Friday, November 25, 2022

Turkey Trot 2022: so good to get back in the flock

For many, this appeared to be a come back after a 3-year hiatus. But, technically, our Silicon Valley Turkey Trot survived the pandemic and ran virtual events in the meantime, that is in 2020 and 2021. Still, it felt really good to get this incredible vibe of joining tens of thousands of participants on Thanksgiving morning this week!

A sliding puzzle magic rectangle?

This year marked the 18th edition, and my 14th consecutive participation. Definitely part of our family traditions although, this year, I had registered the three boys but none of them were in town to run with Agnès and I this time. We still managed to meet about 20 people we knew, in that Bay Area crowd.

Starting with The Man, Carl Guardino, who has initiated this outstanding initiative which managed to raise more than $10M for local charities since inception, and gather more than 275,000 runners to promote healthier life style on the way. Carl before and after his 18th participation in the CEO 5K Challenge (afterwards promoting the follow-on/companion Santa Run Silicon Valley on Sunday December 11).

Once more, the weather was perfect. While the persisting drought is a calamity for nature and our agriculture, the sunny sky makes this huge gathering way easier and the party more festive. Incidentally, having suffered from an injury which took more than 3.5 years to heal, after slipping on a road crossing stripe while running the 2018 edition, I don't miss the wet conditions (it wasn't raining that morning, but had rained during the night, making the course wet and slippery in several places). It was chilly before the sun rose, but, with extra layers, I got sweaty while warming up around 8 am. Again, perfect conditions for a fast race.

Chris, the Race Director, had the courage to stand in front of the few thousand runners in the first wave, containing it all by himself and a few volunteers while waiting for the clearance of the city officials (we cross the light rail right off the bat, it's critical that one of the 5 waves doesn't hit a car...). There was so much excitement at the front of the wave with the joint 5 and 10K starts, I settled for the 3rd or 4th line, behind some kids. Waiving to Agnès:

Ready, set, go!

With my focus on slower ultras again this year, I have to admit it had been a long time I didn't run that fast. Half a mile in, my GPS was still indicating a 5:47 min/mile average, phew! Pretty cool to realize that there are hundreds who can run a mile under 5:45! It took some effort to keep that pace but I didn't have anything to lose, I wanted to see how long I could. I have to say that it's better to train for that, this certainly didn't feel as easy as it used to before the injury, 5 years ago.

Half way, we get to a section where the 5K turns to the left toward the finish line, and 10K runners go on the right. Some runners miss that split because we have the bright and low sun right in our eyes. The field had cleared a lot after that split, and I had no idea about who was in the lead, it was just me against the clock. I crossed the lead runners on their way back on Alameda, before our turn on Emory. 2 runners in front, so fast and smooth. Almost a mile ahead already!

A traded a few places but was mostly able to hold the pace around 6:10-6:14 in the last 3 miles, glad with that speed given the lack of speed work the past 4 years. Just before the end of mile 6 though, one mature-looking runner passed me and I couldn't respond. Right after crossing the finish line, I asked him: "50 or 60?" He replied with a 60, that was Raymond Rodriguez, of Los Baños. Really impressive time of 37:39 at 61. I got credited with a time of 37:45, 6:06 min/mile pace and that got me a 2nd place in M55-59 (or M50-59 as a matter of fact), 58th overall, 6th in the Masters. And I got chicked twice this year, the first women finishing a mere second apart, Elise Chu, 24, in 37:16 and Emily Haggerty, 27, in 37:17!

I've known this race with 10-year-deep age groups and, being on the end of the M50 spectrum, was pleased to learn that they were going with 5 years this time. Well, our age group division was won by Tom Tayeri of Palo Alto in a blazing 35:12. In 20th overall, he was also the second Master (40+) behind Andrew Liao, 48, in 35:05. So much competition! Live results.

Granted, maybe I won't see them at the grueling Quad Dipsea this Saturday morning, I had to keep some and, more importantly, avoid getting injured again. To that point, I'm glad to report that I didn't feel any pain at all: finally, 4 years are what it took to get this fissured hamstring tendon to heal!

My friends from Santa Cruz, Luc and Tanguy, ran together and took 5th and 6th in our age group. In this same group was an IBM colleague, Shawn, in 8th place, and Derrick, a former training buddy, in 9th: small world! With Shawn, at the Cityview Plaza parking lot before the start:

At 8 I stopped by the CEO Challenge private tent to hand Simone Winkler her Age Group Mountain, Ultra, Trail 2021 Grand Prix plaque. Simone would end up winning that CEO Challenge, taking 1st overall (Men/Women) in 19:16, blazing fast!

I also met Jose Piña at the start and the finish. I've raced with him and his father for 15 years and could beat him when he was 10, but not anymore... Jose finished 6th overall this Thursday in 32:56, wow!

Post race, I ran into Andrew, our USATF Pacific Association LDR Chair who ran 5K today. Then we had a little friend reunion next to the main stage, remembering the times when IBM was leading stretching routines on stage as we were sponsoring the event.

With Ron:

And the French connection!

That was my 58th 10K race in my running log, among a total of 346 races: time flies and keeps going! My calves were the most sore on Thursday evening so I went for a 10K run on Friday morning to untie the knots before Quad Dipsea tomorrow. That will be my 7th Quad and 5th Trot/Quad double, that should be a good fitness test to see how far I'm back.

35:05, 35:20, 35:06, 36:09, 35:41, 35:49, 36:10, 34:57, 35:51 (injury day!), 41:34, 40:17, 38:51, 37:45, it's good to get the injury bump behind and keeping dreaming that age is just a number and that I could run sub 37 again! ;-)

To conclude on the Turkey Trot, I heard that it was a successful one with more than $1M raised and close to 20K registrants, almost back to our pre-pandemic levels! Looking forward to perpetuating this great tradition then, with the big Silicon Valley flock! So glad to see the crowd forming again for such a great cause: way to do good, Silicon Valley!

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