Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Race report: Quicksilver Half Marathon (what, huh?)

I thought this was an MTB race... Boy I looked stupid, the only one there with a bike. Well, I happened to have a pair of running shoes with me, so I jumped in anyway. The race started off with a 2-ish mile climb under overcast conditions, which was nice. At the top, it was clear who was going to be way, way ahead at the finish. After being full gas, the course eased into a little bit of fireroad downhill before some sharp (ouch) uphill singletrack, then a looonnnngg, open-road downhill to the halfway turnaround. About this time, I was wishing (A) I had signed up for the 10K, (2) gone for a fat road ride, or (C) stayed home and watched Scooby Doo and the gang with Lauren. Since I chose (D) none of the above, I would try and hold my position as best as I could.

I was on pace (or so I think) to at least match my last time around, but everything started to unravel with about 4 to go. Some real runners turned the screws on me from behind, but I had no answer-I was already in the granny. This course teases you a bit, because you end up at the top of the first uphill after the start, but then the guy waives you right and you climb another .6 mile higher. Cruel, but the people who know what they are doing made it look easy. After thinking about Scooby some more, and getting to the top, top by sheer will alone, I took the steep plunge down to the finish and limped in-my wheels completely blown. The downhill run is pretty sketchy-if you can run downhill fast, without wiping it (which I have seen some runners bite it hard in some other races), you have a real advantage. For me, it feels like running with clown shoes or something (slap, slap, slap). Anyway, ended up 4 minutes slower than last time. Still, I give it a 7 out of 10 on the achievement scale and the same for fun factor, although it is more fun after it is over. I did manage to pass a guy that was hurting pretty bad on the last uphill, so could have been worse.

An aquaintance Gary Gellin crushed the race, finishing 7-8 minutes faster than 2nd place (no, he is not from Kenya). Some of you mountainbike racers (and sub-roadies) might remember him as a very fast MTB'er exp./semi-pro and a very, very fast Masters 1, 2, 3. Well, now he puts the hurt on runners, too. When I see him at the 1-2 trail-running events I cherry-pick an off-season, I just say "see ya' at the finish." It looked like he did the 3s's, ate lunch, and had a nap before I came in.

So what you say? What does this have to do with a bike rider's blog? Get to the point? Well, Mr./Mrs. Smart Guy, Almaden Quicksilver County Park is a fun place to do some mountainbiking. It is all open, fireroad climbing, but you can whip up a good little loop. The park is situated on the old site(s) of mercury mines that had their heyday a while back, so if you like that stuff, there are things to look at. It is definitely a hiker, equestrian, pogo-stick friendly kind of place-not good for racing around, but this place used to be off-limits to bikes when I was growing up. Nice to see a united place where we all get along. I usually do a loop through the park, and then do a 2-3 mile road transition to ride Santa Teresa Park-another place that used to be hands-off to bikes. Once again, great; we used to ride mini-bikes/BMX bikes through the early, undeveloped ST Park on dares. So now, no running from the farmers with salt-rock shells for our kids. Both are ideal for the end-of and early season rides/training/easing back into racing. ST Park offers up a teensy bit of singletrack, enough to keep 'em quiet for a while.

Thanks for listening (reading).

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