Friday, October 5, 2018

Trailblazer 2018: 10K and so many more!

Can't believe a week has almost gone by since that race. I strive to post my race reports on race day but that was another long day away from the keyboard last Sunday as you may read below, a rather fair excuse. Then an hectic week got in the way, including two commuting days in San Francisco. On Wednesday, and Thursday, I didn't have much time either but, more importantly, I couldn't envision blogging upon receiving the news of the tragic death of one of our local ultra runners, Dennis Connor. Both a Stevens Creek Strider and Quicksilver club mate, Dennis was in Italy last weekend, for work, and went for a run in the mountains. He had a bad fall, was able to call 911 but it took them three days to find him and he hadn't made it that long. Dennis was such a loving and caring member of our ultra running community, this is so unfair. We loved his smile, his Kiwi accent, his perfect French, his service to all. I'm devastated to read his love, Michele, sharing her struggle on Facebook, but I'm also blown away by her courage and will to move forward as she already organized a few runs in Dennis' memory. Michele, you are so strong, such an inspiration, strongest prayers and thoughts to you!

A few souvenirs from our Last Chance aid station at Western States in June 2006:

After this heartbreaking story, and before I lose or bore you with too many details or kilometers, if you love the outdoors and the Bay Area in particular, I would like to invite you to make plans for attending the BayDay 2018 celebration this Saturday! (Sorry for the lack of notice, again, I meant to write this blog earlier this week...). Check this website to find dozens of cool activities to get connected to our amazing and renowned Bay:

I plan on running another 50K from home to the Palo Alto Baylands (and back, eventually), along with Agnès on her bike hopefully. All that before I board a plane to Singapore in the evening, for a change! I didn't fly these past 3 weeks, it's time to get to see the world again! ;-)

Back to our Trailblazer coverage from Shoreline in Mountain View, California...

As I was going to find out in the early morning, this year was all about change. Many changes as a matter of fact! Change not the sake of change (which I rarely like), but changes forced by big construction work at Microsoft's Silicon Valley campus.

I don't drive by the interchange between 85 North and 101 often, assuredly. When I got off the ramp, I noticed a handful of cranes on Microsoft's campus and thought "hmm, parking is going to be interesting..." Then I saw a first sign to keep going on Shoreline instead of turning right after the VTA terminal, then a second, third, and more. So many that I finally ended up at Shoreline Park, to the new start location.

Here are the changes I noticed overall:

  1. New start location;
  2. New course, including almost 1/2 mile of dirt path;
  3. New race logo on t-shirts;
  4. New t-shirt color (black which I find way fancier than the usual white indeed);
  5. Another Mountain View local and famous new sponsor on top of Microsoft and Google: LinkedIn!
I had planned on running the original 5K course as a warm-up but the new course was so confusing, I only ran 2 miles.

It was already quite warm at 8 am, and my legs felt heavy, not a great sign. Now, that where context is important: I had taken Saturday off but that was barely any taper after running for 24 consecutive days an average of a half marathon every day, including a 50K every weekend since end of August.

With that healthy leg fatigue in store, I still did a step forward when Race Director, Aaron, called the sub 6 minute/mile runners. Two of us were brave enough to declare such bold intentions. I didn't know the other runner but his name was Matt Johanson. A handful of runners responded to Aaron's call for sub 7 min/miles. I was a bit concerned about not knowing the course so was hoping one of them would lead us. Thankfully we had a lead bike with us.

Right of the bat, Matt (red shorts) and a younger runner, Brooks Taylor (white top), took the lead, well under 6 min/mile pace, phew!
I was happy to stay a few yards behind, stabilizing my own pace around 6:10. I estimated that Matt and Brooks eventually settled for a 6 flat pace. Around mile 2, Brooks pulled ahead slightly but the gap stabilized in mile 4 where I pushed the pace down to 6:00 in order to pull away from a few other runners behind. In the 5th mile, Brooks was able to maintained his pace but Matt slowed down a little, allowing me to get closer. That being said, even at 6 min/mile, I couldn't accelerate. With one mile to go, we merged into the 5K traffic and it became really hard to keep track of the lead while slaloming to avoid slower runners. I have to admit that was the hardest mile for me and I let the gap with Matt increase as I couldn't see any other 10K behind. A top 3 finish was certainly good enough for me this year.

My track workout buddy Bob had run the 5K and gave me encouragement at the last turn before the finish. I crossed the line in 38:18, certainly not my best at this race. (Photo credit: Friends of the Stevens Creek Trail)
That was 20 seconds behind Matt who himself finished 10 seconds behind Brooks. Not the fastest edition by far but I'd say the original course was faster (flatter and 100% asphalt). All results here:

I gave high five to Agnès who completed her 5K shortly after my finish but I was exhausted by my own push. Physically but also mentally as I had run these 10K thinking of what I was going to do next that day...

Indeed, racing 10K hard was hardly my targeted challenge last Sunday. No, my goal was to run another 50K. Not 40K more than the first 10K loop, but a whole 50K. Why? Because I ran a 50K every weekend since my race in the Alps at the end of August. And I didn't want to merge a 10K race with a 50K training run. So, after a few minutes to catch my breath, I ran a second 10K on the course, even managing to lap a few runners at mile 4.

Upon coming back to the finish at 10 am, I heard the announcer giving awards to the top 5K finishers. I thought she would do the 10K awards next but, between the generous draw, the 1-mile kid race, and all the age group awards, it was going to take 55 minutes for my name to be called, for the very nice Masters award. I couldn't wait to get back on my third lap but, ironically, I was the last awardee to be called on the podium.

Agnès also got a trophy in her own age group, that was worth the wait to pick it up for her!
After this long break, it was actually very hard to resume running and my pace slowed down to 7:25. Thankfully, I was able to pick up the pace in the subsequent laps, actually running the last miles under 7 min/mile. 3:45:25 total for these additional 5 laps, not counting 4 pit stops to refill my GU2O and water bottles, some solid training in the heat. Here is a 3D fly over of these additional 5 laps (click on the image or this link):

These 63K (with the warm-up) completed my third 100-mile week in a row, phew!

This was my 13th participation (2002, 3, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 17, 18), not quite half the 25 editions, but getting closer; next year should do, insh'allah!

With that, hoping to see some familiar faces on the Shoreline trail again this Saturday morning, to celebrate BayDay!

PS: The M50-59 podium, without me to avoid double-dipping with the Masters award.

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