Sunday, May 03, 2009

Miwok 100k - May 2nd, 2009

It's 3:45am. I get picked up from my motel. Time to start a long, fun day in the Marin headlands, just north of San Francisco. Although it had rained the day before, the morning was cool but clear-ish. A festive energy filled the air.

At 5:40am we're off. Running the first 100 yards on the beach at Rodeo Lagoon is a perfect way to start the journey.

Same as always, I lock. I load. Rinse and repeat. A marathon or so goes by and.......

Mile 28.4 - With tears in my eyes, I leave Caitlin at the Bolinas Ridge aid station. Obviously shaken, both in my head and body - shivering from the days endless rain and gusty winds. Soaked from head to toe, I pull forward.

Mile 35.6 - Randall Trail (turnaround): I've made it past the 1/2 way point. Now I just have to get back up the hill. Staring at a 1200 ft incline after 5000 ft of climbing over 35 miles is fun. I mean daunting. Whatever. I move.

flashback... nearly an hour earlier I run into Jimmy (coach, extreme eater, fellow-nut case) we take a moment to address the madness of the day, each of us fighting our own battles, and we're gone. I'm glad to see a friend doing so well.

Mile 42.8 - Bolinas Ridge (again). I'm on my way back. My pace has slowed. The coldness has grasped me. My fingers are numb, my teeth are chattering. I'm tired of eating, and my right leg has locked up. My inner zombie takes over. I blow my nose in a water logged bandanna, sniffle, and hobble in to see Caitlin, my bright eyed beautiful wife. Without making much demands, I again stare at her and say, 'I think I'm done'. 3 minutes later, I have a NEW and DRY long sleeve shirt, rain-proof jacket, and trash bag on. And I'm heading back on the trail with the words, 'I'm not making you do anything you don't want to do', ringing in my head.

50 yards away, first my hands start to shake and them my arms. I lean over and get the biggest chill of my life. I stop and look back, then look ahead realizing if I don't move, I'll only get colder. It's a downward spiral. Even with the dry clothes on, my core is still like a block of wet ice. I need to move.

Deep meditation takes over. The sound of music pulls a blanket over my consciousness. I'm dragging my feet through 6 inches of mud, sliding up and down, sideways and off the trail. Another 20 foot-long puddle, great. Why even try to go around? I walk through and feel the prickly needles of the frigid water kiss my skin.

I'm toast. Fuck this. What's going to happen next? I started at 5:40am, it's now approaching 6pm. The sun never came out today. Within two hours from the start first a drizzle then a steady shower, light, then windy, then light.... blah.

I stop at a trail marker. Where am I? Why are there four possible directions forward to go in? I make a choice, and I choose correctly. All I want to do is stop. It's starting to feel like dark is coming and the trail is on some sort of eerie repeat. Did I pass by that same bush, am I going into the woods again or over the ridge??. I can't get my warmth back. And now the feeling of eating gives me a headache. Evey 30 minutes, I've had a power bar, some gels, cliff shots. It's all tasking like a mess.

Okay. Will I regret this? - yes. Do I feel unsafe - very close. Will I make the right decision? FUCK. Why am I talking to myself??????? Get my mind out of this meat grinder please.

Pan Toll - 49.5: 3 aid stations, 12.7 miles to go. Sir. Excuse me, sir. I'm #378 and I'd like to drop from the race. The deal is done. DNF. Did Not Finish.

That was Miwok 100k. And here's how I'm going to get better and get revenge.

Water-tight drop bag (wet bags = wet stuff).
Bring real rain gear; dry fit stuff doesn't dry when it's raining for 10 hours.
Plan food / snacks better vs. it being such an after thought.
Work big time on climbing. At least 1-2 days of big hill workouts every week.

I'd like to give thanks to God for allowing me to run at the race and giving me the spirit to try my hardest no matter what comes at me, my amazing wife Caitlin for going above and beyond being my one-person crew. Jimmy Dean Freeman, for his quirkiness and overall bad ass approach to such a difficult feat, and for finishing in a little over 10 hours (right according to schedule - what a stud). Dominic and Katie for the memories of the Ragnar relay (Dom's 155-mile 40 hour solo-run) one week earlier, where we all spent a long night together appropriately described by Katie as a highly caffeinated and arguably crazy crew. And lastly to Tiffany and Reed for having me over the day after the race, to feed, drink, recover, pedicure-devirginize-me, and let me clean up all my muddy running gear.

Onwards to Angeles Crest 100 miler on Sept 18-19th. Altitude and heat, welcome back to the party. 100 miles, oh my! Time to train my mind and body. Pacer or crew volunteers, hit me up! I'll need all the support I can get. This race is going to be amazing.

Viva la vida rica. Always bite off more than you can chew. -peter


Jimmy Dean Freeman said...

Dude... you are a filthy animal for even making it to Pan Toll (nearly 50-miles) in that mess. The trail conditions (forget the rain and wind for a moment) just got worse and worse. You survived the course for a few more hours than I did, which means I had slightly better trail conditions at the same spots on the course. What you accomplished was epic, and bad ass, and will only serve you in every race moving forward.

Welcome to Club DNF. I've been a proud member since September of 2007. In ultras, DNF = Did Nothing Fatal (I didn't make it up, it was relayed to me when I didn't finish AC'07).

Looking forward to catching up with you on all of the craziness this week!

Katelyn said...

Damn Peter - That's sounds like quite the experience. Thanks for linking me to your blog, I'll take a look around.

I hope you've warmed up. I'll catch you on a Thursday morning run soon.


Al said...


You're a beast. I have no doubt that if you couldn't finish it only means that your world was about to end. I'm so glad you are taking it all in perspective. Many people would take this as a defeat (unrightfully so) and question whether or not they should try again. But not you. Not Peter Williams. And I'd expect nothing less from you. Good luck in September!!! I know you'll kick ass.


Steph Terrell said...

Peter, you're one tough cookie dude! Not only can you run through hell you are quite the author... thanks for sharing.

Keep on keepin on!

PS I love Jimmy's definition of DNF = Did Nothing Fatal... so true!

Dominic said...

One thing about our sport is that no one can say anything about something they're not there for. It's impossible to try and tell someone who's warm and dry in a climate controlled room about your near hypothermic experience over the weekend. Even if they try to relate to it, they can't because they weren't 50 miles into a long day on a cold wet course.

Mistakes happen, you do your best, and you learn from experiences and move on. I'm sure this has made you stronger for AC.. although it's probably gonna be a little more on the hot side at AC ;)

Rick Gaston said...

Never met Jimmy but I've seen him at a couple of races. He would have gotten his sub-10 if it were not for the conditions. Even then a great finishing time.

Hey it sounds like you did what you could do to keep going. This was my fourth Miwok and the worst weather wise. It's also where I do most of my training and it was definitely a rough day. Good luck at AC and I hope you are finally over the disappointment of your first dnf.