Chip (and Gun) Time: 1:43:22.77 (7:53 min/mile)
Overall: 7/139. M18-29: 1/12. Male: 7/89.
1. The only goal I had today: HAVE FUN. One of the greatest feelings after BQ-ing last Sunday was relief and FREEEEEEDDOOOOOMMMM. Freedom to now do whatever the hell I want! At least until September, when the next BQ cycle starts. I never truly felt like I could enjoy my races late last year; each race felt like it had to be part of something larger, some contribution to that overarching BQ goal.
So, for today, all I wanted to do was show up, say hi to so many friends running today, meet new friends, and enjoy the ride.
2. Showing up was actually easier than expected. After flying back to SF less than 10 hours before race start, there was a real possibility I wasn’t going to wake up in time. But there I was — waking up at 5:40am before my first alarm had rung!
3. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Ed Cruz and Chris Rogers for getting me to Lake Chabot, and back, respectively. Thanks Ed!!! Thanks Chris!!!
4. I decided to race in my regular training shoes instead of my trail shoes. I didn’t think the course would be technical enough to require heavier trail shoes.
5. Last year, the dam was closed for repair and renovation. This meant the Castro Valley TC (which runs this charity race event for local schools) had to design a temporary lollipop route. The dam reopened earlier this year, so it was back to the classic around-the-lake course. That also meant that, while I ran this race last year, this was the first time I’ve run this course!
6. Compared to last year, the field seemed somewhat smaller. I’ll have to check. But, I did seem to know a lot more people this year! Seeing so many familiar faces certainly makes these events feel much more communal and fun.
7. As with last year, a cross-country-style start was used. I was able to secure a spot closer to the inner edge of the ring for a faster start.
8. I definitely started a little fast. I knew I didn’t want to be the first one out, just in case there wasn’t anyone faster than me, and I definitely knew I’d need someone to follow. Someone who hopefully knew the course. For better or for worse, there were two guys who took off immediately. One of them was wearing the green-and-white Castro Valley TC shirt. He seemed to knew where he was going. So I spent some early gas keeping up.
9. Unfortunately, that also meant staying in 3rd. Which, for a while, felt fine. But slowly but surely, I started to fall back behind. I was passed maybe around Mile 2 by the guy who’d eventually finish 3rd. In any case, I was super content to sit back, try to keep the frontrunners in view if I could, and enjoy some scenery that I’ve missed since last year’s Skyline 50K.
10. Before the start of the race, the RD described the course. Between Miles 3-4.3, there’d be a nice, long hill. Live Oak! About 530ft over 1.3 miles. Not bad, but enough to take the wind out of your sails.
11. I decided to walk the tail end of Live Oak. I think this was where I was passed by two runners, including Brendan, who eventually placed #5 overall. I was initially passed him while I walked up the final section of Live Oak (I passed him on the Brandon descent, then he passed me again on the following ascent).
12. The Brandon Trail came after Live Oak. Brandon isn’t a particularly tough trail. It’s kind of roll-y, and today it had a great cover. So, while it definitely got very warm (felt like low 80’s), there were also several periods of respite on Brandon. That said, by mile 6.89, I was gassed. Toast. Beat. This was the first time I checked my distance on my watch, because the only thing on my mind was: HOW MUCH LONGER!? Which sucked, because 6.9 is only barely half of a half-marathon. Of course, I kept going. But this was kind of not fun.
13. Finally, Brandon ended around Mile 8.2, and some new trails came into view. First, Skyline. Then Goldenrod, Bass Cove, and finally West Cove. Bass Shore and West Shore follow the western perimeter of Lake Chabot. I’m not sure if I’ve ever run along this side before. At around Mile 11, we ran over the dam connecting the San Leandro River and Lake Chabot. I’m pretty sure I’ve never run over this dam before. In any case, I was pretty beat and decided that I was going to pause at every aid station, just run my normal trail pace (as opposed to a race pace), and enjoy the view of the lake. And, for sure, it was really quite scenic. Taking it down a gear did allow another runner to pass me, putting me at #7 overall. But, you know, I thought to myself — I’d be totally fine if more people passed!
14. With about half a mile left to go, I changed my mind. I realized that, throughout the whole race, I was pretty loose about my form and cadence, and thought hey, I should pick it up a bit and focus. And I did. I slowly started catching up to the guy ahead of me, but it was too late; I finished 9 seconds behind him. Oh well!
15. Last year, the post-race raffle had at least a couple pies, in addition to the wine. I had the luck of winning a pie last year and sharing it with Jeanine and other LMJS Trail class members on the lawn. This year, they only had reusable grocery bags and a dozen bottles of wine. Unfortunately, none of the LMJS class members won a bottle.
16. According to Ed, the LMJS trail class this year is much larger than last year’s, with about 40 members, about half returnees from last year, 20 who show up week-to-week, and about 5-10 who show up at races. I was sad to miss out on the class this year, because of my race schedule. But, it also seems like many of the faster runners are missing this year. In any case, it was great to meet some more of them (like Matt and Christine) today.
Across the Bay 12K next week! A PA USATF race! It’ll be the 5th street week of racing. Then I’ll finally take a break before Woodmonster…!