Monthly Archives: January 2015

New Year’s Day 5M – 2015

January 1, 2015

My most expensive race in Texas (this year!).  This was a $38 race that I have done many of the Christmas seasons I have spent in Dallas.  It is ideal for a New Year’s Day race because it starts at 10am and they have alcohol at the finish line (in years past – spiked eggnog, beer and mimosas).

Mom said to me last night that she wondered if the race would be cancelled.  Thinking back to past years, I can remember running through ankle deep water on the path, so I am assuming, short of lightning strikes (and yes, I have started an 100-mile race in a thunderstorm as well as the Fort Worth Cowtown Marathon).  The weather on New Year’s Eve was crappy, and it was possible that the bad weather would continue through New Year’s Day.  Since the race was just 5M, I didn’t really care about the cold and rain as long as it wasn’t mortally dangerous.

I went to bed fairly late; I was kept up by the heavy downpour on the roof… and when I got up around 8am, it had receded a bit, but I didn’t know how bad it would be at the location of the race.  I was game.

The drive out (about 20 minutes) wasn’t too bad, but it was definitely raining.  The car temperature said 33 degrees… so just short of freezing.

I was able to park pretty close to the start and quickly went down to pick up my bib and shirt (technical blue this year) and then race back to the car and read (Julie and Julia) until the race starts.  For extra warmth, I am also wearing my sleeves (some people call them “arm warmers”) under my long sleeves.

When I hear announcements for ‘5 minutes to the start,’ only then do I make my way as I do not want to stand any longer than need be in these conditions.

Just as the race was underway, the rain began coming down… HARD.  Fortunately, the course wasn’t particularly muddy or slippery as in the past, but some of the metal connectors to the bridges were slippery, and there were beaucoup puddles.  At first, I was trying to avoid the puddles (to do so, one had to run onto the grass lining the trail… which was muddy), but after a while, it was easier to take a more direct pathway.

For the first two miles (7:25 and 7:49), I was just behind the first woman, but faded a bit to the turnaround.  I tried to take advantage of the couple of undercrossings, because in the direct rain, I couldn’t see that well through my glasses.

For miles 3 and 4 (7:59, 7:54), I was passed by a few more females.  And on the final stretch (which is a series of little bridges paralleling Northwest Highway), I managed a 7:42, to finish in 38:46, just one second slower than the 8K a few days ago (though to be honest, an 8K is slightly shorter (0.04M) and the conditions were crazy here).

I grabbed a cup of mimosa, but wanted to change into something dry (it wasn’t raining as hard at this point) and slowly pulled my shirt, sleeves, and shoes off.  My hands were so cold, I wasn’t able to untie my shoes, but I could tie my dry ones decently.

While I was doing so, I got into a conversation with a runner who was wearing a sweatshirt that said “Ultracentric” something.  She turned out to be the Masters winner, Candace George.  Really nice gal… especially when she helped me button my shorts (the outer shorts OVER the running shorts), because I didn’t have enough feeling in my fingers to do it myself.  While embarrassing, it is indicative of how helpful runners will be to each other on ‘gross’ things.

We walked down to await the awards.  It seemed like everyone was winning an award because only 100 people showed up; I was the only Clydesdale in my weight class.  I was even the 9th overall master; that NEVER happens.

The award, as usual, was a champagne flute with some of the race details etched on it.  (The glass made it safely in my carry-on, only to have the stem break when I put it on display.)

Carrollton 1M/5K – 2014

December 28, 2014

Seemingly, there is always this set of back-to-back races.  I think the Carrollton Runners and the Plano Pacers both do 4th Saturday/Sunday races each month.  These race(s) are an even better deal than yesterday’s race – $2.  Usually if you register race day, it’s a whopping $3, but since I am already in the system (and they leave you in the database for a year before dropping you), I get the pre-registered discount.

I have a tighter schedule today, as Mom and Dad want to go to church  and will need the car back by 9:10 at the latest.  I am up at 6:45am thinking to leave around 7:20 and I happened to double-check the website and saw it had a 7:30am start!  Good thing I was up early.

It is about the same temperature today as yesterday, but it isn’t as windy so it doesn’t feel as cold, thankfully.  I still need a long-sleeved shirt, though.

The registrant is surprised to see me, but recognizes me (because I am ultra-tall) from last year.  I also see Kim Andres, a “senior” runner that I have met at this race in the past.

