Sunday, September 30, 2007

Trailblazer 10K: faster again!

Two weeks off as a training technique, what is that? As you know, I've been injured since the 50K I ran at our Club's Clambake. After a 2-week break, with no running but some stationary bike workouts at my work's gym, I was anxious to get back on the trail. And particularly excited with such event which I won twice in the past. And more importantly, an event which supports and benefit the Friends of the Stevens Creek Trail, a trail I now use to get to Shoreline Park from El Camino. A trail which I would actually like going further South, though El Camino, Sunnyvale, Los Altos, up to Cupertino. As a matter of fact, my company, ILOG, has moved a few mile along 85 to the Fremont intersection last May, in the middle of the missing section of the trail, the section which would make the connection between the Cupertino hills and the Baylands.
Part of the excitement was also to have Greg running in the 5K. During cross-country season, Max and Alex are not allowed to compete outside of the school club races, and Max had a tough 5K yesterday anyway, at the Stanford Invitational.

In addition to Greg, and our coach and master head crew, Agnès, my friend and speed work training buddy, Bob, shown and signed up for the 10K too.

The weather was perfect: cool temperature, soft breeze, crystal clear blue sky, sun. The access very easy with ample parking on the Microsoft campus, making it so convenient, right off 101.
This isn't a very competitive event, certainly nothing to compare with a race sanctioned by the Pacific Association of USA Track & Field Federation. So a podium here depends on who shows up. And Jose Pina did, so I knew I was not getting much chance at repeating last year's win, today. Indeed, Jose took the lead right at the start and I almost killed myself trying to keep up with him for the first two miles. According to my Garmin 205, the trail was perfectly marked, each mile as well as the overall 6.2 miles. 5:14 for the first mile, that wasn't really sustainable, the second mile was more in the 5:22 range. However I kept Jose in sight all the way, even when we got back in the 5K runner crowd in the final mile. Thanks to Jose as a great pace setter, I did set a new PR on this distance, with 33:57. Or a 5:28min/mile pace. Second overall but a good and satisfying enough achievement! Below, in the shade, my heel (in Brooks Racer ST) to the butt in the final sprint...And, no, this isn't a special effect or a trick from Agnès, there was really a stop sign on the finish line!!! With that, we will soon need a driving license for road racing...

Bob placed third overall, 2nd of the masters. More results on the race website.
I always wonder for how long I will be able to improve my times, especially on such "shorter" distances. That's all the idea behind this blog's name, and it's great to see there is not only hope, but results! Later in the day I was amazed to learn that Gabrelassie had improved the best time on marathon, by 29 seconds (4:04:26). I still remember the day Paul Tergat did it, on the same course (Berlin), claiming then that the record won't be broken for a long time. It took only four years, records are really meant to be broken, although some last longer than others. There doesn't seem to be a limit, and hopefully the improvements will remain from natural human performance.

Below is Greg flying to the finish line in a time of 25:50 (5K). 9th in a competitive 2-12 age group dominated by...Jose Pina, son! It's not the first time we see Jose, 10, winning his age group, and definitely not the last time. In the background, Felicity, the daughter of Dennis, from the Striders, my running club (which, by the way, shares the Stevens Creek name with this event beneficiaries).
It is not easy to repeat perfection, year after year, but, once again and "as usual", the organization was perfect today! In particular the numerous and efficient volunteers, of all ages, from the parking lots, registration, food and drink tables and all along the 6-mile loop, at every turn. Great post-race food: the famous coffee cake from Hobee's (yummy, see below), fresh fruits from Whole Foods, Odwalla cereal bars. A big and special thank you and congratulations to Aaron Grossman, who successfully manages this event every year.

And, as often in this type of event, a very long award ceremony which concluded by a no shorter prize drawing. Made even longer as many participants had left by 11am therefore more bibs needed to be picked. The Microsoft package was only for the first overall man and woman so no XBox for me this year. But, much smarter, many books to pick from for the age group winners. Camping with Kids for Bob, the perfect father of three girls while, father of three boys and ultrarunner, I chose a book for a much longer hike (or run...?): the 165-mile Tahoe Rim Trail...

4 participations to this Trailblazer event since 2002:
  1. 2002 - 34:19 - 4th overall
  2. 2003 - 34:52 - 1st overall
  3. 2006 - 34:16 - 1st overall
  4. 2007 - 33:57 - 2nd overall
I missed 2004 because of the French Nationals of marathon and 2005 because of Paris-Versailles (an international 10-miler). Otherwise, this is definitely a favorite event I like to include in my race schedule and I encourage you to check it out next year if you live in the Bay Area. Always scheduled for the last Sunday of September.

Et voilà! A great performance but... the shin splints and the pain are back, now! At least everybody agrees that it's completely normal and that I shouldn't complain, just blame myself for keeping running instead of taking 6 weeks off. Colleagues at work and my sister in France, Marie, my remote medical coach. OK, so back on the bike this week, and I'll only run half this distance next week at the Run of the Bulls 5K. Can't miss this fun one either, and hoping it's short enough to keep the inflammation under control. Before the International 20K of Paris on 10/14.

Trail safely out there!

PS: as a bonus, the detailed map online to check on the distance, on Google Earth or Google Maps!

1 comment:

Mark Tanaka (Ultrailnakaman) said...

Jean, wow, nice job, congrats on your PR. Way to get faster, when you are already fast!

You can drag me onto a track 3 times a week, offer me $50,000, and I swear I couldn't come close. Really.

You DO realize that to be true to your blog name, now you have to go FARTHER, and you've already run a 100-miler.