Sunday, September 24, 2017

Trailblazer 10K 2017: levitate, and push!

Levitate? What a strange title for a running race... Well, on Wednesday, I received a pair of Brooks' latest shoes, the Levitate, and they are something!
So pleasing to the eyes and the touch that I was compelled to test them out right away with a fast 15K on Wednesday and another 15K on Thursday. The Relive flyover even showed my pace peaking at 4:47 min/mile, this is surreal, only levitation could get me to run that on a tempo run, on a flat course! Or some approximation from Garmin, most rationally...
While the model was announced earlier this month, and the web site taking pre orders, the shoes will get on the market in a couple of weeks and Brooks hopes the response will have the same enthusiastic feedback received through 18 months of hard work and field testing.
The main reason this is an innovative and outstanding shoe is that Brooks worked for 2.5 years with the chemist company, BASF (oops, not Bayer as I told some people this morning), to come up with a revolutionary new compound for the midsole, the DNA AMP, a key component for a shoe now returning up to 72% of the pounding energy! (Read the press release for more details.)
Anyway, I'll say more about these shoes in another post, so let's get back to the title and the main cause of this event, the Stevens Creek Trail. As I mentioned in my post yesterday, this is a very 'Stevens Creek-oriented weekend, with the 50K race organized by ex running club, the Stevens Creek Striders of Cupertino, with a course going through the Stevens Creek park, on the Stevens Creek Canyon trail, and, of course, along the Stevens Creek, albeit not quite down to the Stevens Creek reservoir (in 2009, I wrote about 12 of these Stevens Creek fixtures in our area). Further down, the trail resumes in Mountain View then ends in Shoreline Park where the Stevens Creek reaches the water of South Bay.

This fun, yet very professional event is organized by the Friends of the Stevens Creek Trail, and is all about building awareness for that trail, including the headache of connecting the lower section on the Bay side, to the upper section in the hills so, on day, we can do Bay to Skyline then Skyline to the Sea, all on a trail! Yes, we, ultra runners, would love that...!

In the meantime, this is a fund raising event, thanks to all the runners and walkers participating, and also the generous sponsors supporting the organization.
Here is Aaron Grossman, the mastermind of this event, playing so many roles from Race Director, MC and, not the least responsibility, Executive Director of the Friends of the Stevens Creek. And leader who gathers so many volunteers to help out setting up and managing these races, as well as all year around to maintain and develop this wonderful trail.
Aaron sent us right at 8:30, for the 10K race, the 5K race starting 15 minutes later. It's good to have these different start times so we don't get confused by who is running which race, or the different paces. I didn't recognize any of the fast runners from previous years but, right off the bat, I had to settle for second as we were already in the 5:20-5:30 min/mile range. Right in the heels of the leader, I covered the first mile in 5:37 and really wondered how long this would last. Our second mile was around 5:45 and it was even hard to keep up. By mile 3, I had fallen 10 seconds behind and was impressed how that runner kept going steadily at 5:45 min/mile with apparent ease and little breathing. And he looked like he could be a Masters as well...

To make the things worse, I was thinking that he all the adrenaline of following the lead bike (for knowing how it feels), while I started seriously doubting after mile 3 that I will ever catch-up. I lost a bit of stamina in mile 4 (5:56) with a wake-up call in mile 5 when I realized that I had slowed down to 6 min/mile. I was able to get back to digging a big deeper and run the 6th mile in 5:52, sprinting to the finish to take 2nd overall in 36:07. (Next 2 pictures in the final mile on the levee, courtesy of Satpal Dalal.)

The overall winner was Alan Alarcon, 38, in 35:02 and third place was Adam Cutbill, 27, in 38:47. Here is Adam, proud recipient of the Microsoft Fitbit Charge.
I got a nice glass plaque trophy for first Master, make me look younger, yeah! ;-)
Coming into the race, I didn't feel like I was going to break 35' but, not breaking 36' did disappoint me since I didn't have the reasons I had these past years. I didn't even finish at UTMB 3 weeks ago, only covering the first 100K...! The graph is definitely trending up... :-/

With that, I'm looking forward to the next editions then, to see if that's just the age, finally... There will also be the Silicon Valley Turkey Trot test in 2 months.

Speaking of next year, the race is in jeopardy, at least on that course, as the main sponsor and host, Microsoft, will vacate this campus by then. Aaron is definitely hoping that the other sponsor, Google, takes over and we can start from their campus at least. Like we were running the Human Race from the Silicon Graphics headquarters back then in 2004, or was it the Googleplex already? I can't remember, I wasn't blogging yet, only started 10 years and 550 posts ago... ;-)

By the way, here is the fly-over for our 10K race, by If you've never seen this feature before, check it out (click on this link, or the image below)!
And good stats on Garmin Connect, like the 190 steps per minute cadence, 1.46 m average stride, 5:49 min/mile average pace. Oh, and that peak at 4:46 min/mile again...! Must be when I was thinking of the Berlin Marathon studs...
The 5K Men race was won by Andy Crawford. I recently became a colleague of his as he was recently elected to the Chair position of our Pacific Association USATF LDR (Long Distance Running) committee, and I'm taking over the Chair role of the MUT (Mountain Ultra Trail) subcommittee, releasing Bill Dodson from this responsibility. Proud of bringing new blood and energy to this institution I owe so much of my ultra motivation to, over the past 12 years! All of you, runners, please consider joining our Pacific Association, contact me if interested!
While Andy, after switching back to his Brooks training shoes, went for a 2-mile cool down, I ran the 10K loop in reverse in 41 minutes, including a few stops to take pictures of the birds. 14 miles total including a 2-mile warm-up at 8 am.

I was back just in time to see the overall winners award ceremony. Here are the race winners, 5K and 10K men and women:
Below is the tireless Bill Dodson who, at 82, easily ran his M80+ age category, and bare foot this year again! Bill had a cross-country competition yesterday and he still runs ultras, still continuing after breaking all the American M80-84 age group records for long distances!

My camera battery died before I could take pictures of the entertaining and 1-mile long kids race.

With the long award ceremony and generous raffle, I had some time to get to know the 3rd place in our 10K who also ran the 26K loop of the super steep Broken Arrow race in Squaw Valley earlier this year, Adam Cutbill.

Overall, a great edition again, albeit maybe less people than we had 10 years ago.
Big thanks to all the volunteers, from the many cheerful high schoolers on the course or at the water and Hobee's coffee cake tables, to the members of the Friends of the Stevens Creek Trail.

Among the sponsors was a cool company, LimeBike, offering self-service bikes without racks: if you find such a bike on the sidewalk, you just unlock it with your phone and it's yours to use at $1 per 30 minutes. They have equipped South San Francisco already, as well as other cities like Dallas, Raleigh, Seattle, or South Lake Tahoe. Cool concept!

And the volunteers stationing at the end of the 10K loop could use their bikes!
Among the many runners wearing Brooks shoes, either for racing or training, there was this fan who happens to have Brooks as his first name, that's handy! ;-)
And a father-son all-in-Brooks 5K finish!
Yesterday I was cheering for Satpal at the Stevens Creek 50K, today it was the turn to cheer his daughter on the 5K, way to go (and his son was on the 10K already)!
We were blessed with a perfect weather, and wonderful views of the Bay especially with the numerous birds and the pelicans visiting again.

Fabulous opportunity to celebrate the wonders of the Bay Area and our Stevens Creek trail in particular, with special thanks to the Friends of the trail for their decades of support and lobbying to extend its toward the Cupertino hills. See you again next year! And remember, you now have access to a shoe which can make you levitate, so you can push even harder and faster! #RunHappy

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