Friday, June 17, 2011
Fitch Mountain III
The second weekend in June means the annual trek to Healdsburg for the Fitch Mountain Footrace. This was my third straight year, a minor miracle considering how the Month of June has gone for me since I started racing again in 2006. Here's the recap...injured '06, running '07, injured '08, injured '09, injured '10, and then this year. I think Fitch was one of my last two races before a prolonged break each of the last two years. So far so good this time around. Nothing hurts more than it did last week!
Anyway, it's become a pattern for me to do the 3k here. It's the only race shorter than 5k that I'll generally run, so the goal is usually to do it noticeably faster than goal 5k pace. The course isn't flat, but is still pretty fast and definitely faster than the 10k, which has a much longer climb. You generally start a block from the town square, run a rectangle, and finish about a minute from where you start. All 3 "rollers" are in the first half of the race, so if you do it right, you should have a negative split. This was the case in 09, when I was in 16:30 5k shape and won in 9:29. I had stiffer competition last year from Peter Egerton, a former Cal runner right around my age, and won in 9:15 while in 15:50 shape. You'll notice the discrepency between the 3k times and 5k times. While I ran great for my fitness level in 09, last year was a little slower (comprably, not litterally) because Peter and I started too fast and paid for it before the end. He was back this year, which was nice. We even got to run some Santa Rosa off-road on Tuesday morning!
When the gun went off, lots o young'ns bolted up front, but only briefly. A hundred yards in, I was in the lead at a good pace, with Peter off my right shoulder. We were both hoping this meant the sub-9:00 2-miler in the field was running the 10k (he was...YAY). We handled the first hill better, trading the lead. I'd get a stride up on the roll down, and by the end of the third one had the lead for good. We made a right at the park, and though my lungs we're heaving, my legs felt good, and I picked up the pace slightly on the flats. The slightly downhill stretch before the last turn seemed a tad shorter than usual and went by fast since I wasn't dying. I got to the homestretch in the lead and feeling good, though oxygen debt had started in. Then I saw the clock. 8:whaaaaaaaaa??? No way in hell I'm under 9 minutes. I knew there was room to improve this year, although I'm almost 20 seconds slower over 5k so far this year, simply because I hadn't run this race well, but 16+ seconds? No way. That was confirmed as I approached the finish with the clock not only under 9, but still in the 8:30's! They officially gave me an 8:40 (though you'll notice in the pictures, particularly the one where I am 2 strides PAST the guy at the finsish line, that the clock still reads 8:39!!!). Peter, who has run well under 9 plenty of times (me just barely, and only once or twice a long long time ago), but back when grunge music was all the rage, came in 12 seconds later. We both knew the course was short. He's marked the course before and we still couldn't figure out what was missing, but we knew we didn't just run 4:40 pace for nearly 2 miles. So...we cooled down on-course backwards, and sure enough, we saw the short block that was missed, by ALL the runners, not just the leaders. There had been arrows and volunteers at every other turn, but they missed one. We sped up and timed it at 14 seconds (x 2) and Peter later mapped it a hair under 0.05 (x2)...So the course was 1.76+ instead of 1.86 miles.
So while we didn't run in the 8's, we both improved improved our times from last year, and for me, that's a 2011 first! Call me anal, but I'm going with a time of 8:39 (I was at least that fast with photographic freakin evidence - kiss my patooti 8:40!) which translates to a 9:07-9:08 3k. I'll go with 9:08. There. 4:54+ per mile. Age graded that is right there with my 5k in the mid 81's, but...I can only age grade a 3000 time based on track standards, not road. In a 5k, there's a significant difference between the two, with the track being a faster standard, so given a few extra seconds, I ran somwhere in the age graded 82-83 range. I know this means absolutely nothing to some of you, and for that I apologize, but I'll take everything I can get, and I'll definitely take 7 seconds faster than last May! Now, to get back under 16 minutes in the five...
Abby's parents were kind enough to stay with Rocco & Hannah, so this was actually a long weekend for us. We stayed at the Best Western Dry Creek Inn in north Healdsburg. Super nice place (a stark contrast to the last BW Dave & I stayed in) and to our immmediate west was the wine road leading to the Dry Creek & Russian River Valleys. I did some scouting during a longish run Monday morning, and Abby & I tasted wine & awesome food the rest of the day. I didn't eat very...er...athletically Sunday. After having a chicken salad at Bear Republic, we had hot wings and two spicy pizzas at 3rd Street Aleworks & Russian River later that day, but dang was it goooood. Anyway, I behaved Monday so I could still move this week, and after a hilly trail run with Peter on Tuesday and one last dip, we were off. Back to the real world.
Just as I'm falling in love with the new Saucony Hattori's as a short distance racer, we'll be off-road and at elevation for a while, which they are most definitely not designed for. The next two races are part of the Big Blue Series...the Burton Creek 10k* (*closer to 7 miles than 10k), the 7.9 run from Tahoe City to Squaw's Olympic Village the next week, and the downhill but at 6400 feet Firecracker Mile in Truckee on July 4th. Hopefully I'll see a few of you out there...