Race Recap: Foster City 10-miler

Why I wanted to run this race & Goals:
Discussed here and here.

The Course:

Pre-race (Race Day):
Since I couldn’t make it to bib pick-up on Saturday, and because I had no idea how many people were registered for this race, AND because I’m a super anal-retentive person, I decided to get to the race an hour early (7:30 a.m.) so that I would have plenty of time to get my bib, drop off my sweat pants back at my car, use the bathroom, and do a short warm-up.  I parked at a designated garage across the street, used the bathrooms in the attached, upscale office building (thanks to the nice security guard), walked over, and got my bib in less than 10 minutes.  With 50 minutes to race time, I decided it was too cold to stand outside.  So, I headed back to my car and sat there until 8:00, at which point I reluctantly parted ways with my sweatpants (it was cold!).  I met up with bt, who had shown up despite significant stomach troubles and lack of restful sleep - such a trooper!  After a bit of chit-chat, bt went to use the restroom, while I did a very short warm-up.  I waited until the last minute to get rid of my sweatshirt, since I was only wearing a tank top, shorts, and arm warmers (did I mention it was cold?).  It ended up being a relatively small race, so I left my sweatshirt on a tree limb — something I’ve done a bunch of times before at other races and never seemed to have a problem.  As we lined up, I executed my Garmin “have your cake and eat it too” plan: I wanted to run the race without pace feedback, but I also wanted to have the splits later for analysis.  So I put a piece of electrical tape covering most of the display, leaving just enough for me to see the milliseconds so I could confirm that the watch was working.  As I showed bt my Garmin, she pointed to her own dead watch.  It seemed that we’d both be running sans data this race.  We wished each other good luck, and then we were off!

The Race:
My race plan, as suggested by coach Gypsy Runner, was to run by feel.  I focused on starting out relaxed and told myself not to waste too much time weaving around people.  Luckily, it wasn’t very crowded, so by the end of the first quarter-mile, runners were starting to spread out.  Somewhere in the beginning of the race, I glanced down at my watch to make sure it was working, when I heard a voice behind me.  bt had caught me looking at my Garmin and called me out for it.  When I responded in frustration that it wasn’t working (it must have gone into power save mode after I put the tape over the display), she poignantly noted that THAT WAS THE WHOLE POINT (or something to that effect).  Touché!  I realized that she was right, which spared me from the freak-out that was about to ensue (“OMG, I need to find the satellites! I’m losing valuable split information!”) and allowed me to focus on the task at hand.

The first 2 miles went from downtown Foster City through office parks and industrial areas.  Did you know that Gilead is a very big company?  Their campus took up a good half mile of the course, it seemed.  I spent the early part of the race settling into a good pace, while fighting off some lower calf pain and stomach issues.  Luckily, everything had smoothed out by the time I got to the Bay Trail at the beginning of the 3rd mile.  I really regretted leaving my sunglasses in the car for this section — it had been so overcast that I thought I might be OK without them, but it had also rained the day before, so there was glare coming off the wet pavement.  Anyway, I knew that we’d be on the trail for 6 miles, so I tried to settle into a strong, yet relaxed pace.  After getting onto the Bay trail, a woman in a purple sparkly running skirt passed me with good form, so I decided to make her my rabbit.

I took a Gu when I saw the 3 mile marker.  Shortly after that, there was a water stop, and my rabbit stopped for a drink – just long enough for me to catch up to her.  We struck up a conversation, which was a nice diversion from the unchanging view from the Bay Trail.  I learned that my new running buddy was another Jen from Lake Merritt, and that she was very easy to talk to.  As our conversation continued, I debated whether I should shut up and concentrate on running, or keep talking and have fun.  I decided on the latter, since it seemed like our pace was still strong and we were passing people, not the other way around.  Not to mention that our talking kept my mind from thinking about how tired I was, how boring the view was, or wondering if I was running at the right pace.   I took another Gu a little ways after the mile 6 marker, since I was told that it was actually more like mile 5.4.  Oops!  I really didn’t care about the misplaced mile markers, but I wonder if I would’ve if I had been tracking the distance with my Garmin.  (Sidenote: bt later told me that she overheard people complaining about the mile markers, which makes me even more glad that I wasn’t using my Garmin.  In the grand scheme of things, who cares?)

As we left the Bay Trail and wound our way through residential streets, I made a conscious decision to not talk as much.  I wanted to keep up the pace and speed up if possible in the last 2 miles.  Fortunately, the other Jen from Oakland happily shared more stories from her life, while I randomly huffed out a, “Wow!” or, “Crazy!” or, “Cool!”  We ran together until the very last water stop around mile 8.5-8.75, during which she stopped for water and I ran ahead.

I knew I was very close to the end, so I increased my effort, focusing on short-term goals:  Run strong to the 9 mile marker.  Catch that guy, pass him. Keep a consistent pace up that grueling bridge over the lagoon (thanks for the heads-up Cathryn), all while chanting “Cleveland Cascade”.  Try recover as quickly as possible while going down the other side of that bridge.  Fight to the 3 mile sign for the 5K course.  Only 0.1 mile to go – run fast but try not to puke.

