On Labor Day, I ran Zoom Running Event’s Zombie Runner Vasona Lake Run (half marathon distance), held at Vasona Lake County Park in Los Gatos. The race was actually two runs in one: a 5 Mile and the half marathon.
The weather was great, not a cloud in the sky and it started early enough so the temperature was nice. The run drew 264 participants, with most running the half (5m: 78, half: 186.)
The course was effectively two out and back routes that made their way along the Los Gatos Creek, Flume, and Jones Trails – first turn around at Los Gatos Creek County Park, second at the northern tip of Lexington Reservoir. The 5 mile race did the first out and back portion. The half marathon course data was: Elevation Gain – 945′; Single Track – 12%; Fire road – 20%; and Asphalt – 68%. The course was mostly flat, with a nice hill section just under three miles in length in the second half of the race.
Course marking was excellent and there were volunteers (who were all AWESOME, by the way!) at a few of the intersections where people could have taken a wrong turn. The aid stations were great, though I only refilled my water bottle.
At the finish line, there was a great variety of food and drink for runners – and really a great atmosphere to recover from the run.
Photography just doesn’t happen when I run, so here is the extent of my race photos. I know, pathetic, but I’m there to run, not take pictures…:
- Garmin time: 1:55:14 at an 8:55/mile pace
- Official time: 1:55:14 at an 8:48/mile pace
I originally hadn’t planned on a race between Crystal Springs and the NorCal Half Marathon – mainly because I didn’t want to overdo things and need to keep on track with my Honolulu Marathon training plan. I registered anyway and decided to just treat Vasona as my weekly long run – which was scheduled for 12 miles anyway. I didn’t really lay out any pace plan other than deciding to set a goal of meeting my required 9:30 pace plan for the long run, which equated to a 2:04:27 half marathon.
Yeah right, Dennis!
I lined up in the front section of the pack (recalling my SF First Half experience) and headed out with my fellow runners. I settled in on a comfortable pace and actually paced several people for most of the distance, just to keep myself going at an even pace – though it was nothing near 9:30 (read: other than the two miles of hills, average pace was ~8:20.) I ran most of the hill section – taking the pace down and walking a few sections – to include the 150′ in 1/4-mile climb at the Lexington Reservoir turnaround. I think most people walked this and it was funny hearing the gasps and #@^&%$#*#‘s when people rounded the corner at the top, looked at the decline, AND the huffin’-and-a-puffin’
runners walkers! I still managed a respectable 11:15 pace for the core part of the hill section.
This was my fourth half marathon – this year and lifetime (seems weird writing “lifetime” as I’ve only been running for just under a year.) My time wasn’t a PR and it actually was my slowest half – but it was still sub 2-hour!
The best part of the race – and most surprising – was that I got third in my age bracket! With other runners coming in, my hope was that there were actually more than three people in my bracket…and, thankfully, there was! It was an awesome surprise and, I’ll admit, a boost to my runner confidence level.
Even though I treated this as my long run and didn’t set any significant goals, I did follow my normal pre-race fuel and prep: carb load two days before (eating a high percentage of carbs (80%+) by exceeding my daily caloric intake by ~550 calories each day) and on race morning, eating a plain, Sara Lee bagel (me, superstitious?) three hours from start time and a couple of GU gels at :45 & :15 before the gun. During the race, I took a GU every 3 miles and drank about 20 oz of GU Brew.
Bottom line: A stellar day – great weather, nice course, good pacing, sub 2-hour time, age bracket placement! Zoom Running Events, and their sister company Coastal Trail Runs, do a fantastic job on races. They know how to manage the whole thing with excellence while still keeping a small, club-like event feel. If you live in the SF Bay area and have not checked out their events out, I highly recommend doing so.
Post-race meal: McDonald’s Hotcakes – my standard, Saturday AM, two-order bliss!
Training Journal – 9/7/12:
- Current plan: Honolulu Marathon Training Plan
- Today’s session: 6 mile pace run @ 8:37
- Comments: I did 6.67 @ an 8:18 pace.