Monday, November 23, 2009

Double race weekend = good times (ha, ha)

the Turkey Trot 5k start, courtesy of Abby...just click to get BIG. Your's Truly is in the Eclipse Ruuning blues on the right.
the stroller division descends on Crepeville!!!
the start of Sunday's run
Dave lookin like he's haulin' some serious arse
coming off the beach run
traffic (Sunday photos courtesy of Breakout Racing)

After a 5th straight solid week of training, I'd been looking forward to getting on a flat course for a change and seeing how close I could come to the old times. My goal for the Davis Turkey Trot on Saturday was to run a post-Achilles surgery pr, or 16:20 or faster. I've been able to pretty much match my treadmill time trials when running a flat, fast course. I'd done so last spring and last fall, running in the 16:20's on the tread right before doing so on the road (or a 15:54 3-miler) and did so again in May, running 16:32 after a 16:31 on the tread on quality, but very limited quantity, training before taking half the summer off.
Things have been building since starting up again in August, and my last 2 time trials were my fastest, a 16:16 a couple weeks ago, and a 15:50 downhill on Wednesday. To further help things along, and since I was planning on racing 2 different races on consecutive days for the first time since 2001, Abby and I booked a room at the Courtyard Marriot in Rancho Cordova on Friday & Saturday night, to minimize travel (ie-tightness) before the races. We drove over in the snow on Friday night, but had left early enough to get there in time for a great pre-race dinner at the Elephant Bar, and a restfull, childless night at the hotel. The next morning, we woke up to pretty heavy fog and cold temps. I was really hoping the fog would stick around for the race as we drove to Davis, but there was still well over an hour to go. As it turned out, it hung around somewhat, but you didn't quite have the effect of runners appearing out of clouds.
Picking up the # & tech-T went smoothly, and I did a 2 1/2 mile warm-up and a couple strides before we were coralled behind the mats. At 8:20, we were off. I took off fast, but quickly settled into a more maintainable pace once there was room. There are a couple thousand in the race, so position was important. I started behind 4 or 5 others, most of them young, and just waited for someone to take off, but they never did. On one hand, this drastically simplified my strategy. I took the lead nervously about a half mile in, and pretty much ran scared the rest of the way. I figured it would take a minor miracle for me to break 16, and the winning time is usually in the 15's, even sub-15 a couple times, so I was not, I repeat - NOT - expecting to have a shot in this race. As we went by the mile mark, I resisted the urge to get a split. I just didn't really want to know. I was still leading, but had probably more than one runer hot on my heals, so if I was going faster than I should, I didn't want to know. And if I was going slower but still feeling it, I really didn't want to I ran in ignorant semi-bliss the rest of the race, using random landmarks & mile markers to get me to the next section. "OK, gotta keep the lead to the corner...OK, hold on to mile 2...2.1...2.5. Hold on. There was actually a hill before 2.5. A freeway overpass, but for this course a hill. I still didn't know what pace I was running, but since I still had a lead, I knew it wasn't leisurely. And the "hill" scared me. What if I blow up on this stupid, little 30-foot hill? I was already red-lining the heart rate. I think I eased off the gas just a touch up and over, but of course, there was a drop on the other side, so the drag race was back on. With maybe a half mile to go, I finally got a look at who was chasing, and there were a few not to far back, as we did an out-and-back on a street to make the distance right. A couple young guys not far back, but it was close now. After dodging several of the strollers who apparently didn't know or care there was a race coming up behind them (and why start the strollers before the competetive runners?) and winding through a park, the end was in sight. I didn't have a great kick, but think I sped up a little when I saw the 6 and then 3 mile markers, and finished 1st (shockingly) in 16:10.3. I wouldn't know til a couple hours later that 2nd was 18 seconds back. Definitely further than when I'd been able to sneek a peak with a few minutes to go. This one rivals NY in September as the best I've felt in recent months crossing the line. Like I said, I wrote this one off as unwinnable, so I was happy.
