Goals today: Show up. Take it easy. Don’t get more injured.
Result: Showed up. Took it easy. Walked up most hills. Didn’t push. Selected the easiest route down every trail. Felt in control throughout the entire race. Felt surprisingly strong on the back half (and actually managed to reel a couple dozen runners who passed me on the front half)!
Hamstring tendinitis didn’t get any worse (and in fact I can touch my left toes again!). SUCCESS.
* 2019: 1:51:22 (8:30 min/mile), 21/158 OA, 3/19 M18-29, overcast.
* 2018: 1:43:42 (7:53 min/mile), 7/139 OA, 1/12 M18-29, sunny & hot.
* 2017: 1:41:04 (7:43 min/mile), 15/144 OA, 3/14 M18-29, warm w/ alternate course (dam closed).
* I usually don’t have much of a problem waking up for races. But wow! I was pretty dead for this one. In the end, I tried to nap in Ed’s car until the last minute around 7:40am, when I finally got out to claim my bib, check my bag, and pray that the line at the restroom wasn’t too long.
* Maybe because I came out so late, quite a few people seemed surprised to see me. And maybe because I’ve been out of the loop (i.e. not hitting the trail as much this year), I was similarly surprised to see who showed! Unfortunately, I ended up missing out on pre-race group photos because of how relatively rushed I was. Oh well!
* I was worried that this race would be less organized this year. This is the first race I’ve run, in recent memory, that’ve changed its entire management from one year to the next (i.e. from the Castro Valley Track Club to the Castro Valley Sports Foundation). But when I saw their setup, I was glad that my worries were misplaced. All of the elements I remember from the past couple years were there, from the cross-country-style start to the display of race shirts from the 35 years this race’s been run. They even had official gear check this year!
* I remember being a bit annoyed by this race’s pre-race announcements in past years. Apart from the usual race course description, there’d also be a long-winded description of how this race benefits local youth running. But as I joined the pre-race crowd, I slowly realized that the kids and families so characteristic of this race were missing this year. Checking the CVTC site now, it reads: “Dear Parents and Athletes, Thank you for considering our Club. In 2019, we will not be offering track and field.” This makes me sad.
* Suffice it to say that the opening miles of this race SUCKED. As soon as we started, my feet started to hurt. I tend to underpronate, and my god, the outer “blade” of both feet just ached and ached over the first 3 (paved) miles.
* The first climb (i.e. up Live Oak) began at Mile 3. It’s not a particularly hard climb (only 600 feet over about 1.5 miles), but as I had feared, my left hamstring issue quickly wrecked any ability to power uphill. My plan in this scenario was to walk. So I walked. As I walked, more and more runners passed me, including one who recognized me and remarked that “one of us is doing something wrong!” (Answer: it’s me — I’m obviously not supposed to be trail running, much less racing.) But, this was the plan, I told myself: I’m just out here for a nice, quick run/hike. Ultimately, I realized I was glad to lose position early.
* Since I haven’t had a hamstring issue like this before, I wasn’t sure how it’d affect my downhill. It turns out you do need your hamstrings for downhills (duh). But definitely not THAT much. So while I wasn’t able to REALLY fly, I found that I could still comfortably (and reasonably safely) enjoy the fruits of all the climbing, at some 5:30-6:30 pace.
* Interestingly, because I had so much reserve left from holding back up to Mile 9, I ended up really quickly reeling people in during the last 4 miles. At that point, there was only downhill trail and flat-ish paved road left. And while I didn’t bother to count, I passed about 30 people, looking at the final results now. That was cool.
* I didn’t stay too long afterward (instead going on nice hike with A^3!!!), but I did stick around long enough for the awards. To my immense surprise, I somehow managed to place 3rd in the Male 18-29 group. Obviously not as cool as winning my AG like last year, but I’ll TOTALLY take what I can this year (I’m also surprised that more people raced this year vs. the past 2 years, given the management change!)
* As for the next couple weeks, and my next couple races? There’s definitely some uncertainty; again, I’ve never had an “injury” like this before. Obviously, I’ve recovered enough to run (even being able to collect 50+ miles on only easy runs last week). But I’m still experiencing substantial loss in flexibility and power from my left leg (even now as I’m sitting on my butt). Hopefully it’ll be better in 2 weeks. Because in 2 weeks, I’ll be doing the Double Dipsea, yay.