A while back, Angela posted that she signed up for the Race to the End of Summer 10K (henceforth called RTTEOS). Because relatively flat and PR-friendly 10Ks are so rare in the Bay Area, I considered it as a goal race. However, as my summer rolled on, it became obvious that I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to start training.
In August, the RTTEOS half marathon reappeared, this time as a possible pacing gig with the Trivalley Running Club (TVRC). Unfortunately, signups filled quickly and I missed out.
Then, a couple of weeks later, Peter from TVRC posted a Groupon special — I think it was for up to 50% off of registration? That deal, coupled with a brunch offer (and packet pickup!) from bt, solidified the deal for me.
After registering for the 10K, I started taking baby steps toward speed work. A 4 x 400 m workout one week, a 2-mile tempo the next. I still had an inkling of speed, despite the lack of any paces faster than 10:00/mile in the past 9 months (with the exception of the Kaiser Half Marathon in February). Based on my short tempo run, I thought maybe it would be reasonable to run ~9:00/mile pace? I had no idea. I just wanted to run faster than my personal worst (1:01:59, 9:58/mile). I think this was the right way forward, given that the race day forecast was smack dab in the middle of one of the hottest heat waves the Bay Area had seen in almost 2 decades.
Race Day – pre-race
RTTEOS is a really small race in San Jose, so the logistics were very easy. There was plenty of free parking up the hill from the start/finish area. I met up with bt to get my bib and we chatted briefly before I did a 1-mile warm-up. And boy, was it warm by Bay Area standards! We were fortunate that the sky was overcast, but that seemed to cause mugginess, which is very unusual for the Bay Area. I was covered in sweat by the end of my warm-up. I’d say it was mid- to high-70s at the start of the race, which I know is *nothing* compared with most of the country, but it’s a big deal here. (Later in the day, it would reach over 100 degrees for the second day in a row. My house was an unbearable 95 degrees. Sadly, we don’t have air conditioning because we so rarely need it.)
We lined up – Angela close to the front, I was about 30 people behind, and bt and her friend E were a few rows behind me. There was a countdown and then we were off.
I’ve run parts of this course before — it’s a route used by a lot of different race organizers. Last fall, I paced the 2:20 half marathon group at the Dream Mile in the same area. It was a very different experience to be racing as opposed to pacing. I switched my Garmin display to show time of day so I could run by feel, which was a bit of a mistake as I hadn’t been training for “race pace” so I had no idea how fast I was running or if I could keep it up for 6.2 miles. Plus, the 5K and 10K started at the same time with same colored bibs, so I didn’t know who around me was running the 5K. I had a feeling that I took off too fast, especially on such a hot day. I was happy to see an aid station at the end of the first mile (Mile 1: 8:39/mile).
I knew it was a bad sign that I was already tapping into mantras and mental strategies at mile 2. I told myself that, sure, I was breathing hard and sweating copiously, but I’ve certainly felt a lot worse. At least my legs were still moving forward and I was mentally fresh. Many of the runners around me turned out to be 5K runners, so I ended up running by myself after the 5K turnaround. I hoped that I would find other runners soon, or else this was going to suck. I was excited to see that they were handing out cold washcloths at the 2nd aid station. (Mile 2: 8:51/mile)
Shortly after the aid station, I found two rabbits ahead. I saw a woman with a purple top about 30-60 seconds ahead of me, so I made it my mission to catch her by the end of the race. I kept chipping away and closing the gap — this was good motivation. Also, I started seeing faster runners on the back section. I cheered for Angela as she passed the other way, telling her she was 3rd woman. She muttered something about “dying”. Uh-oh. (Mile 3: 8:50/mile)
