This section of my website used to be dedicated to triathlon training, personal race results and certification reviews, like Turbo Kick. I am expanding it to include more generic health & fitness topics. Also, I talk a lot about "D" -- he's my husband (Dave Liu)!

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Lake Merced Run

Today, D & I did the Lake Merced Run hosted by Dolphin South End Runners (DSE Runners). The entry fee was only $5 a person! As the name suggests it's a 4.5 mile loop around Lake Merced in San Francisco. Since I have been running 3.1 mile races lately, I was worried about doing poorly since it's 50% farther than I'm used to, but the course is flat and if I really ran out of steam, I could always walk. D used to train around Lake Merced, so I asked him what the terrain was like and whether it was flat. "It sound be flat," he replied, "The course description says it's paved." That's when I pointed out to him that being paved or not paved is completely independent of the gradient since it's possible to have a steep paved road.

It was a casual race, and the organizers were friendly. They even offered us free Bay to Breakers Volunteer T-shirts that they had left over from the even a few weeks ago. There was no race T-shirt (I actually prefer that) and no timing chip (I didn't expect one for a $5 entry fee race!)

As the crowd gathered, I noticed that there were some "older" runners. "These guys are going to blow by me, aren't they?" I asked D. "Yes." "I hate it when somebody twice my age overtakes me and leaves me in the dust!" I complained. "Ah," replied D, "But think how great these folks feel when they smoke somebody half their age!". Touche.

Per my usual practice, I positioned myself at the back of the group before the race began. I started out at an easy, leisurely pace that I was confident I could at least maintain throughout the run. I wore my black zip up jacket which is perfect for running - I wear it at the start of the race when it's chilly, but when I get hot, I can easily take it off during the race and tie it around my waist. I also carried a water bottle full of Gatorade which was a great idea since there were no water stops along the way. For this race, I tried holding in my hand for the entire run instead of carrying it in a waist pouch. I think I expended to much energy and focused too much on gripping the bottle, so I'll revert back to the pouch next time.

The run itself was fantastic. It was relatively flat, and the scenery was pleasant since you could peek through the trees to see the lake. There were other pedestrians, runners and the occasional cyclist using the same path, but it wasn't crowded at all. Partway through the run, I realized that I had traveled the course before: I had cycled around that lake many moons ago. I even remembered the exact spot where I fell off my bike trying to get back to the Great Highway.

They had marked the path with chalk... although they really didn't have to since all you had to do was follow the sidewalk. The only time where the chalk marks came in handy where on sections where you were tempted to take a short cut across a parking lot - the chalk marks reminded you to take the longer way! I didn't notice it at the time, but they also marked the number of miles covered with chalk as well. I had a sense of how far I had run just from looking at how far around the lake I had traveled. I didn't figure out the exact distance I had covered until I saw "4M" (four miles) in big letters. Yippee! That meant there was only half a mile to go. Of course, there's a slight incline at the 4th mile marker. Nothing that steep, but just enough to slow you down and make you realize you're running uphill. Fortunately, that only lasted a wee bit, and the home stretch was flat and fast.

I did better than expected! Given the 11-12 per minute miles I've been slogging through lately, I was quite happy to have finished in 46:47 minutes (10:23 pace), placing 107 out of 148 overall. There's a lot of room for improvement, of course, but it appears that I'm on a much more promising trajectory now, and I'm really excited about running again. I'm scouring for the next one.

P.S. A confession: D & I stopped by Krispy Kreme on the way home and bought half a dozen donuts to celebrate. Maybe a little counterproductive to all the hard work we put in, but still well deserved!

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