Sunday, April 29, 2018

Stow Lake Stampede 5K: chasing these impalas

Only 5K this time and around the beautiful Stow lake in the heart of San Francisco's Golden Park, compared to all my ultra races, that looks like a walk in the park, right? Well, racing 5K at full speed, that is under 6 min/mile is no joke, or no walk.
Sure, 5K is short, just over 3 miles, so I ran the whole course first to warm up, then another time after the race to cool down. In between? That was a challenging and competitive race. Challenging because of the rolling course which complicates the management of the effort and pace. And also, because it was hard to pass while staying within the cones when the course got so narrow between the first and 2nd mile markers. By the way, that was some serious course marking, with a cone every ten strides or so!
Not that I could go so much faster anyway, but I did pass quite a few runners in the last mile when the course widen up, getting the pace under 5:30, finally!
My first mile was just on 6 minutes which disappointed me. I could see the leaders throughout the first mile but lost sight of them after the first turn. Despite pushing harder in the 2nd mile, during which I passed a handful of runners, mostly women, I still clocked another 6-mile. So I push harder, further in the uncomfortable zone and that started to pay of as the engine was now firing up while other competitors were faltering. I even managed to catch-up and pass two other M50+ runners I knew, Jeff Ongo and Antonio Arreola, but I don't run these Pacific Association road races enough to know and recognize everybody so I had no idea how I fared in my age group. Until I saw Cliff Lentz catching his breath after the finish so I knew there were others Seniors ahead, not surprisingly in such a competitive event. I had also heard the announcer talking about the runner who had finished just ahead of me to win the M60+ division, Doug Steedman, 62, wow!

As for an illustration of the competitiveness, I got chicked 22 times today, and I was 90th overall! Will Geiken and Kayla Knapp won the race in respectively 14:53 and 16:48, that's blazing fast on that course!

Cliff's time was 18:01, mine, 18:17 and it's only after I was back from my cool-down, my 3rd completion of the course that morning, that someone told me my name was called in the award ceremony because I had managed to take second place. Good enough for a gift certificate from one of the sponsors of the race, A Runner's Mind, how nice!

Check this cool fly-over of that part of the Golden Gate Park to have a better feel of the course (click on this link, or the image below):
Between these generous awards, the free pair of socks at the finish, a few pieces of bagels and bananas, even a free ThreeTwins ice cream (made in San Francisco!) to all finishers, the chip timing, the course monitors, kudos to the Impala Racing Team for organizing such a successful and professional organization. I must say that having that section of the Golden Park just for us that morning was quite something!
By the way, I ran this short race because we had our quarterly LDR (Long Distance Running) committee meeting just after the race, and I had half of the agenda to discuss changes and improvements to our MUT rules. Another topic which had me work a few extra hours at night the past 2 weeks...
That was a great break between the long runs of the past three weeks (DNF at mile 41 at American River, Boston then a 6:20 50-mile at another lake in San Francisco, Lake Merced), and before ultra May Madness (Miwok 100K next week, Quicksilver 100K the following week, then Ohlone 50K 8 days later, unless I'm in Europe for another business trip). The ultra life goes as I was writing last night already...

See many of my Pacific Association fellows at these races in May! I haven't done much hill training which is scary, but I'm excited to get into the warmer part of our season. What about you, are you ready for some shiny California sun and hot temperatures?

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