The race start for the Mile is 100 yards away from the check-in spot.  It looks like there are about 10-15 people participating.  In the past, I have mostly paced myself slower, because I cannot recover from a fast mile fast enough to run a decent 5K.

I start out at the back and then move up as I move through the race.  Nicely enough, they have 1/4 mile markers along the course so I can glance at my watch and see my splits.  Each split is 1-5 seconds faster than the last and I end up finishing in 6:55 (my best mile here by 30-40 seconds).  I finished in 2nd overall (so I win my age group (no weight class here) because the winner was also 40-44).

After the last person finishes, we have about 5 minutes before the start of the 5K.  The start is on the street parallel to the check-in area and follows along the 1M course.  For about 3/4 of a mile, there is a group of 5 of us all at the front, but I cannot maintain that pace after doing the sub-7:00 mile.  My goal is to finish under 24:48 (8:00/mile).  At Mile 1, I am at 7:24.  I feel I may have gone out too fast.

For the next section (to the turnaround), the course enters another part of the park.  Unfortunately, the gate is locked, so we are running the alternative course which veers off the road and onto a path.  For some reason, this affects my pace slightly (probably the added turns and extra-careful watching my footsteps).  I see catching up with the lead group fade (especially when I see how far ahead they are of me and what I have left in the tank).  Mile 2 is 8:06.

The last bit of the race is the recircling of the 1M course.  I held back on my pace until the last straightaway and my last 1.1 is also 8:06, for a total time of 23:36 (a personal best on the course).  Excellent for a back-to-back.

I receive an award of a Gatorade recovery drink for having one of the best Age-Graded personal bests.  (I got one last year, too, but I don’t understand quite how it works.)

I was able to stay for a while and chat.  A guy that I beat in the 1M but beat me in the 5K was just starting his running ‘career.’  He gave me his card (in case I wanted to attend his church later).  I had to leave with enough time to get the car back, though.  Of course, when I got back with plenty of time, other plans had been made.. but really I was happier to be back somewhere warming up.

Holiday Hustle 8K – 2014

December 27, 2014

I’m back in Dallas, TX, for a Christmastime family visit.  There seem to be races every weekend (and inexpensive, too), so I am taking advantage of whatever I am able to run.  The only (minor) issue is that I don’t have my own car here, so I am borrowing my parents’ car and it is important to get the car back by a reasonable hour so they can make appointed rounds if necessary.

I have run this race previously a few times.  Last year, in 40:42.  I would like to do better than last year, but the reality is that most years I am getting slower, so I will just deal with it.

The weather is pretty cold (not wet, though) and it is very windy.  I have forgotten to pack my Buff, but I wear a long-sleeved shirt, my “ultra” shorts (which have the bicycle-short-like lining), hat and gloves.  Registration is pretty easy (no line) and a mere $10.  I go and sit in the car pending the start of the race, because it is really too cold to hang around outside.

There are 200 competitors (exactly, according to the website) and the race starts just a slight bit late as a local TV station is doing interviews and positioning their cameras.

The first part of the race is the length of the parking lot (and back) and halfway around the lake.  The shorter race (the 3K) turns off from us and goes off to their turnaround.  My first mile is 7:40 (if I am to improve on my time from last year, I am making a good start of it).

The race continues through a wooded area, mostly flat.  I keep trading off between a number of people, including a kid who is much shorter than me.  Every time I make contact, he accelerates.  In my mind, it’s “whatever,” because I am maintaining an even pace, and he is tiring himself out (also, he’s probably 2 feet shorter!).  Towards the end of the second mile is a loping uphill, so I slow down my pace a little bit to survive it and manage a 8:06.

To the turnaround, there continues to be some uphill and then a flattening out of the course.  It is nice to see approximately what place I am in (maybe top 30?) and if there is anyone I might catch (Probably not.).  Despite Mile 3 being a bit down a hill, I pull out another over-8:00 mile (8:11).  I have dropped almost all of my 20 second advantage garnered from my first quick mile.

Once back on the flat, I can accelerate a bit more (since there are really no more uphills) and pull out a 4th mile in 7:38.

The last stretch is coming in from the opposite side of the lake, but then retracing steps around the lake and finishing at the front of the lake (previously, the race ended up a slight hill by the park pavilion, but this is better because that path was narrow and cracked).  I put on a bit of a sprint at the end and pass a couple of folks (including a guy who passed me, but I couldn’t “let him go”).  My last mile is 7:11 and I finish in 38:45.

