So today I ran Wharf to Wharf which likes to bill itself as the 'best little road race in California' and runs from Santa Cruz boardwalk to Capitola a nice little 6 mile jaunt. Lot of live music (some sponsored, most not), decent temps, the ocean, great setting -- what's not to like?
Well a lot for me. Apparently along with learning more than I thought possible about my body, I'm also learning the types of races I can tolerate. And this one wasn't it. The biggest thing is that there were over 11,000 runners in a very small area (though they said they cut it off at 13,000) but a race that likes to think of itself as small town so is kind of geared towards that. To give the organizers credit, they manage the it all as well as they can -- tons of porta potties and all that. The problem is, there is just too many people in what is a pretty small area. The entire race.
I knew this would be a bit of a zoo so I wasn't going to worry about time. I'd also run 10 miles yesterday so just wanted to see how my legs would do being a bit tired. So I thought I had the right attitude but apparently I didn't.
The race was self seeding (which I think is it's main fault really) so my friend and I lined up near the 9min/mil sign as that seemed to be a middle ground on what we would do. It took us 5 minutes to get to the start line but by then, people had stepped up the pace to jogging. The first thing I do is get completely stopped by a mom walking along with her three kids -- all hanging onto each other's hands. I get it -- she didn't want to loose her kids (they were pretty young) but really? And it went downhill from there. Apparently not all the walkers felt they should have lined up at the Walkers sign. It would have been difficult and tricky start under the best of conditions just because of sheer number of people but having walkers who had obviously lined up in the earlier pace groups, made it so much worse.
My friend and I quickly got separated because she'd go through an open spot in the crowd which would close and I'd have to find another way around. So I just tried to settle in and kept telling myself to relax. But another thing I learned today was that running slower than your normal pace by a lot is just about as painful as running too fast. At mile 2.5, we were still running a 10:30 pace (I was passing and going around people constantly but that's as fast as I could go) and I was miserable. It wasn't about the time I'd have at the end of the race, it was just about my body hurting. Long about mile three I got the pace down to 9ish and that was fine. Miles 4 and 5 were better and by the end of the race I was at a pleasant 8.40 pace and could have run along a lot longer.
Here's the overall results, which are fine. But not what I could run -- these aren't my results -- this was the fact that the "race is so crowded" results.
|Runner Details||Race Results|
But now for the good -- because there was a lot of good. The route was just lovely and reminded me that I do live in a fantastic place. The race was amazingly spectated -- I don't think there was a spot on the run that didn't have spectators. Tons of live music -- the non sponsored stuff (in people's driveways) was the most awesome. The day was lovely and my friend and I (and her hubs (who played sherpa) and kid then spent the rest of the morning on the patio of a pub overlooking the small bay and drinking beers (because what is it about the finish of a race that makes me want to drink beer) and eating breakfast burritos. Life did not suck.