Sunday, August 10, 2014

Nothing to say "Dammit" about

My performance at the Dammit Run called for a celebration beer
I'm standing there five minutes before the start of the Los Gatos Dammit Run and it feels like a high school race.  Maybe that's because this five mile race starts on a high school track.  Or perhaps it's because a few high school cross-country teams show up to test their fitness before the season starts.  I don't see a lot of old guys like myself, just a bunch of eager kids ready to have fun and test themselves over the varied and at times very hilly five mile course.

For me, the race a bit of a test of my summer time fitness to see where I stand going into the fall.  Of course, this race has long been one of my favorites.  I first ran it 13 years ago when I was 50 pounds heavier than I am now and have done it 5-6 times since then.  There's always a fun atmosphere and the crazy course, which runs over every possible running terrain know to man in the span of just 5 miles makes this race worth coming back for.  Who needs to run on a boring PR courses? 

The gun goes off and we're off and running a lap around the Los Gatos High School track.  Then we zig-zag our way around the high school grounds before meeting up with the Los Gatos Creek Trail, where the race takes on a cross-country nature as the field churns through the gravel trail.  At this point, I'm just trying to set a decent pace and get comfortable, knowing the challenging part of the race is yet to come.  I come through the first mile in just under 6:00 pace, a little too fast.

Easing off a little, I'm feeling pretty comfortable and just before the steep hill to conclude the second mile.  Turning to the high school kid running next to me, I say "Now the race really starts" as we take on a steep, 50 yard gravel incline.  I pass through mile 2 in 12:40.

Now the fun really begins.  The course runs cross-wise up the Lexington Dam, ascending maybe 150 yards and after a brief 150 yard respite on a paved road, their another 1/4 mile steep uphill before it's all downhill back to Los Gatos on a roller coaster ride of trails and the streets of Los Gatos.  On that last steep uphill, a whole bunch of high school kids start ganging up on me, either passing or surrounding me in a big pack.  I find a little opening in the pack and get a second wind and push my way past a few.  I complete the third mile in 8:40.

Getting over the last hill, I open the throttle on the rolling down hills, passing a few here and there, putting on the brakes slightly at times to keep my legs underneath me to prevent a full face plant.  I'm working hard and running well, hitting well under 6:00 per mile pace.   Getting to the Los Gatos High School Track and going once around it for the finish  pressing as hard as I can, this high school kid blows right by me.  I just couldn't find that extra gear to go with him.  Still, I look up and the clock heading to the finish and see 33:00, and get pretty excited.  My "A" goal was to finish in 33:20, my "B" goal in 33:40.  I cross the line in 33:15, a full minute faster than last year.  Mission accomplished!

Not much else to say.  I'm clearly in better shape than a year ago and now starting to focus on the Big Sur Half-Marathon on Monterey Bay.  That race isn't until November so I've got plenty of time to get better, but have to say I'm pretty happy with how I'm running now.
Everyone milling about before the start of the Dammit Run

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