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That Dam 30K

It has been a busy weekend! Saturday was the Love for Smiles 5k at Marie Kerr Park. My original plan was not to do it, since I wanted to do the SRLA’s (Students Run LA) 30K race today… Sunday. But then I got to thinking about the High Desert Runner’s Gran Prix Points Contest and how the Love for Smiles is a Gran Prix Event and how I could score some points there…. I figured I should go and put in a medium effort….

Before the race I got to talking to Joe Kim and Chris Jensen who figured to be my competition for the day. Joe said he was sick and was going to do 8 min/mile pace. I wasn’t sure if I could be Chris so I figured I would run hard enough to stay sub 8, ahead of Joe and score at least 2nd place points…. When the race started Chris took off really fast… I don’t think I could have kept up with him anyway… I settled in comfortably fast. Every time I glanced back, though… there was Joe… I’m racing along just slower than 7 and he is 20m back! I ended up racing the whole way to keep the gap. I finished in 22:11, good enough for 5th place overall and 2nd in Age Group. I will have some work to do if I am to compete with Chris, he was more than a minute ahead of me!! So much for saving something for tomorrow’s 30K.

So, this morning I head down to Hansen’s Dam area for the Student’s Run LA race. I did this race 2 years ago and they called it the Friendship 18 mile race. Now they are calling it “That Dam 30K.” They moved the start/finish a little farther from the dam, into the park thus making the course longer – thus the reason for the name change.

One big reason for choosing this race is that two of my Hyland’s running team mates – Rachel Rodriguez and Brian Pfeffer are teacher/coaches for Students Run LA. I knew that they would be there. Sure enough about a mile into the race Brian passed me. We chatted for a bit. A couple minutes later I noticed another Hyland’s jersey pass me… not knowing who it was I called out “Go Hyland’s” The runner turned out to be Bethany Brown. She and her husband Walter run for Hyland’s. They live in Utah. I was surprised to see her!

About 5.5 miles into the race there is a turn around. I like this. It let’s you see the other runners in the race! Sure enough, by the time I spotted Bethany she had already caught and passed all the other female runners… she is speedy. She finished 1st female, 9th overall with a time of 2:12!! Soon after seeing Bethany I spotted Brian… or rather he spotted me. After the turn around I heard Rachel call out! It is very encouraging to have friends out there cheering for you! On the 2nd loop I got to see all three Hyland’s team mates again.

My plan for the race was not to really race it…. to just try to stay between 8:00 (my marathon goal pace) and 8:30 for the run. As the race started I felt like I was taking it easy… holding back a bit. There was a little hill but otherwise the first 2.7 miles are downhill as you race in front of – below the dam. My splits were 7:39, 7:37 and 7:57. I worried I had gone out too fast. The next almost 3 miles are just about all uphill as you run to the east end of the dam and then beyond it eastward. My splits were 8:37, 9:08 (quick potty break), and 8:14. From there you cruise a couple miles back down to the east end of the dam. You climb up to it and then run across it. Going down I was sub 8, the mile that included the climb up to the dam was 8:29. Heading west across the dam I had an 8:12 split.

Still on the dam, 9 miles into the race, doing an 8:12 for a perfectly flat mile, I was a little concerned. It was already feeling tough and I was only half way. But as I started lap two… and headed down off the dam, my pace quickened. I focused on maintaining a quick cadence – 7:49 … 8:00… then the 3 miles of uphill… 8:20, 8:44. 8:28. It occurred to me that I was actually climbing a little faster on lap two! I also noticed that I was slowly picking off other runners. 7:49 downhill, 8:34 with the dam climb…. The last three included 2 miles of pancake flat dam top running 7:53… 7:49… and then a drop down off the dam, but a slight incline to the finish – 7:44 pace.

As I was doing the 2nd lap, as I already said, I was passing people. Some of them were stopped on the side of the road, obviously fighting leg cramps…. I thought to myself… I should have brought some Hyland’s… but then, to be honest… I had another thought… if I had some with me, would I stop in a race to give them some? Sorry, but probably not. I remembered Rachel behind me and wondered if she had any samples with her.. and if she did, would she stop to share???

What pleases me about the pacing is that I ran a negative split. My first half was 1:16:37. The second was 1:15:35! There were many runners out ahead of me… but they post the results in two groups.. .Students Run LA runners and Public 30K racers. I finished 25th place out of the public racers and was first of at least 12 finishers in my age group! This also counts as a new Personal Record. It is not as fast as the 18 miler two years ago.. but this one is longer and it is the fastest of 5 – 30K races I have done thus far.

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February 2020


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