I was so happy to see the turnaround, where a small group of volunteers were cheering and “Like a Prayer” by Madonna was blaring from speakers. I had almost caught the woman in the purple top, but there were a few women close behind me as well. I looked out for and saw bt, to whom I gave a side-five (which accidentally stopped her Garmin! oops). I could feel fatigue starting to settle in, so I began to re-prioritize my goals. I decided that I wanted to stay with or pass the purple top lady, and I definitely didn’t want any women to pass me. I managed to pass purple lady, but then she passed me back before the 4th mile marker. I said, “Good job” as she passed, and she smiled and said, “Thanks” in return. I never caught her again. (Mile 4: 9:21/mile)
I paused for longer than I should’ve through the aid station at mile 4, taking my time to gulp down the entire cup of very dilute electrolyte drink. I told myself only 2 more miles to go, and only 1 more to get to the next aid station. I saw the purple lady get further and further out of reach, and then another runner (a dude) passed me. I said, “Good job” as he ran by, but I’m not sure he heard me. At this point, I started to dissociate. I stopped caring as much about my speed and just kept moving forward. I caught my form falling apart (I started flailing a little bit), so I made sure to check in every once in a while to regroup. Finally, I saw the course turning off the trail and back on to the main road. (Mile 5: 9:42/mile)
OK, last mile! I really did want to speed up, but my body seemed to refuse to cooperate. And I was OK with that. Peter from TVRC, who was running the half marathon, ended up passing me with 3/4 mile to go. Peter is in his 60s (I think!) and a bad-ass ultrarunner. So, being passed by PC was no big deal to me, I just tried to hang on to him as long as I could. This last mile seemed interminable, running alongside indistinguishable office buildings. Finally, the last turn was in sight! (Mile 6: 9:30/mile)
I managed to pick up the pace with that magical “end of race” thing even though I felt like death. I heard Erin and Angela cheering for me and ran straight through the finish line, almost past the volunteers giving out medals and bottle water. (Last 0.17: 8:46/mile)
I met up with running friends for post-race photos and recaps, checked the results, and remembered to stretch (which I almost forgot to do, again!). I finally met Erin in person! Then I headed to bt’s for brunch for delicious food and great conversation.
Thoughts about the race
Considering how little (basically, close to zero) speed training I’ve done in the past 10 months, and how low my overall running mileage has been this year, I’d say I’m pretty pleased with my race. I mean, those negative splits are pretty ugly, but I managed to reign them in a little bit and there was ever-so-slight uphill on the way back. Plus! I didn’t let any women pass me. There are definitely things to work on – like not starting off so fast – but for such a low stakes race, I feel good about it. Also, let’s be honest — I did it all for the post-run brunch. 😉
Garmin results: 56:13 for 6.17 miles (9:07/mile)
Official results: 56:13 for 6.2 miles (9:04/mile)
5/32 age group; 14/90 women; 26/152 overall
About the race:
- Website: JEMS Race to the End of Summer
- Cost: I had a Groupon so I think it only cost me $25 for the 10K. Some proceeds benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Foundation.
- Course: Out-and-back course. Starts and ends near the Silver Creek Sportsplex in San Jose. The first and last mile are around the nearby office parks, with the middle 4 miles on the paved Coyote Creek Trail. Total elevation gain was ~70′ (mostly on the way back).
- Parking: A lot of free parking at the Nextel lot above the start/finish area (accessible from Hellyer Road).
- Aid stations: Water and electrolyte stops at miles ~1, 2, 4, 5.
- Bathrooms: A small line of porta potties at the start/finish area.
- Swag: Black short sleeve tech tee (very light), black race bag, a custom medal and assorted samples. The half marathoners got a trucker cap.
- Post race food and drinks: I got a bottle of water and I saw someone with noosa yogurt and kind bars, but honestly I didn’t go looking for food because I wasn’t hungry and I knew that I’d be eating real food at bt’s.
- Other notes: This would be a great PR course given better temps — and better training, but that’s on me. 😉 I thought the volunteers were great and race organization was smooth. No frills, but nicely executed. I wish they had race day pickup, but I understand it’s more annoying logistically. I was fortunate that bt picked up my bib for me, as I’m not sure I would’ve signed up for the race at all if I had to make two trips to south San Jose for a 10K race.