Friday, November 26, 2010

Silicon Valley Turkey Trot: outpacing the turkey!

Ok, not literally, we were not chasing a live turkey... This Thanksgiving Thursday, I had the pleasure to join more than 11,000 other runners and walkers to raise money for local charities with the Silicon Valley Turkey Trot. And to make the event even more enjoyable, Agnès joined me to walk the 5K, just 9 weeks after her surgery. Like the surgeon told her: "I wish I had more patients like you!" The temperature had fallen below 32F during the night so the morning was really cold for us Californian. Thankfully, there was not one single cloud and the sky was so clear, of an amazing blue.
Last year I ran the super competitive 5K race which has only one Open division and participants flying from all over the country to make this event one of the fastest 5K of the country if not the fastest. Needless to say, the field is really thin and I ended up at the back of it, although not the last one, even among the three registered Masters. This year, I wanted to go longer anyway to add two more points in the count for the USATF Phidippides Award (every Master who has paid his/her dues to USAT&F is eligible), and finally put my 2010 racing season to an end, with some speed. And no better place than downtown San Jose for a flat and fast course (well, maybe Chicago).

The 10K start was scheduled for 7:50 and the 5K run/walk for 8:15. We parked close to the HP Pavilion and I finished a conference call with Denmark while Agnès was picking up our bib numbers. I had just 10 minutes left after the call to warm-up, or maybe not getting colder in this chilly morning. I met Adam at the start line and saw several other familiar courses. I was in the top 10 after a few turns with Armen Vartanian building an amazing lead right off the bat. He was so fast that my GPS displayed an average pace of 4:59 min/mile after 500 yards or so; oops, that was certainly not sustainable for me and most of the surrounding runners anyway! I passed the 1st mile mark around 5:26 and was in fourth then. Mile 2 in 11:12, then stabilizing my average pace on 5:35. I gained one more spot between mile 4 and 5 and kept pushing to get closer to the next runner (Ian Sharman). I did not catch him but my tired calves can testify that I pushed hard and tried to get my stride as long as possible. It is such a change from running on trails or the shorter strides I use in ultras, it has been a while since I felt such soreness throughout my two calves. Granted, I worked so much these past weeks that I did not run much and "under slept" too. Time to enjoy my December and annual break and recharge for the 2011 season!

With these thousands of runners flowing through the finish line, I missed Agnès and it took us a while to find each other. Eventually we decided that we had time to come back home to keep the cooking that Greg had started going, before driving back to San Jose for the award ceremony. Needless to say, with a ceremony at 11:30 on Thanksgiving day, very few people attended. The ceremony started with the Elite 5K and I was amazed when I heard the name of Alan Webb. Alan is the US record holder of the mile with 3:46!
He won the 5K in 13 minutes 36 seconds (4:21 min/mile pace!), followed by one of his fellow Oregon Track Club teammates, Galen Rupp. The female competition podium had 3 different cultures represented, a nice image of the Silicon Valley's diversity:
At 13, Jose Pina placed first in his age group and would have even placed in the M14-19 age group so, with a finish time of 38 minutes, he is definitely ready to move up and even surpass his super fast dad!
As for me, with the super fast guys focused on the 5K, 3rd overall of the 10K and 35:05 was good enough for 1st in the Masters division:
Quite cool to get on the same podium as legend Alan Webb, no? 4118 runners completed the 10K and 6992 the 5K, very impressive numbers for a Turkey Trot! In this healthy crowd, Agnès and I actually met quite a few people we know from our local communities. You can check all the results on the RaceCentral website.

Thanks to the perfect weather, such a professional organization, many generous and notorious sponsors, the perfect weather and courses, so many participants and volunteers, this edition turned to be another huge success, raising more than $400,000 for local charities. And getting many to exercise and enjoy the benefits of running, before the traditional Thanksgiving agape. From a running perspective, I am so thankful for living in the Bay Area, having had a great and injury-free season during which I still improved on a few distances (50K, 50M and 100M) and participated in my first 12-hour event. And that's just for the running part of my life... Hope you too had a great experience today and have reasons to be thankful, if not for a good harvest!
"Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it." William Arthur Ward

"Gratitude is our most direct line to God and the angels. If we take the time, no matter how crazy and troubled we feel, we can find something to be thankful for. The more we seek gratitude, the more reason the angels will give us for gratitude and joy to exist in our lives." Terry Lynn Taylor
 And, no, the wings below are not the ones of an angel, but a simple cool turkey... ;-)
PS: my calves were still tight this Friday but I still had a nice 6-mile run to enjoy the wonderful weather. And spent the afternoon shopping with Agnès to honor the Black Friday tradition and have a full Thanksgiving experience before I fly to Denmark this Saturday.


Scott Dunlap said...

Sounds like fun! Great to see Agnes back running.

Little known fact about the Phidippedes Award - you can submit ultras too! They count as marathons. In which case, you are waaaay overqualified. :)

Anonymous said...

Encore bravo ainsi qu'à Agnès

Todd Oesterman said...

Felicitations, Jean! Eh, tu as vu le calendrier "Tribute to the Trails"?

Tu es "Monsieur Juin" . . . wow!