Run in the Sun

4 July 2007

If I were in the desert deep in sand,
And the sun was burning like a hot pomegranate:
Walking through a nightmare in the heat of a summer day,
Until my mind was parch-éd!

The Fantasticks (Edmond Rostand, adapted by Tom Jones)

I have a superstitious dread of 15ks — the last time I ran one I fractured my pelvis. So I’ve never done this race.

Well really I’ve never done it because I thought it was too hot.

I guess I’m convinced of that now. The heat was bad — but at least I didn’t fracture anything on this race. Whew.

Jeff and I were discussing it a few weeks ago and trying to break 60 seemed like a good goal. Rusty poo-pooed that. Far too easy, try for 58. Then Travis said he’d like to run it at a 6 minute pace (~56). And Rusty thought I should hang with Travis. Ug. I should stop talking to Rusty:-)

Last Saturday Rusty had us run the course, running every other kilometer at race pace and then jogging to rest. I’m glad he did because I wasn’t sure of the route (last year the lead pack went the wrong way and took a 40 second detour). We started our practice run an hour before the race would start, but by the end of it I was feeling overheated. Ug. I hoped the weather would cool.

It did not.

As I was finishing my warmup I came upon two cyclists unfolding a map. So I asked them if they needed directions. Then I realized they were speaking French so instead asked “Puis-je vous aidez?” One of them pointed to the race badge on my singlet and said “Nous cherchons celui-ci.” Neat, they want to race, that’s easy. So I told them how to get to registration and went off to change my shoes.

I figured that given the heat there was no way I’d manage a 6 minute pace. I thought I’d try for 6:10 (didn’t even manage that, 6:14). I wanted to be fairly controlled for once and not go out too fast — that might not be possible, but that’s what I wanted. I checked with John (the race director) and learned that he’d put back all the kilometer marks that got wiped out in the resurfacing that happened last year. Good. That means I can check my pace every kilometer rather than every mile. I prefer that, they happen more frequently and I am less likely to go astray. A 6:10 mile corresponds almost exactly to a 3:50 km.

Wally said that Anglo-Saxon two letter word and the race started. A bunch of people took off ahead of me, which made me think I wasn’t going too fast. At the quarter mile I saw I was a little under 90 seconds, a little too fast but not much. At the half mile 3:01. Better. I heard Joe Hilton exclaim “Too fast, I don’t want to be under 6”. At the 1k mark I was still doing a 6 minute pace (3:43) and I passed Joe.

Around the 1 mile mark I noticed someone whose running seemed to me totally out of control — I didn’t think he’d be able to keep the pace. He then turned to me and said “If I were breathing like that I’d be all cramped up.” Oh. Well I guess I’m not perfect either:-). Nonetheless I passed him.

At the 2k mark I saw I’d slowed down too much, 3:59 (my slowest split in the race). At least I’m still on track for breaking an hour, but I should be able to do better than that. Then a long gradual uphill to the 3k mark — 3:53 — still a little slow, but not too slow. I’m passing people now. Good.

The next km always surprises me, there’s a steep hill here and I always expect it too tell against me, but there’s also a steep down hill on the other side. It’s usually fairly fast. 3:49 today. For the first time I notice Travis about 50ft ahead of me, he turns right instead of going straight (turning right is our training route, he must not be thinking). The corner guard yells to correct him, and I yell too, but I only have breath to say “Oops!” or something like that. Not as informative as it should have been. Luckily Travis turns and joins us. I don’t want to lose him this early.

At the first water stop I have three choices: ignore it, drink, or pour water on my head. I’m not sure I can drink at this pace. I’m not really thirsty (we’ve only been running for what? 15 minutes?) but I am hot. I take off my sun visor and pour water on me. It does help.

Next km is 3:46 on a fairly flat section. And it’s sort of shady as we turn down onto a residential street. I see my first walkers who are actually on the sidewalk. Thank you! In spite of the shade and a downhill section I’m slow 3:55. I realize that Lee Carter seems to be riding beside me a lot. Hunh. He’s supposed to be with the first woman, not with me. I’m not a woman. I don’t have the energy to ask about it though. He’s right beside me and I want to cross the street… He drops back a bit and I do cross and then he’s on the other side of me. Odd.

Another uphill section 3:57. Drat. I don’t seem to be anywhere near 3:50. Oh well, Travis is still 50ft in front of me or so. I guess I’m not the only one having problems.

