Sunday, October 29, 2006

Silicon Valley Half Marathon

The guys were over for poker past midnight last night, but I still managed to get up at 5am and head to the race. I got to downtown San Jose at the Tech Museum plenty early. But there was no SBUX close by! I'm not even sure that I can converse without coffee let alone run a half marathon.

I ran out with the three hour marathon pace group (so I could run 1:30 for the half), and after a mile did manage to wake up and felt good. We were hitting all the mile markers at the right time and I even had to restrain myself not to run away from them. The pacer (holding a 3 hour marathon sign) was a wellknown marathoner (he has to be a 2:30 or less marathoner) but I don't remember his name. Everyone dropped off and the pacer and another nice local MIT grad and I were by ourselves. They said "we're gonna get you past that finish line in under 1:30!".

We ran onto the LG Creek Trail at 5 miles all feeling great. I loved getting off of the road even though it wasn't a real trail. As usual my legs started hurting at mile ten around Lake Vasona, but they rallied me into keeping with them. We then exited the trail behind the Borders at Los Gatos and I could see the high school where we were supposed to finish on the track. Not even 1:28 on my watch. I thought I was golden. We started down the high school track at 1:29 for what looked like a 200m half loop. No problem, I should finish just under 1:30. The marathoners kept going and exited the track back up the trail back to San Jose. I turned left off of the track to what I thought was the finish. Oh my god, it emptied out into a huge field with at least another 200m or so chute to do! I went into full on sprint mode, but still ended up over 1:30 at 1:30:28. It was still a great race for me though and a lot of fun overall.

A cup of coffee and some sleep the night before and I hope my next half marathon (in Seattle on the 26th) will be well under 1:30. My entourage was cheering for me and we all walked over to LG Cafe for a delicious wellearned omelette breakfast.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Seacliff Beach Trail Run

I drove down to Aptos from my perch in the Santa Cruz mountains, arriving at the Aptos mall for a venti latte before the race. I was looking forward to what are my perfect kinds of races: start at the beach, run uphill and run back down to the beach. Luckily Pacific Coast Trail Runs does a lot of this kind of run.

At the start I saw Kelly Emo compulsively doing no doubt something like her fortieth race this year (shocking) and Chuck Wilson preparing to knock out another 50ker.

I felt great this morning and raced out ahead of the pack climbing up the incline of the road through downtown Aptos. It was a little hairy getting through all of the Sunday morning traffic. I was running with a scary fast young guy, James Hughes. We quickly dropped everyone by the time we entered Forest of Nisene Marks. We ran along the fire road up to the turn off for the trail. I was just behind James up until then, but he pulled away on the hills of the trail. I was impressed because hills are usually my thing. Wendell and Sarah (PC Trail Runs) should have someone to direct people onto the trail though and make sure people go onto it.

After coming out of the trail back onto the fire road Oswaldo Lopez and another runner caught me and we ran together for a while, reaching the turnaround and aid station at about the same time (just under 33 minutes). I headed back down the trail feeling great and pumped up by encouragement of the oncoming runners. I picked it up to 6:30 pace on the downhill and turned off onto the trail again. Coming out the trail I felt great and sped up on the downhill through the streets of Aptos. My goal was the course record set last year by Mike Galligan of 58:52. Once it was clear I wouldn't hit that, I slowed down and hoped to still finish under an hour. I had myself hitting the finish line at 0:59:57. But its on the website at 1:00:07, so maybe I mistimed it.

I finished to the cheers of Rebeccah and her niece Cynthia, giving them sweaty hugs in reply. Another free breakfast at the wharf in Santa Cruz for winning.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

San Jose Rock and Roll Half Marathon

The race was advertised as starting at 7am, and the San Jose Mercury News made a point of saying to be there to go into the corral at 6am. I got there bright and early with little sleep the night before (after going to the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival in San Francisco on Saturday). And then had to wait around until 8am when the race started.

I lined up in the first corral next to my neighbor Steve Moore, who rarely does races over 10K and was doing his first half marathon. Not being much of a road runner anymore, I planned to just try to run seven minute miles and finish in around 1:31. I started out feeling really good and clocked a couple 6:30s to hit the two mile marker at 13 minutes. I realized I should probably slow down a bit and hit the 5K at 20:30. I then slowed down a bit more and hit the 10K at 41:49. that would have been just right for a 1:30 half marathon. I hit the 10 mile at 1:09:26, still just over 1:30 pace but close to the 1:31 that I thought was shooting for. My legs felt pretty heavy and sore from miles 11 to 13, and I ran 7:30s for the last three miles. Those asphalt roads are just too hard on a pampered trail runner like myself. And I yearned to mix up the muscle work on my legs. Still I put a bit of a kick in at the finish and came in at 1:32:49.

I'll try to stay on the trails for the rest of the year, but will still do the Silicon Valley Half Marathon in a few weeks on October 29th.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Bridge to Bridge Run - 7K

I made a rare venture onto the road for this race. The beauty of the venue made it worth it. It starts by the Ferry building in San Francisco near the Bay Bridge and runs along the wharf and the waterfront to the Presidio above the Golden Gate Bridge.

I manage to squeeze up near the front, despite the thousands of runners in the chute. Despite having raced the day before (winning 40-49 at the QuickSilver 10K) I felt great at the beginning and ran out a bit too fast. I hit the one mile mark at 6:10. As we turned down towards the wharf, I slowed to try to keep it to 6:30 pace. After the tourist shops, the view of the bay opened up. I hit the three mile mark at 19:30 and headed up the hill of Fort Mason. I started to flag behind the college kid pulling me up the hill and he yelled "stay with it sir!" (sir?). I realize "dammit I'm supposed to be a hill runner" and made myself surge. I pummeled down the other end of the hill past Crissy Fields and into the Presidio. The hill still slowed me slightly offpace and I hit four miles at 27 minutes even (my plan was 26).

We turned up the hill towards the finish area. I finished the last quarter mile is 1:53, and finished in 28:53, good for third master and thirteenth overall. John Mintz and Jon Tannehill (frequent competitors for masters at shorter road running here in the Bay area) had just duked it out for overall masters winner, with John winning by four seconds, about a minute of me.

Although I try to stick to trailrunning lately, I will do this race next year. I won't slow down during the early flat stage, and I think I can contend with a sub-28 minute time with proper pacing.

After finishing the race I turned right around and ran back past all the runners, cheering them on, back to the Ferry building, where Susan was waiting to take me to the Slanted Door. Yum!