Sunday, February 24, 2008

Almond Blossom 8k




This is a flat road course on which I ran in a PR of 25:59 in 2001, although I was outkicked at the line by a friend of mine (Brian Buscay of Reno) for the win by less than 1 second.

I drove down on Friday night, joined by my friend Aaron and the dogs (Abby & Hannah are visiting my Brother-in-law in LA). The weather was ok going over and we got into Modesto before 8 and went out to eat @Mike’s Roadhouse (ok food-overpriced).

I was very close to scratching the race on Friday as I’d had only 1 good, relatively pain-free run over the previous week and a half. The left leg is fine, but the hip (flexor and abductor), it band, and knee on the right side have relapsed at the worst time (2 weeks before the Napa Marathon 3-2).

I was able to mask the pain with a nice mix of soaking, icy-hot, topical ibuprofen, and Advil the morning of the race. I was encouraged for the first time in several days when I jogged from the car to the registration table without a limp (that’s the kind of week it had been).

The weather was almost the same as 2001, with a stiff wind, and the threat of rain, although it was a little colder and a littler dryer this year. They actually started a couple minutes early, about 5 seconds after I got to the line, and we were off. After the first turn, we were in a really nice residential neighborhood, and by a half-mile in, there were only 3 of us, with Brad Butler in the lead, and myself in second. As I was just starting to think the miles were not marked we hit mile 1 right on pace @5:31 (my goal was 27:30-5:32 per mile). After a couple turns, we’d dropped 3rd, and I did a little bit of drafting, as Brian was 6’2 and at least 30 pounds heavier J

We were running comfortably between miles 1 and 2 & did our introductions, etc…he had driven the course and therefore knew it better than I did from seven year old memories. We turned into an orchard just after mile 2 (5:32-11:03) and hit a stiff headwind. This would have been the best time to draft, but I was feeling good and pulled up to share the lead and eventually take it just after the aid station at mile 2.5 (13:49). I was expecting Brad to tuck in behind me, but by the time we go through the orchard and made a right turn, I could no longer hear him behind me.

At this point, I was cautiously optimistic about winning the race, as I was still running even miles and feeling ok, so I started thinking about my goal time. At mile 3 (5:36-16:39), I’d slowed just a little, but was still running into a headwind. Mile 4 was much of the same (as we had a headwind for about 3.5 of the 4.97 miles). I hit mile 4 alone in 22:10 (5:31) and still felt like I had a kick. I tried to pick it up for the last mile, had a little kick the last 1-200 and finished in 27:18-5:29+ per (79 seconds off the PR-but my best since 2001). The last .97 was 5:08 (or 5:18-19 if it were a full mile). Being that half the last mile still had a headwind I was very happy with the finish and the fact that I was not limping! Brad would come in 2nd after fading a little in the wind in 28:26.

The finish was in (refurbished since 2001) Mavis Stouffer Park, and the dogs made a new friend while me and Aaron chased them around in the wet grass before the awards. I had a huge grin on my face as I was able to run with the dogs at near full-speed only a day after limping 4 miles @8:00 pace.

First prize was $50 (which was spent immediately at the Valley Brewing Co. in Stockton on the way home! This place had the best stout and the best hot wings I’ve had in a while, so it was well worth it.

We took our time and also paid homage to the Auburn Alehouse (right off i-80) before hitting the worst of the weather between Colfax and Reno. (note to Eric-We’d planned on visiting St. Stan’s micrebrewery in Modesto, as this was my first microbrew experience in 1998, but they no longer exist as a restaurant and pub, only a brewery L

Between the drive and this morning’s 7 miles, the leg has reverted back to it’s painful self, but I’m hoping with therapy on Wednesday, and more tapering this week, I’ll be comfortable on the Napa start line in 5 days! Technically speaking, a 2:53 would be a PR, but my goal is 2:45 (6:19 per), and based on my last two races (30k and 8k), I should be there!

Best of luck, and happy running to all. Talk to you soon.

Good pic of the start on shadowchase.org

Chris

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