I was in my car for just a couple of minutes when my car started dinging at me. What?!? I looked down at my instrument panel - what's that snowflake doing there? Yup. When it's below 37* out, my car switches into "Winter Mode" in case I run into ice. Guess what - 36* at 6:40 AM, and I'm less than a mile from the beach! Glad that I wore the long sleeves!
This race, even though a small affair, was well organized. Parking was a couple of miles away, but the buses were running frequently enough that the wait was less than 10 minutes. I got to the start line and was surprised to find hundreds of people milling about. I was hoping to set a PR. The people were only going to make it tougher.
This race is a combined 5K and 10K. All runners start at the same time, and a couple of miles in the 5K'ers split and then rejoin the race at the 5 mile point. So, it was a little crowded. In fact, when the horn sounded, it still took a minute to get to the start line (more on that later).
The race was sold as a "flat and fast course." My legs were telling me different though. My first two miles of 8:56 and 9:07 were as much about the steady climb as they were about dodging slower runners. After the race, the elevation profile showed a steady elevation gain of a little over 200 feet over the first three miles.
But, where there is uphill there must be downhill! At the three mile mark, the net uphill became a net downhill for the remainder of the race. By this time, we were about as far north as the City of Irvine goes. The views were nice, the streets were clear of traffic, and the crowds were thinning out. Time to push the pace a little to see if my goal PR (55:00) was within reach. I fell into a rhythm with a bunch of other runners. I glanced down at my Garmin and noticed that my pace was down in the 8:30 range. Wow! I've never run at this pace this far into a race before. The best part - my heart rate was sitting right at 160 and I felt good and strong!
The next two miles were on a wide open street with a couple of rolling hills thrown in for good measure. We passed the Mile 5 marker and turned left along the freeway. Just as the race organizers had promised, downhill finish! That's right! From mile 5 to the finish line! About 150 feet down! I pushed the pace even more. I was thinking that a 54:00 was within reach! I passed the 6 mile mark and pushed a little harder. All of a sudden - alarms were going off! I had set a new PR! Heart rate that is! 185! 108% MHR! I *had* to slow down for a few seconds to catch my breath - costing me about 15 seconds on my total time. Next thing I knew I was in the finish slot crossing the line. I looked at the clock and looked at my Garmin. I liked what the Garmin said - 54.11! But, the crowds conspired against me. The official clock said 55:32 as I crossed the line. Still - that meant a PR by over 2 minutes! I was happy that RoseRunner and travelmama from the Runners World forums talked me into this one! Thanks guys!
After race, I wandered around a bit grabbing some water and some of the snacks that had been laid out for us. I stopped and talked to Ted Newcomb from the shop I had bought my shoes from (which by the way are working out great). I ran into a few folks that I had run with before, including Lori and Matt from the OC Trail Runners (http://www.octrailrunners.org/).
I also ran into Santa:
The running nativity scene:
The Whos from Whoville:
And Rudolph (or was it Max?)!
All in all, a satisfying run and a nice way to spend a morning! I'm now done for the rest of this year. In fact, I am having some hip problems that may sideline me for a while. That, though is the subject of another blog entry...