It was a cool overcast morning, ideal for running. There was some confusion about where to pick up our racing bibs (the #s that we pin to our shirts) and also some confusion as to where the race began. The active.com website was correct but the Coastside Infant/Toddler Center website was out of date and had the wrong starting location. Fortunately, I got to the race plenty early (about 7:15am for the 8am start time) and the two locations weren't more than a mile apart.
Five other runners from my running club were there, which was nice. (Dale is missing from the group shot above.) Julie and Dale are my long-distance running partners and Caroline ran in the race a year ago and was one of the founding members of our club. Finally, Juliana was running one last time in the Bay Area before moving to near Santa Barbara yesterday.
I met a young guy, Jimmy, from Los Angeles who drove the 400+ miles here just for our little race because his marathon training schedule called for running a half-marathon this weekend. Talk about dedication! He said he's been running for only 5 months and has really gotten into it. Also, that he forgot to bring his running shoes with him! He bought a new pair and I spoke with him after the race and fortunately they didn't give him blisters or other problems.
Anyway, as we were warming up, chatting, and waiting for the start of the race, I noticed many fewer runners this year. I don't think there were more than 40 and maybe only about 30. [UPDATE: was told later there were 37 at the start.] After a brief question and answer session, we were off!
I guess I did too much speedwork recently because I started out at what felt like a strong but comfortable pace and at the two mile marker, my stopwatch showed 12 minutes 36 seconds. Doh! Way way too fast. I started feeling a burning in my calves, like I was using up their energy faster than my body could replenish them and I was gradually slowing down I think, although it's hard to tell. At about the 5.5 or 6 mile mark, the course turned back on itself and it was fun running towards the other runners. We encouraged each other, especially the people I knew.
I held on to second place overall until about mile 8. The two guys behind me had been slowly but surely catching up over the last 5 miles, like the clock's minute hand slowly and inevitably passing the hour hand. There was nothing I could do about it; it was a huge effort to just "keep everything together". I congratulated the #3 guy as he passed me and he said "the route is longer than it appears, isn't it?" Not exactly encouraging words, but I had plenty of purely physical struggles to keep me occupied between my calves getting burned out and my lungs working double-time. So I finished 4th place in 1 hour 29 minutes 55 seconds which is a pace of 6 minutes 52 seconds a mile. That's a little more than 7 minutes faster than my time last year, so I'm happy with that but disappointed that I couldn't keep a more even pace.
After the race, I spoke with guy who came in first place. His name is Dan Rhodes and he ran another race just on Saturday! He said it was a "cross country race" in San Francisco although he didn't say how long it was. He said he runs 5 or 6 days a week, 40 miles a week at a minimum and up to 50 or 60 miles a week depending on the training schedule. I was encouraged by him -- he looked to be about the same age as me, or maybe even older, and had a similar body build as me. I'm hopeful that I can rise to his level. I currently run about 40 miles a week with my maximum so far being 47 miles, which I ran on the Monday through Sunday prior to this race week.
Now it's back to building up the miles for the Honolulu marathon on December 11. Wish me luck!