Saturday, May 10, 2008

Human Race 2008: a busy running weekend

A busy weekend, running-wise:
  1. Max' PR on Friday night at Lost Gatos and the Pioneer's qualifications for ;
  2. The Human Race on Saturday morning for Max, Alex, Greg and I, and numerous Pioneers from Tino, either running or volunteering, and also my colleagues from our new Running/Walking club at ILOG;
  3. Volunteering at the Dam Overlook aid station at Quicksilver 50K/50M, with the Striders;
  4. A get away in the hills with Agnès for Mothers' Day on Sunday.

Los Gatos track meet

I flew back from business meetings in Washington, D.C., just in time to have a quick dinner and drive with Agnès and Max to the Los Gatos Track & Field meet. Max was only going to run the fun mile at the end of the meet, hoping to improve his PR again and finally break 5 minutes.

It felt good to get back on this track, where I first met Leo, Bob, Daniel and some others, when we were training hard on the marathon. Our typical workout on Saturdays was a 4-mile tempo run in 21 or 22 minutes. I still remember the first time I join: I was impressed by all these guys and the coach advised me to stay with the second group, but it took only a couple of laps before I decided to join the top guys. That was in February 2005, 2 months before I got on the podium at Boston. You surely helped guys!

Anyway, we were here tonight to cheer up the local high schoolers as it was getting dark and chilly. We chatted with Craig (see my Miwok post) and his wife, her daughter running in the 4x400m with PALY. We saw a few of the Pioneers (from Tino, Max and Alex' high school) in their last races: Sumika, Abby and Stas in the 1,600m and the girls and the boys in their respective 4x400m series.

Overall, there were quite a few good news for the Pioneers and Coach Armstrong, with the following qualifying for the coming CCS Trials:
  1. Michelle for the shotput,
  2. Rio on the 300m hurdles
  3. Peter, Roger, Rio and Terrence on the 4x400m
  4. Stephanie for the triple jump and high jump.
And, for the last event of the meet, Max who finally broke 5 minutes, setting his new PR on the mile (1,600m to be exact) at 4:56. It was an informal event, yet a great one to setup a PR on a USA Track & Field certified event. Mrinal (from Max' team) and Kindu, from Santa Clara, supported Max in his quest by pacing him. Following Coach's plan, Max maintained a very even pace with 75, 73, 74, 74 laps. Kudos, Max, it is going to be tough for me to catchup on the mile, your are now the fastest on this distance in the family!

The Human Race

I already gave you a bit of background and history about this race in my Human Race '07 post, last year. It is the fifth time I ran it now (2003, 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2008) so it is really becoming a Mother's Day tradition. In addition to the fund-raising tradition of this 15th edition of this key event for the Volunteer Center of Silicon Valley: way to go, VCSV!

It was 42F in Cupertino at 6 am when I woke-up to get my breakfast, but the temperature was quickly rising with such a clear morning. Warming-up was easy on the closed roads and nearby trail and I ran through the campus once to get familiarized with the convoluted finish across the Google campus with even more tables in the patio than previous years. Yet I was still warming-up on the start line, or was I levitating after learning more about the Dalai Lama, whom Max is writing an essay on? Zoom and see for yourself, this is a good shot from Agnès:

I wish I would be that light... Isn't the picture hilarious?

Anyway, here off we go! Jose on the right, Daniel (PhillipsA race report for a flat and road 10K has to be much shorter than a multi-hour ultra marathon. Basically:
  • After a few turns, the course changed from previous years and we hit a dirt trail;
  • I must have missed the marking of the first mile and, as a result, was glad to have my Garmin 205 with me for distance and pace tracking;
  • I quickly took the second position in the race, keeping Jose at sight, although I had really no intention to keep up with him after the hilly 100K I ran last week at Miwok;
  • I was glad to get to the second mile in 10:55, yet surprised to find the official 2-mile sign as my GPS was indicating 2.20 miles;
  • Shortly after we were getting back on the 5K course and it was a bit confusing to go through the back of this other pack, navigation during which I lost track of Jose;
  • Grabbed a cup of water at mile 2.5 then found Jose again as the 5K and 10K courses were separating again near the Shoreline lake;
  • The rest was pretty event less, just making sure to maintain the 5:30 pace all the way, until the exciting finish in the middle of the Google campus.
Finished in 15:10 which was 5-15 seconds slower than my three previous runs here. Yet, it was faster if you take into account the additional 0.2 miles, not counting that it was more dirt trails than usual on this race. Could actually have been a PR it was not for this extra 350 meters. Funny how 0.2 miles can make a difference when you usually run 5o or 100 miles on trails... 2nd overall and 1st of the masters (40 years and above), it helped not seeing the Kenyans this year!

Jose was again the first to reach the finish line:
And 20 seconds later...
As for the 5K, all the participants were amazed with their times because it turned out to be only 2.6 miles, a few volunteers inadvertently leading the runners on a shorter course.

A family business... Jose and Jose Pina, father and son, took home two gold medals. The Pommiers, two gold and one bronze. Max placed fifth overall on the 5K and 1st in the M13-19 age group, with Alex taking third. Greg completed the 2.6 miles in 25 minutes.

Once we were all back to the base, repleted with Hobee's delicious coffee cake and the organic essn drinks, Agnès could take off for some Nordic Walking on the 5K loop. She he training for a sprint triathlon in Fremont in June, yet cannot run because of her hip (arthritis) and the pounding on the road. She will replace the run with some fast Nordic Walking, an activity her hip has tolerated over the past year. She was back after 34 minutes, more time than needed to be able to attend the award ceremony.

