Saturday, March 14, 2009

Angel Island 25K -- 3rd place

In preparation for the upcoming Boston Marathon, my training schedule called for a tough run -- 16 miles with 12 miles at marathon race pace. I thought this would be tough to do solo both because of the speed (6:51 minutes per mile goal pace) and the practical matter of carrying enough water or having quick access to water. Plus, races are fun! I saw this 25K put on by EnviroSports on Angel Island and since I've never been to this island in the San Francisco Bay, I signed up.

A couple hundred of us boarded a ferry at 8:30am this morning. (I had a bit of a panic after I realized I had forgotten my wallet and couldn't pay for parking, but I took a chance in a 2 hour residential area and was ok -- no ticket.) The weather felt good and cool, with no wind or rain.
The scenery was beautiful as we crossed to the island.

The race started at 9:30am which was about 15 minutes late. I had eaten my Gu energy gel 15 minutes before the race was scheduled to start, so it wasn't ideal to have an unexpected delay. But that's OK, I was ready, had used the bathroom, and everyone was in a good mood. The race director gave us good instructions, told a few jokes, and we were off!

The 25K runners started first, with a 10 minute head start over the 12K runners. Those of us in the front were taking it easy, doing about 7 min./mile on this flat loop around the picnic area. Then we were on a trail, climbing a steep hill.

I was in 3rd place. We quickly spread out and after the first couple of miles, there were two faster guys in the front. One of them looked like a fast track runner (very thin) and he wasn't carrying any water. The other guy was really muscular and looked more like a soccer play plus ultra-runner. Then there was me and a strong-looking guy right behind me. The guy behind me stuck with me for the first few miles before passing me on a flatter area, but then when we hit another uphill, he slowed down a lot and I passed him again. He got closer towards the end of the first loop, but then I pulled away from him on the 2nd loop and never saw him again. So, mostly I ran in 3rd place the entire race.

So, we did two loops, ending up with 14.5 miles. There were lots of walkers doing the 12K and it was kind of fun passing all of them on my 2nd loop. I was passing many of the slowest 12K runners, feeling strong, and then I was done! 3rd place. 7:11 average pace. I'm happy!

I'm a bit sore and I have 6 or 7 scratches on my legs and my left ankle is a bit bruised, but all-in-all, I'm feeling good. The various minor injuries were from this big tree that had recently fallen on the trail and it was a real struggle to get through all of the branches. And this part of the trail had to be traversed 4 times in the 25K. Yuck! There were a couple of other spots that required jumping over logs, but those were much more minor.

Another random note: for the first 5 miles or so, my left foot seemed to be falling asleep. I kept on wiggling my toes, trying to fix it. Were my shoes too tight? Running that downhill seemed to wake it up and I was fine from then on.

Results are in. There were only 51 people in the 25K. Felt like more!