Pre-race dinner: I carbo-loaded the night before at the Old Spaghetti Factory. Okay, not really. I don’t run races longer than the half-marathon, so I don’t carbo-load on purpose before any of them. But I’m always up for dining at the Old Spaghetti Factory; and of course, we only go on Friday or Saturday night because that’s when Chad the balloon man is there.
Race day: I love Cook Park! Even with an 8 a.m. start, I can get a decent amount of sleep, leaving home by 7:30 or so if I don’t mind cutting it a bit close. I knew from chatting with Alan at the pre-race packet pick-up that the total number of racers was going to be around a hundred, so I didn’t think parking would be a problem at all, and indeed it wasn’t.
It was one of those mornings where it was a little difficult to know how to dress – short sleeve or long sleeve? Five degrees in either direction would’ve been an easy call. Last time I’d been in this situation (during the Spring 10K), I’d ended up feeling like I’d overdressed, so I decided to go with the short sleeve tech shirt. That turned out to be a good call, as the morning temperature wavered between cool in the shade and warm in the sunlight.
As we waited for the race to start, Darwin Rasmussen directed our attention to the banner above the start line. Uberthons had a brand new “Daddython” banner created … but it was down in Los Angeles. (I should get more details on this. I mean, there is something ironic about a running-related banner being stuck down in L.A., considering that people in L.A. don’t even walk, much less run.)
This is the third race I’ve run at Cook Park this year already, all with Uberthons, so the race course is well familiar to me – it’s the one that looks like a snake with a rodent in the digestive tract:
The first 1 3/4 miles are on paved walking/biking trails, then there are small stretches on a dirt trail, the walking path by the children’s play area, and the parking lot, before moving on to a different paved trail past the baseball fields.
I started out in the middle of the pack but managed to weave in and out of the crowd to get within shouting distance of the frontrunners, David Hume, DuWayne Olson, and a couple of others.
The water/aid station on the course was located roughly where the directly upward pointing arrow sits on the right side of the map. I was running on an empty stomach and, on top of that, didn’t drink much before leaving home (poor planning on my part), so I was mildly tempted to stop for a cup of water, but it was “just” a 5K ….
Right past the 1 mile marker on this course is a very short, steep climb of about 15 feet or so. It was here that I jumped into fourth place, behind Hume, Olson, and Aaron Waugh. I don’t know if one ever really gets to like running uphill, but thanks to living in the southwest part of town, I’m sort of used to it. (It’s one of the reasons I tend to do tempo runs on a treadmill, because it’s hard for me to find a consistently level bit of terrain to be able to adjust my effort level by pace, instead of elevation gain.) Anyway, that was just a brief little rise – certainly nothing like racing on Mount Tabor.
If there’s a tricky part to this course, it’s around the 2 mile mark. That’s near the end of the only part on a dirt trail just before the kids’ playground area. For some reason, even though I ran past the 2 mile marker (and had the accompanying buzz on my GPS watch), I was thinking that the race was almost done. The tail part of the snake, however, turned out to be longer than it seemed. (I don’t even have a good excuse for this confusion, since I’ve run this route so often.)
Anyway, once I reached the last turnaround (the tip of the snake’s tail), it felt flat and fast(ish). With less than half a mile to go, it was time to empty the tank. The 10K may be my true love as far as racing distances go, but the 5K still holds a special place in my heart, and the feeling at this end point can’t be matched – a combination of exhilaration, hard effort, and distinctly uncomfortable pacing.
I finished fourth overall, and thanks to Uberthons’ “no double dipping” policy, took the gold medal for males 45+. (DuWayne Olson would’ve gotten it, but he finished second overall.) Most satisfying for me was that I cut 41 seconds off my 5K time versus the last time I ran this very same course, so I’m progressing in getting back to my pre-tendinitis pace.
What comes after finishing a race? Water, and then the food:
After I finished eating, I had some time to relax, and then it was time to help lead the kids’ 1 mile race, which I had volunteered to do. Joining me were fellow Ambassadors Kirsten Crowley and Randy Fujioka. The 1 mile course was the tail part of the snake from the start/finish line. After about a quarter of a mile, I felt the breakfast bouncing around in my stomach. You know those beer mile challenges? I wonder if there’s a bacon mile…. Anyway, the 1 mile race (which was chip-timed, though not for me) consisted of about 40% dads (and a few moms) and 60% kids. Going on at about the same time was the Kidathon, which was a 1/4 mile dash near the playground area for smaller/younger kids (although some of those who ran the mile seemed pretty young).
This was the first Daddython, but it was far from the first time Uberthons has staged a race at Cook Park, so it’s not surprising that everything seemed to go smoothly. It had all the hallmarks of the Uberthons experience: plenty of parking; well-marked race route; accurate measurement; water; post-race food; finisher’s medals for everyone; first/second/third place age/gender group award pins; overall first/second/third place winner’s overall, 45+, and 65+ medals; and on-site medical care from Accelerated Sports Medicine.
Results: Overall, 93 runners finished the 5K, ranging in age from 7 to 82. The male/female split was pretty even, 45 to 48 – perhaps closer to parity than the usual 40/60 split because it was the Daddython. For full results, click here.
Disclosure: I’m a 2016 Uberthons Ambassador and I received a comp entry to this race.