It’s been five years since I ran this one, but it has a special place in my heart because it was the race that started me on this whole running thing. I had been cycling 10 miles a day to get rid of some extra weight, and felt that the new fitness could be put to some use. I found a 10K training plan online at http://halhigdon.com and followed it. I extended the distances by 20% beacause the B2B is a 12K. Were it a 10K, they would have to rename it to something like “Bay to Somewhere in the Park”. I ran it in about 70 minutes and caught the bug. Since then, I have been running the LMJS Tilden Tough Ten which always falls on the same day.
This is a big race, with about 40,000 entrants and almost as many bandits. Many wear fancy dress, and some wear nothing at all. There are corrals and a two-wave start, but congestion is still a problem in the first mile or so. I was able to get around this problem by submitting a recent race time and ben awarded a sub-seeded bib, allowing me to start from the front area ahead of the A corral. I picked up the bib at the expo (yes, there was an expo) and wandered over to the Skechers booth. I have been looking for a lightweight shoe with less heel drop than the Brooks T7, and was intrigued by the Skechers Goruns. I tried a pair on, ran a few circuits of the nearby VW stand without hitting anyone, and made the purchase. I will likely review them soon. I had a longish chat with the guy in charge of the booth telling him that it wa a lot easier to take these shoes seriously since Meb Keflezhigi wore them when he won the US Olympic Marathon Trials. “yes, he’s been a big help to us, and he’s a really nice guy. He will be here in a few minutes, by the way. So I stuck around and met Meb.
He sighed my bib. “Best Wishes and Run to Win”
So next morning I got a ride into town with my friend Suzette, who was running with her daughter. and went to the seeded enrance. There seemed to be no distinction between seeded, subseeded, and elites. We all did our warmups in an area ahead og the start line, and were then crowded into an area about 30 feet deep between the line and the start of corral A. I stood at the back of this area, just in front of a linked-arm line of volunteers that separated us from the corral. I noticed that these volunteers were wearing bibs.
“So what do you guys do at the start, scoot off to the side or something?”
“No, we’re going forwards!”
Some of the runners just behind them looked pretty fast. I wished him luck with that.
I stood on tiptoe to watch the elite women start. They started about four and half minutes ahead, is the difference between the mens and womens course records, with a big cash prize for first across the line. The headed up Howard Street at an impressive pace.
Then our gun went. I settled in to what seemed to be an OK pace. Not only is this race an unusual length, but it has a big hill in it, which makes it tough to plan. I figured I could beat 55 minutes, all being well, perhaps around 53 if I was lucky. That would be an average pace close to 7:00, in the high sixes for this flat first portion.
Because the seeding was age-graded, I knew that almost everyone in that little area would be faster than me. Staying amongst them for this first mile might be well advised to avoid engulfment by the ravening hordes of corral A. The first mile is dead straight, and I stayed near the middle of the road while trying to concentrate on good form. Just in front was was one of the elite womens centipedes (13 linked runners and two spares). Hm, the Impalas. I’d better not try to pass them. Someone in the group must have been “steering” because they swung left in unison like a school of fish, then drew up alongside another womens centipede. Oh, those others are the UC Davis Aggies. They usually win. I definitely should dial it back a bit. They drew away from me gradually as the Impalas completed their passing maneuver. They eventually won. My split at the first mile marker, 6:20, was faster than the plan, but not insane. Mile 2 came up in 6:54, and my breathing was getting back to normal.
As we swung onto Hayes Street I noticed that the TV helicopter was hovering over the top of the hill. The tail end of the elite mens pack was just visible at the top. Brightly colored dots.
The Hayes Street hill goes up about 190ft with an average 10% grade, with a short level “step” at each intersection. The steepness increases towards the top. I paced it by feel, noticing that some of the folks around me were attacking it hard. I reeled some of them back in later. Of course, I would not have noticed the ones that fell behind. There was an abrupt downhill for two blocks, two turns, then the third mile marker. 7:58. Hey, less than 8!
The Google men’s centipede passed me going at a good clip. They must have started well back in corral A. Most of the next mile was gently uphill along the panhandle and into the park, producing a 7:20. A level mile with some small rollers – 7:04. I started to push. Some more uphill, then we started the descent. Unfortunately the next marker was out of position, causing a laughable 5:48 split. Yes, we’re going downhill, but oh please! This also caused the next mile to be long – 7:36, so lets say 6:42 average for those two miles. The last half mile started dowhill, then swung left along the Great Highway for a level dash to the line. With about 80 yards to go I was kicking as hard as I could when a guy passed on my left. Grr, this always happens to me. He might even be in my age group. I somehow found another gear and passed him just before the line.
52:02 (6:58 average pace). Better than I had expected. That in fact was faster than my 10K PR, despite being longer and hillier. Not bad. A week later I ran the Marin Memorial 10K on a flat course, and PRd by 5 whole seconds. I still did not beat the B2B pace. I probably had not fully recovered.