Sunday, September 28, 2014

Trailblazer 10K 2014: my 10th out of 20!

I love participating to special anniversaries of our races and runs, and most especially this one today, which supports our local trail system: today was the 20th edition of the Trailblazer event offered by the Friends of the Stevens Creek Trail.
I met Race Director and Executive Director, Aaron Grossman, after the race, he told me that they had a solid stride, just missing the September 2001 edition for various reasons (certainly a special and memorable year...). He also mentioned that the turnout was higher this year than last year, a great news!

Incidentally, my first run of this event was in 2002 and I had quite a consistent run all these years: 34:39 (02), 34:52 (03), 34:16 (06), 33:57 (07), 37:44 (09), 34:25 (10), 34:24 (11), 35:21 (12), 36:24 (13). My "worst" performances were the day after running respectively a challenging hilly trail double marathon in 2009 and last year after winning the Stevens Creek 50K for the third time. Otherwise, this race on its flat and fat course represents a great test before the end of the season.

This year, I skipped the "Stevens Creek" double and did run the 50K yesterday. I felt it wasn't reasonable, less than seven days after taking 3rd at the US Nationals of 24 hours last weekend. With 133 miles in one day, I had my weekly mileage already... ;-) Actually I went for 15 and 20K on Friday and Saturday to get the legs moving and I was really wondering what I'd be able to do this Sunday as I had a few remaining muscle spasms in my calves before I even went for my 1.5-mile warm-up, oops!

I didn't have a particular goal this morning, just hoping to get in the groove around 6 minutes/mile, following the lead. With my focus on ultra running this year, 13 ultra races so far including 2 24-hour events, I didn't spend as much time doing speed work on the track as I used to a few years ago and it has been a while since I even ran a mile in 6 minutes...

Aaron sent us off promptly at 8:30 am. As usual, it was a fast start and I had no intention to keep up with Jose Pina Sr. this year, really. I was in 6th at the first turn but quickly moved to 4th then 3rd by the first half mile. The last runner I passed, Simon Azriel, kindly asked me if I had run 100K the day before, sounds like people have some expectations for me and that I did set the bar pretty high... ;-)

By mile 2 I was about 15 seconds behind Jose and Benjamin Mearls, 25, was way ahead. This is when Jose experienced some GI issues last year which prevented him from finishing. But he was good and solid this year, he had his second place and Masters' win, easy. Well, not sure about the easy as he was later limping and had ice around his knee, hope it's not too serious, I know how much he cares about the cross-country (XC) season.

My GPS indicated a consistent 5:40 at mile 1, 2 and 3, a pace I was pleased with given the circumstances. I lost a few seconds going through the tortuous course as we pass near the Shoreline Lake area and pushed again for the final 2 miles, not crazy though as Jose was out of reach, 1 minute in front, and I had even more lead on Simon.

The final mile is challenging and tricky as we run through both the back and front of the 5K pack, a race which starts 15 minutes after ours. I crossed the line in 35:59.46, a hair split from 36 minutes, phew! My official pace was only 5:48, my GPS was off by 0.2 miles.

Now, if you think 5:48 is fast, consider the 4:41 min/mile that Dennis Kimetto of Kenya clocked 26 times in a row to win the Berlin Marathon this morning and set a new World Record at this mythical distance. Wow! Closer to us, Benjamin did win our race in a blazing 32:59, and won on of the surface tablets that Microsoft was sponsoring in addition to hosting us on their parking lot. I already won 2 XBoxes here, time for the young generation to have fun! ;-) Oh, by the way, notice that both overall winners wear Brooks shoes, eh eh...

Here is picture of the results while they are getting finalized and published on the race website:
After the race starts another marathon, a 2-hour award ceremony and generous raffle, and the kids mile race in the middle.
It's so cool to see 2 more generations participating to this running event. After meeting my ultra running buddy Bill Dodson, 79, who completed his 5th barefoot Trailblazer 5K, it was cool to see kids and toddlers go for 3 laps, encouraged by us and their families, and digging dip according to a few cries and tears. No pain no gain as we say...

Bill placed 3 in his competitive M70-and-over age group
Surprisingly, I took the Masters title which was unusually set at 50 and above this year (it's typically 40 in most races, or 35 in world events):
As a consequence, Aaron gave the M50-59 award to second place in our age group, another Frenchman living in Cupertino whom I didn't know, Joseph Maggiolino (40:18).
Jose won his M40-49 age group by a few minutes but missed the grand prize this year.
I also touched base with this other amazing local runner, JR Mintz, who, mind you, races an average of 3 races a week. Yes, that's 150 races a year!!! He admits that's it's hard to maintain quality with such a quantity, but that's a way to dedicate a life to our sport!

After the dust settled and everybody left the area, I went on for another 10K loop which I cruised this time in 42:31, a 6:50 min/mile pace. For the love of running... ;-)

Thank you to all who participated by running and walking, providing support to this very nice organization and the Stevens Creek trail in particular. We need such support to keep and win the battle of extending the trail so it connects the Bay to our hills at the Stevens Creek Park and Reservoir! A big thank to all the volunteers who made this event possible, from the association itself to many joyful high schoolers! And to the sponsors for their invaluable support: Microsoft, Hobee's, Google, StarOne Credit Union, Recology, Avery Construction, HONU Wealth Management, Rotary Club of Mountain View, Fenwick & West, Tori Ann Corbett, RJG Consulting, Prometheus, Palo Alto Medical Foundation.
Hope to see all of you next year for the 21th edition!

1 comment:

M @readeatwriterun said...

Many congratulations! You are quite fast :) Love the race tshirt.