As I approached the finish arch, I started looking for the race clock.  It wasn’t until I got closer that I saw it peeking out behind the right side of the arch.  First, I saw a “1″, then a “2″… when I saw 1:27, I was ecstatic.  It turned to 1:28 just as I crossed the finish mat, but I had definitely crushed my goal of 1:31.  Woot!

I was handed a bottle of water as soon as I finished, and due to the small crowd, I was able to stand and catch my breath in the finish area for a couple of minutes before moving on.  I hung out and waited for bt to finish, after which we got our shirts.  We celebrated our first race of 2014 over a delicious lunch at a Mediterranean restaurant in San Mateo.

bt at the finish! Happy not to have some crazy person trying to overtake her at the last second.

bt happily waving at the finish, and glad not to have some crazy person trying to overtake her at the last second. (as was the case several times in 2013)

Goals, revisited:

  • Time goal: 1:31. — Accomplished!  My chip time was 1:27:56.
  • Run with Garmin covered — Accomplished!  I’m really glad that I ran without it.  I enjoyed the race so much more without the constant data feedback.  I had such a good experience that I’m very tempted to race Garmin-less from this point forward.  That said, I have to wonder if I would be as positive if I hadn’t beaten my time goal… only time will tell!
  • Try to pace a negative/even split — ???  I have no idea.  I do know that I started off slow and  increased my effort towards the end of the race, so there’s that?
  • Practice taking in more fuel than usual — Accomplished.  I took 2 Gu’s and about 8 oz. of Cytomax.
  • Have fun — Accomplished! Thanks to my lack of Garmin and also to my race angel/running buddy the other Jen from Oakland.  Also, there was the pre- and post-race fun with bt.

Overall, I had a great time at the first ever Foster City 10-miler.  This was also my first 10-mile race, and I’m happy to report that I really enjoyed the distance.  It’s a perfect blend of endurance and speed.  Best of all, I wasn’t nearly as wiped out or wobbly as I am after a hard half marathon, but I still felt like I accomplished a lot.20140114-205525.jpg

About the race:

  • Organizers: Corrigan Sports
  • Cost: The 10-miler started at $50 for early bird registration and went up to $85 on race day.  The 5K started at $35 and was $50 on race day. (Note: I received a free entry in exchange for race promotion.)
  • Course: Flat (mostly), fast, and somewhat scenic.  Well-marked for the most part — there were a lot of traffic cones laid out, as well as course marshals directing traffic.  There were quite a few turns toward the end, but it was easy to run the tangents due to the sparse crowd.  Also, the turns were a welcome sight after running straight along the coast for so many miles.
  • Parking: Free.  I parked at a nearby parking garage as designated by the race organizers, but you could also park across the street at the public library.
  • Aid stations: 4 water/Gatorade stops, at slightly different locations than specified on the course map.  My recollection is that they were at miles ~1.5, 3.5, 5.5, 8.5 (but I didn’t have my Garmin on, so these are guesstimates based on mile markers and pacing).   They had advertised that they would be handing out Gu at the last 2 aid stations, but I never saw any.  However, since I was carrying my own, I wasn’t necessarily paying attention.
  • Bathrooms:  The senior center in Leo Ryan park was open for bathroom access.  No porta potties on the course, though there seemed to be some park bathrooms along the way (I wasn’t really paying much attention, obviously).   I assume the bathroom situation might change if there are more runners in the future.
  • Swag: Long sleeve, attractive tech tee – in a surprisingly soft fabric.  There’s a medal only if you run all 3 10-milers in the series.
  • Post race food and drinks:  Each entry came with 2 beer tickets, which I did not take advantage of.  I got a bottle of water as I crossed the finish line.  There was only a smattering of food left by the time I finished — I assume, based on the trash bin contents and empty boxes, that the 5K runners ate most of the bananas and granola bars, leaving the mid-pack and back-of-the-pack 10-milers with 2 small boxes of navel oranges.  Not that I have anything against peeling my own oranges, but it would’ve been nice to have someone there manning the food table and cutting up orange slices.  It was a bit underwhelming for such an expensive race (though to be fair, I didn’t have to pay).
  • Other notes: Very well-organized for an inaugural event!  There weren’t a lot of spectators, but everyone was really nice and I enjoyed myself.  It’s a good race to keep yourself motivated over the holidays, especially if you have a spring half or full marathon on the schedule.  I’ll be excited to see how this race grows in the future!

The numbers:
*unofficial results* time: 1:27:56 (8:47/mile)
12/36 AG, 25/128 F, 84/235 overall

All the banchan to celebrate a new PR!

Celebratory dinner at our local Korean place.  Ban chan is my jam!

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Howdy! I'm a 30-something recovering former academic living in the San Francisco Bay Area. I like to eat, run, and blog, but not usually at the same time.

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Posted in Race Recap
23 comments on “Race Recap: Foster City 10-miler
  1. MILF Runner says:

    No donuts? What a shoddy operation ;-)

    Congrats on a killer time!

  2. Mike says:

    Solid start to your racing year, sub-9:00/mile for ten miles (and all without puking) bodes well. And very nice “About the race” section, I’d imagine a lot of potential runners will appreciate that info. Damn those 5K’ers stuffing their post-race faces!

