Thursday, December 22, 2011
Race Recap: Zombie Runner Bay Trail Run
The above quote is my new favorite saying. I definitely disproved my mental liar on Sunday, and ran the most mentally focused race that I've ever run. But I should start from the beginning...
Sunday dawned dark and cold as I made my way from the East Bay down to Palo Alto for the Zombie Run. Bib pickup began at 7, and I arrived at 6:55. Being late stresses me out, and so the plan was to arrive early, grab my bib and hang out in the car for a while.
I was able to park about 10 feet away from the bib pick-up, the bathrooms, and the start line (Reason #1 why small races rock!) Got my bib and my neon pink t-shirt, then hopped back in the car with the heater on.
About 7:50 I saw two of my favorite ultrarunners and went and chatted for a bit. Then, exactly at 8 am we were off!
The race course was primarily flat paved/packed dirt trail. I specifically chose this race because of that, as the terrain is similar to Point Isabel and the East Bay marinas where I do most of my long runs. The start was rather narrow but opened up quickly. The race organizers did a great job in keeping the number of participants proportional to the course size. Throughout the race, there were always other runners around, but the course never felt crowded (Reason #2 why small races rock!). I felt great for the first few miles, and they just flew by. I skipped the aid station at mile 2.5 and just drank my nuun and enjoyed the scenery.
Somewhere around mile 5, I came up on a runner who looked so much like my friend David from the back that I did a double take. His hair, his running attire (except for the fuel belt) and even his form where nearly identical. So for a while I pretended that he was David, and he became my speedy rabbit just pulling me along the trail. I was still feeling good at this point. I hit the turnaround at mile 6.5-ish around 57 minutes and was happy to be on track for my time goals. The mantra in my head this whole time was "sub2 sub2" and that kept me motivated.
The one hill on the course came around mile 8 or 9. It was short but steep, and my lungs were hurting once I reached the top. It had been 35 degrees when we started, and although it was very sunny, it was still really cold during the race. I had two long sleeve tops on, and wore them both for the whole race.
Around mile 10 was when the race got really, really hard. I kept looking at my garmin trying to make sure I was still on track with my times. I also realized that I forgot my second gu, which I had planned for mile 9. I took the gu, which helped for a bit, but my head just really wanted to stop. My legs still felt good, but my lungs were not happy.
I hit the last aid station around mile 12, and when I held out my water bottle to get it filled up, one of the volunteers took both the bottle and the cap from me, then proceeded to fill it slowly. I was so tired at this point that I nearly screamed at him. I had just wanted a quick splash of water in the bottle! I knew I only had a mile to go, so I just pushed on. I had this voice in my head yelling at me to stop or slow down, and it was very hard not to listen to it!
Finally I turned a corner and could see the finish line up ahead. As I got closer, I realized May (who ran the 5-miler) was there with her kids cheering and taking pictures. She took this one as I ran towards the finish:
If you enlarge the picture, you can see the clock time. I was so thrilled to see a 1 on the left side of the clock!
This was not a chip-timed race, so my official finish time was my clock time: 1:59:42. Also, I was 7th out of 28th in my age group (Reason #3 small races rock!)
They had some very yummy soup at the finish line and lots of other treats, none of which I sampled as I was too busy hovering over the lady with the soup.
It was a great race, and I'm not just saying that because I PR'd, although that helps. The race staff and volunteers were great, and the whole race seemed really well put-together.
Happy zombie runners: May, Brian, Me, and Ron who rocked his first half-marathon!