Saturday, August 4, 2012

WIPRO San Francisco Marathon (5k)

After being up in the mountains for most of the last couple months, I was looking forward to getting back on a faster (lower!) course. Originally, I'd hoped to qualify as a seeded runner for the 2nd Half (by running a good half at Avenue of the Vines in May). But, injury called, and since I don't have caller ID, I answered. I was in the 16:20 range in February and March, but after the hip diagnosis I didn't know if I'd even be racing again at all this year. A Reno 10k, a pulled calf, and a couple mountain runs later, I've managed to get some of my fitness back on a limited running & cross-training program. The good thing is - it's working, to an extent. I've sliced a minute or so off my 5k time in July, after being pretty slow at the beginning of the month. The last few weeks have consisted of 4 main runs (usually 2 hard, and 2 mountain), a mile or two on recovery days, and a whole lotta cross-training. We were able, thanks to Abby's parents and an old friend of Hannah's, to travel without the kids for this one, which at their ages is a bit of a blessing when you're looking at nearly 8 hours of driving over two days. We ate at the usual place (Noodles and Co.) in Roseville, and actually got to our hotel in Concord before sundown!! Race morning dawns, we make the 30-minute drive over the Bay Bridge, and actually got pretty lucky parking for free just a couple blocks from the race festivities. The marathon had already started, and there'd be different waves of different halfs going off at various times. We toed the line at 7:45, in front of the Ferry Building on Embarcadero, and ran towards Fisherman's Wharf for a couple minutes, before coming back (south) on the other side of the road. Conditions were pretty good (mid-50's with a light drizzle). Their was wind, but it never really became a headwind issue, which was nice. Nothing saps your resolve quite like a stiff headwind. Anywho, this was a pretty big field (over 1100 - timing issues notwithstanding). I started out in about 10th place for the first couple minutes, and had settled almost immediately into a pace I wanted to hold. A couple minutes in, and I was able to move up to 5th (about the time we turned back towards the start). Two guys were breaking away a little, and by 5 minutes in, I was in 3rd, leading the chase pack, with a 35-40m gap between us and the top 2. I kept my eyes on them after hitting the mile in 5:17. Probably a little quick, but not reckless. It was pretty cool running back through the highly populated start area - lots of cheers to keep you going. From there, we continued towards AT & T park. I had assumed this section, while still bayside, would be a little more industrial. BUT...they've done alot with the waterfront. More shops, less garage, and a nice little run-up with player flags, etc, marking your approach to the ballpark. Oh yeah...in the race, I was still in third, but ever so slowly catching up to the leaders, who were trading back and forth. By the time we turned back north again, probably just shy of two miles in (though the course was certified, the two mile marker was WAY off), I had made up some of the gap, and one of the two leaders was coming back. I was able to move into 2nd about 12 minutes or so in, and continued to stare straight ahead. The 12:08 at mile 2 (really 2.25 or so) served to energize me a bit. The gap continued to shrink as we got closer to the finish. With about a minute or so left, I had finally caught up and tucked in right behind the leader, but had to collect myself for any chance of a kick. When I saw the line in the distance, it was now or never, and I switched to whatever gear I had left for the last couple hundred. I passed on the right immediately, but when I did so, my kick was matched. Luckily I had one more half gear, and ended up coming across the line in 1st in 16:37, only about a second and a half ahead. Strategically, one of the best races I've run, and definitely up there this year (I had a narrow win in my last 5k as well, but that was more of the holdonholdonholdon variety than the slowly stalk your prey from behind variety). Unfortunately, the results took quite some time to figure out, as the timing mat at the finish line malfunctioned, not recording anyone's finish time. Eventually, back-ups would be used. Dave cruised along to a 78th place finish out of 1080 something and climbing recorded finishers, with a 21st century pr of 23:37 (23:46 gun) and was the tenth male masters runner across the line. After some dry heaves (that's what happens when a guy who's in 16:50 shape cracks 16:40) I talked myself into a longish cooldown, putting in another 4 miles on course and on a few side streets, parks, and apt. building staircases. Eventually, we ended up going to Pizza Orgasmica (pretty awesome) and City Beer (always awesome) before heading home. No surprise here, but Achilles pain is making things day to day, as the Northstar Mountain Run (and it's 2330 feet of elevation gain) approach. Hopefully, August will see half as much improvement as July :)