Thursday, November 24, 2011

Silicon Valley Turkey Trot: back to (speed) work

After my blazing Last Chance 50-mile (I still have hard time fully realizing what happened... ;-), I went straight back to work with a 10-hour work day on Sunday to finalize a proposal for Saudi Arabia. I was able to blog about the race, late in the night and, after a 3.5-hour sleep, got swamped into another busy week at work, hence missing last weekend's blog (I'm trying to skip to a weekly rhythm). No blogging but some running still and building up of some speed. I actually ran every day after the race with an interesting progression of the average pace:
  1. Sunday (post-race recovery run): 6 miles @ 8:44 (including 3 miles with Agnès!)
  2. Monday (legs still quite sore): 6 miles @ 8:06
  3. Tuesday: 9 miles @ 7:03
  4. Wednesday: 12 miles @ 6:45
  5. Thursday: 6 miles including 3 of speed work with Bob (400s in 82 to 75")
  6. Friday: 9 miles @ 6:28
  7. Saturday: 29 hilly miles (Rancho, Black Mountain, Foothills Park in Palo Alto, Rhus Ridge) @ 10:17 (social run... see pictures of Charles, Mike and Chris ;-)
  8. Sunday: 27 flat miles (Cupertino to Shoreline and back) @ 7:34
  9. Monday: 9 miles @ 6:59
  10. Tuesday: 6 miles at Mountain View High School track @ 6:55
  11. Wednesday: rest day, a one-day "tapering" before the Turkey Trot.
That was probably too many miles to really prepare for a 10K but I'm also working on my 100K/week average for 2011, and I'm on track with 64.03 so far, with about 5 weeks to go! At the top of Black Mountain last Saturday:
Back to the Turkey Trot on this Thanksgiving morning. First, it has been a huge success from a participation and fund raising standpoints. Last year we were 11,000 to run or walk, this year the organizers had set the cap to 17,000 before extending it to 21,000 and the event filled up! 90% increase, this is a huge achievement and momentum, especially in the midst of an economic downturn, which is very timely as the raised funds will be used to provide hundreds of thousands of meals for people and families who struggle in this environment. Congratulations and thanks to the Silicon Valley Leadership Group and in particular to Carl Guardino, their CEO. Not to mention that Carl spent all morning on the podium, cheering on the mic for all of us, all that after being seriously injured in a car accident a few days ago (broken leg and hip). What an example of commitment and service! Here he is, interviewing the Elite 5K winner:
For me, it was my 38th 10K race since I arrived in the Bay Area 13 years ago, out of 194 races. And 17th race this year with 13 ultra marathons. As much as I like the speed and format of these shorter events, road racing isn't my specialty or focus anymore, but I like the variety that it brings in my year-long running season.
The start was delayed and we had about 10 minutes of wait as it started drizzling. Thankfully, the rain stopped before we even reached the first mile mark. After a few hundreds yards I was probably in 20th despite a 5:20 pace. My breathing was fine but I couldn't get my stride longer or faster, yet was able to maintain a 5:27 pace for the first two miles and passed a few runners in the 3rd and 4th mile. There were still about 6 very fast runners ahead. Right after the mile 4 mark, the course had an out and back on the right on Park Avenue. As I was approaching the turn, I saw one runner going right first, then quickly back on the course as we had to take left. He was with rising star Jose Pina Jr, in the lead of this fast race at only 14!
At this point, the other leaders were not to be seen in the out and back and I figured out that they had taken the wrong turn and would therefore be disqualified for not running the whole distance. Indeed, from my Garmin GPS track on SportsTrack, the out and back was exactly 0.5 mile (4:23-4:73) and it took me 2:52 to complete it. I could close some gap with the runner ahead of me, Jeremy Judge, but not much with Jose. I passed Jeremy before the 6-mile mark (Jeremy gave me a nice "good job" which I thought was very ) and he stayed close behind but I out sprinted him eventually in the last hundreds yards, crossing the finish line in 35:20. Not quite the 34 minutes I was looking for but not bad given the circumstances. With the snafu of the leaders, I expected Jose to have taken 2nd and me, 3rd. That was at 8:35, keep reading...

At this point, I jogged back to my car to grab my Brooks Jacket and my camera, then "swam against the current" of the 5K runners, looking for Agnès and Greg. They were wearing the superb and fancy red tech race tshirt, as several thousands of other runner were, so it required a lot of attention not to miss them. I finally found them, a quarter mile from the finish, they were having great fun!
We then gathered in the finish area and, in the middle of such a crowd, were able to see a few other friends (Luc and his family, Greg, Adona, Pierre-Yves and Adrienne, ...).
Most of the crowd then dissolved with participants joining their own Thanksgiving celebrations. Last year, I drove back home and came back with Agnes for the award ceremony (3 hours after the finish of the 10K...), this year I decided to stay to watch the elite races. I participated in that race and PA USATF 5K championship 2 years ago (16:34), but it's quite humbling to run with guys so fast (13 minutes...) and 20-25 years younger...

The elite women 5K started at 10am and I was amazed how a pack of about 10 gals was still together after 2 laps (out of 4). It did split in the 3rd lap but 14 runners finished in the same minute, from the winning time of 16:02 to 16:52! The top 3 were: Jackie Areson from Oregon (of course! ;-), Aziza Aliyu from Ethiopia and Kellyn Johnson from Arizona.
Moving to the men, also a very impressive pack of runners leading for a couple of laps and a record of 9 runners under 14 minutes. I had seen Alan Webb setting a course record last year and saw his course record broken this morning by an Australian runner with an amazing 13:33!
Top 3 were: David McNeill of Australia (13:33), Stephen Sambu of Kenya (13:37) and Diego Estrada of Arizona. That's respectively 4:22, 4:23 and 4:24 min/mile pace, this is speed! And, back to the title of this post, certainly a lot of work to get there...
Finally, around 11:45 and in the rain this time, it was time for a chaotic and expedited award ceremony. Quite some confusion on the 10K results with 2 of the top runners claiming that they were send the wrong way by race volunteers so were entitled the wins despite having run a much shorter distance. I went from 3rd down to 4th overall and 6th in the results published tonight on Race Central. Oh well, this is a fund raising event, not an official competition (the big guns were on the Elite races); it is a time for grace and thanksgiving, and I'm definitely thankful for such an amazing year, especially with my running, and for my supportive family and friends. Not to forget the organizers, sponsors and all the volunteers who made this fun run possible and such a huge success to support our local communities!
Hope to be in town to run this race again next year, and join such a joyful and healthy crowd!

PS: you can find a few pictures of the event in my Picasa album.


Eric@URP said...

Bummer about the bad course markings. That screws it up for everyone, and unfortunately not everyone will be happy.

Good for you for pushing so hard. What a week.

Sacramento has a big 10k, too. 27k runners this year with Max King taking a win with a 30:03. Whew!

Jean Pommier said...

Thanks for the note, Eric. 27,000 runners in Sacramento, that's huge! These Turkey Trots have become so much an integral part of the Thanksgiving tradition, this is great from a wellness standpoint. And another tribute to the Native Americans who were so fit and in touch with nature and the outdoors.

Anonymous said...

merveilleux tous ces arbres et émouvant le souvenir du ginko de la Bisquine!!(il était temps que je prenne connaissance de ce récit...) et du coup, nous comprenons que tu vas courir 12 heures aujourd'hui...