Woke up barely able to breathe through my nose thanks to the lingering cold, but I popped a dose of DayQuil and had my oatmeal, coffee and oj before leaving the house at 7:15am to drive down to San Jose. On the way down (taking I-280), my car's outdoor thermometer clocked a low of 35 degrees in the hills above Stanford. And when I pulled into the parking lot at the HP Pavilion, it was up to 47 degrees. I was very glad to have my long-sleeve shirt on for the 10K run.
The layout of the race area was pretty straight-forward and while picking up my racing chip, I ran into my (old friend) Thom and (new friend) Neil. Looking around, I could see a lot of folks that obviously were here for the 5K walk and not the 10K run. Both events started at the same time from the same place, and I think I'd encourage the organizers to re-think this in the future (more on this later).
Thom and Neil and I swapped race stories (they did most of the talking) until about 20 minutes to go and then I ditched my sweatshirt at the sweats check and went to line up in the 8-9 minute-miler section of the staging area. While waiting, I amused myself watching all these folks with strollers trying to push their way through to the back of the pack. There just wasn't any room for them to get through, and I should have taken this as a sign there'd be a bunch of folks stacked up behind them deciding to just launch from where they stood at the front of the pack. But I ignored this and stayed put by the 8-9 sign.
When the gun finally went off there was a surge to take a quick first step, and then we walked up to the starting line and began the mad scramble to dart around the walkers. Seems the 5K folks were more than content to walk three- and four-abreast down the race course gabbing away while the runners desperately tried to navigate around them.
And the darting around continued for the first mile-and-a-half until we hit the 5K turnaround point where it culminated in a U-turn for the mostly clueless folks in front while the 10Kers continued straight. More than one 5Ker darted right in front of me from my right to my left without looking and I almost tripped over one kid but kept my balance and kept going. I was lucky, as I heard the thump of bodies colliding and the scraping of knees as kept running out on the course.
Neil did the favor of mapping the course (see below), and if he'd plotted the 5K turnaround it'd be just about where the "Pkwy" is in Guadalupe Parkway.
So, the ran continued, and I was thankful for the double-back sections as it kept me running instead of walking if only for the pride of not letting Thom or Neil see me walk on the course. I shouted out to them as they passed me (ahead and going in the opposite direction) and they finished about 12 minutes ahead of me... final times TBD.
The 5Kers came back to haunt us again after the 5 mile mark, as we shared courses from there to the finish, and the 5Kers still on the course were the slowest and the least concerned with folks trying to get by them on the somewhat narrow one lane of road allotted to us. Turns out I didn't get it nearly as bad as Neil and Thom who were darting through the thickest parts of the 5K crew as they finished.
I sprinted out the last 200 meters and caught up with some folks I'd been pacing all along, and within 15 minutes of finishing I was feeling good. The endorphine rush was in full swing, and I'd notched my second 10K race in 8 years and am one step closer. The Mercury News was documenting the race and you can go see their pix here.
Goals for the next 10K:
- better position myself in the starting area
- run the whole way (even at the water break areas)
- finish without blisters (got a nasty one on my right instep)
- finish under 53 minutes
The next local 10K looks to be in January, so I've got some time to train for it.