I hang around a while to find out if I may have won an award (I’ve run in the Clydesdale category to give me a better chance than in the 40-44 category.), and I eat a cinnamon raisin bagel and grab a couple of tangerines.

The guy who used to do the results doesn’t do them any more, so it is taking forever.  I had said that I would probably be back by 10:30 (and I still have to drive back) and even at 10am (more than an hour AFTER I finished), they are still not doing the results.  I can’t even try to pick up my award early because they haven’t processed them yet.  (Even on Sunday, they are not posted to the Plano Pacers website, but someone at another race tells me about clinesracingcorner.com where the results are mysteriously posted BEFORE their own website.)

When I finally am able to see the results, I won the Clydesdale category (more than a minute faster than the 22-year old in 2nd place).  I guess I don’t really need another medal, but it is cool that I improved my time (from last year) and won my weight category.

Postscript:  Someone left their nice running gloves in the door handle of my car.  They either thought it was their car or meant to get them later, but 75 minutes after the race ended, they became mine.  I like coming home with something nice after a race, so I got gloves and tangerines.

Boeing 5K (12) – 2014

December 8, 2014

As a rule, I generally don’t have a good Boeing 5K the day after running any distance race, so today was no exception.  My hemorrhoid problem isn’t getting any better, but this morning I avoided having a BM and seemingly, the pain is less when I don’t have one (but of course, I will have to go at some point).

I don’t feel great, either.  (I don’t think this has anything to do with the issue or with the 50K – just feel off.)  However, today is the Annual Hall of Fame run so I want to see who joins the small group and also to continue my streak.  I know that when I have some work on Mondays, my streak will end quite abruptly, so might as well take advantage of continuing, even if it means a slow time.

There was a nice crowd (probably 4 dozen) and I got to be in the picture with the folks that ran every Boeing 5K this year (maybe 5 of us?).  The actual “run” was nothing to write home (online) about, but certainly not my worst 5K (see my post on the Boeing following Rocky Raccoon 100M) with a time of 47:52.

High Desert 50K – 2014

December 7, 2014

For several years, I have been encouraging a few of my AREC friends that they certainly could do a trail 50K race… and always I hear of interest in doing so.  However, it is much like posting an event on Facebook… people like it, seem interested, say they are going, but few actually show up.  I was hearing redoubled interest, but I wouldn’t actually believe it unless I actually saw them AT the race.

Eric Villalobostold me that he signed up for the race (but ended up not going because of a hip problem).  I had heard that Jesus Rodriguez (who had run it in 2013) would be going… though he tends to be one of those gung-ho, sign-up for everything types.

A couple of gals who had interest did a “see if we would be fast enough” test run at El Moro at the beginning of November in light rain. Maria Robinson, Stephanie Harris, and Dulce Barton joined me.  I said that we would do a 9.5 mile loop… and if we could get under 3 hours, then they could do 31 miles in 10 hours. (It doesn’t divide precisely evenly, but THIS 9.5 miles is WAY worse than anything that you find in Ridgecrest.)  This was a tall order on this particular day, especially because of the mud and hills, but it could be a confidence builder IF they made it out to Ridgecrest.

Despite the mud (and stopping to take pictures of several full rainbows and double rainbows), we finished in around 2:55.  The cheap entry deadline was a few days later, and Dulce and Stephanie both signed up (plus Angela Holder, who did not make the test run with us).

The following week, Stephanie and I ventured into the Open Space Preserve and took the wrong (up) hill back… but, in the spirit of “there is no bad training,” she took it in stride saying that it will just give her more confidence with hills.

As the date loomed closer, I had still not made my plans to drive out.  Eric wasn’t sure of when he would drive out and Laura was not going to go at all.  I thought I might do what I did about 10 years ago which is drive out, and then sleep in my car at the start.  However, I contacted Stephanie to see what her plans were (and offered to sleep on the floor of the hotel room) and the other gals were OK with me driving up with and staying with them.

Meanwhile, I was having some problems – TMI alert!!!

