Southern California is having it’s annual “winter storm” which, in reality, is not really much of a storm, but we never have real “weather” so, comparatively speaking, it’s a big storm. At 3000-4000 feet, there is snow (so, we can see dusting on the local smaller mountains, 40 minute drive east). We’ve had hail and some thunderstorms. Along with your typical rain. And wind.
Earlier in the week I decided that it had been too long since I had run a race shorter than a marathon (last half marathon was in December). The last thing shorter than that was in November (turkey trot). Last 10K was July of last year. I gambled that the Weather People would be wrong which is par for the course out here and said, screw it! I’ll go run a 10K even if the conditions are shitty. I anticipated rain which is no biggie. I did not factor in the wind part.
They advertised the course as “flat” but I knew better. I’ve run the roads near the Del Mar Racetrack. I know they are not really flat. Not necessarily hilly, but definitely not flat. Total climbing of 218 ft.
I really don’t have fear of hills. But I do have major beef with wind. I have yelled at the wind on several occasions running along the 101.
When I pulled into the parking lot (we had to pay $9 to park – not ideal) it was still sprinkling. It had been raining off and on through the night. It was pretty cold, too, like 49 degrees. Wearing a fleece jacket and wool hat I jogged over to pick up my bib. The wind. People were laughing at the ridiculousness of running a race in it. I got my chip, bib number (which were not the same – mind you – for anyone), and t-shirt which is ludicrously long (and I have what I consider to be an average length torso – short legs, long torso). No goodie bag. By the way, I paid $50 + processing fee for this race (like $53 and change).
I go back to the car, decide to keep my long sleeve tech tee on, and iPod because clearly I’m going to need it. I’ll take the risk of possible rain damaging it. (Note: in reality, the wind at times was so loud I couldn’t really hear my tunes. Probably would not have mattered if I had left it). I jog back to the start and hit the bathrooms (almost no lines/wait – there are plentiful restrooms at the racetrack). My stomach had been all kinds of wacked out since mid-day Saturday. I don’t know, maybe getting my taxes done the night before left me some unconscious stress (not sure why, we got a good-sized refund). I was worried I was possibly going to yak or something on the course.
At 7:26am, 4 minutes to start time, I step outside and there are maybe 10 people waiting to walk over to the relatively sparse-looking start area. We get there and they are not ready – the clock is not even up. Runners start to file out of the warm shelter area and we stand there in the wind and cold until we finally take off at 7:38am. I was close to the front but I really had no idea what kind of field had showed up. It looked like 100-150 people (maybe? maybe more? I don’t know – still waiting for results) for the 10K.
We take off and one woman immediately is out in front (she holds onto the lead the whole race). I try to settle in. The first half mile, I am 5th. One woman comes flying out of nowhere around the half mile mark and settles into 2nd. Now I’m 6th. I stick behind a girl in a blue hat hoping she went out too fast. I edge past her in the first mile. Now I am 5th. We take the turn up Via de la Valle.
Mile 1: 7:30
And then comes the hill. Buttmuch hill is like .6 miles long. And we’re running toward the ocean so the wind is blowing right at us. 25 mph with gusts to 45, you know, just a cute little breeze. Nearly blowing my hat off even with my head down. The first hill was rough and I knew I had to do it again for another loop. Not cool. I struggled to hold onto something close to 8-8:10 pace. I passed #5 girl on this hill, and then I was 4th. Down a little hill to a steep turn and we’re going back to the track.
Mile 2: 7:51 (<—yuck)
The last part of the loop is around the horse practice track. Dirt. Thankfully it wasn’t really muddy, but there were some mushy spots. Footing was not the greatest. We leave the track and back to the start/finish for to begin the second loop.
Mile 3: 7:20
I’m still 4th. The 5th and 6th girls are maybe 20 seconds behind me. I can see the 3rd place female ahead but it’s kind of a sizeable gap. She would have to slow down some and I would have to pick it up significantly (spoiler: it doesn’t happen – later I would find out she was disappointed with her time, roughly 40 seconds ahead of me).
Mile 4: 7:23
And the damn hill with the headwind again. Good grief. This time around I felt markedly worse. My legs were actually starting to get sore and fatigued. My lungs – I had this weird burning/pain in the lower part of them. I thought, with real earnestness, that I could just stop at that point. Why not? Did I mention it was windy? Seriously. I muttered some insults at it during the race. I’d rather run a race uphill the whole way than deal with wind. At least it wasn’t also raining. Gotta find a positive.
Mile 5: 8:02 (<—really? 8’s? Slower than HMP.)
I was still about the same distance from 3rd but 5th and 6th were no longer close. I know I have 4th, and I also know that with a mile to go, it’s going to stay that way. I can’t catch 3rd. I can see her, but she is picking it up as much as I am. We mercifully have the wind at our backs. Another lap in the practice track which had gotten a bit worse for the wear. The 5K walkers are out and I do my best to call out left and right, but I end up bumping into one lady. They really should be over to the right, for Pete’s sake.
Mile 6: 7:08
I was close to a sub-7 split there but, guess what, it was still freaking windy so I had to battle a few gusts.
Last .24: 1:39 (6:48)
I saw the clock at 46:xx and busted my ass to get under 47. Unofficially(Garmin) 46:53.
So I actually PR’d. I wasn’t expecting it – was hoping for 48 and change when I saw the conditions. I do think that I can drop some time off that (maybe a minute or so) when weather is less of a factor.
After the finish line we get the medal and, well, it’s kind of cheesy/cheap. But ok, not a huge deal. I look around for food. I find water. And champagne? Really? One hot second after the finish? I like to partake in adult beverages probably more than the next girl, but not 10 seconds after I cross the finish line. I walk over to the expo building in search of food and the expo doesn’t open until 9am. Whaaat? And no food anywhere. None. Zippo. 30 minutes later they open the expo. Still no food. This is probably the biggest problem I had with this race. Not the lack of timely results posting or the lack-luster age group awards (only 1st in each age group get recognition), but no food at all? I have no idea who thought that would be acceptable. Especially considering it was $55 for the 10K (I had a $5 off coupon).
All in all, I would probably not do this race again. It’s just too expensive for what you get. The expo was decent – I got a few samples, and managed to score a very gently used pair of Brooks Pure Cadence for $40 from RRS! Sweeeeet. But if I want to run a sparsely organized, low-end-tshirt-and-medal race, I can do it for much less than $55 + $9 parking. Get rid of the shirt and medal, have some age group awards, food, and charge $40-45. That would make for a good race.
Edited to add:
It gets better! The results came out and, just, wow. They have me as 30th. And the winner ran an AMAZING time of 34 minutes!! Um. NO. There was no elite 10K’er running 34 minutes in 25 mph winds in this small race. Good grief, it’s not a RACE if the timing is completely inaccurate. Now I definitely am not happy with this race. This is more egregious than the lack of food.