Sunday, August 27, 2006

ANA Cable Car Chase -- 14th of 548

I participated in a short very hilly race this morning in San Francisco. It started and ended at the Aquatic Park and was 5.67 miles long. It was a charity event for a boys choir and a girls running club. At the event, I thought the organizer said there were 650 participants, but the results page shows 548 finishers, although that doesn't include the dozens of people who ran the race, but who didn't register. I also thought I was 13th place, but that was based on the informal counting of someone watching the runners come in.

Summary? I ran hard and kept it together for the most part and struggled with my breathing towards the end, but somehow managed to average 6 minutes 16 seconds a mile which included a huge climb up California Ave. I put in a big sprint for about the last quarter mile and am really pleased with my performance. I came in 14th place of 548 overall and 4th of 116 in my age group. I just missed receceiving a nice boxed sake set as a reward.

Waking up at 6am was not easy this morning and I was half-hoping that my ride wouldn't show up. Julie was a bit late, but she made up the time, and then some, getting there and we knew where to park. We had plenty of time before the 8am start. We met her friends Laurie and Jorge (sp?), took in the scene, watched the boys choir, and warmed up for the race.

The race route consisted of 2 miles flat before making a right turn on to California Ave. 1st mile: 6:03, 2nd mile: 5:47 (oh, my!). The remaining mile markers were at 2.67 miles, 3.67 miles, and I think 4.67 miles, so I didn't try calculating my mile splits. (I was wearing my watch that doesn't have a lap timer, either.) The hills were tough and seemed to be in 3 sections going up California Ave where the cable car route goes. There was no race against an actual cable car. The streets or lanes were almost all closed and it was a nice safe course with lots of police directing traffic. Finally, we hit the first downhill and I "unwound" and relaxed and picked up the pace relative to those around me. It was a great break for my lungs and my breathing was easy and it felt great cruising downhill. We had undulating hills on Larkin St. after turning right off of California Ave and then some more huge downhills. Finally, we reached Aquatic Park and were directed to run out and back on a long pier. This was the toughest section for me. I was having a harder and harder time breathing due to the beginnings of cramps in my sides. I slowed my breathing down but tried to maintain or pick up my pace, thus trading side-cramps for that lactic-acid burning sensation in my legs. Mentally, I was trying to just reach within sprinting distance of the finish line where I could let loose and not worry about breathing or my heart rate. This is always the hardest part of a race -- my body really wanted to stop! Finally, I felt like I could take the risk and really put in some speed. I heard some footsteps behind me, but no one passed me in the last mile or so.

Afterwards, we hung around the race site and got our free goodies and t-shirts. One of the sponsors was a sake company, so this was the first race where the runners were offered cups of sake after a run! Innovative! I had two cups. :) It took maybe 20 minutes to wait for the results and I felt bad holding the others up, but there was a decent chance that I had placed in my age group and I wanted that sake set! I ended up being 4th in my age group, by a large margin, but the others were very proud of how I did and it felt good to have run so well.

I hadn't trained or planned very much for this specific race. I didn't interrupt my marathon training prior to the race. I ran 11 miles on Friday and 4 miles on Saturday.

After the race, we had brunch at a cute restaurant that served crepes and sandwiches and assorted good food. I've now blanked on what the name was. And then Julie and I did a little bit of shopping in Hayes Valley which is a section of Hayes St. in S.F. Lots of cute stores -- I bought a new pair of running shoes and Claire a fun children's book.

Was a very good morning and I'm glad I went. I got back home shortly before Claire and Jennifer and then I played with Claire for most of the rest of the day.