I was very constipated, to the point at which I could not sit down without pain.  I thought maybe it might be hemorrhoids.  The sitting pain was so much that I walked to and from the doctor’s office (2 miles each way) to avoid sitting.  The diagnosis was two hemorrhoids (one internal, one external) and perhaps an anal fissure.  The recommendation to fix the issue was an extremely high fiber diet AND exercise (though I am certain that probably didn’t mean 7 hours of exercise in one go).

I took medicine and had creams to apply, but the problem did not get much better.  (At press time, I am awaiting a surgical consult and I have been dealing with this issue upward of two months.)

END of TMI section!!

On Saturday morning (December 6), the three ladies and I met at Stephanie’s house to consolidate into Angela’s car for the drive up to Ridgecrest.  We left in the early afternoon to accommodate Dulce, who was running the Venice Marina Xmas 5K AND 10K!  (Is 50K not enough?)

My special gift to the ladies were personalized laminated pace sheets.  Since none of them had ever done this distance before, I gave each two goals – the first was to finish and the second was a faster goal, which I based upon their worst-marathon-time-plus-one-hour pace (since trails slow you down a bit).  On the back, I had something inspirational for each of them (Stephanie and her kids, Dulce and her mother, and Angela (who I don’t know well enough to pull the right photo from her Facebook)’s picture of the giant yellow rubber ducky.).  For myself, I had a picture of my two little sisters (dressed in the work outfits of each other).

The drive went pretty well (save some traffic from LAX to the Hwy. 5/Hwy. 14 intersection).  I had mapped out where we might go for dinner (this place we went to a couple of different times that served Peanut Butter pizza (not as gross as it sounds)), if not at the check-in location.  (In the past, the food looked kind of crappy, which is why we went elsewhere.)

We arrived before the packet pick-up time, so we checked into the hotel.  Angela had e-mailed us earlier in the week to tell us that we were so close to the start, we could just jump out of bed and walk to the start line.  Since I had run the race 4 times before (most recently in 2012), I didn’t remember there being any hotels within 4 miles of the start.  Turns out, our hotel, was within walking distance of the packet pick-up location.  (I guess within walking distance of the start, but no one wants to walk 4-5 miles leading up to a 50K…)

A little before 6, we headed over to St. Ann’s Parish to pick up our packets.  They were efficient and the shirts were really nice.  We decided to stay and have the $8 spaghetti dinner (because it looked OK this year). A bunch of my (older) hash friends were there, including Chris Spenker.

Suddenly, Jesus showed up and “forced” most of the people in the room to pose with their numbers.  Anyway… after dinner, the ladies took a look at some of the old race shirts on sale.  While I don’t need any more shirts, it was a pretty good deal for a first-time participant. (Cotton long-sleeved shirts are nice if it is cold and you want to toss the shirt away at some point.)

We went back to the hotel and got ready for the next day.  Lights were out at 9pm (so EARLY for me).  The race starts at 7am (6am early start), but I don’t think I’ve ever slept 9 hours the night before a race (especially when I am antsy).  I did end up lying in the dark and staring into space for a few hours.  The highlight of the night was each of the three ladies waking up around 2am in succession and using the bathroom.

I woke up earlier than I needed to (except that I had to drive to the early start with them anyway), so I could use the bathroom.  I usually try to evacuate my bowels completely, but with the issues, I didn’t want to have pain all day, so I let nature take its course, applied my Lidocaine ointment, and took two Advil.  My plan was also to carry the tube of Lidocaine with me, if the pain got really bad.

It was pretty cold at the start (but not the 32 degrees in past years, maybe 40s), so I stayed inside and chatted with friends for the hour preceding the regular start.  Angela, Stephanie, Dulce, Jesus and some others left at 6am, to give themselves every opportunity to finish (Jesus should have no problem, but he was pacing a newbie himself).

I chatted with some folks I knew from other ultras, plus a hash couple that ran here last year.  I tried to find a comfortable sitting position, but that didn’t really exist.

A little after 7, we headed off into the cold.  I ran on the flats and downhills and walked the uphills.  My friend Ethan passed me early, saying I would catch him momentarily (but I didn’t think I would).  I also saw Yen Darcy… figured we would be near each other most of the race.  She gave me a little grief for going so fast, but I said I would lose it on the uphills.  I had a good pace to the first aid station at Mile 5.5, in a 10:43 pace.  (Much of this is on paved road, so that helps with the pace.)

