Thursday, July 28, 2011
Presidio Cross Country Challege
These are at the top of "Sandy Hill"...that's why Dave looks like he's birthing twins!
A challenge indeed! I was wondering what it would take to get a 29-30 minute 10k runner to run a 17:22 5k. Is the course long? If not, it must be pretty stinkin hilly! Well...option 2 it is. Long would've been better for me. Hills (climbing) has not been my strong suit all year, and since July 6th my right Achilles has limited my ability to ascend even more. Just for fun, I decided the left one needs to be hurt too, so that one has been on the fritz since mid-last week. So...going in, the story would be my quickly evaporating confidence, not so much what the course was like or who I'd be running against. I honestly didn't feel like I'd be able to do much going in, and if you're already beat mentally...well...it's not ideal. I absolutely LOVE running in the Bay area, though, so feeling strong or not, this was going to be a fun trip.
Abby was partying it up in Sacramento for her 13 year class reunion, the kids were in Grass Valley, and Dave & I were staying in the lap of luxury in Vallejo, at a Motel 6. Noteworthy here is that it was even the cheaper of the TWO Motel 6's in Valejo. The vagabond sentry as we pulled in was not quite as entertaining as the filthy man in the lobby who was requesting his room be changed for the third time. Please don't give me one of his cast-offs...please? As luck would have it, our room was spartan, but clean, and you could even open the door all the way without hitting the bed (see: Motel 6, Escondido, CA). We were only there to sleep after all. First thing in the morning it was another 40 minute drive over the Bay Bridge to the Presidio, made famous by the somehow NOT-award-winning Mark Harmon/Sean Connery movie of the same name :)
Back to the race. In my feeble mental state, I had to have noticed every CA State Cross-Country shirt, College Cross Country shirt, and every other peice of gear that made me wonder just how many people were going to kick my butt that morning. When the race started, just like back in the school days, lots of traffic up front. We started on a grass field for about 40-50 yards, before a quick left and a climb as soon as we hit the dirt. I started out in about 15th, but as soon as the sprinters slowed down, moved up to 8th or 9th by the base of the climb. I don't think this first hill had a name. We went up and over, and down Sandy Hill (which we had to run back up near the end). This hill was even slow going down. If you've ever run on the beach you know what I mean. Over the next few minutes, I slowly passed a couple runners and was in 6th place at the mile mark. So far not too taxed, but a couple runners already had a decent sized lead on the field. We climbed back up behind the start and started the bigger of the two loops with, you guessed it, another climb. I was still feeling good enough to pet a dog as we passed (it didn't hurt that I was going slow enough that I didn't really have to slow down to do so). After mile one, we had a beautiful but brief ocean view, with the Golden Gate off in the corner, a long descent, and a 180 turn at the bottom. This was the half way point of the race. I had moved up a couple more spots to third/fourth at the half, pretty much out of contention for a win. I started back up "Long Hill" (there were 3 named hills...Sandy, Long, and Steep) and was quickly passed. Back in 4th with not much power being generated by the lower half. Back down to the start I regained most of the ground lost on the last climb, and I hit the flat sand section before Sandy Hill redux hoping just to stay close on the climb, and I'd be able to pass on the downhill/flat honestretch.
To my surprise I actually managed a pass about a quarter of the way up, held it over the crest, and extended the lead over the last quarter mile. I was gaining slightly on 2nd place, but was too far behind to make a move. I ended up 3rd in a pretty accurate (3.13) 5k in 18:51...13 seconds ahead of 4th, 16 behind 2nd, and 37 off 1st. Thus ends my odd little streak of 1/2 finishes going back to last Decemeber.
For those unfamiliar with DSE Runners, if you are ever in San Francisco and have an itch to race, they are there nearly 50 weekends a year to scratch it for you! Not only that...the courses vary, they are super cheap ($5!!) and they are some of the friendliest people you are likely to meet (though I think the running community in general is more friendly than most). I've done two of their races in the past year and hope to do many more. They were even nice enough to provide the exquisite photography you see above :)
Dave ran pretty well, figuring that this course was about 15-20% slower than a fast road 5k. Depends who you go by...I think my sub-16 self left about 30 seconds out there on the course, but I just didn't have it that day. On one hand, I was 1:29 slower than last year's CR setter, who is just about that much faster than me on my good day. On the other hand, the guys in front of me are of a speed I've run in the recent past (and hopefully the near future). Dave was under 30:00 on a course that had few fast spots and many slow ones, and finished quite strong after the punishing Sandy Hill.
This week I'll be climbing much more than I'd like once again at the Blood Sweat and Beers trail runs in Auburn. After an aborted speed attemp today, I'm hoping to get one quality run in before then...
Thanks to DSE, and to Sue & Eric, who came to the race to cheer us on, and took us out to a wonderful breakfast at the Presidio Social Club afterwards.
Beer Revolution...quit selling long expired beer!!!