Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Auburn Resolution Run 10k - New Year's Day

For those who want a rundown…

The 5k-10k-10m races started at 1 pm @Auburn Overlook. I had planned on running the 10 miler, but a lack of sleep and reservations about unfamiliar courses (due to last month’s 162nd place finish on Angel Island) I compromised and did the 10k.

I knew the courses would be hilly, but I had no idea I was in for a Salmon Run/Prison Hill type of race until I ran my warm-up. I wanted to know how the course started, so I ran about a mile moderately downhill for about 0.2, then steeper, then even steeper…you get the idea. Gravel and road for the first mile, and I turned and went back up. When the race started, there was a pack of 6 or 7 leading the downhill charge, and I positioned myself towards the rear, resisting the urge to surge on the steeper sections as some of the younger runners were. A couple 10-milers split off after a minute or two, leaving a group of 5. A half mile or so into the race, out of nowhere, a 20-something year old with a Mohawk goes flying by at a ridiculous speed (I believe I looked to my closest competitor and said “I hope he has brakes!”). He would build a 5-10 second lead by mile 1, which I ran in 4:59, sitting in a tie for 2nd…Mohawk man being a 5k runner. He slowed enough at the bottom of the hill that just as the off-road climbing started, a couple of us went by as fast as he had gone by us on the downhill (he’d end up 3rd in the 5k). I was able to build on a lead over the next few miles, and was able to see my competition after a turnaround before mile 4. I hit mile 4 right at 24 minutes and had close to a 2 minute lead at that point. Even though the last 3 miles had been tough, I was getting stronger through this section. I knew, however, that although we’d climbed uphill a little, we still had some climbing to do over the last mile and a half to get back to the outlook…I just didn’t know how much, or how muddy.

For the second race in a row, I fell victim to a poorly marked course, which can be quite confusing on an unfamiliar trail, especially while you’re bombing downhill as hard as you can. It was roughly 4.6-4.8 miles into the race that I was getting close to the end of a loop before heading up a dirt trail to the finish when I saw the 100 degree right hand turn (unmarked, but unobstructed) and the slight left/straight trail, which was partially blocked by caution tape 6 inches off the ground, but was also marked with double white chalk arrows pointing in that direction! Just by chance, I’d overheard the director talking to a runner during registration that was trying to figure out the course…and remembered hearing that there was a spot in the race where some runners have “jumped the caution tape” and gone the wrong way. As I had about 2 seconds to make the decision, I was bewildered. You could easily go to the right of the caution tape and follow the arrows, so that’s what I did. I asked several other walkers and joggers as I passed if I was going the right way, and they said yes…but my gut was starting to tell me otherwise. As it turns out, they were correct, IF I were a 10 miler heading into the loop, but not for the 10k. I made the decision to turn around after a little over a minute to avoid a similar fate as my last race, and sure enough, as I got back to the turn, there was runner #2, going the way that was not marked with any arrows. So almost 5 miles in, the race began again. I was still feeling pretty good, and I was able to reclaim the lead within 2-300 yards, but as the muddy ascent to the finish started, my strength began to wane and I caught myself looking over my shoulder more than once. As it turns out, I had nothing to worry about. Even though I slowed significantly, so did everyone else, so I’m hoping it was due to the course and not a lack of endurance J. I ended up crossing the line in 42:14 (for my 6.5 mile+) with second place 59 seconds behind. Not a particularly good time, but between the terrain and the extra running, I was happy enough, thinking that this race bodes well for an attempt to run 45 minutes at the Salmon Run.

The results/awards, on the other hand, were determined to rival the Habitat Run as the least organized of any race I’ve ever done. They seemed to get the times ok, but were blaming their new computer timing system for many errors before we left (2 hours later and sans awards). They had all 3 distances finishing in the same chute, and had them all on one list as the results were posted. I for example was 82nd overall, but the 81 in front of me should have all been 5k runners. Alas, they were not. There were 3 others listed under their division as 10k runners coming in between 34-38 minutes. Needless to say that myself, along with the 2 guys behind me who finished 2 and 3, pointed out the error, which was followed by another hour or so of standing around, waiting for nothing to be done…before we gave up and left.

I’d decided I needed more miles, which is the only reason I decided on this race as opposed to the New Years Eve 2 miler in Sacramento the night before…so my resolution for 2008 is to not run the resolution run in 2009. Between the lack of any organization and the fact that I’ll be cross training the next few days due to a calf/soleus pull and a sore back, the 2 miler (in hindsight) would have been the better option. Of course, if the last race had gone well, I wouldn’t have done another race at all!

Next up is either the Cal 10 or the Redding Marathon (as a long run) – no takers on the relay idea. I’d been leaning towards Redding, but I know the Cal 10 course will be marked well, so…

Happy running,


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