Friday, November 25, 2016

Silicon Valley Turkey Trot 2016: thankful for being back on trot!

One sentence grabbed my attention in the few minutes before the start of our race this Thursday morning, from one of the event sponsors: "Don't take health for granted. There is no too slow of a pace to be a participant today!"

I must admit that, for the past 20 years or so, I've taken my ability of running for granted. This year has shaken my confidence significantly and I'm really way more appreciative of each run these days. Since my 200 kilometers at the US 24-hour Nationals in September for instance, I had to take 5 weeks off because of some inflammation of the sesamoids under the right foot. I resumed training with a 100-mile week and, bingo, I had to stop again for a week due to an acute pain on the left tibia. So, this Thursday morning, I didn't know what to expect and I was just enjoying every of the 6 miles like it could be the last one...

Just toeing the line was a big deal because it meant 8 consecutive participations out of 12 editions of this great local and popular event. Nice strike and I'm thankful the family has participated to most of them as well, this is a great way to start a Thanksgiving celebration! Here is my collection of tshirts, and a few medals.

It was the 5th year that IBM was among the sponsors which adds another personal note to it. This year we gathered about 80 participants under the IBM name, including colleagues, family members and friends.
But the credit for the success of this event goes to Carl Guardino, the CEO of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group (SVLG) who came with this idea with his wife in 2005. Carl has such charisma, he was enjoying greeting and thanking individually many of the 1,000 volunteers supporting this large scale fund-raising initiative.


The start was at 8:30 but I was on site at 6:40 in order to set up our mic at the IBM-sponsored Festival area main stage, and help an IBM colleague put up our banner at the IBM tent in the Fittest Firm area. Ron then volunteered as one of the lead bikes on the 10K so I saw him a couple of times while running. The sky was clear but it was quite chilly at 7 am and we had hard time attaching the banner as there was ice on the poles!

After that, I had the opportunity to see the start of the Elite Women 5K race (7:30), then Men (8:00) between several warm-up intervals.


These Kenyans have really thin legs, but long ones making for a huge stride!

It was great to see Jose Pina Jr among these elites. I've raced with him since he was 10 but it has been 4-5 years since he now beats me at the speed game. His father, Jose Sr, is also a very accomplished and fast runner. Jose Jr ran the XC Nationals (NCAA) last week. This Thursday he finished 24th in this amazing field, running the 5K in a blazing 14:43 (4:45 min/mile).

I met Agn├Ęs, Max and Greg in the same garage I was parked at (Market/San Pedro).

At 8:30 it was our turn to get to run. This year, the start was organized by corrals based on expected finish times, mixing 5K and 10K.

That made for an interesting start because we didn't know who was on which race.


The split between the two groups happened at mile 3 at which point it was clearer to see who was ahead. I had just passed the mile 4 mark when I saw the lead runner on the 10K approaching the 5-mile banner, with an impressive 4-minute lead. As I was just back from injury I had hard time keeping the pace under 5:50 this time but, again, each mile without pain on my tibia was a source of satisfaction. I got passed by a couple of high schoolers in the last mile, that is always humbling. I crossed the finish line in 36:10, far from my best here but reasonable given the circumstances. With 25,000 runners, there are probably a few mistakes in the results but as of Friday evening, I appear to have finished 21st overall, 2nd Masters, and 1st in my age group. And second age-graded performance out of 6430. Good thing the elite guys had a race of their own (on the Men 5K, 15 athletes had a 90%+ performance deemed world class! Oh, and I didn't get checked this year again! ;-)

At 9:30, Sheila, an IBM colleague, led 30 minutes of stretching routines on our IBM stage then I met a few other colleagues before everyone drove home for the rest of their Thanksgiving celebration.






Yet another very successful event, looking forward to keeping the tradition for many years to come. Without taking the ability to participate for granted, and being thankful for being part of it while it lasts! In the meantime, I will give Quad Dipsea a try this Saturday. 28 grueling miles running the Dipsea trail in Marin County 4 times in a row, a very different challenge... It will be my 5th Quad Dipsea and it looks like it's going to be a rainy one. And an interesting one as my legs are still quite sore between yesterday's sprint and 9 more miles at 7:05 min/mile this Friday. Anyway, leaving home at 5:30 am tomorrow morning so better get to bed. I don't think there will be many of the Turkey Trotters doing that double but one of my Quicksilver teammate, Kat Powel, is. Crazy stuff... ;-)

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