U-T 10/20 – First race of 2014

But first:

2014 Varsity So Cal Champs
2014 Varsity So Cal Champs

Saturday there was a quite the tense rugby match. Alex never got on the field, and he did not care. They won 13-9 against a team from Long Beach who had won at this level the last 2 years. The starters played nearly all 70 minutes, and it showed. Both teams were so gassed by the end that the last 15 minutes of the 2nd half were basically played within a 30 yard box. One team or the other would gain possession, and then the other would hold them to just a few small advances and then it would switch again. Back and forth. Tense! If they had scored, with only the 4 point lead, the try would have been worth 5 and the victory. The players on the sideline (including mine) became cheerleaders imploring the home crowd to make noise and help to will the tired players to keep holding the line. It was exhausting to watch!

They get a week off to celebrate, and then the season switches to a club league when they will be no longer affiliated with any high school, but will formally become the San Diego Mustangs U18 team. The new adventure continues.

Pre-race, or as Renee put it, before the torture.
Pre-race, or as Renee put it, before the torture.

Since Renee is in Boston Marathon training, she needed to run this full speed. I wanted to finish in 1 hour 45 mins which is right at a 10:30 min mile pace. Since I hadn’t been able to keep up full time training like I did before the 1/2 marathon, I didn’t want to push it to a 10 min mile pace. I was also unsure how many people would be there or of the exact route like I was with the 1/2. As with the Holiday Half, I now know that I can make just a small change here and there and run this route faster if I wanted to. Anyhow…

Foggy start towards the middle of the pack.
Foggy start towards the middle of the pack.

First mistake was that I didn’t anticipate the crowd. Over 3000 runners! I really should have been up in group 6 (the start of our bib # was supposed to line up with our anticipated pace). But, I went back to group 9 to meet my friend Jan who was also running it. I know how hard it is to find people after the race, so I wanted to say hello to her at the start. We chatted, and I decided to just start off with her. I am not sure that being up in the #6 pen would have been THAT much better, but certainly the pace of my first mile was severely hampered by the crowd. In order to get us the full 10 miles they had to start off my winding up through the back areas of the racetrack & stables. We ended up on dirt/mud through the stable hands housing units and generally more bunched up than we would be on the roads. I probably didn’t get myself up to my more comfortable running stride/pace until we had passed the Mile 1 marker and were out on the (closed) roads heading towards the coast highway (also closed).

Now, the lure of this race was 1) getting to run on the coast highway through Solana Beach to Cardiff and 2) having 20 live bands playing all along the route. And it was a lot of fun. There was rarely a point when I couldn’t hear the music, the weather was perfect. The sun broke through early, but then clouds (not fog) rolled back in to keep it cool and breezy. We ran right along the ocean for a portion, and while there were some hills, they were quite gentle. It ended up being a VERY fast route. It was also filled with some VERY fast runners! I had barely passed Mile 3 when the first of the elite runners came zipping past on the other side of the road heading back to the finish line. Seriously, the first guy ran those 10 miles in 48 minutes! What?!! Yeah that was crazy, but it was some added distraction/entertainment to watch for the fast runners going by. Somewhere towards Mile 5 Renee passed me, and we cheered each other on. It’s great when a longer race has those kinds of things to keep from getting too mentally bored/tired. And yet, I was feeling pretty drag ass around Mile 8. I had saved my last of 4 goo packs for that segment, and I tore into it hoping for some spark of energy. I had NO idea how fast I was going at all as I had turned on my Nike+ but then put the phone in my pack. I peeked once around Mile 5, but that was pretty useless since I had also started it just after I took that foggy photo, and it was running for a good 5 minutes or so before I actually started running. Still, it showed that I had run the 5 miles in under 55 minutes after I subtracted that lead time so I was still hopeful of making the 1:45 target.

Checking to make sure my heart didn't bail out after crossing the finish line at a dead sprint.
Checking to make sure my heart didn’t bail out after crossing the finish line at a dead sprint.

With still no clue of my time, I was determined anyway to cross the finish line sprinting. I just needed a reason. I had already picked off other runners who had been in front of me or around me the whole route. They had us winding around the fairgrounds again to snake us back to the same place we had started, so I knew we would have a long, straight run down the midway to the finish line. Just a little bit after we turned onto that, I spotted a girl to my left who was picking up her pace, so I picked up mine. Then she started sprinting, so I did too. I *think* she crossed about a tick ahead of me, or perhaps we ran across together. All I know is that I was running at a full sprint at the end of a ten mile run, and I actually felt pretty darn good! Hence, the smile even though I was trying to catch my breath. Also, it paid off:UT 1020c

FOUR seconds to spare! Shout out to the runner in the magenta running top who pushed me to get under that 1:45 mark 🙂

Look at that though! 125th in my age group?! Damn, that’s a lot of fast runners. In fact, Renee was one of those since she is in my group, and she finished at 1:20 (8.03 min miles). That was only good enough for 17th! The winner in our age group finished in 1:11 – as Renee put it “a lot of fast old ladies!”

What I learned is that next time I would put myself up closer to the front – Renee was in bin #2, and she said it was not that crowded getting out of the racetrack. I think if I place myself just behind those faster runners that I could get out of that first mile in something closer to my normal pace and been able to finish closer to 1:40 than 1:45. Not that it mattered, since we still got a post race beer:

UT 1020dAnd, even better, band number 21 for the day was a post race concert right there in the beer garden with former Eagle Don Felder performing a bunch of old Eagles tunes! His band was GREAT too – they had all the harmonies down beautifully and since we were able to position ourselves right up front, we got to dance and sing along and see the magic happen.

UT 1020 This is another event that I would love to do again.




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