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