Saturday, August 25, 2007

Mt. Madonna Challenge 6K - Gilroy CA

I went to this race knowing that Steve Sokol would be there to continue our rivalry, detailed earlier on several entries on this blog. When I arrived I sat chilling out by the start for a while, chatting with other participants. I said "I wonder where Sokol is?"

"Oh he's here. He owns this race" I was assured by another runner.

Well, well. How's that for motivation. I lined up in the front at the start after that, with Steve on the far right side. Two young collegiate runners from West Valley appeared to be waiting to contend as well.

We took after at the starter's signal. I was hot on the heels of the two college guys. Steve was close behind. The hill went relentlessly upward. The college guys pushed it harder, I kept them in sight and Steve started to fall off the back.

I felt very strong after a week in Colorado and the race up Pike's Peak. I ran one of the faster hill climbs I've ever done. But I didn't try to stay with the leaders because I thought they would surely blow up. What I didn't know is that one of them was a "rabbit", not even entered into the race, just running the first half of the race with his teammate to break the wind for him. When I reached the peak I still had him in sight, maybe 15 seconds off his pace. I couldn't see Steve behind me.

As we turned onto the downhill he still had his rabbit ahead of him (which helped even more at that point of course). He pulled away and finished about 40 seconds ahead of me.

I hammered near the end trying to finish under 26 minutes. I had 25:59, but the timer had me at 26:00, second overall and first master of course. The winner was still at the finish but his rabbit must have turned off of the trail. Steve came in around 45 seconds later in 26:44.

I hung around chatting with Steve, his wife Leslie and their son Alex until the award ceremony. Despite not winning, I felt very good about how I ran today. Bodes well for upcoming fall races.


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