The eighth race in the Gold Country Grand Prix is the Race to End Hunger 5K/10K in Nevada City, benefiting the Food Bank of Nevada County. The course is a mix of paved road, dirt road and sidewalk as it winds its way over Deer Creek on the Pine Street Bridge and then through Nevada City, over American Hill and out Old Downieville Highway. There are many turns and opportunities to go off course, which some did today, but overall the course is challenging and the views were outstanding. There are hills at the beginning and end, with a nice flat out and back in the middle miles.
I woke early and had my traditional pre-race breakfast of muesli (yogurt, rolled oats, berries, pears and nuts) and got my gear together for the day. My marathon training program called for 14 miles today, so I planned to run home over Banner Mountain after the race wrapped up. That meant bringing my Nathan hydration pack and enough energy gels to get me home. In addition, I chose to wear my CEP calf compression sleeves and my New Balance 1080V2's, which I normally reserve for long distance training runs, not races.
Upon arrival at the race, I immediately began scanning the crowd of runners for any men in my age group. After the last race I had a precarious one point lead over fourth place Kevin, who had been my main competition for second place in the 10K races thus far. He pulled up lame in the Bear River 5K, and skipped the Kellerman race last month, so I had mixed feelings about his participation. On one hand, I hoped he did not show so that I could run a comfortable race and secure third place in the standings, on the other hand, I would never wish injury on a fellow runner. I would much rather earn third place than merely outlast the competition to achieve my top three goal at the end of the season. It was my lucky day as he did not show up; I wish him a fast recovery and hope to see him at the remaining three races (easy to say now that I have 8 points on him!).
I signed in and got my mammoth swag tote bag filled with three chocolate bars, stickers, water, candy, cookies and Kettle Chips and race bib. I gave my hydration pack to Twirly, ran a quick quarter mile to get the blood flowing and joined the runners as they corralled at the start line. Bjorn Jones, the perennial 10K winner of the Grand Prix, remarked that he had stumbled across Wanderplace and read the Kellerman 10K report. It's always nice to hear from the people that have been reading, as unless you comment, you're all just page hits without faces! The race director outlined the course and its myriad turns, counted us down, and we were off.
As I had eight miles to run after the race concluded and regardless of how I placed I would retain my position in the point standings, I had the rare pleasure of not feeling the need to keep touch with the lead runners. I actually kept my heart rate in control, under 160, for the first half mile. Then we hit the first hill and it began to creep up, so I transitioned to a power hike. After attending two of Tim Long's hill running clinics, I am a believer in transitioning to the power hike whenever there is a hill I cannot see over, even in road races. It is amazing how many people I pass or keep pace with when I utilize this strategy. All told, I hiked probably half a mile of the course. Once we left Nevada City and began running the Old Downieville Highway, the course flattened out quite a bit and I was able to get into a nice running rhythm, clicking off remarkably even 8:00 miles. There was a short out and back, which enabled me to see who was chasing me: the second and third place women and the third place man in my age group. I had a comfortable lead of a couple hundred meters, and still did not want to race too much, but the second place woman (Angie, I believe her name is) was trying hard to catch me, and she was close enough at times that I could hear her breathing. I credit her with pushing me to the finish line much faster than if I had been alone.
|Always love getting the hardware!|
There was some confusion at the finish, as apparently I had been given a 5k bib number and they were missing a finisher, or something, but they straightened it out quickly and the awards were handed out to all the top finishers. A huge thank you to the Food Bank of Nevada County and all the volunteers at the race today. Their encouragement on course was effusive, and the logistics of the race felt smooth and efficient. There were some course marking issues as some runners got lost, and the overall 10K distance wasn't quite long enough, but it was an awesome way to spend a Saturday morning for a great cause, and the swag bag was full of tasty treats.
After the awards, I donned my trusty Nathan hydration pack (oh so comfortable!), ate a Hammer gel and trotted out of the parking lot. I had three miles and about 1000 feet to climb up the shoulder of Banner Mountain before a 5 mile traverse through the woods to get home, which I completed in a pedestrian 90 minutes. Now that I am showered and have regurgitated the morning's events, I must get off the couch before my legs turn to cement!
Here is my Garmin data from the race (click on view details for, er, details)