In 2015, I was looking around for a race that would count as a Western States 100 qualifier. The Miwok 100k seemed a great race for me in this regard. It was close to home and run on trails I was pretty familiar with. I signed up to run the race in 2016 and again in 2017.
Here’s a quick recap of my history with this race:
- 2016: I fell around mile 34, breaking my collarbone in three places, & separating my shoulder
- 2017: I woke up the morning before the race with the flu and a fever of 103º
That’s one DNF (Did Not Finish) and one DNS (Did Not Start).
It’s been almost two months since the DNS and I suppose it’s time that I take a look at this race and my history with it. Time to ruminate on my second straight failed “attempt” at 100k.
Near the end of 2015, having completed a pair of 50 milers, I felt I was ready to move up to a longer race distance. It also became a dream to one day run the Western States 100. After a quick bit of research, I decided the Miwok would help me on the road to both of these new goals.
My mind churned with the possibility of undertaking a new experience…to run farther than ever before. To run into the unknown. Sure, people do this all the time, other people, but I’ve never done it.
Could I do it?
62+ miles is no joke. Almost 12,000 feet of climbing is no joke.
But I was confident. I put together a training plan that I was 100% sure would get me to the finish line. I thought beating the cut off by a couple hours was even a realistic possibility. Confident? Yeah, I was.
However, had I reviewed my actual training log in the days before the 2016 race, I might have noticed that there were several weeks when I fell short of “goal” mileage. Further inspection would have revealed that at least three little niggling injuries had further undercut my training plan.
Is that why I earned my first ever DNF? Maybe. There’s no way to say for sure.
The truth is, I wasn’t upset about the DNF, the injury, or any of it. This did not feel like failure. This was just a new experience and, let’s be honest, one hell of a good story to tell! And there was always next year. How sweet would it be to charge into that race in 2017, grab that finishers medal, and feel the triumph of redemption?
Really, really sweet.
So I rehabbed the shoulder. I trained (even harder). I was ready, I was tapering, I was feeling sort of ill two days before the race…
But that was no big deal. I wrote it off as a taper side effect. I’d had this before. In the past I had felt vaguely flu-ish a few days before ripping off a great race day effort.
But the thermometer don’t lie. 103º and <POOF> the 100k was gone again. This time in a rather cruel fashion it seemed. Instead of this mishap feeling like a challenge, a great story to tell that would one day end in redemption, it felt like the end. Like when my best friend in sixth grade moved thousands of miles to an impossibly far-away state. Just as I knew I’d never see him again as long as I lived, the Miwok also seemed gone forever.
I spent race day lying in bed thinking thoughts like, “if I’d run the race, I’d be at about mile 20 right now…” It dawned on me that, this time, it did feel like failure. Like some cosmic force was waggling its giant celestial finger at me as if to say, “You and this race are destined to NOT be a thing.”
The Miwok 100k would never become an accomplishment that was mine forever. I would never conquer those miles, those hills. That medal would never hang on the rack in my basement. Those 100 kilometers of dirt would forever remain on my ledger as “incomplete.”
Yes, I am 100% confident that someday I will run 62+ miles in a day. Someday I will run 100 miles in one go. Maybe someday I’ll toe the start line at Western States. Maybe I’ll even run the Tahoe 200…who knows what I might accomplish in the future. But it seems I will never run the 62+ miles that constitute the Miwok 100k.
I have no desire, no drive. I don’t want to.
Maybe that’s what real failure is. Maybe the lack of desire is the real DNF.
Breaking my collarbone, walking to the next aid station, going to the ER to get an x-ray, wearing that uncomfortable sling for six weeks…none of that felt like failure.
Unexpectedly getting the flu during race week?
Yeah, that left a bad taste in my mouth. An immediate surrender. A feeling of, “Nope, I’m never doing this race.”
And now? Almost two months later? Do I still feel the same?
The truth is, I have no feelings whatsoever about the 2018 Miwok 100k.
Maybe I truly have given up on that race. Or maybe I don’t care because that race won’t be run for another 10 months and right now I have a calendar packed with races that I want to do…plan to do…hope to do.
I have a goal race that I’m training for right now. A goal race that scares me in a way that Miwok never did. One that stands sentinel over every single training run I undertake. A race that, frankly, I don’t know if I can finish or how I would finish. I have no idea what it will be like.
But I want to try. And that’s the most important thing.
I haven’t given up on running. I haven’t given up on racing. I have goals…huge, giant, scary ones that will take me places I can only imagine.
I don’t know if there is another Miwok 100k attempt in my future and, with all due respect to that great race, I don’t care.
I’m not going to spend another minute thinking about it.