Santa Cruz 5K (10K?)

Santa Cruz 5K (10K?)

Running in Santa Cruz has been pretty fun. The scenery is amazing and there are endless dirt roads and single-track trails to explore in the surrounding redwood forests. It has also been very challenging because of the terrain. I am living on the UCSC campus, which is built on the side of a mountain that slopes quickly down to the city and coast below. Every day, I am faced with a choice: run on an extreme downhill for the first few miles into town or run on an slightly less extreme uphill for the first few miles into the woods (where supposedly Mountain Lions lurk). I almost always take choice #2.

I think my legs are slowly adjusting running these relentless hills, no thanks to the Santa Cruz Firecracker race that I ran over July 4 weekend.

The Firecracker had a shared start for the 5K and the 10K. The 10K course was a combined road and trail race that featured, as the race brochure termed it, a “brutally long and steep hill in the middle miles.” I decided to run the 5K.

I’m going to try to describe this race in the present tense. We’ll see how this goes. As the race starts, it’s impossible to tell who will be running the 10K and who will be running the 5K. After about 1/4 mile, I’m running in a tight lead pack at a reasonably comfortable pace. I figure that I’ll wait to make any strategic decisions until after the 10K and 5K competitors go our separate ways.

After about 3/4 miles, we come to a T-intersection, with the following writing: “<---10K | 5K--->” The two guys ahead of me swoop left and I head right. After about 10 seconds, I realize that no one followed me. This seems strange but I keep going for a bit, slowly realizing that somehow I’d fucked it up. After a few more glances behind me, I turn around dejectedly and head back to the mass of runners who are now way ahead of me.

As I run by the T-intersection again, I point at the writing and stare at a race volunteer who simply shrugs and says “That’s for lap 2!” At this point I’m pretty pissed off and upset that my $35 registration fee has gone to waste. I’m still running hard but I no longer care. Somehow, I miss the real 5K turn off (apparently it was not at the previous T-intersection, which was just leftover road paint from previous years’ race route…Brilliant!) and continue onto the bumpy 10K course and “The Hill” in my road racing flats. Great.

The 10K actually ended up being kind of fun. I approached it like a tempo run and passed people most of the way. I ascended the hill better than I expected and managed to cruise the downhills very quickly. Annoyingly, some guy interviewed me with a camera right after I finished and I had to try to explain my idiocy in running the 10K “by accident.”

I finished 7th in the 10K, but as a final kick in the nuts, the official race results put me down as “#661 Unknown” because I was actually signed up for the 5K. And yes, that’s a really pathetic 10K time.

Overall, the Santa Cruz running scene seems OK but I’m going to withhold judgment on how well organized their races are until I’ve seen a few more (although there don’t seem to be any more during the next 4 weeks that I’m here). I met a few of the stronger runners in the race who do workouts at the local high school on weeknights, but I don’t have a car so I probably won’t be able to join them.

Back on the track.

Back on the track.

Friday night I’ll be returning to the track to try for another PR, this time I’m looking for a new 800 meter record.  My current best it 2:07, I’m not sure what the tenths of a second are but I’m hoping that it won’t matter because I will be well below 2:07.  The race is at the twilight track series put on by the Mid-Hudson Road Runners Club, this is the 39th year for the series which runs on 4 consecutive Friday evenings in July.  The race has moved around a bit over the last few years, and will be held at Spackenkill High School this summer.  They have a wonderful bright green track!

After the 800 I’ll be running the 2 mile (probably 3200m), that race I am just going to try and win without worrying about the time.  I think that will probably mean running 10:30-10:45 depending on who is at the meet.

Soft single into left feild.

Soft single into left feild.

Well it wasn’t a home run, but I did manage to make up some points and move myself up one place in the RROY series.  I just didn’t have it today, maybe it was the last 2 weeks of hard workouts.  I ran 28:07.  I went out in 5:32 which was a tad slower than I wanted, and slower than I thought I was running.  I slowed 10 seconds per mile the next 2 miles before rallying for 5:21 finishing mile.  The race was a bit hillier than I expected but the weather was good for July.  The only thing about the race that bothers me is getting out kicked in the last 400 meters by a 17 year old kid.  This is karmic pay back for recently telling Mike “I can’t remember the last time anyone passed me in the last 800 meters of a race.”  On the upside the kid helped pull me by one of the people I needed to beat in my age group.

Making my move with a mile left.