Actually, it was the 36th Annual, but the second time for me. Last year I went to Healdsburg and Santa Rosa with my wife and the Biggs's's's's. This time, it was Team Library Dork's turn to paint the town(s) red. Turi & I drove over Saturday afternoon, slightly delayed in our arrival by the unfruitful quest to find him a new running hat. We were in our room & relaxing by 5 p.m. though...well, Turi in the room, me at the pool, as it was about 90 in San Rafael.
Our quest took us to the New Balance outlet in Vacaville, where only ladies buy hats, apparently. However, we ran into John Ostezan, who was the captain of my Odyssey team in 2008, and who joined us on the TRT that fall. Fresh off the 2010 Odyssey, he (along with Paul Miers & his wife) were travelling to a race the following day as well, just not the same one as us. They were all running the (recently featured in Runner's World) Dipsea, but in a weird coincidence, were stating at the same hotel we were. So when they all got checked in, I was retrieved from the pool, and we went with them to the same italian pizza joint they went to before last year's race. At the risk of having our man card's suspended, Turi & I split a beer (so as not to test the sip-per-second theory, which originated on this same trip in 2009). I think it was safe to enjoy 6 ounces of light italian lager with a meal without the race being affected, but if you think it slowed us, please feel free to subtract 6 seconds from Turi's & my times. We don't mind. The pizza was quite good, and the conversation quite entertaining...and it's nice to know I'm not the most immature person I know (thanks guys!!). Back at the hotel, I went out to get some hot-tub therapy before settling in. Dave & Amber showed a little after 9, and we watched highlights and made fun of Kobe Bryant before calling it a night.
Sounds of the "A" Team awoke us at 5:something and we slowly joined the land of the living. We were on the road to Healdsburg (49 miles north) just after 6, and there are ready to go by 7. As much as I've grown to like this race, the T-shirts are about as attractive as Tom Arnold in a speedo (for the second straight year). Maybe Hannah needs a nightgown??? Anywho...last year I was unfamiliar with the course, but thought I could remember it this time around, & did 2 laps of the 3k course as a warm-up. My recent resurfacing of chronic issues manifested in my right hamstring of all places the night before the race, and made me hope the race would not come down to a sprint finish. Even walking around it was tight enough to pull back on the knee and hip (in opposing directions). Stretching only made it angry. Oh well - running at warm-up speed felt ok, but as I did a couple strides, I could feel there would be no top gear today. That usually is fine. If you're running too much faster than race pace, then you didn't pace too well anyway, right? So the plan was to go out at the pace I wanted to average so not having much of a kick wouldn't matter.
At 8:00 we were off. Me in the 3k, the rest of TLD in the 10k, but we all started together. After going up for a block, we veered right, and over a couple more rollers, while the 10k continued straight out and around Fitch Mountain and the Russian River. No sprinters in the field this time, but I didn't take the lead for about a half mile. By that first turn, Peter Egerton & myself had seperated from the pack as well as the 10k leaders. I'd pass on the second little uphill and just tried to push the pace from there on out. We ran by a Relay for Life at one of the local schools, and had a gentle downhill about a half mile before the end. I'm glad I had a comfortable lead by then because juuust where I'd have liked to drop the hammer and push on the downhill, I didn't have another gear. I think I went fast enough to sustain my pace and tried to pick it up as I rounded the last corner and saw the finish. I'd end up running 9:15 (9:29 last year) and as far as I can tell, that's the CR. Peter finished 21 seconds back, with nobody else under 10:00.
After a shoe change and short cooldown, I just missed Turi's 10k finish in 47 minutes, but did manage to get back onto the homestretch to cheer on Dave & Amber & snap a couple pics. Sorry I slacked on the pacing duties guys, but that hammie was pissed.
They were pretty quick with the results (which are posted below) and after the awards we had a little time to kill before Bear Republic Brewing Company (part of the reason I've run this race two straight years!) opened at 11:00. We passed the time climbing trees, eating a killer breakfast pizza (yep, same one as last year...bacon, egg, asiago cheese, & my good buddy Herb. Sometimes, change is bad.) and some juice and coffee. We were the first one's in, & had a tasty lunch before heading back to the hotel for some sun pool-side. We were finally able to find Turi a men's running hat at the outlets in Petaluma on our way to Santa Rosa for dinner at Russian River BC. The beer was outstanding, and the pizza greasy & cheesy...which I'd pay for later but it was sooooo worth it. We even managed an awesome (but too short) trail run at China Camp state park before lunch at Marin BC in Larkspur the following day. All in all, a fun & succesful trip for TLD!
I think the good ol' Achilles may be past the point of no return. I've already dropped my miles down into the 50's the last two weeks after 10 weeks of 76 miles per, but things feel worse than before, so this week I'm skipping the runs & seeing what happens. If a long break seems imminent I'd like to get one more trail run in (Big Blue Adventure Burton Creek) on Sunday before going into yet another shut-down mode, just as the weather is getting nice. I'll keep y'all posted...
Here's a link to Sunday's results-