Saturday, June 21, 2014

San Lorenzo River Half Marathon Race Report 2014

I knew I was only aiming to run about 28 miles this week (recovery week), but I wanted to get a couple of high intensity efforts in as well, so one of the runs was the monthly 5k at work (I got beat by the old man again - Bruce Storms (great runner name) has never lost a race on the grounds of Moffett Field in the 20+ years that he has worked there and he is turning 50 any day now).  My legs just didn't have much zip in them - could be the product of a 110 mile week the week before?  Oh well, I pushed it hard and ended up with a 18:12, pretty much par for the new course for me.  I used to run in the low 17s on the old course (known as the red course) before Google moved in and took a chunk of our space.  I am not sure if I was in better shape, if it was a shorter course, or just a faster course (less turns, etc), but I am mainly comparing times these days to the new era, mostly so I don't get discouraged about how fast I "used" to be.

Anyways.  I spotted a weekend trail race that covered some terrain that I hadn't seen before and it looked like I could combine it with a quality family beach trip.  I signed up for the San Lorenzo River Half marathon put on by Coastal Rail Runs (CTR).  The race starts at Harvey West Park in Santa Cruz and travels up to Henry Cowell and back.  I really like Coastal's events and really like what they do.

They started us off with running around a field on a side-walk.  Interesting idea, so all the spectators (family) can check out the runners and get plenty of photo opp.  I got a feeling the runners really didn't know what to do with themselves though. Actually, maybe that was just me.  We just sort of galloped around the field, strutting our stuff in front of everyone, but no one knew how fast we should run, and nobody wanted to be in the lead.  So I got a little antsy by the end of the loop and decided I could at least get ahead of everyone before we hit the single track.

Scoping the field that they wanted us to run around.  Obviously a little confused.  Or maybe I was trying to figure out what "No Dumb Ports" means...
(credit: Joanne Johnson)
 There is a pretty stiff climb off the start and I had a couple of guys breathing down my neck, but they never made a move to go for a pass, so we just lumbered up the hill at my "big guy" climbing pace.  Once the trail leveled out a little bit though, I picked up the pace and my pursuers dropped off a bit.  Great!  I thought I had lost them.  I ran alone for a good stretch, already wondering whether this was going to be a "lone" training run when I happened upon my buddy Sean from GoDogz out for a jog with a couple dozen dogs, or maybe just two.  I gave him my greetings and he discovered I was winning so far, so he left assurances with me that he would stick his dogs my chasers to give me time.  I think he failed in that endeavor though as a couple of guys chased me down on the second big climb after the river crossing.  It was clear that they were stronger climbers for the day, but I kept doing my thing, thinking maybe my downhill would be the equalizer.  Sure enough, we crested the climb, hit a steep downhill, and I let er rip!  I caught up to them by the bottom of the hill where we start a flat stretch of running along the river to the turnaround point.  I decided to keep them in sight and go for the kill later in the race if I still had legs.  After the turn-around I was able to scope out who else was chasing and felt that we had things pretty well in control.  The issue was that once we hit the climb again, they put enough distance on me that I lost sight of them and then lost a little bit of confidence.  I kept hammering though.  Crossed the river, then started the last significant climb.  Unfortunately Marco (third place guy that would eventually beat me) splashed into the river just as I was getting out of the other side (I decided to do a full body dive - it felt soooo good), when I started hiking up the climb on the other side, water squish, squishing out of my shoes, he caught up to me in no time.  We shared some running along the flatter parts, but then he was just too strong on the climbs and I lost sight of him.  I hammered as much as I could in the final miles, not really trying to catch anyone, since I couldn't see anyone else, but just hammering.  I finished 4th in 1:44 and change.  The winner was at 1:40, so the four of us were actually pretty bunched, and I have a feeling I was making up for my slow climbing with my suicidal down hills after all, but it matters little when you loose contact with the other runners.  Overall, I had a blast.  There was a fun mix of trails.  Open dirt roads, rooty single-track, flat and steep.  Perhaps one issue if I did have a slow race was because these pitches are considerably different than what I have been training on at Rancho.  At Rancho you have a lot of nice gradual gradients to grind out on the climbs or fly on the descents.  There was enough steep stuff to induce me to a hike and the downhills required a good amount of breaking, not allowing me to convert all of the accumulated potential energy into pure speed.  And too much flat.  But I can't complain, that is the fun part about these trail races - they are all so different.

Well, I'm glad that is over.
(credit: Joanne Johnson)
And we got an awesome beach trip!  I had maybe the best chai latte I have ever had at "The Buttery". Sat outside while a couple did some strummin on their instruments.  Then took a nap on the beach while the kids played in the seaweed, while listening to a band playing some mellow tunes by the pier.  Chowder in a bread bowl.  The works.


  1. And "Woodies on the Wharf"!

    Thanks for the fun day, and good job on your race! :)

  2. Sounds like a great race! And a nice weekend with the family!

  3. Nice! Looks like Maxime did well on the 30km. Now when do I get to read Running History Part 2: Restless in Kansas?

    1. "Running History Part 2: Restless in Kansas", I like that, Toshi! Looking forward to another blog post from you, Jeremy. :)

  4. We are looking for people to Join the 15th Annual Team Spirit Long Beach 5k and 10K marathon and help put an end to breast and ovarian cancer today!. You can help distribute brochures and yard signs to local stores, offices, and restaurants! Are you a people person? We have many community events where Team Spirit needs a presence. Volunteer to work a table at one of these events to hand out brochures and spread information about Team Spirit, and recruit participants! Already attending the marathon? Then help volunteer the day of the event. We need groups to assist with set up, participant check-in, new registrations, and drive or co-pilot shuttle vans. We will also need people to man water stations, and course monitors to assure participants’ safety and morale.