I maintained an even pace through the second aid station at Mile 8.5.  I kept hoping that I would not catch up to the ladies soon, because that would mean that they were well ahead of the pace needed to finish.h

However, when I got to the Mile 11.0 aid station, I got there at the same time as the ladies did.  I had said that at one point, I would run with them if I caught them with about 10 miles to go.  This was a little too early for me to drop my pace, but I calculated that they were still on par to go under 9 hours (and they had 10).  Stephanie and Dulce were together and Angela (with her tights that looked like blue jeans) was a few minutes ahead of them.  They seemed happy and were having fun (which is important, especially early on).  I ran and walked with Angela for a few minutes before continuing on.

This section is fairly short (only 2.6M) and mostly flat.  Of course, when I say flat, this does not include the washboard aspect of the trail.  Mountain bikers would (and probably do) like this section, because they could do lots of little jumps.  Although cool, it gets to be quite annoying because I cannot put on any kind of speed, unless I go a bit off trail to lessen the effect of all those dips. In the distance, I can see an occasional car split the landscape.  The aid station is just before the road crossing, and the moguls end at this point, too.  Because of the flat nature, I am still maintaining a nice pace (11:32/mile).

I refill my water bottles, grab some PB&J and chips and do not waste much time.  I had been running and talking with a couple of ladies – Madonna and Clancy, but on the washboard moguls, Madonna and Clancy had surged ahead of me.  While I have no aversion to getting “chicked,” I didn’t want to waste time just hanging around.

From here, I can see the hills coming up.  I know “my ladies” will be a little annoyed with me, since I termed this race as “flat.”  Just a note on the amount of climbing and difficulty of courses:  Ultra Magazine has a scale, both for amount of climbing and for difficulty of surface.  If a race is flat and paved, then the climbing rating = 1, and the technical rating = 1.  If the elevation gain exceeds, say, 10%, then the climbing rating would probably be a 5, and if the surface is full of rocks and not that runnable, then the technical value would also be rated a 5.  The High Desert 50K is rated at 2,2… so I also rate it as “flat.”

There is some cruelty to this section as well.  Clancy (who I caught up to again) and I head straight out on the trail, but when the trail itself veers right (where we can see runners going uphill in the distance), we stay straight to add a little distance (running the two sides of the triangle, rather than the hypotenuse).  At least it is flat to this point.

Now the longer hill begins.  I have found, today, that when I am running, my rear-end problem is less annoying, but when I am walking, it irritates me severely.  So… as I am climbing this hill, I am walking in a manner that is similar to running, hoping that it will lessen the issue.  When that fails, I look a ridiculous sight, punching myself in the ass… but hey, it makes it feel better… and there are not a lot of people out here anyway.

It is a long slog to the top of the hill… at least it is not windy, as it was two years ago, swirling dirt all the way up.  At the top, a turn to the right along the ridge and then some downhill into the Mile 16.9 aid station… which is decorated for Christmas.  Because of the hill, my pace slowed to 19 minutes per mile (not bad for uphill).

Now I have 3.7 miles with a general flat to downhill slant.  I just keep on maintaining until I reach the aid station.  I am back to my around 12 minutes/mile pace.  About a half mile out from the AS, I start seeing a plethora of stuffed animals (Snoopy, Bananas in Pajamas, etc.).  The 3′ long cougar made me jump a little, though.  (The aid station volunteer said next year he would put in a speaker and roar at people.)  When I get to the aid station, Jesus is there, along with the gal he is pacing. I am almost out of the aid station, when Jesus wants me to take pictures with him, so I have to stop, turn around, and get some pictures.  If it had been just a quick stop, that’s one thing, but it was about getting the light just right, making sure I’m in the frame, etc.  I’m up for mega-pictures at the end, but not wasting a lot of time on the course.

Out of this aid station, it’s an immediate turn uphill (nothing steep, as is the case on this course), and then once I get to the top, it’s a bunch of downhill and then mostly flat to the next aid station. I end up striking up a conversation with Darrell, a pretty beefy guy doing his first ultra.  He and his fiancee split their time between Long Beach and Ridgecrest, so maybe he will run with us at AREC when he is in (our) town.  He struggles on the downhill because he recently injured his leg.

So, now into Gracie’s Mansion aid station, where they are blasting music.  This is a few tenths short of a marathon.  My overall pace is right around 13 minutes per mile.  My “A” goal is 13 minutes per mile, but I will be happy with a time under 7 hours, since it would be my fastest 50K this year.  On the other hand, I am out here enjoying myself and so I get a cupful of beer…and I am not really worrying about my time.

