This morning Jack and I got up bright and early and headed down to Santa Clara for Bubba Gump Shrimp Company’s 5k at the Great America theme park (to raise money for the United Way). The drive down was quick thanks to almost non-existent Sunday morning traffic, and we got there with plenty of time to get our race numbers and warm up. I ran 18 miles on Saturday, and so I was planning on making this a pretty easy run - my quads were tight, and I was just plain tired - but as we were standing at the starting line, looking around, we noticed that there weren’t a whole lot of “competitive-looking” runners at this event. Jack helped me size up the competition, and before I knew it, he had talked me into racing the thing. I could only see one woman who was a definite threat, and a few others who looked like they might be hard to beat, and I figured that most of the younger kids would peter out before we made it to the end.
The course: This consisted of a loop through the park, a loop around the parking lot, and another modified loop through the park. It was a pretty easy course, with just a few rolling hills, although it was a little tough running through the park, never knowing when you were finally going to turn the corner that would take you home!
After the national anthem and a cheesy send-off from “Forrest Gump,” we were off.
About a quarter mile into it, I was wishing that I had just taken it easy – my quads were burning, and I really just wanted to stop. I knew that the one woman I had suspected as a threat was in the lead, and there were a couple of teenage girls in front of me too. I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to catch up to them, but I sure as hell wasn’t going to let a bunch of ten-year-olds kick my butt! So I dug deep and somehow found it in me to run through the burn. I spent a good quarter of a mile trying desperately to lose one little girl…she kept cutting me off, which just fueled me even more. If it had been the end of the race, it might have been warranted, but it was still the first mile!
As we exited the park, I realized how much I was going to hate the parking lot portion of the race. I could see way more of the course than I like to see at once – little rollers all the way around what looked like a never-ending expanse of asphalt. Granted, at this point I could finally count all of the women in front of me – I picked off one little girl and a teenager, which left three more: the one fast lady, a young girl, probably 10 years old, and another girl who was probably 13 or so. The father of one of the little kids was out there, yelling the whole time we were in the parking lot – I can’t be sure if he was yelling at the little girl that I had picked off or at the little boy who managed to pass me in the parking lot, but either way, I wanted to hunt him down after the race and kick his ass. He was one of THOSE parents. You all know the kind - the obnoxious ones who always show up at sporting events. Sooo annoying!!! But once again, it gave the fuel I needed to make sure that those girls didn’t come back to pass me.
When we came back into the park, the guy was up on the hill, yelling at his kid to watch his form – "Shoulders relaxed, head straight, pelvis forward!!!" – and as much as I wanted to knock him down on my way past, I was grateful for this reminder because I was getting pretty tense. Now all I had to do was make it back through the park one more time. I was happy to see that the route had been modified, and that we didn’t have to do the full loop that we had done before. Unfortunately, with about a half mile to go, this woman came out of nowhere and passed me. I tried to latch onto her, but I knew I didn’t have it in me. A few guys surged past me in the final stretch, and after one more push, I came through the gates and saw the clock ahead of me. Mind you, I didn’t have a watch this whole time – I ran purely on feel and the determination not to get my ass kicked by a bunch of kids! When I saw the clock, my jaw dropped. “No effing way!” The final sprint put me across the finish line in 21:10 – a TWO-MINUTE PR!!! That’s a 6:48 pace, and my first sub-7:00 race ever. Needless to say, I was in total shock!
After I crossed the finish line, another guy came from behind and slipped in front of me – the finish line people and I yelled at him and one of the guys was nice enough to make sure that my tag got collected first since I had crossed before him. I caught my breath, got some water, and went back to the finish line to wait for Jack. A couple minutes later, he came barreling through, finishing in around 25:14 (still waiting on the official time for him because neither of us can remember what it was!). It was a great performance on his part too!
After the race, we got some food and stuck around for the awards ceremony – I ended up coming in 5th overall for the women and first in my age group. I think I need to do these smaller races more often! The prizes somehow got screwed up, and they made ribbons for the 20-39 bracket rather than doing 20-29 and 30-39, so I didn’t end up bringing anything home, but they said they would send my ribbon and prize later. I’m hoping I get the Run Forrest Run license plate instead of a flashing cup or box of chocolates (God knows I don’t need those)!
Jack and I spent the rest of the morning hanging out at Great America (we got in free as part of the race entry) – he even managed to get me on ALL the roller coasters, which weren’t nearly as bad as I had anticipated (I used to be terrified of roller coasters, but these were fun!). I hear they’re not as good as most other theme parks, but it was a good intro anyway!
It was a great day, and this run was a huge boost for my confidence with CIM coming up in a few months. The next five weekends are going to be super busy with the Sentinel Oly Tri in Santa Cruz, a possible appearance at the TI2Y swim under the Bay Bridge, my high school reunion, the San Jose half marathon, and Nike Women's Marathon. Once that's over, I'll peak for CIM, and then it's taper time. It's going to be here before I know it, and I can't wait!