    Now that you’ve run the first 10-miler in the series, don’t you feel like you HAVE to run the other two, not only to earn that medal but to find some racing closure?

    Congrats on besting your time goal… here’s to more wiped-out and wobbly times awaiting you in 2014!

    • Jen says:

      Thanks, Mike! I *am* tempted to race the other 2 races in the series… I’m waiting to see what cities are announced. Funny that you mention the “wiped out and wobbly” bit — the GR insisted that meant I hadn’t run hard enough! Ugh, that guy is never satisfied. ;)

  3. Brianna says:

    Congratulations! Great time! I like that you ran “by feel” and did so well. I am thinking maybe I should try going sans Garmin at a future race.

    • Jen says:

      Thanks, Brianna! I would totally recommend going sans Garmin at least once. It can be a little freaky/nerve-wracking at first, but I was fine after 1-2 miles. It might also help to try it at a non-goal race where you don’t care as much about your performance.

  4. Dan says:

    Looks like you hit the ground running with that Garmin-less resolution. While it is only somewhat regrettable that you weren’t able to look up your splits afterward, the real lesson was learned — well done! I wouldn’t say that running stats-less is THE way to go, mostly because they’re a great way to keep you on pace for a specific goal you may have. After all, if you’re trying to PR and you end up about twenty seconds shy, you would have wanted to know that right?

    But it is definitely worth it, every now and then, to run purely on feel. That’s my philosophy anyway and in this case, I’m glad it paid off for you. Great start to the racing year!

    • Jen says:

      Thanks, Dan! I’m actually terrible at keeping pace with the Garmin (i.e., I’ve found that the Garmin hurts rather than helps me get into the right pace), so your (very logical) idea of using a Garmin to pace myself to a PR most likely won’t help. In fact, unless I was trying to hit a time standard such as qualify for Boston, I don’t see how having the watch would help me run better necessarily, especially if I’m able to tune in to my own body. Maybe over time I will be able to use the Garmin in a more positive way, but in my experience, I think the feedback actually hindered my performance at several races last year.

      • Dan says:

        I can see how knowing your pace could work against you because it happens to me on some occasions. Namely, I’ll feel fine while running, then check my watch and see that I’m blazing at a fast speed. Suddenly, my mind goes “Oh no you’re going to kill yourself at this pace” and instantly I start feeling tired. It’s like the body’s defense mechanism, but it only kicks in once it knows what’s going on. Until then, you’re just fast as hell and it doesn’t care. Weird.

        • Jen says:

          EXACTLY. Or, if I’m not feeling it, but I push myself to run the pace that I “should” be running — then flame out and bonk with 3 miles to go. As my bf pointed out, I’m very sensitive to Garmin feedback, and I get so neurotic about it that instead of concentrating on the race, I get all caught up in the pace situation. Maybe with more race experience, I’ll get to a Zen place where my mind and the Garmin can coexist. ;)

  5. Dominick S. says:

    WHOA Jen! I love this entire post. Not only did you run it sans data which I know is EXTREMELY DIFFICULT for you…you pushed it at the end and your time…your time is awesome! I know you aren’t trying to pay attention to your speed but man, you killed it!

  6. Cathryn says:

    Such a great race, you should be SO proud of yourself!!! And yes, that little bridge is murderous!!!! All the exclamation marks to congratulate you!!!!!

  7. Angela says:

    Yeah, congrats on meeting your goal!!!! Also, “run fast but try not to puke” — I want this on a T-shirt in a really bad ass looking font. :)

    • Jen says:

      Thanks, Angela! Yes, we need to add this to the “running truths” t-shirt gallery — along with the ones from Kris Lawrence’s quotes. Time to start a Pinterest board, perhaps?

  8. JS says:

    Wow, great time! The Korean food picture is making me hungry! :)

  9. Amy says:

    I’m so excited that your running year started so strong! Seriously amazing pace, and glad the sans garmin thing worked out! When I saw that photo of BT on instagram, I thought it was a photo of you crossing the finish line (I was confused because it looked nothing like you), but it makes more sense now! I want a race angel Jen to keep me motivated!

    Great work. Onto Kaiser!

    • Jen says:

      Haha, thanks Amy! Sorry to confuse you with that Instagram pic — I probably should’ve had a more explicit caption. If I run into race angel Jen in Oakland, I’ll send her your way!

  10. Phil says:

    I ran the Foster City 10 miler also, I actually enjoyed the course, probably cause I don’t get there very often, but you can tell this race will attract more people very soon. I have to run with my Garmin, but I have learned to run by feel/effort and not to over react to the Garmin, except, of course, the last mile.
    You ran a very fast race, nicely done!!

    • Jen says:

      Thanks, Phil! I didn’t mean to sound like I hated the course or anything — it’s very nice, just somewhat monotonous at times. Any tips on how to not overreact to the Garmin?

  11. […] of a series of three 10-milers organized by Corrigan Sports.  You might remember that I ran the Foster City 10-miler in January and loved it.  This one looks a little tougher elevation-wise, but quite pretty for a […]

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