This week, I was to race. This week I only had to run 8 miles before starting, so I’d still be tired, but not as tired.
The race started at 8. One year it took forever to register, so I’d better leave half an hour for that to be safe. If I am conservative and assume 9 minute miles that means 1:12 for the warmup, and it takes about ~1:15 to bike there. That means… I need to leave home at 5am. And I need breakfast before that.
I locked up my bike in front of the startline at 6:16; so pretty much on schedule. And headed off. Basically I ran the course. Or I did, except I took some detours, the first to look at the seal sanctuary (fewer seals today than there have been on past races). When I got to the three mile mark I met Wally marking the course, so after that I had to guess where the turn around was (I got it wrong, but no matter). I did a couple more detours to get the total up to 8, and then went in to register. Which went very smoothly this year, so I now had lots of time. I jogged another mile, found a bathroom, did some strides, emptied a stone out of my shoe, stretched…
We lined up. A nice wide start. I stood behind Ricky knowing he’d get out of the way quickly. Wally said “Go!” and we went.
Down across the railroad tracks and then left along the edge of the beach. There are about 10 people ahead of me, one of whom is female. Ricky is there, of course, and Fred. Where’s Kent? I know he likes to start slowly…
We run through the state beach and on to a dirt trail on the other side. I pass a couple of people, and then I hear Kent’s cough behind me. I’d wondered who was catching up on me. And then he passes me.
As he should.
Then we turn sharply left onto a dilapidated road, and cross the railroad track again (luckily no train around — I did see the early morning train on my warmup). Nice Eucalyptus trees here. We reach the 1 mile mark. 6:09. Ooooo… nice. Not too fast, but for me that now counts as fast. I start dreaming of sustaining that pace:-) Out onto the main road. Kent has now passed two more people, and beyond him is the lead woman.
Once again except for the car parked in front of City Hall, the road is clear of parked cars. The arrogance of power. So we have to run around it. I suppose that costs a second or two.
Our route now takes us onto a dirt sidewalk. The lead woman continues on the road. I worry about this. The two are parallel here, but diverge later. Ah, at the next side street she joins us. And now we climb up the hill to Bailard Ave. I find to my surprise that I am passing the guy ahead of me. And then the guy ahead of him. Next there’s Kent, and beyond (well beyond now) him the lead woman. I doubt I’ll catch Kent, I know he’s faster than I now.
Into the shrubbery again, and here’s the two mile mark. I didn’t notice the split.
At the next turn, which is a hairpin, Kent sees that I’m behind him and cheers me on. It takes me a minute to realize I should cheer him too:-) I’ve known who’s ahead of me, so it’s no surprise to me.
Through a thicket of coast sunflower and purple sage (planted, but natives). Then back out onto the road again (A volunteer cheers me on with “Almost there!” Um… We’re maybe 2.5 miles into a 6+ mile race? In a marathon, maybe you’d say “Almost there” with 4 miles to go, but not in a 10K).
Off the road again, across a cute little foot bridge, back into coastal shrubbery. At the 3 mile mark I glance at my watch 19:10. Yikes! So much for running 6:10s. I’m not even doing 6:20s. Kent isn’t that far ahead, which is some consolation… And back onto the road. And off the road. This section is new to me. It was unmarked earlier and I guessed wrong.
Oh… very nice! They’ve put the hill back on the course. As I get closer I realize it isn’t the same hill I remember from 10 years ago, but it’s similar. Nice to have something like that back. Kent disappears up. Half a minute later I do too.
And now, some blesséd downhill. The route is (on average) uphill to this point, and from now on (again, on average) downhill. I see Kent now but only on long straight stretches. I can’t see anyone beyond him. I guess the lead woman didn’t go out too fast, I’m not going to catch her.
It’s a bit lonely. Half the time I can’t see Kent. I can’t hear anyone behind me.
I suppose that’s good.
Mostly on the road now. I’ve circled back and now I meet slower runners coming out the other way. At the four mile mark I see my last mile split was 5:57. Heavens to Betsy. (My grandmother was sometimes called Betsy, perhaps I mean her).
By the time I head back into the shrubbery the on-coming running traffic has cleared out. The trails are pretty wide here, but it’s nice not to have to worry. Here’s the hairpin turn again. Somehow it seems much more slippery now that I’m tired. And there seems to be more sand in the trail than there was. Kent is so far ahead now that he doesn’t see me behind him.
And now it’s road all the way to the finish. I can’t see Kent at all. And then I round a bend and I do. He’s, what? a minute ahead? Something like that. A sixth of a mile or so. I’m glad he’s there. It helps me keep going. Oops. Gone again.
I head onto a suburban street. My legs are tired. It’s a little up hill here and I’m feeling it. I gasp for breath, and then tell myself to calm down. No need for theatrics.
Across another little footbridge. I like this one, a lovely suspension bridge. It bounces a little in the middle. On the other side are two steps down. Someone has written “Step” on each.
It’s only another block to the six mile mark.
And a block beyond that to come out onto the road that leads to the finish.
And half a block beyond that to the line.
I can see 38:15. Wow. That’s pretty good. I didn’t think I’d go that fast. Of course, by the time I cross the line it’s 38:28, but it’s still better than I expected. When I age-grade it, it becomes 80.45%. Yippee! I don’t often get about 80%. It’s been years, in fact! I wasn’t expecting to do so today, not with an 8 mile warmup.
I get something to eat and drink and then do another 6 miles. When I return they are doing the awards. Kent wins his age group, yup. And then I wait to hear Fred winning 45-49. And he doesn’t. I realize, to my horror, that Fred has aged up. I’m not winning my age-group today. It was a great shock when it happened 5 years ago… It’s a shock today. I knew there was no one my age ahead of me, but I was wrong. Grump. Here am I, 51 years old. In sixth place overall, running at >80%, and I don’t win my age group?
Awww…. It doesn’t matter how old he is. I ran better than 80%!