Race: Lake Merritt September 15K

I stood on the start line of the Lake Merritt 4th Sunday 5/1015K race feeling pessimistic. I needed to get a 15K result to count towards the Total Time competition, where the best times for your 5, 10 and 15K in the year are added together. Could I really run 15K at the pace predicted by the calculators? Did I even want to?
At a deeper level I realized that this was a little mental game. If the end result of this gloom was a conservatively paced start, then the rest of the race would take car of itself. No chasing after the 5K speedsters today!
The start was called, and we set off in a loose pack. I kept an eye on the Garmin, knowing that this course is something of a GPS Bermuda Triangle. After an initial 6:50 burst I settled in to 7;05, passed three of four runners, and followed a group that was going at a stable pace. Maybe this wouldn’t be too bad after all..
At the end of the 5K circuit the water cups were being held out by a pair of sweet little girls, so I slowed and thanked them graciously, how could I not? Meanwhile the knot of runners in front of me had all finished the 5K leaving an empty road ahead. I pressed on. Later the course did an sharp S-curve to avoid new construction and I had a good look behind. “Oh Crap!”. No one visible in 200 yards. “I know it’s a hot day, but c’mon!” My race had abruptly turned into a time trial, something I’m not too good at.
My pace flagged towards 7:30. Oh look, some runners! They were Special Olympians and I was lapping them, but hey, fellow runners! A little later, looking carefully along the lake shore I glimpsed a runner who must have been a minute ahead of me. No catching him unless he slowed quite a bit. By the end of the second lap I was feeling the heat (high 70s) a bit and cruising along at 7:30-7:40 pace. I grabbed two cups of water and felt a bit better. Another damn solitary circuit to do, A the bottom of the lake I turned onto the bridge and looked back along he shore. Ah, there was someone, but zero chance of getting caught now.
At the finish I discovered that I was 5th overall, and the four in front of me were all under 40. Speedy. I was not too pleased with my 1:09:49 time (7:30 pace), but on reflection the heat and course complexities accounted for a chunk of the extra time, and the lack of pacers the rest. I certainly recovered quite quickly afterwards. So Hi Ho for next week, and the San Jose rock & Roll Half Marathon. I hope it’s cooler then.

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4 Responses to “Race: Lake Merritt September 15K”


  1. 1 Flo September 30, 2009 at 5:34 am

    Lol, you lapping the Special Olympians…heartless bastard. 😉 Congrats on coming in 5th and oldest of the bunch by a good margin! That just says that it was indeed the heat and everyone was affected (love it when that happens). Great job out there and here’s to a much cooler Half next week!

  2. 2 Christi September 30, 2009 at 5:54 am

    Congrats Jim!!! You are a speedy guy!!! Good Luck at the Half! I look forward to reading your race report.

  3. 3 Loraine McVey September 30, 2009 at 8:31 am

    Well done Jim, that was speedy! ha ha, bermuda triangle on the garmin is right. I’ve had mileage fluctuate backwards on that circuit!

    3 laps of that circuit is a real toughie, maybe it’s passing that finish line twice?? I heard some people had signed up for the 15k and called it a day at 10k. I did notice you slowed a lot at the water stop, and as sweet as those little girls were, the arrangements for water provision didn’t seem entirely appropriate given the conditions …

    Good luck in SJ.

  4. 4 Jim E September 30, 2009 at 9:21 am

    Thanks, Flo, Christi, Loraine.
    Actually the water station was OK. It’s better now than when they used to set it up on the outside of the curve and you had to cross in front of the 5K finish chute to get to it.

    And yes Loraine, those red things on my feet were the Brooks Launches. They’re surprisingly comfy for a lightweight (9oz for men) shoe. I think these are going to be my marathon shoes now.
    Speaking of the 10K, I was wondering why I didn’t see any of those runners on my second lap. I’ll find out how many of them were ahead of me when the times are posted. My 10K time would have been about 46 minutes.


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Race PRs

5K20:43 (LMJS 6/28/09
10K43:44
12K54:36 (Across Bay 3/21/10)
15K1:09:51 (LMJS 19/27/09)
Half1:31:28 (Kaiser 2012
Marathon 3;13:14 (CIM '11)

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