Saturday I ran the third annual Bands on the Run 10k. This race did nothing to disabuse me of the notion that 10K’s are hard. Maybe reinforced it; that said it was a fun race.I managed to run away from work for a few minutes on Friday afternoon for packet pickup. For a small local race, they are very organized. I was impressed last year and this year was more of the same. Last year, I though it was really cool that the volunteer shirts all said “I’m with the band” instead of just the usual “volunteer”. So this year I was very excited to see that the race shirts said “I ran with the band” on the back. I also like that for a smaller race, only in their 3rd year, they design their own bibs. There’s nothing wrong with the Road ID ones, I just like the extra touch that the personalized bibs gives. The race is a fundraiser for the high school music department. Start and finish are the high school track and a band performs through out race morning. They also have a bag drop table which for a small race is virtually unheard of.
The weather here has been very odd for May and with the race being predominantly on the beach, I knew it was likely to be cold, windy and more humid than I would like. I wore pants, a tank and a long sleeve layer for the race and I was still cold. My 25K in January was run in shorts and a tank and it hit 80. Get it together, California! Race start for the 10K and half marathon was 9:00 with the 5K starting at 9:15. Some of the local races like to have a warm up/ fitness routine before them. This was like a full on Zumba class. I don’t think I could pull off those moves on a normal day let alone right before a race!! I just observed. :) Following the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem, we headed to the start line. Having been so far back in the pack at my last 2 races, I made sure to move up to the front this time. I had placed 2nd in my Age Group in 2014 but the crowd looked bigger this year and I felt out of shape so I was just aiming for a steady race. After some confusion about the starting horn, we were off!
The course is very scenic for this race. It starts on the high school track before heading through the parking lot to a paved walking path before turning in the Cypress Tunnel. The tunnel is a dirt trail that comes out a street before turning right and heading across the dunes and down to the shoreline. That’s all in the first 1.2 miles. From there to mile 3.1 you run along the water then turn around to go back the way you came. It’s one of the few out and back races I like. A half mile in, I felt like I was huffing and puffing already and that wasn’t a good sign. I had used my inhaler 3 times over the course of the morning, so I thought that would help. Then I checked my pace- 8:15. Oh yeah, that explains it. Oops! I knew I was hitting a dune sand patch – in the tunnel- and would slow down so I just kept running. Then we hit 20-30 yards of sand and we all slowed. The upside though is that this is where the drum line was and it’s kind of awesome running past a drum line. :)
I lied to myself after last years’ race. I really believed there was only about 20 yards of soft, dune sand total through out the race. Yeah, no. There was 20-30 yards in the tunnel and then a freakin’ football field worth to get to the water line. I tried to run it, but knew walking was more efficient. Now that my pace had been reigned in, I was breathing much better too. :) From there I just kept a steady pace to the turn around and back. There were hula dancers at the right before the water line and 2 guitar players along the beach providing the on course entertainment. Once turning around, I notice that the clouds, the beach, the rock and the stacks at the old plant looked kind of awesome but I wouldn’t let myself stop to take a picture. Particularly when I had to pause to tie my shoe that had come undone. I was beginning think I had a good shot at breaking an hour and didn’t want to miss it. I had forgotten how hard beach running is but I thought I would be close.
I finally made it back to the hula dancers and had that dang football field of sand to deal with again. I tried running it once more but my calves and quads were feeling the burn. So walking again. A woman came running up next to me and mentioned that I was zig-zagging. Oops, but I was just trying to get through it. We paced each other for the remainder of the dunes discussing how much we hate sand. Once through that, I felt exhausted and all I wanted to do was walk but I could hear the drums so I pushed on. Past the drum line again, through the tunnel one more time and back into the parking lot towards the track. I knew I might just miss an hour. Once hitting the track, I tried to push it but I felt like I had nothing left. Rounding the last corner, I could see the clock and knew I just had to hang on. Finish- 59:37. This was one of those cross the finish line gasping kind of races. Some of the pictures my mother took are hilarious, I look beat, like I am going to fall over. I stretched a bit and then began the process of getting the 5+ pounds of sand out of my shoes. I was very happy that I finished under an hour. It was about the only real goal I had for this race. I also realized just how tough this course is, maybe I hadn’t phoned it in last year after all. I felt like I was passed by more than a few people on the way out and only managed to pass a few on the way back so I figured an age group place was unlikely. I wanted to check my finishing time though, so once we figured out where the board was this year, we headed over. Times hadn’t been updated yet so we waited a short moment while a volunteer hung new pages. At which point I laughed out loud. I’d finished 1st in my age group. How? Sweet! Last year, my only complaint about the race was the lack of communication about how the awards were going to happen. Even when they did start, things were announced in an order I still don’t understand. This year, there was little fan fare- you just walked over to the awards table, gave them your name and they handed you your ribbon. So much smoother than last year. And since I was cold, the ease of it was awesome.
Overall, I am still impressed with this race. It is very organized and the volunteers are great. The course is tough but pretty and I look forward to running it next year. When it is sunny and hopefully a little warmer. :)
Do you like smaller races? Or larger ones?
Ever run a race with a drum line?