Funny how the universe has a way of correcting itself to maintain the...er...cosmic balance, right?
Remember the awesome deal we got on last weekend's hotel? Well, universe, we're even now. Are you happy? Seriously, if you find yourself staying overnight in Vacaville for whatever reason, steer clear of the Best Western. I was happy that we got an $80 room for $51, but my goodness, what a dump! The only positive on this 93 degree day would've been the pool, but of course, it was closed. We were hit with a wall of heat when we opened the door to our room, and after leaving for over an hour (with the "air conditioner" on full blast the whole time) it was maybe a couple degrees cooler. If you were more than a foot away from the AC, you wouldn't be able to tell it was on, except for the louder than normal whirring of the motor. You got used to the noise, til it clumsily shut off a couple times in the middle of the night, only to start up again 20 or 30 minutes later. Good stuff!! I think the room was habitable by the time the alarm went off in the morning, but alas, it was time to leave the oasis that is the Vacaville "Best" Western...never to return.
It took about 45 minutes to get to Sonoma Plaza at around 7 a.m. Cool place. It was a little eerie how much this place (and the race itself) reminded me of the Fitch Mountain Foot Race (in Healdsburg this coming Sunday). They both start on a street lining the town square in the northern Califirnia wine country. Both have gently rolling hills that run you close to vineyards and surrounding neighborhoods, and both have a 10k and an abnormal distance short course (this one was 2.2 miles, next week is a 3k). Dave had pre-reg'd for the 10k & I signed up that morning for the short one, with my sights on the course record of 11:12, just a touch faster than my recent 5k pace. I managed to find the course and warmed up on it, and while it wasn't flat, there was no major climbing, and just one slow spot towrds the end of the first mile. Getting under 11 minutes would take a really good day, but 11:12 shouldn't be too bad. From what Dave said, the 10k course was similar with the major uphill around mile 4, which he said did him in quite nicely. For the second straight week, someone took off like they were running an 800. Probably even faster than last week. You can tell, though, the difference between, say, me running a 4 1/2 minute mile pace, and a Kenyan running a 4 1/2 minute mile pace. While it would be obvious to even the casual observer that I am sprinting, the Kenyans look relaxed at that pace, so you know they can hold it. The guy in the front was sprinting. He was older than the teens & kids who always seem to go out too fast, but there's no way he's gonna hold this pace. Right?
Well, it only took about a minute or so for the gap to stop getting bigger, and in another minute, he was getting passed by myself and a High School runner or three. I didn't see exactly where he finished, not knowing his name, but he was already feeling the pace less than a half mile in. I'd take the lead from the young'n around the half mile mark and tried to push up and over the hill without over exerting myself. The pace wasn't feeling too hard, but I was tighter than usual, so I wanted to be careful. Being careful, though, likely caused me to not accomplish my main objective of running under 5:00 pace. I slowed just enough when there was nobody pushing right behind me and I didn't kick til the 2/6 mile mark. I crossed the line in (I thought) 11:01, and rounded up to 11:02...and ended up with an official 11:04. Still 8 seconds ahead of the 11-year-old course record. Second was about 23-24 seconds back, and third about a minute. Over in the 10k, 34:19 took home the gold, and was also a semi-local HS runner. After a quick shoe change, I went back out on the course and came across Angela running with the stroller, and her and Larry D's son Max. This was about a mile-and-a-half in and he hadn't walked yet. He's FIVE! I took the opportunity to pace him back and had a blast. He even had a kick at the end, just like dear old Dad. Larry was next. I turned back around, and saw Larry almost in the same spot. I paced him as well, and he was closing the gap on the runner ahead of him, but the kid had quite a kick at mile 6. Larry finished 10th right around 39 minutes. Next up was Dave, who I caught up with right around mile 5. It appeared he'd paced himself pretty well, and traded back and forth with a few runners before coming in just over 57 minutes.
We stuck around for a bit for the awards...had some food...just enjoyed the sun, but we had a prior engagement. With Moylan's Brewing Co. in Novato. C'mon now. Don't act surprised. i know we were in wine country and all, but this is a mighty fine brewery. Did I mention they've got 19 taps running? Can you guess how Dave & I found this out?
Anyway...a fun race that I'd like to run in the future (maybe the 10k?).
I don't know what it is about June, but yet again (for the 4th time in 5 years) my body seems to be breaking down. It seemed like this year would be different, especially since May was possibly the best month of training and racing I've ever had. Go figure. My Achilles is still quite problematic, but if that was all, I could handle it...but my ligaments and joints, especially both IT bands and knees, seem to have suddenly lost all elasticity and are quite painful. So...still planning on Fitch Mountain on Sunday, but another involuntary break from running seems more than likely. Not too happy with it, not that having another baby and simultaneously losing my #1 stress relief option (which becomes an added sorce of stress when I'm injured) has we worried at all!!! I have a feeling that there may not be a better option, though, as my times creep upward with the pain level, and the enjoyment and sheer pleasure from testing the ol' body begins to wane.