format.  It is a fantastic learning tool.  The more I think about it, the more I'm convinced that this race is like grade-school for an ultra-runner.  The ego shouldn't kill your race.  You pick a strategy for the best outcome.  Obviously you want to win, so you don't run too fast, there is not reason to.  Then it really is about endurance, and the mind.  Sometimes.  I guess at some point, even 4 mph may just be too fast for the degraded state you might find yourself in.  Maybe this is just rambling and I can't really decide what needs to change.  Definitely rambling.   I probably just did good at this race because everyone else was just sick of running through puddles.  Oh well, for a little while I was feeling better about myself.

What else can I say about Miwok?

I really liked the course.  They are beautiful, challenging, trails with incredible views.  I liked the various out-n-backs and loops where you could see front-runners, back-runners, and everyone, and offer/receive encouragement.

I really liked staying with other ultra-runners in a beach house in Stinson beach before and after the race.  Seriously, the house was on the beach.  The dining/living room windows had a straight shot across the sand to the ocean.  Last year they woke up on Sunday morning and watched whales swim by.  I fell asleep to the crashing of the waves.  It was sweet!

Quicksilver had some incredible performances that have already been covered in other blogs/news.

I saw a bunch of people from the 4 mph challenge (nice job on the finish Tim L.!)

I actually really enjoyed most of the race.  Even after the fatigue was settling in and I slowed waaay down, I have a vivid memory of running up on the ridge with a big smile on my face, because that was all that I had left in me.  It was either a smile, or letting negativity get the better of me.

I think that was one of the reasons the race official was really probing me on my decision to quit.  I had a smile on my face.  I was making jokes.  I seemed to be in good spirits.  So why on earth would I quit?  But it is what it is, and I do not regret it.  Just like I do not regret any of my other DNFs, or any of my stupid race performances.  To me this is all part of the journey, and I am having a blast!


  1. You are always a stud to me, Jeremy Johnson! Every experience is a learning experience, and I'm glad you still enjoyed most of your race weekend. (And also that you didn't have to endure the cramps of death again.)

  2. Pa Pa thinks you need to listen to your body.. not some person who does not feel it.

  3. Bummer on the DNF! I trust you made the right decision. Next time you'll pace yourself a little better and kick some butt. I believe in you.

  4. BFD so you DNF'ed. These races have a small margin for error. Once in a while you have to go out to fast to learn something. (And vice versa, by the way.) Also too, 4mph put me on the shelf with an out of nowhere muscle strain. Long miles are pretty hard on the body, whether it's a kiddy race or not. Learn from the experience, listen to your body. You'll be fine. (FWIW, I say it was electrolytes)