Sunday, November 25, 2012

Silicon Valley Turkey Trot

41st place in 15:43

Splits: 4:54, 10:05 (5:11), 15:11 (5:06)

I drove down to San Jose on Thanksgiving morning to race a 5K in the country's fastest turkey trot. I was entered in the PA/USATF championship, which was run together with the elite race and was featuring a loaded field. I made it to downtown San Jose around 9am and had about an hour and a half to spare before the start of the race. It did take me a while, though, to pick up my race bib and figure out where the start of the race was. There was also an open 5K and 10K before the championship/elite events, which were ran in the same area but on a different course. Any information I could find about the race only applied to the open race and asking event staff didn't help much either. I ended up starting my warm-up and wondering around, hoping to find some indication of the race start. Fortunately I went by the start just as the elite women were taking off and I had some time to sit for some stretching and to run enough strides before the start.

The course was flat and fast, consisting a 200m initial stretch and followed by 4 loops around Guadalupe River Park.  I was expecting the field to go out fast and it did not disappoint. I was gaped by a big group up front early on and I had to turn back to check that I wasn't dead last. I did try to settle into my own pace but it was rather inevitable to get carried away and get out faster than planned. I didn't have a good sense of pace and was even worried that I might have gotten out too slow but seeing the clock as I was finishing the first lap was reassuring. I was shooting for sub 16:00 and coming through the first mile in 4:54 meant that I had put plenty of time in the bank. I was running alone after the first half mile or so and started losing focus after the first mile, slowing down to a 5:11 for the second one. I was still under my goal pace so I kept thinking that I would post a good time if I kept it together reasonably well. I managed to pick things up a bit heading into the 3rd mile and I started closing on one guy ahead of me, which helped me stay focused. I passed him with about 1K to go and made a push to the finish, trying to close up on another couple of guys ahead. I didn't manage to get close in the end but had a good finish, including a good kick at the end, which made me think that I still had something left in the tank.

The race exceeded my expectations so I was fairly content with the result. I did feel that I wasn't race sharp, especially for something as short as a 5K but I put together a good effort. The field helped in dragging me to a fast time and even though I lost focus somewhere in the middle of the race I still managed to finish strong. This was my fastest race in the last 4 years so it's exciting to be getting back into competitive shape. It's still very early in the season and it's encouraging to see that my fitness is progressing well.