Saturday, November 5, 2016

Santa Clara County Heroes Run 5K: running, service and... politics

I was attracted by this race for three reasons. First, like the Big Bunny Fun Run on Easter Saturday, it is the closest race from home, with a start and finish just a block away in Cupertino. Second, since I'm still uncertain about the state of the sesamoiditis under my right foot, 5K seems like a reasonable distance to building up the training. Last but not least, I missed running and racing for 6 weeks...

When I say that 5K is a good distance to build up, I'm not being honest: I did log 100K this week with runs ranging from 10 to 25K and taking Thursday off. Yes, I could have gone more gradually but I needed to see where my foot... stand on the recovery matter. After a week, I'm still uncertain about the state of the inflammation as I estimate that I feel too many things through the extremity of my foot, yet not the acute pain I had under the ball 7 weeks ago. Maybe I'm getting too obsessed with the listening of that part of my body. Also, I have to admit that my legs got quite sore, which is a proof that my body is relearning to run...

Speaking of which, I wanted to use this short race as a fitness test, see what was left or lost after this month and half break. I had finished my 10K training run yesterday by finally getting under 6 min/mile but it didn't feel comfortable at all.

The race was quite an interesting cocktail. Part of it made it look like a serious race for instance: registration on the pricey, chip timing, several road closures, street signage announcing the event days before, lead escort by two Sheriff motorcycles and a few fast-looking runners at the start. Then there was the normal focus on the groups serving our Santa Clara County which is the main theme of the event: fire department, medical response center and the Sheriff department. This event aims at recognizing them although the main goal is to raise money to provide health services to under-privileged kids at the Santa Clara Medical Response Center. Third, that was a post Halloween social party with a costume contest attracting many kids and families.

 With that, the start was quite an experience. First, the event was advertised at 8:30 but the bib pick-up only started at 8. Sure enough, people were still in line at 8:30 and we actually started at 9 instead. After several warm-ups, and the temperature rising, I was definitely warm and eager to get going. Now, about 25 police staff in uniform were on the course between the lead vehicles and the start line and the started jogging when we took off, forcing us to go around them when reaching the first sharp turn on the course. Oh, and there were a couple of baby strollers trying to get to the front before the start. Fortunately, we managed to avoid a fall and, running around 5:15 min/mile, we were about 10 runners by the second turn but that aggressive pace quickly took its toll and spread our group.

Kevin Pierpoint (40) and Jason Gomez (16) were leading, then Ernesto Aristeo (37) close behind. At this rate I was happy to be in 5th, behind Peter Trudelle (31). Before the end of the first mile, Ahmet Gokcek (48) caught up with Peter and I before I took the lead for the next 1.5 mile, albeit slowing down our average pace from 5:30 at mile 1 down to 5:43. They both passed me as I was losing steam but we finished within 7 seconds. I was actually quite pleased with my time of 17:08 given the circumstances and lack of specific training, before realizing that the course was short (3.0 miles on my GPS). But still an encouraging solid sprint and the satisfaction to get back to some speed!

The local attraction, Elliot Daniels, crossed the line in 17:31. Quite a phenomenon as he already owns a few age group world records (it took me 50 years to get one, and he is only 13...)! He is so skinny though that you have to wonder if he isn't pushing too hard too young. I had discussed this with his coach, Joe Sanders and when I mentioned this again to his father at the start, he replied that he knew better because they were 3 generations of Olympians. Well, then it must be in the gene clearly, no need to worry! ;-)

After chatting with a few other finishers, I went back on the course for another loop and caught up with the festive back of the pack, mostly walking and enjoying the amazing weather we had today. To continue on the multi facet aspect of this race, the award ceremony was rather odd: they distributed a plaque to the top 3 men, top 3 women and top 3 boys under 16. And 3 best costumes. An eclectic and unusual selection. But the big deal seemed to be the team competition between the Santa Clara Fire and Sheriff Departments, the latter taking the cup home.

Indeed, an opportunity to honor all these heroes serving our local community!

After that ceremony, I went back on my usual local training loop to log 7.5 miles of cool down and stop by the event area again to approach the Sheriff Department's helicopter which we often see circling above our heads.

Back to the title, what about politics then. A couple of speakers on the stage noted that everybody was tired about this election, but it's not a done deal until Tuesday... And Sand Hill knows it, pouring so much money to brain wash all of us with an average of 4 fliers each day in our mailboxes. As much as we all agree that something has to be done for our nearby Vallco shopping center, the developer's project maths don't add up: too many office space at a time Apple is going to free up when moving to their space ship, too many apartments in an area when schools are already over crowded, too much traffic already when Apple hasn't even open its doors to more than 11,000 employees. I'm disgusted by the dynamics this has created within our local community, with the richer residential part happy that all the development projects asphyxiate the other side of the city... So here is my sign on my virtual lawn... See for more information.

If you live in Cupertino and don't like C, at least please vote no on D, so Sand Hill revised his project in something more sensible for all.

Run Cupertino Run, and vote for a sensible growth!

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