Sunday, September 29, 2013

Trailblazer 10K: more about Stevens Creek...

Like I concluded in my previous post about yesterday's 50K race, what a "Stevens Creek" weekend! Yesterday, I won the Stevens Creek 50K for the third time in a row; this Sunday morning, I was toeing the start line of the Trailblazer 10K for the 9th time in 13 years. I love this race so much that I couldn't resist to the urge of registering in spite of running a challenging ultra race the day before. Actually, I did run the race in 2009 the day after running the Sierra Nevada double marathon (52 miles), so that sort of double wasn't a first. What was new though is that both races were along the same Stevens Creek, albeit miles apart. Yesterday, close to the spring of this stream in Palo Alto, today, along its ending in the San Francisco Bay in Mountain View.

I love this race because it benefits a trail I ran thousands of miles on when I was working with ILOG, first in Mountain View, then in Sunnyvale and before we got acquired by IBM. From 1998 to 2008, I trained for many marathons on this trail and actually my first ultras too, and worked on my speed in particular while enjoying amazing views of the Bay and the migrating birds.

It was typical "Sunny California" weather today again, bright blue sky and cool temperature in the early morning. The organizers announced that they had topped 1,000 registrants which is perfect to create more awareness for the wonders of this trail. The title and hosting sponsor, Microsoft, had many participants wearing their green team shirt. By the way, that's another reason I like this race: I won it a couple of times and won two XBoxes, which the boys enjoyed at the time. That was before the Pina family took over, more on this below! ;-)

While doing a 2-mile warm-up, and it wasn't difficult to warm-up actually with the quickly rising temperature, I met my running training buddy, Bob who was here to fine tune his Chicago marathon training with his other training partner, Jun. Bob and Jun's goal was to run right on 6 min/mile pace. They ended up averaging 6:04 which is very good and close enough: they certainly have passed the test, they are ready! :-)

The winner of the previous editions, both overall and Masters, Jose Pina Sr, was here again this year, as well as his two speedster sons who were running the 5K (Junior runs cross-country in high school so I bet his coach doesn't allow him to race longer than 3.1 miles but, comes the end of the season, and he beats me at the Silicon Valley Turkey Trot 10K!).

Race Director, Aaron, set us off at 8:30 am. I settled in 10th place with a pace around 5:50. Jose couldn't even take the lead as a new "kid" in town started at a pace which I estimated to be right on 5 min/mile by the first mile, phew! Maintaining a sub 6 min/mile pace, I passed a few runners in the second mile and was getting close to Stanley (Peng) when we both saw Jose starting walking on the side of the trail, apparently due to GI issues. We passed Jose then and we were respectively in 4th and 5th. I passed Stanley in the 4th mile, right after Michael's restaurant, and kept pushing to chase a runner with a green top (Serge Le Normand) whom I passed with 1.2 miles to go when we got back in the crowded 5K finish on the levee.

I was very happy to place third overall and 1st Masters, the day after my 50K win and the last year in the competitive M40-49 age group. Jose Sr.'s misfortune was alleviated by the overall win of Jose Jr. in the 5K, which got him a Microsoft Surface tablet with keyboard. Jose Jr.'s little brother also won his age group, what a family!
The 10K was won in a blazing time of 32:36 (5:15 min/mile pace!) by Benjamin Mears, 24, of Google, followed by Masahiro Takaoka, 30, in 34:59.
My time was 36:24, a 5:51 min/mile pace which I'll need for the San Jose Rock'n Roll Half Marathon next weekend. Yes, no time to breath and rest, Brooks invited me to that event, so better run strong. And happy as we say at Brooks! :-) Here I am with Stanley who took second in our age group:
That was my 41st 10K race after my 41st 50K race yesterday. A coincidence which only shows that these are two of my favorite distances!

Ultra runner Bill Dodson, 78, easily won his age group despite running the whole 5K barefoot again!

Let me conclude with a photo montage of the highlight of this family-oriented event, the kids run. So fun to see the high energy flowing out of this new generation and kids being geared toward healthy habits!

See you next year for my 10th Trailblazer I hope!

PS: for those wondering how to do such races back to back (and you can also check with Stephen who placed second yesterday, he was going for a half marathon today!). First, a lot of good stretching right after you finish, to get as much lactic acid out of your muscles. Drink a lot of water to drain this acid (and pee...!). Eat protein (I occasionally use recovery drinks to speed up the metabolism). Drink Vespa during long races (available at Zombie Runners in Palo Alto or online). Get a deep tissue massage. Sleep and take a nap during the day. Run in different models of shoes. Warm-up for a few miles before the next race to get the engine (re)started. Relax and listen to your body to avoid overuse injuries.Take it slightly easier than usual and pick up the pace in the second half if you can.

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