No relaxing quite yet, though. I had a much harder (but less competitive) race to run the next day, so I had to take care of myself. I changed shoes and put some clothes and a beanie back on, as it was still pretty chilly, and headed out with the intention of running the 5k course backwards...but, I saw the 10k pack split off the 5k course and followed, which was a blast, and then ran the 2nd half of the 5k course again, the right way, back to the finish. All in all, over 4 miles for the cooldown, which is easily the longest I've ever done. Paid off, too. I got a little stretching in at the expo, replenished calories as well as possible, ran into Robert, who's son Callan had just pr'd, and visited the local farmers market. For those who've run the
Davis stampede, this race starts on the other side of the park where the Stampede Expo/Farmer's Market is held, about three blocks away. Deja vu. For the rest of the day, Abby & I had a free pass, since Hannah was staying in Grass Valley with Grandpa Jim & Grandma Betty, so we went back to the hotel for a quick soak & stretch, and headed to Citrus Heights for lunch (Elephant Bar, take 2) and a movie (New Moon with a bunch of teenage girls...that was interesting!). We were back at the hotel before 6, and I traded Abby, who went to Grass Valley, for Dave, who came from Verdi after work, and would be running the trails with me on Sunday morning. We took a short drive to the Old Spaghetti Factory for some more good food (although this dinner didn't sit quite as well as the last).
Folsom Winter Trail Series race #3 was at Folsom Point State Park, and agin for me and Dave, was a new trail. So far, we'd run one with a killer hill or two, and another easier but winding course with a fallen tree to hurdle. Sunday's obstacle would be wind. As I'd also taken an ice bath at the hotel Saturday night, there was virtually no soreness in my legs from the first 5k, save for the Achilles, which I think hurts if I look at it wrong. I noticed when stretching, though, that my legs were surprisingly tired. As it turned out, my closest competition on Sunday would be a local high school freshman, who led for the first minute or two. We started on a somewhat technical, rolling dirt/mud path before hitting the levy for about 2/3 of a mile. This part was flat, but gravel covered and windy, so it was easy...but not fast. I waited til we got to the levy before taking the lead, but once I did, tried to put as much distance on the others as I could, so nobody could draft. Hit the mile mark in the high 5:40's, and came upon the one big climb. I backed off a touch as I could see that the field had already spread out, got up and over, and hit a hairy technical downhill to the beach (which was probably the slowest portion), then back up to the levee. I had to run on the shoulder of the levy (deeper gravel) since none of the runners/walkers still going the other way seemed inclined to NOT take up the whole trail. No biggie, though. They soon cleared and I was approaching the home stretch. I maintained a decent pace on the slight uphill finish and came in 17:43.
Now the wait. Scoring is based on the winner's time / your time, so somebody running about 19:40 would get a 90, based on my time. For whatever reason, that # is what was in my head, so I was hoping for a 2-minute lead. The 14 year-old had easily outpaced 3rd (another minute & change back) & finished in 19:53, the 2:10 gap equaling almost 11 points. It didn't really matter, though, as two of the guys who are closest in the standings finished a closer 1st and second in the 7-miler, now that there are three (originally only 2) distances to choose from at each race, so they still got their 98-100 points as well. We'll have to all be in the same race to start spreading out the overall standings a bit. Dave placed 21st in 29:36 and scored a 60.45, probably moving up a touch in the standings in the process.
Finally...after many days and hours of abstaining, and after a return trip to the hotel to soak again, Dave and I went for a beer. Nowhere new, but Auburn Alehouse is only about 30 seconds out of the way on the drive home and had two newbies for us to try, which both turned out quite well...Black the Ripper & Hop Harvest. Uh...Yum.
So, a great weekend for running. I'd like to do the Sparks Turkey Trot on Thursday, but I don't know if I'll recover in time. Either way, this week will be an abbreviated one, before hitting things hard again for the rest of the year. Other than a possible 10k on Thursday, the remainder of the year looks like the Moomlight Madness 5k on Friday night, December 4th, and the Folsom Trail Series #4 (haven't decided short or long) on Sunday, December 13th. 2010 is starting to form in my head as well, but I don't want to get too far ahead of myself. Gotta stay healthy first.


Peter Lubbers said...

Nice runs, Chris--congrats!

slowrunner77 said...

ha said "runs". gotta love poop humor!

wife said...

you are such a child:)

SnowLeopard said...

Chris, those last two photos were amazing! I really liked the one of you heading back (first) into the oncoming crowd of runners~

Congrats! :)