|My performance at the Dammit Run called for a celebration beer|
I’m standing there five minutes before the start of the Los Gatos Dammit Run and it feels like a high school race. Maybe that’s because this five mile race starts on a high school track. Or perhaps it’s because a few high school cross-country teams show up to test their fitness before the season starts. I don’t see a lot of old guys like myself, just a bunch of eager kids ready to have fun and test themselves over the varied and at times very hilly five mile course.
For me, the race a bit of a test of my summer time fitness to see where I stand going into the fall. Of course, this race has long been one of my favorites. I first ran it 13 years ago when I was 50 pounds heavier than I am now and have done it 5-6 times since then. There’s always a fun atmosphere and the crazy course, which runs over every possible running terrain know to man in the span of just 5 miles makes this race worth coming back for. Who needs to run on a boring PR courses?
The gun goes off and we’re off and running a lap around the Los Gatos High School track. Then we zig-zag our way around the high school grounds before meeting up with the Los Gatos Creek Trail, where the race takes on a cross-country nature as the field churns through the gravel trail. At this point, I’m just trying to set a decent pace and get comfortable, knowing the challenging part of the race is yet to come. I come through the first mile in just under 6:00 pace, a little too fast.
Easing off a little, I’m feeling pretty comfortable and just before the steep hill to conclude the second mile. Turning to the high school kid running next to me, I say “Now the race really starts” as we take on a steep, 50 yard gravel incline. I pass through mile 2 in 12:40.
Now the fun really begins. The course runs cross-wise up the Lexington Dam, ascending maybe 150 yards and after a brief 150 yard respite on a paved road, their another 1/4 mile steep uphill before it’s all downhill back to Los Gatos on a roller coaster ride of trails and the streets of Los Gatos. On that last steep uphill, a whole bunch of high school kids start ganging up on me, either passing or surrounding me in a big pack. I find a little opening in the pack and get a second wind and push my way past a few. I complete the third mile in 8:40.
Getting over the last hill, I open the throttle on the rolling down hills, passing a few here and there, putting on the brakes slightly at times to keep my legs underneath me to prevent a full face plant. I’m working hard and running well, hitting well under 6:00 per mile pace. Getting to the Los Gatos High School Track and going once around it for the finish pressing as hard as I can, this high school kid blows right by me. I just couldn’t find that extra gear to go with him. Still, I look up and the clock heading to the finish and see 33:00, and get pretty excited. My “A” goal was to finish in 33:20, my “B” goal in 33:40. I cross the line in 33:15, a full minute faster than last year. Mission accomplished!
Not much else to say. I’m clearly in better shape than a year ago and now starting to focus on the Big Sur Half-Marathon on Monterey Bay. That race isn’t until November so I’ve got plenty of time to get better, but have to say I’m pretty happy with how I’m running now.
|Everyone milling about before the start of the Dammit Run|