Saturday, March 26, 2005

Pirates Cove 20 km Race

So, Pirates Cove, what can I say, but owwwww, those hills. And dohhh, those course markings! And ahh, the views! The weather was very good too -- no rain, mostly overcast, not too hot. After a good carb-loading dinner last night at Lynn's house (thanks again, Lynn!), I met Ben this morning and he was kind enough to drive me. Lynn and her entourage of running friends and husband, Steve, drove separately this morning. Juliana did do the 20 km run, too, but on her own schedule which unfortunately was 20 minutes after the official start time! Anyway, it was great seeing everyone there.
Anyway, it's good to be home now. I suspected the hills would be brutal, but owwww. Almost to the foot, we climbed the equivalent of Montara Mt.'s saddle point (824' above the base), but in less than half the distance, and that was the first 1.4 miles of the race! There were long series of steps in a few places and sometimes they were so steep that trying to "run" up them was pointless, at least for mere mortals. So, for the first time in a race I was forced to walk, but not because I was tired (although I was getting there fast, too). The 20 km race was a big loop, pieced together by about a dozen trails.
So if the first challenge was the hills, the second challenge was navigation. I'm going to suggest to the race organizers, Pacific Coast Trail Runs, that they splurge and buy 20 or 30 more ribbons and maybe some little flags and maybe even a sign or two! It was clear that navigation was going to be a problem right from the get-go as 20 or 30 of the front runners left the course within about 20 seconds of starting. Yes, we missed the first turn onto the "scenic trail" although it was quietly marked with one or two blue ribbons. Lots of yelling from people behind us got me and Ben and a bunch of other overly eager runners to turn around and then squeeze into a narrow trail. Further on, I was fortunate that a runner behind me directed me through the farm and horse corrals and kept me from running into the horse pens. He also helped me realize that the first aid station was a considerable distance from the 20 km trail and so I skipped the first aid station (and there were only two at the 4.1 mile and 10.3 mile points). Later on, I yelled at the guy in front of me that he had taken a wrong turn on to the road, making a right instead of left. This was near the end of the race, with maybe one mile left, and even though his mistake cost him an extra hundred feet or so, he didn't pass me again. I felt bad pulling ahead of him because of inadequate course markings, but I didn't have the heart to just stop and let him pass me. I truly wanted him to pass me! Afterwards he was in pretty good spirits about it (his name is Kevin in case I run into him again) and he said he had gotten off the route 2 other times. Ahh, well. He thanked me for keeping him on the route. A short while after helping Kevin, another front runner asked me which way to go. Even though there were supposed to be 2 blue ribbons before and after every intersection turn, I only saw one (again) and anyway I pointed him in the right direction and he promptly took off, putting a lot of distance in front of me. His name was Rick and he was declared the official winner of the race. I was struggling the last couple of miles and in the end just hoped that my legs could carry me through because my breathing couldn't keep up. I came in 2nd, officially, in 1 hour 41 minutes. Alas, the 3 or 4 best athletes didn't see that turn-off and finished the race on a shorter course, skipping the circle around the lagoon. One of them was the race winner from last year. So sad.
Super Lynn had a great run and looked like she had maybe just jogged around the block. Apparently she ran so fast that she had time to stop for lunch along the route. And a manicure, or so I was told.
Big Ben had a solid run, too, although was slowed down by hydration problems. But still, for this being his first race of more than 8 miles or so (consecutively), he did great. Ben has run in long distance relays before (like 200 miles), but each leg was much shorter than today's race.
And Juliana, again running on her own personal clock, had a great run, too, and looked like she was ready to walk right on to a fashion shoot, dressed head-to-toe-to-fingers for speed! And cool shades, too!
Other random notes:
1. I learned what it was like to be considered a "creature that needed corralling" by someone's eager collie (?). This alert ambitious mid-sized dog was trying to guide me off the side of the hill or something, and it ran smack into my left leg and I was running relatively quick on a mild downhill. After a not-so-mild curse and some furious arm flailing, I managed to recover without crashing.
2. An organizer told me that due to the good weather, 45 signed up yesterday and about the same signed up this morning, so I'm guessing the 20 km attendance was around 100 people.
Update: The 20 km race results show 108 people completing the race, with me being #5.

Thank you, Jennifer, for watching Claire and bringing her to the race. And happy birthday.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Palo Alto 10K, First Place! (Shocking, Lucky!)

We three running club members, Peggy, Caroline, and myself, all carpooled together and ran in the Palo Alto Vista Trail Run this morning. Caroline and I ran the 10km race and Peggy crashed the 5km race. :)
It was a beautiful day and a nice turn-out of people. There were 100 people in the 10K race, although I don't know if that includes no-shows. The 10K course consisted of running up and down 4 big hills while running out to a loop, doing the loop, and then back again on the same trail.
How did we all do? We all completed the runs with solid performances. I came in first place in my age group (1st of 14), first place of males (1st of 47) and first place overall (1st of 100)! The 2nd place finisher was about 4 minutes behind me and I ran alone and in front pretty much the entire race. I felt strong and good the entire time; this was definitely the least painful race I've done. It's all that practicing on Montara hills! As I've been telling people, all of the super-fast runners must have been running in other races this morning! I still can hardly believe it. Caroline also ran strong and finished about in the middle of the pack at around 60 minutes. Peggy did very well in the 5K (top 25% of runners? sorry, don't remember right now, Peggy) and the organizers were very gracious. Not only did they refuse to accept last-minute payment from Peggy, they gave her a free T-shirt! (And asked her to sign up for the next race.) Cheers to the Redwood Trails company for putting on a very well organized race.
We had a very nice lunch afterwards in Portolla Valley.
A great time was had by all!