Good heavens, I hear my friend Christine’s voice yelling “Go George.” What’s she doing here? I don’t think she’s ever watched a race before. And then the penny drops. Christine is French and her triathlete nephew and his parents are visiting — he and his father must have been the two French speakers I met earlier.

At the next water stop I try to drink and do manage to take one sip, but it’s not easy. Most of the water goes on my head again.

We pass the 8k mark (3:54) and the 5mile mark. I hear Lee saying “It’s 5 miles”, and then a female voice asking “Does that mean we’ve got 5 to go?” Oh, well that explains why Lee seems to be with me, the lead woman must be right behind me. I realize that I never look back in a race. I can usually tell if someone is passing from their footfalls. Looking back will just throw me off balance and not give any really useful information.

Hmm. I don’t think I’d waste my breath asking that question though (even if I didn’t know the answer) — she’s probably not as tired as I. She’ll probably pass me.

The important thing now is the hill right here. This is supposed to be where I can catch Travis (I’m better at hills than Travis)… and I do get closer to him, and I pass the guy who has been running with him… but I don’t catch Travis. It’s hot.

Next km is 3:58. Oh well. Lee zips ahead of the three of us and points us down onto the bike path which is a bit hillier than the roads. A very steep downhill. I guess we passed the 6 mile mark. The woman behind asks if that was 6miles. I haven’t been paying attention to the mile markers and can only say that we’ve passed the 9k mark. Then she takes off. She starts creeping up on Travis. I cheer her on. I’m beat myself. Will I be able to hold even this (relatively) slow pace? It’s so hot. My legs aren’t a problem but I don’t seem to have any energy.

Here’s the 10k (3:51), back under the freeway, fording the stream — well I would be fording the stream if there were any water in it, but it’s dry as a bone — and up the other side. Ug. The woman has caught Travis and the two are running together not far ahead.

The last water stop. Another sip and more water on the head.

Kornell appears, he’s running against the flow of the race (I guess to look at it), but he turns and runs with me for a bit. He asks if I’m catching the two in front or just hanging with them (personally I think I’m slowly losing them, but Kornell is polite enough not to suggest that). He tells me I’m breathing too shallowly, that if I could get the breath deeper into my lungs I’d go 5 seconds per mile faster with no more effort. I try to breath deeply, but my abdominals get very tight when I’m running, it’s really hard. Something to work on. Kornell peels off.

11km: 3:54.

Hmm. I’m starting to gain on the other two though. Maybe he was right.

Tara ahead of both of us12km: 3:53. Or maybe they are slowing. My pace doesn’t seem to be changing much. But I don’t feel as tired. We turn onto the final bike path, heading straight into the sun. Hmm. I really don’t feel as tired. I feel better than I did on Saturday on this stretch.

I pass the first woman. 3:50 at 13km. I’m coming up behind Travis. I debate passing him. I feel he’s going a little slowly. I hang behind him. A bunch of bikers cheer Travis on. “Hey,” I think, “what about me? I’m right here with him. I’m working hard too.” For that matter “What about her?” She can’t be far behind us — I don’t look, of course. Around 14km (3:50) the route twists a bit and I figure I’ll pass him after we get on the road and things get wider. Hubris. Travis speeds up. It’s all I can do to hang behind him — and then I can’t even do that. I say something like “Go, Travis” and fall back. I really want to rest, but I know there’s someone right behind me. I daren’t slow too much. At the corner of Hollister they say “200 meters”. It feels like more… and then someone is cheering me (“What about Travis?” I think, “It’s not fair just cheering me.” I guess there’s no pleasing me). And we cross the street — will the cops hold traffic for me as well as Travis? Yes, of course.

And there’s the clock 57:50… and Travis crosses 57:57 and the seconds tick inexorably past… Can I break 58? No, there it is: 58:00 and then I cross. 58:02. (Tara, the first woman, finished in 58:13).

It was great to have both of them to run with. If you read this, thank you for running with me!

Final split 3:44. Not bad given the heat. I drink two pints of my recovery drink and a bunch of water. I look at a thermometer (in the shade) and see it’s only 71°. Hunh? Here in the shade it’s actually cool. Chilly even when the wind blows. But, but, but it was so hot just a minute ago and there was no shade. Amazing what a difference the shade (and standing still) can make.


One Response to “Run in the Sun”

  1. Someone to run with! « George’s Meanderings Says:

    […] even more cheering — I ran this at a slightly faster pace than the 15k this summer. The weather was better today, but it’s a slightly longer race — so it’s roughly […]

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