Written by Christopher Thomas
Round 2 – NorCal 100K Grand Prix
62.2 miles – 12,000’ eg
Stinson Beach – Marin Headlands, CA
Coming off my big run at Canyons I was not sure how my body would react. My coach, Bob Shebest of Point Positive Coaching continually told me trust in the process, but that hasn’t stopped me from second guessing my training. I had been used to doing huge back to back weekends of crazy long and steep runs while he has had me much more controlled and precise in my training. Economical is the term I like to use. My training has been highly economical and my running has shown it. I was sore and stiff after Canyons but not destroyed. Here was my week leading to Miwok:
Sunday – Complete rest with rolling, stretching and walking
Monday- Choice day which I chose 45 minutes Elliptical and then rolling and stretching and ice.
Tuesday – 45 minute easy run with Michele on the trails then rolling and stretching
Wednesday – 35 minutes moderate pace with 8×30 second fartleks on the road then rolling and stretching
Thursday – Complete rest with rolling, stretching and walking
Friday – 25 minute easy run with Michele on the trails then rolling and stretching
Saturday – Race Day
We only live an hour away from the start so we slept at home and got up at 3AM for the 5AM start. Couple cups of coffee and we were off. I was excited to have Michele crew, things seem to go very well when she does. I will see her at Tennessee Valley twice 13 miles and 26 miles then not again until Randall 49.2 turn around. We met up with the other Redd Antler boys who were running Chris Reyes, Lloyd Thomas and Troy Meadows and hung out until the start. It wasn’t too cold but I went with my Long sleeve Inside Trail Racing top by New Balance, the matching split leg shorty shorts, mid-weight injinji trail socks and my LaSportiva Akasha. I wore thicker socks this time because after Canyons the only mechanical issue I had was a raw spot on the top of my right foot and the beginnings of another on my left. I also stopped using the heel lock lacing system I had used at Canyons, hoping to end this problem. It worked great.
As the countdown ended and we took off I realized pretty quickly I should have worn my headlamp. I did not wear one at Canyons but it was a 5:30AM start and this was a 5:00AM start. Oh well, I wasn’t going to push it anyways. The course took us straight up to the Cardiac aid station and I ran this section entirely with Troy at a very relaxed pace making sure this time to stay below 135 BPM unlike Canyons. Chris and Lloyd took off. Reaching the top there were bagpipes cutting through the cool breeze and I just had to dance a jig at the top, I was feeling great and knew it was going to be a great day. I said my good-byes to Troy and picked up the pace down to Muir Beach. I saw Chris first on his way back from the Muir aid station and then Lloyd they were 10 and 15 minutes head of me and I hoped they knew what they were doing. In and out of Muir Beach and I knew we had a long gradual climb ahead and wanted to take it easy again and stay under 135 BPM. Just as I swung right I heard my buddy Robert Rhodes screaming my name and I got a great big smile on my face and yelled back. I love seeing my buddies during races. Up the climb we went. I was pleasantly surprised when I could work my 30 – 60 system of running hard 30 seconds and power hiking 60 seconds the entire way and not lose ground on my group. I had the pleasure of meeting one of my ITR teammates, Jacob Dinardi. We had same goal finish time but he was quicker than I wanted to go, so I let him go. Back down to Tennessee Valley we went and I got excited to see Michele. I passed Chris first and ran into the aid station with Lloyd.
Michele had my two bottles of VitargoS2 ready with salt and ice in them which I was more than ready for. Feeling good I asked how I was doing and I was ½ hour under my sub 12 hour pace. I took off for the climb towards the Golden Gate Bridge. Again the 30-60 worked very well to my advantage and I left Lloyd. Across the tunnel, admiring all the spectacular views of San Francisco, then back down. I had been worried about all this quick down hills and Bob warned me about how much damage could be caused so I latched on to the smooth flow mantra and let gravity do the work. It paid off very well. Across the flats then back up and over to Tennessee Valley again. This time I had to let the muddy waters settle a couple times but still felt great staying under 135 BPM for the majority of the climb. This would be the last time I would see Michele for awhile. Two new bottles with ice and pace update. 1 hour ahead of sub 12. Wow! I got excited because I felt great. Let’s go for sub 11! One more big climb over to Muir Beach then Cardiac. I saw Jorge Maravilla and the SFRC crew and my trail stoke was on high and my goals seemed more and more possible.
Well the second half had different plans for me. I was clearing the muddy waters more than I would like to have been climbing up Cardiac but I got a huge boost from Chris Blagg who was on course taking pictures. I had a new life and just kept plugging along 30-60 the whole way. As I reached the top Paddy O’leary and Chris Mocko were there hanging out. Love seeing those guys! I am always inspired. I have seen them suffering and knew if I wanted sub 11 I would too. I can do this! Off I went to attack the Bolinas Ridge, the never ending Bolinas Ridge. I had never ran that far along. I had no idea the trail went so far past the turnaround of the North Face 50 mile. I kept saying to myself there must be another aid station. I remembered Bob telling me when I am low it’s probably a glucose deficit. Good thing I always carry two GU Roctane just for this kind of emergency. Problem solved, always adapting. Then low and behold there was one more aid station and just in time. This was the third aid station I ran into with two empty bottles in the back of my shorts. Today was a good day for nutrition. The PLAN was coming together. I knew I had lost some time and hoped to make it up on the downhill but my legs said no. I got passed by a couple of guys going down to Randall but I wasn’t worried. I knew Randall meant re-boot and if I could run the last 15 miles like I did at Canyons I was okay.
Michele was ready as usual. I love that girl! She is #UltraWives elite! Two new bottles of VitargoS2, a hand full of flour tortillas with hummus, and lotsa ice water and I was off. Jacob was arriving as I was leaving, I didn’t remember passing him, I had been very focused on my task at hand and racing others was not the task. I am racing the clock. The climb out of Randall was a doozie! I started to lose hope in my sub 11 hour. But the good old 30-60 pulled through again, I found my climbing legs and passed six runners back to the Bolinas Ridge Aid Station and got to see Chris, Lloyd, Troy, Steve Rowbury, Robert Rohdes, Stacie Riddle and Chipping Fu one more time. Big props to this aid station for getting me in and out in a flash, Thank you!!! I had one hour and 6.7 miles to cover. Across the ridge was tough more muddy water but it cleared then the downhill from hell. Matt Davis I think it is called. Kicked my butt. Legs on fire and I thought it would never end. I thought it was 1 mile but it was two. My watch had died on the ridge so I didn’t know how far. I passed a few more before we broke the tree line and sprinted for the finish. The ridge had beat me and my finish time was 11:18:05 and 31st overall. Still chasing that sub 11 hour 100K.
Hanging out was the best waiting for Chris to finish his first 100k then Lloyd and Troy finishing his first. We got to see Stacie Riddle one of the only NorCal 100K Ultra Triple Crown runners left.
Big thank you to Inside Trail Racing, I am meeting so many wonderful people wearing your amazing kit. LaSportiva for making the Akasha. Injinji for my #toesocks. Vitargo S2 for fueling my journey #fastestmusclefuel. Amphipod for your flawless bottles. Redd Antler Running club for all the awesome training runs and races. Healdsburg Running Company and the awesome running community I have met through them. Mostly my super crew and rock Michele!!
See you at Quicksilver 100K!