May 17, 2015
I am “homeless” this week. My entire condominium complex in Long Beach is being fumigated… for a week. Because we are owners, it is up to us to figure out our accommodation for the 5 days (but the fumigation is being covered by the Association).
My best bet, in my estimation, is to drive up to Northern California and spend a week with my sister (who is currently living in one of the bedrooms in my parents’ condo). At the very least, we will get to do some nice Bay Area hikes together.
After my drive up on Saturday, Marisa and I did a Lake Chabot loop. Amazingly, she had never been out to this location, whereas, I had run portions of this loop at least 8 times during the Skyline 50Ks and Dick Collins Firetrails 50Ms. The course is mostly the paved path around the lake, across the suspension bridge, and up through the forest, across the dam and back to the marina… about 10 miles.
Mentioning this is important because on Sunday, I was running the Tilden Tough Ten. This is a race I had heard about for years but had never done (not even when I lived 75 minutes away) because I believe you used to not receive a time unless you ran under 70 minutes. I have never run 10 miles (and certainly not a “tough ten”) in under 70 minutes. My best is 70:46 in 1998.
The race is put on by Lake Merritt Joggers and Striders (LMJS), who also puts on the 4th Sunday runs, of which I have done a half dozen, so I figured the race to be relatively inexpensive and well-organized. Nowadays, $35 for a ten mile race is very reasonable ($25 if you are a LMJS member).
Everyone gets a time, but they have special finishers’ shirts depending on how fast you complete the course… Under 60, Under 70, Under 80, and Finisher. My goal is to finish under 80 minutes, though I am not all that confident… and it probably doesn’t help that I hiked 10.2 miles yesterday.
I know that at Mile 4, the trail becomes dirt and VERY technical, with steep downhill for about 3/4 mile. At 5 miles, it turns around, and heads back up the hill. My strategy going into the race is to bank enough time that I won’t fall down the hill and can reasonably jog back up the hill.
The race starts and ends at Inspiration Point, in Berkeley, somewhat above the UC campus. Since I am coming from my parents’ condo, it doesn’t make sense to follow their obtuse directions that get me onto some of the same roads by driving up the freeway and circling back. However, the turns out of the community can be somewhat confusing… sometimes when you want to get to the left, you have to turn right and vice versa.
I initially missed the first turn, and since the streets are so narrow, I have to drive a 1/2 mile past to turn around and go the correct direction. Later, when I get up to Grizzly Peak, it is VERY foggy. I know that I have to turn on a major park road, but none of them are labeled/have visible signs. I reasonably select an appropriate road and think I am heading down the hill into the park. About a mile down, there is a HUGE turkey in the middle of the road that doesn’t budge when I get near it. At least these are rarely traveled roads, so going to the other side isn’t really that dangerous.
A mile or so later, I finally see a street sign and realize I am on the wrong road. (I make it a practice to look at a map in advance and learn some of the streets I will be going by, just in case, since I do not use GPS.) I safely turn around, by pass my “Turkish” friend and drive to the next appropriate major park road. Hmm… this seems more promising. At least I allowed an hour to get here (shouldn’t be more than 20 minutes, though)!
According to my directions, at the first stop sign, I turn left… but at the stop sign, there are actual park signs indicating that Inspiration Point is to the right. That doesn’t seem right, but I drive that way anyway. (Later, the map I referenced had a different Inspiration Point in the area… which was to the left. Phew. I went the right direction!)
About a half-mile from the start, I started seeing cars parked on the road. I remembered from the e-mail information that there was limited parking at the start, so I’d better park and quick! I do a turn-around on the road and find the closest spot where I can get safely off the road (also in the directions) and not off the side of the hill.
I walk over to the start and get my number. It is pretty cold out and the fog does not help all that much. I spot someone I know – Noe Castanon – who is not running, but taking pictures. I also end up talking to a couple of ladies while sheltering behind a stone pillar and a English guy (who was hoping to finish in under 100 minutes).
As we prepared for the start, I lined up somewhat towards the front (but not too far to impede the “actual” competitors), knowing I needed to get off to a quick start and began banking time.
Unfortunately, the course was not exactly flat… well, flatter than the upcoming hill, but it was rather rolling hills and very windy. My first three miles were decent – 7:46, 7:59, and 7:39. But would it be enough time in the bank to break 80 minutes?
Mile 4 had a couple “unrunnable” (for me) hills and my pace slowed to 8:50, negating my entire advantage.
On the dirt portion of the hill, I ran as best I could, but it was extremely technical and the leaders (and others ahead of me) were coming back up the path so I needed to be in control and not run like a maniac. This downhill trail mile was 8:43. Normally, I would be very excited about running an 8:43 trail mile, but it was not helping me towards my goal of sub-80:00.
Mile 6 basically put my goal out of reach when I did 11:09!
At least I could enjoy the rest of the race and run comfortably and not worry about killing myself to get to a certain time. My final four miles were 9:10, 9:31, 8:40 and 8:05, finishing in an almost-sub 80 time of 87:30.
I still liked the shirt (with cows on it, even though we didn’t see any cows in the fog) and watched a few of the runners come in, including the English guy who finished a bit under 1:40 (as predicted).
I really liked the course and given the option, I would much rather run this course than do the Bay to Breakers, which was taking place on the same day, somewhere else in the area, out beyond the fog.