There is an abundance of expert advice when it comes to preparing for a race. Especially when that race is intended to be 100 kilometers in length. In the days leading up to the race – go for short run to loosen the legs, water to stay hydrated, visualize and anticipate how your race will be run, quiet time, rest time, carb time, feet up, feet down, blah blah blah.
For Miwok 100k (which became Miwok 60k at the last minute), I wanted to try something different. I was in a city I’d always wanted to tour, a city that offered interesting and new experiences. My prior ultra races have been in cities that are either very close to home, or, rather remote (don’t take offence GC but case in point…Grande Cache Alberta). But San Francisco – well, San Francisco is a fantastic city. And my time there was about to be limited. I wasn’t keen on wasting two days of my San Francisco adventure with my feet up against the wall. So I proceeded to spend my day with a different type of preparation – race prep, Fresh Steps style.
I was warned about the cool San Francisco weather conditions that were likely, the inevitable downpour that was sure to come, and the whipping wind that would make it’s way though the bay. Great, thanks, appreciate the warning – but none of that happened! It was sunny, warm, and dry for my entire trip. I travelled down with a trusty DJ who had been to San Fran many times, and who would prevent me from getting lost (fortunately, his redeeming qualities extend beyond knowledge of the Bay Area).
Visualization is a technique many top athletes use prior to competing. In ultrarunning, it would be nearly impossible to visualize every step and every turn, but I found a way to visualize success by osmosis. Two nights prior to the race we hit up Double Dutch, the most legit authentic (and charming) hip hop joint in town. So. Much. Fun. It doubles (see what I did there) as a place where Golden State Warriors fans gather for games. Their passion for the Warriors and enthusiasm for every basket transferred via osmosis to me. I vowed to get as pumped as these fans each time I hit an aid station. Side effect – I’m now a die-hard Golden State Warriors fan. Dub nation.
Loosening the legs is definitely recommended prior to a race, and we did that by exploring. My lifelong dream of visiting Alamo Square Park (the park in the Full House opening theme) was conquered. Shopping in Haight-Ashbury (shoes, shirts, hats, oh my) was a major highlight. The hills in San Francisco are not to be messed with but we made our way up and down in the process of exploring, eating, and coffe-ing.
I have a good friend from ages ago who (whom?) I interned with, and who lives in SF now. Scott has been busy travelling the world creating apps, but we caught him on a Friday after work at Southside Spirit House, a new spot he DJs at. When you are travelling with a hip hop head, DJ, and flat brim enthusiast, the whole situation became a perfect match. It was great to see Scott, meet his awesome girlfriend, and watch DJ Ecos take a turn on the decks. Literally the ONLY person running Miwok who spent the evening prior to the race spinning De La Soul.
One tip I didn’t mess with was the one that says SLEEP. I had an early evening and bedtime was shortly before 9pm. Our race ended up being shortened from 100k to 60k. You can read about that here. When I first learned of the shortened course I made a 4:30am declaration that we’d finish in time to see the Giants game. I was COMPLETELY off the mark on that but the moral of the story: while I definitely enjoy racing and running (and need it in my life to an extensive degree hence the ultra in my running), I love the normalcy of non-running life as well. Going to San Fran was a perfect trip in my eyes – balance is the greatest pre-race preparation I could have.
Special shout out to one final expert tip that we followed:
I was incredibly nauseous after the race so I skipped dinner and went straight to bed (let me tell you, there is no greater feeling than lying down with your feet on a pillow after running 60 kilometers). Thanks to my skipped meal I woke up pretty early completely famished and got to do one more very important race ritual before heading to the airport: REFUEL.
Dottie’s True Blue Café is the greatest breakfast you will ever eat in your entire life, full stop non stop don’t ask questions. We coincidentally got there just before 7:30 am and joined the lineup outside the door. Apparently we are not the only ones who have caught onto the deliciousness that is Dotties. It is a great place to leave your gluten-free notions at the door (as I did) and enjoy. Post-race breakfast is a glorious feeling that comes a close second to post-race bed. I hesitate to tell you how great the French Toast was for fear it was my hunger talking but. It just was. My only regret is when we handed our finish line prize of unopened Miwok-brand beer to a couple of weathered fellows hanging outside Dotties, we didn’t take a photo with them. Because I’m pretty sure we’re the only ones who did that, too