Now there is about 3.7 miles to the last aid station… Last Gasp.  Flash back to last night and a conversation I had with former RD Chris Rios.  He promised me that he would have a beer for me here… so I was looking forward to it.  En route, Darrell took off.  I ran a bit with Clancy before she took off as well.  I ended up having another cup of beer (a Newcastle blonde) and a quick (maybe slightly drunk) conversation with Chris.

From here to the end, it’s a run around the school and a run around the parking lot.  For the first mile of the mile-and-a-half, I ran/walked with a heavily tattooed pierced dude, who had broken his foot a few weeks earlier.  (Tough people, these ultra folks.)

For the last half mile, which is downhill on paved and then a circling of the parking lot, I probably ran at a 8:00-9:00 / mile pace and finished in 6:48.

After finishing, I saw several of my friends finish; Yen was just a few minutes behind me. I also saw a few people that I didn’t even know were there (like Jakob Herrmann – we became so much closer friends after working the SB100 event).

The timing was particularly good because the award ceremony was at 2pm, not long after I finished.  I was able to get a piece of pizza and a soda and find out if I won a door prize (NEW Gaiters!!!) and then go in and hear how fast the leaders were.  Madonna got third place in her age group.

After the awards were handed out, they gave out participation awards for people who had completed 5 or 10 Ridgecrest events.  10-time finishers got a jacket and 5-time finishers got a zip-up collar sweatshirt.  Eleven years after my first High Desert 50K, I completed my 5th event.  It is a really nice giveaway.

Now for the ladies… based upon their pace at Mile 11, I figured they would be pretty close to 9 hours.  At about 7:40 on the finish clock (or 8:40 on the early clock), I headed out backwards on the course to find the ladies and run them in.  I had every confidence that they would finish under 10 hours, but would love them to finish under 9 hours.

I only got to about a half mile out, when… Stephanie appeared.  This was somewhat surprising given that she and Dulce were a bit back of Angela at Mile 11 (and Angela has the faster marathon time)… but more probably, they stayed together all day and then whoever was feeling it at the end took off.

Stephanie was in a state of euphoria; what I LO-OVE seeing at the end of a race.  She handed me her phone so I could go directly to the finish line and snap her photo… but en route, it somehow switched to video, so I videoed her finishing.

Two minutes later, Angela finished, and 90-seconds after that, Dulce finished.  8:51, 8:53 and 8:55, respectively. I was so proud.

The best part was that they genuinely had a good time and maybe wanted to do another.  All of the initial worries – no port-a-potties, getting lost, not finishing in time – never materialized.  (Technically, there WERE no port-a-potties, but a big rock and some T.P. was close enough.)

This was my 70th ultramarathon and I had a great time, and the gals I introduced to the sport of ultramarathoning had a great time, too.

LA Cancer Challenge 5K/10K – 2014

October 26, 2014

Just about a week has passed since my (50 mile failure) 50K success at Twin Peaks.  Muscle-wise, my recovery was not too bad… but I had trouble sleeping all week.  I had been debating about doing the LA Cancer Challenge, because I missed the discounted rate deadline… but I really do want to support the organization, especially to support my friends who have succumbed to Pancreatic Cancer.  After several e-mails back and forth between myself and Doug Atkin (who said he would pay my entry if I showed up), I decided that I could float the entry fee myself.  I also arranged to carpool with Eric Villalobos, who had popped up on the AREC Grand Prix list and wanted to maintain his Top Ten position.

When I woke in the morning, I didn’t feel great.  I am having a recurrent problem with part of my groin (I think suffered 10 years ago doing inadvertent splits off a wall.).  My lower back and also my arthritic shoulder are also sore.  I guess I’ll see what I am up to; this is my first time running since Twin Peaks.

The 10K was first and I felt halfway decent, running the hills on the first loop and walking them on the second to finish in about 55 minutes.

For the 5K, I decided to do what I did last year and just racewalk it.  It allows me to do a halfway decent time and also build up my confidence as I pass a whole lot of runners (who cannot run as fast as I can walk).  The first half mile or so I am accompanied by Alvin Leung.  Nice to have some company, but I know that he won’t walk the whole race and eventually does take off running.  I finished in 34 minutes (which is pretty pretty good for a 5K).