Sunday, August 19, 2012

Cross Country Running Season - California Style

Ahhhh, cross country running season - cool, crisp weather, Fall foliage, the smell of Ben-Gay, mud and even some hay bales jumps if your lucky.   

Portland, Oregon XC Race - Fall 2009

In California, yesterday, we had none of that.  The USATF Pacific Association XC season starts early in NorCal with race number one on the campus of UC Santa Cruz.  The race started and finished in a dusty field surrounded by tall coastal pine trees and featured a somewhat hilly 4 mile loop on wide, rocky dirt roads.  Not exactly classic grassy XC but more like a nice trail race.

Since I'm recovering from an injury my expectations for todays race were low. Goals: have fun, don't get hurt, go out slow, see what happens. I still don't know most runners in the masters field but I didn't see old guy speedsters Jaime Heilpern and Brian that was helpful. 

Ready to race in Santa Cruz, CA

The pace was slow for the first mile - lots of guys jockeying near the front as we climbed towards mile 1. First mile 6:21. Pretty much the same pace up to the turn-around. At mile 2 (6:00) a couple guys started to pick up the pace a bit (a River City Rebel and a Pamakid). At 2.75 miles the RCR runner made a solid move to pull away on a slight uphill and I went with him. A 3 miles I glanced back to see that we gapped the Pamakid and other runner wearing a red singlet. At this point we're running about 5:30 pace and not knowing what kind of kick the RCR runner had I decided to press the pace even faster at 3.25 miles. RCR slid back a few seconds and by the final sharp right turn appeared to be about 5 seconds back - comfortably out of striking distance. I crossed the line just as the clock struck 23:00 - my last mile was a 5:10.

I'm happy to get the win but more pleased to be able to run 5:45 pace on 25 miles per week. 150 miles a week of cycling certainly helps bridge the gap but I'll need to work the mileage up and hit the track to be competitive with Jamie or Brian.......assuming they're not also injured.  Getting old sucks.

Race results have been posted here.