Sunday, August 12, 2007

Plate to Plate 5k - Coaches' Challenge Part 2

Holy. Jesus. That's what I have to say about this morning's 5k.

But before I tell you why, let's start at the beginning.

I signed up for the Plate to Plate 5k as part of the SFRRC Coaches' Challenge. It supports a great cause - Project Open Hand, an organization that one of our fellow Road Runners, Devesh Khatu, works for. I headed down to the race start, which was near the ballpark, at around 8:30 for a 9:00 race start. I was very pleased to see that the port-a-potty lines were short, and that I would have plenty of time to do a warm up before the race began. I did my business, and then ran about a mile (waving to a few fellow Road Runners along the way), finishing with some strides. I felt a little tight, but good considering yesterday's 10-miler. I got to the start line nice and warm. I pushed my way toward the front (and past anyone who looked remotely like a walker) and lined up near a group of friends. After the National Anthem and the start cannon (really - it was so loud!) we were off.

The race couse

The race was nice and flat - around the ballpark, down the Embarcadero to the Ferry Building, back around the other side of the park, into the stadium, around the outfield, down the third base line, across home plate, out the stadium, and around the corner to the finish.

On the first stretch down the Embarcadero I did my best to keep Julie, one of our faster runners, in my sight, because I knew she would do well. At mile one, a guy asked me what out time was, and much to my surprise, it was 6:56! Woo hoo! But I had a feeling it was a little too fast. I managed to keep Julie in my sight until well after the turnaround, and I saw a lot of runners I knew up in the lead.

At mile 2, I was starting to really feel it. I slowed to about a 7:30 for the second mile, but I knew that I should be able to keep about the same pace for the rest of the race. One more mile to go!

We ran into the stadium, which was really cool...they projected the image of the runners coming across home plate onto the big screen, so even though there weren't a lot of people in there, it still felt kinda like there was a game going on. I came around the corner to the third base line (we even got to run on the grass!), but there was a hold up at home plate.

For some reason no one wanted to pass anyone else, and I couldn't really get around the guy in front of me. Then I noticed the guy with the jogging stroller. He had obviously been running pretty dang fast to start with, but then he decided to take his little girl (less than 2 years old) out of the stroller and let her run across home plate so they could get her picture (of course, there was a photographer taking pictures of people crossing home plate). I was cussing up a storm because I couldn't get around the mess of people - I was trying for a PR, dammit! I finally ran around the guy with the stroller, probably missing home plate, almost trampled his damn kid...and lost ALL momentum! I really hope I ruined their damn picture!!!

What the scene COULD have looked like at home plate...

Knowing that there was only about a tenth of a mile left outside of the stadium, I did my best to pick it back up, but it wasn't quite good enough. I came around the corner and saw that I'd already missed my sub 23:00, which was my goal (my previous PR was 23:14). But I still managed to bring it in in 23:10 (23:07 by my watch), so I was pleased enough. I walked off the pukey feeling for a minute, and joined some friends on the other side - most of whom were pretty pleased.

I got some free stuff from the booths, and then headed home on Muni to take a shower before coming back down to the baseball game (included in the race registration).

So while we're sitting at the game (which sucked, by the way - Giants lost to Pittsburg 0-5), one of my friends decides to check the results of the race on his iPhone. Cool deal. He reads off the winner's time - 16 minutes and change, and a couple others, and then he gets to mine - 23:10, just as I'd seen on the finish line clock. 96th overall out of about 2000. Not too shabby. But wait, he says, "Look at this." NO. FRIGGIN. WAY. I placed 3rd in my age group!!! I NEVER in a million years imagined that I would place. At least not until I was in my 50's! So the one time I'll probably ever place, I didn't even stick around to get my award! CRAP! Oh least I know I did it. WOO HOO!

One last little thing: I would like to thank all the 20-29 year old women who didn't race this morning because you were out of town, stayed out too late last night, or just didn't feel like getting out of bed this morning. It's because of you that I was able to do this (it sure as hell isn't because I'm fast!). Thank you. :)

Oh, and congrats to Sina (5th in his age group), Julie (10th female overall), Sean (5th overall, 1st in his age group), and everyone else who kicked some serious ass out there today!!!

UPDATE (8/30/07): The other day I received a package in the mail which contained a certificate and a very cool medal of the race logo (see top of post) for my third place AG finish! Yay!