I won an Avocado

I like Orchard to Ocean 10K. I’m not sure why — it does have an interesting course with lots of park running on the way out and then a straight downhill swoop to the finish line… Or maybe it’s the steep little hill right at the turnaround. I’ve passed people on that hill. Good memories…

Anyway I signed up again.

I find it a little depressing to see how my race times have slowed over the years. I still think I should be able to run 6 minute pace for a 10K if I just tried harder… but every year I go a little slower. I got out my age graded calculator and plugged in my best 10K ever, and the calculator told me I should expect to run 6:15 to get that percentage at my age. And finish in 38:52. Sigh. That seems so slow…

I woke up this morning and the wind was blowing like crazy. Normally I bike out to the start, but I figured I would arrive exhausted after battling the wind for over an hour on the bike, so (shh! don’t tell) I drove the car.

It didn’t seem windy at all in Carp, so I felt stupid once I got there.

Registered. Bib attached. Chip attached. Warmup. Pleasant little run along the course. Still no wind. I turn back after about 3 miles and suddenly I find the wind. Oh great. I’m going to have to fight the wind for the last 2+ miles of the race. Is it going to be as bad as Sacramento?

Back at the start area I do some strides, and find my friends.

Ricky’s dog will not be running with him today so he’ll win.

I see that this race is, once again, half-way chip timed. There’s a mat at the finish but none at the start. Which means it’s all gun timed.

The siren goes off, and we start. I had intended to try and keep pace with David Silverander. He ran last week’s 10K at a 6:11 average pace, and although I didn’t really think I could go that fast, I thought it would be worth trying (as did Rusty). But when we start Dave is going way too fast for me to keep up. I look at my watch: 5:40 pace. Even that is way too fast for me. So I slow even further and soon lose sight of Dave and the Jeffs.

A bunch of other people pass me. Some I look at and say to myself “You’ve gone out too hard, you won’t hold that pace for even half a mile.” Others…

Even Matt Trost is ahead of me. I didn’t think he was that fast… Or maybe I’m just slow now. Oh well.

We cross the railroad track (no train today, yay!) and come to the one mile mark. My watch says 6:09. The first mile is always fast on this course, but that’s on track for a 6:11 pace 🙂

We run up the eponymous Dump Rd. and there on the left is a whole meadow of lupines. Much lovelier than what’s on the right.

Onto Carp Avenue. I notice that many, but not all, of the street signs here in Carp use essentially the same font as the ones in Santa Barbara. Oddly these street signs have a period after abbreviations like “Rd.” or “Ave.”, whereas the street signs in SB have no period. Oh. I’m racing now. No distractions.

Up to the top of a little hill, (passing the 5K turn) and out onto the bluffs again. The guy ahead of me (Black Shirt, I’ll call him) passes Matt and someone else, and soon I do too (not quite so slow then) and they fade behind us.

We’ve passed the 2 mile mark now. 6:22. I knew I’d slow. This mile and the next 2 are uphill (and twisty).

I’m amused that every time we make a sharp turn, Black Shirt looks behind. I think looking behind is silly. It slows you, and what info do you gain? I’m already racing, it’s not like I’ll go much faster or slower if I see someone behind me… Sometimes I’m right behind him, and sometimes there’s a 50 foot gap. I seem to catch up on the downhills and he takes off on the uphills. That’s opposite from how I think of myself as running.

Mile 3 is also 6:21. As is mile 4. There’s a lovely short steep hill just before mile 4. In years past I have passed people on this hill, but not today. Black Shirt sprints up it (and looks back at the top).

Then there’s a long downhill and I actually pass him. He passes me on the next up, I pass him back on the next down. I keep expecting him to pass me when we get to the next uphill … but he doesn’t. Then down again and here’s the 5K turn from the other side. Oh drat. I failed to click my watch at the 5M mark. A minute or so later, when I realize this, I look at the pace and see 6:01. That’s pretty good.

Another black shirt passes me, but I realize it isn’t the guy I was racing. This guy is going too fast for me. Then someone else passes me. White Shirt. I can hang with him, just a little behind.

Then down into the neighborhoods (all these streets signs use the SB font). White shirt follows the edge of the road, but I take a tangent and catch up with him. Then he again pulls ahead of me, but only by a foot or so.

We cross the bridge. He warns me of the steps on the far side. (which is really kind of him, I don’t have the breath to say much myself). There’s an enormous dumpster in the middle of the road. Hunh? I go to the left, White Shirt to the right and I pull a little ahead.

Mile 6. Average pace for the last two miles 6:15. OK, I guess I didn’t run a 6 minute mile back a bit. The watch pace function (even on lap pace) seems to give the occasional wyrd result. Or maybe my eyes misread it.

Less than a quarter mile to go and White Shirt is right behind me. I try to pick up the pace. My inconstant watch tells me 5:56 as I turn the final corner and try to sprint the last 100m to the finish. White Shirt right behind.

Done. 38:56, which is a 6:16 pace. Almost exactly what the calculator said I’d do.

My best 10Ks by year
Year Time AG %
2007 37:02 80.9%
2009 38:08 79.8%
2011 38:28 80.5%
2013 38:56 80.8%

(I don’t know why I only run 10Ks on odd years, but, um, I guess I do)

Even though I’m almost 2 minutes slower than I was 6 years ago, my age-graded percentage remains pretty much unchanged. Therefore I tend to think that the tables describe my age related decline.

But on this race, White Shirt and Black Shirt follow right behind me. We congratulate each other. Well, we don’t really say much because we don’t have much breath, but we intend to congratulate each other.

Eventually the preliminary results come out. I was 8th overall, first in my age-group (this means I win an avocado this year); but not the fastest over 50 — Jim Tripplet who is two years my senior was a minute and a half faster. Whee!

The final results have me running a 38:57. Not sure where the extra second came from, but it doesn’t change things much.

Did I jinx myself by deciding I couldn’t do better than a 6:15 pace? I don’t think so. I only paid attention to my watch at the very start of the race, and slowing from a 5:40 to 6:09 pace seems like a good idea. Aside from that I never looked at my watch and said “I’m going too fast, must slow.” On the other hand, perhaps I have learned what 80% effort feels like and am just unwilling to push more…

Then I take David and Jeff out to look at the seals as a cooldown:
Carp. Seals

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