I’m coming to realize how infrequently I run races. I run two or three big races a year, and maybe some extra half-marathons, but I sort of ignore the little guys. I fixate on the big races, train hard for them, and a little race might get in the way (or, worse, cause injury). So when Kary asked me to run the Shamrock scramble with her I said “No.” It wasn’t on my schedule, I wasn’t doing it.
But when they posted the Saturday workout, they said we could do the race if we liked (provided we ran 10~13 miles before it). So I told Kary I’d run it, but that I didn’t think I’d keep up with her. I was planning a marathon pace run at 6:40. Then, as I ran through 10 miles with Doug, I thought maybe I’d run 6:30s with him. And once the race started? Why I ran 6:20s with Kary.
The UCSB races all start with some personal trainer leading a group warmup session. Which I suppose is fine. Personally I think the way she chooses to warm people up is likely to cause injury (lots of jerky movements). Unfortunately she seems to think that anyone who fails to warm up her way is failing to warm up and she yells at us. She tells us we can’t run well if we don’t warm up. Um. I have warmed up. I’ve run 12 miles. I’ve done some strides. I’ve done (am doing) my stretches. I just don’t like hers. And I find it annoying that she should presume to instruct me when (in my opinion) she doesn’t know what she’s doing.
Anyway we line up. There is no sense of race etiquette at this race either. There are two little kids front row, dead center, and lots of other people who don’t know who to run are there too. I stand behind Mike Shalhoub (because I’m not really racing myself), and I just know they’ll get in the way.
When the command to start is given nobody moves. Sigh. Then they seem to realize, and we’re off. And, yup, there are people all over the place who aren’t moving very fast and keep blocking me. The two little kids do surprisingly well, I don’t pass them until we’ve run several hundred meters.
Kary is just zooming along. I try to keep up. According to the watch we’re doing 5:50s. That’s too fast for me. It’s faster than what she said she was planning to do. When I finally reach her she explains that she just wanted to get out of the press. Mmm. Yeah. I understand what she means. We slow a bit, and Dave joins us. Dave and I are Kary’s honor guard and we plan to run with her as long as we can (Dave has also done 10+ miles as a warmup, while Kary is really racing).
Nash is ahead of us. I’ve never seen him run before. He said he was just doing a tempo run… Well, if so, his tempo pace is much faster than mine. And he looks a little older than I too. A very impressive runner.
Now that we have slowed other people start to pass us. That’s not too surprising. They got caught in the pack too.
Then a blonde ponytail goes by. I realize that there were no women ahead of Kary and she might well win this thing, if we can catch up with the ponytail. We discuss this, and the general consensus is that she’ll probably slow.
We now leave the paved road and run on dirt along the bluffs looking down on the ocean. Or that’s what it’s normally like up here. At the moment we are busy skirting puddles with no eyes for the ocean, ending up in the mud, and getting quite wet.
Kary slows down when running through mud. This is not good. She has to ignore it. I glance down at my watch and it thinks we’ve been running at a 6:16 pace. Much, much better than 5:50s. In fact that probably means we’re now going too slowly since that pace includes the fast quarter mile (or whatever) at the beginning.
We are catching up on the ponytail.
We pass her.
We also pass Kary’s family. They live out here and have come to watch their mom or wife race.
Now we’re running through the streets of Isla Vista. A long straight flat stretch. It feels dull. We pass the two mile marker. (I didn’t notice the 1 mile mark). Hmm. My watch claims I’ve been running for 1.75 miles. My watch is inaccurate about distance, but I don’t think it is that bad. I’ve been running for just under 11 minutes. Nope. I’m going to trust the watch. I’m not running 5:30s, not for two miles, not after 12 miles already. That marker is in the wrong place.
We run on. We’ve got one lane to ourselves, and that lane is divided in half, I presume one half is for returning runners (it’s almost an out and back course), but we are running three abreast and take up the whole lane.
I’m feeling tired, so I warn Kary and Dave that I’ll be dropping back soon. I drop back a couple of feet, but that seems all.
Finally this dull straight road dead ends, and we run off back toward the ocean, and then make a big loop to get around some dormitories or something. I notice some blue-eyed grass. I think it’s blue-eyed grass. Ah, there’s another one. Yup, it is. I’m now about 6 feet behind the others. They are catching up on the guy ahead. I wonder if I will.
They pass him.
I pass him.
The loop has circled back almost to its start and we’re three abreast again. As we make the turn back on to the long, straight, dull road Kary and Dave cut a little too sharply and end up running into some flagging tape. So I’m ahead briefly. It won’t last.
As we return along the road, I see that the outgoing runners are filling the entire lane we are supposed to be running in. So the three of us are in the lane devoted to cars. Luckily there isn’t much traffic, but every now and then a car will drive up to us and we have to push into the oncoming runners.
The road comes to an end and we’re heading back into the mud! What fun.
People cheer us on. I wonder if they realize that Kary is lead woman? No one mentions it. Kary once again slows for the mud, while I plow through it.
We see Kary’s family again.
There’s an odd little turn that takes us onto a different route for the last mile or so. And I’m still a bit ahead of Kary and Dave. Soon we’re back on pavement. Here’s the 4 mile mark (according to my watch it’s 2.4 miles from the 2 mile mark, or 4.15 from the start), and there are Kent and Jessica to cheer us on.
I realize Kent and Jessica are running with Kary.
Then Jessica passes me.
Then Dave passes me. My watch says I’m still doing 6:20s so I let them go. Somebody else passes me (a UCSB student).
A quarter mile to go.
It seems to take forever.
And I can see the finish. Jessica is announced as the first woman. Whoops! Oh, this race has no bibs — they can’t tell. And Jessica crossed the line (rather than running beside it).
The clock at the finish line is broken and reads gibberish. Damn.
And then I’m on the mat. I stop my watch at 32:22. It claims I’ve run 5.14 miles at a 6:18 pace. Well I don’t trust my watch to get the distance right, but I know the course was mis-marked, it may well have been mis-measured too. (Later, other people commented that they thought the course long too, so not just my watch). But it doesn’t really matter.
They announce that Kary is the second woman. I’m going to have to fix that.
But I need some water first.
Then they announce Libby as third. And I finally get over to the announcer and explain that Jessica only ran the last mile. He corrects the count.
Hmm. I guess it’s just as well I don’t do these races very often, I seem to get annoyed by them.