My parents are visiting from Paris for two weeks, and my mother really enjoyed this big running party, nice company, great music, generous goal and perfect weather.
And with Tim, the Executive Director of VCSV:

Tino had an impressive representation, among the participants but also the volunteers. They were here to raise money for their 4-year Kenya Dream project, whose goal is to raise $100,000 to help a high school in Kenya. A special thank to you, the volunteers, for your encouragements. You guys and gals rock!

By the way, who is this colorful volunteer?
Oh, yes, that's Rio, our 300m hurdler!

This year also marked the first participation of our recently created Running/Walking club at ILOG, the company I have been working for over the past 20 years. It was nice to see even more familiar faces to such a running event. Our next goal is to have more people participating to the Trailblazer races in September. Standing from left to right: Jeanne, Kelly, Elie, Greg, Emilie, Stephanie, Michael (missing on the picture: Delphine, Nicolas' wife):
Last but not least, the spirit of National Semiconductors was reigning over the crowd. This year again the won the corporate and individual challenge of the most funds raised: $55,000 for one single company, wow! We, ILOGers, have a long way to go...

Quicksilver 50K/50-mile

Like last year, I had decided not to run Quicksilver. Last year it was more to heal after my asthma crisis at Miwok. This year, I could have done it but it was nicer to Agnès and the family that I participated in this family run (the Human Race) rather than "yet another" ultra. Besides, it's providing some sane and safe tapering before Ohlone, where I will be the returning champion (I just received my #1 bib, really cool!).

But I had promised my running club, the Stevens Creek Striders, that I will join us as soon as the award ceremony was done, at the aid station our club is manning at this local race. I arrived at the Dam Overlook station at 11:30, quite late to see the leaders or even the bulk of the pack, despite the station being crossed three times by the runners, making it very busy in the morning.

It was a good opportunity to sync up with my fellow club members and of course provide assistance to the last runners as they were getting into the rising heat of the afternoon. Several of these runners were surprised not to see me running today. I even accompanied Lee and Winnie (Jebian) half a mile up the hill, on their way back to the finish through English Town. Not that it was the first time before I volunteered on Western States before I was running ultras, but it felt really good to give a bit of all the support I usually receive from volunteers, now that I know what it feels on the other side.

Results are now posted, showing yet another impressive performance from Graham (Cooper) who improved again the course record he had set last year. Graham and I at the finish of Ohlone in 2007:Mark (Tanaka) did very well, consolidating his comfortable lead in the Grand Prix, while Ron (Guttierez) took first masters on the 50K. See you guys on the other side of the Bay next week!

Mission Peak tune-up

Busy Sunday for Mothers' Day, with Agnès and my mother at home. Breakfast prepared by the boys, cycling-related gifts for Agnès, church, a lunch at a nearby Chinese restaurant and... a quick getaway with Agnès on the other side of the Bay, direction Mission Peak, one week before my return to the Ohlone 50K race which I won last year.
We were parked at the entrance of the Ohlone Wilderness by 4pm, quite late to get out for a run, but good to be out there with Agnès nevertheless. Agnès went straight to the summit, Nordic walking, and I took the route of the race with one detour as I missed a left turn on Horseback trail. I was expecting some heat training but it was actually pretty chilly at the summit. Agnès had already summited when I got there after 5.5 miles and I found her hopping on the rocks below the summit as we were heading down. I climbed the straight route to the summit again for some additional hill training and to make the run a half marathon. Despite the late afternoon, there were quite a few hikers, who were wondering what this crazy guy was doing, going back and forth...
With that, looking forward to seeing some of you next week. I realize that being a returning champion is really a unique experience, it's really hard to win an ultra these days. Moreover, there will be 10 past Ohlone winners coming back and, apart from Dave Scott who dominated this race in the 90's with 8 wins, nobody else has won this race twice on the men side. Given the tough competition who is joining and is certainly eager to add a new name to the list, I'll make sure to remind myself that I am primarily running for fun...

More news next week then!


Dave - Atlanta Trails said...

wow, that was one busy weekend!

Looking forward to see how you do at Ohlone. I like how you are low-balling like a good ultra-runner would! :)

GB said...

Jean, I just wanted to say that back in 2003 I was a member of the Stevens Creek Striders and remember seeing your name at the top of all the race results lists quite frequently. I've sinced moved to Turlock, but still work in the Bay Area.

Back in '03 I ran my first marathon. In 2005 I had my 3rd child, and in 2006 I got back to running. Last month I completed my 7th marathon (my 2nd Boston). And now FINALLY I am going to run my first ultra, the Ohlone 50K! I will finish way, way, way after you do, but it's going to be so cool to think about the caliber of runners ahead of me! Kick butt AGAIN this year!

Thanks for being an inspiration all these years!

Mark Tanaka (Ultrailnakaman) said...

Interesting observation about male Ohlone winners. Well, you ARE the better's pick, with the badass bib number...if I finish within 15 minutes of you, I'll be satisfied enough. Good luck in defending your title. See you Sunday!

willgotthardt said...

Yeah Jean, NO floating/jumping at the Ohlone startline, the #1 bib is impressive enough. See you there.

[Tanaka is trying to sandbag you I think]

Will G.