Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Wharf to Wharf 6 Mile Race: Santa Cruz to Capitola

The Wharf to Wharf 6 Mile (not a 10k) race has been on my bucket list since I started spending my summers in Santa Cruz back in 2011. But because of timing with work, I've never been able to do it, until this year! I was pumped to get in (it sold out in 2 days) and looking forward to some company too.
It was to be a Loop weekend, when me and some of the other running bloggers would get together. We had some good meals together, my friend Brad and I toured Stanford University for fun on Saturday, and just enjoyed the company of people who are as jazzed about running as I am! I was particularly psyched that my friend Brad and I got to hang out - we had such a great time in our San Francisco meet up last year that it was great to do it again.
Brad and I in my office - check out the Boston jackets and race #s

Sunday was a no-excuses morning. It was 55, cloudy/foggy with no wind. We had driven the course the night before and knew how to anticipate the hills and when to make the big moves. I had gotten a decent night's sleep - even good for some pre-race jitters. I even woke up before my alarm went off - a sign that my body was just ready to go. I did my usual 2.5 mile warm up, which allowed me to preview physically (and not just in the car this time) the first set of hills on the course. I even saw elite athletes Stephanie Rothstein-Bruce, Brett Gotcher, and Chris Solinsky warming up - this was a big deal race with plenty of star talent.
I was ready for this. All of my Santa Cruz running had paid off - I had been running on the hills of UCSC for 5 weeks. My most recent tempo run of 3 miles at 6:40 pace showed me I could hit my goal pace of 6:40, which would put me at my goal of 40 minutes for the 6 mile (not 10k) race.  I was in the elite corral (me and 1,000 others) and was happy to be able to be near the front of a big race. I knew I would't be too crowded and would be able to get out early.
And BANG! With a huge start gun (which made my heart leap), we were off. I was hoping I wouldn't go out too hard for the first mile, as there were some turns and climbing a bridge and a hill, but boom, 6:40.  The bands were out and playing, and it was hard to just slow down. I felt like I had a lot of energy and wasn't going all out. 2 miles in, and I had cut down into the low 6:30s. I was thinking back to my runs where I was climbing 600-800 feet in my runs - I could tackle these short 50 foot climbs. I figured I would structure my pacing like a 10k, hold steady for the first half, pick it up slightly 3-4, then push a little more 4-5, then all out through the finish. I really am starting to think it is my most successful distance - even though I love the longer stuff, I know how to strategize this one.
But I digress. We were running alongside (but not on) the beach, and it was just a really pretty course.  came through 3 miles in under 20 minutes, so I knew I had some time in the bank, and I had also already conquered the big hills. There was a Japanese drummer band and I was just trying to keep time with them - those and bagpipes (which were also out on the course) give me chills and always make me go faster. At the 4 mile mark I wasn't sure if I would get my goal of sub 40 - it was starting to feel like a lot of work. But at the 5 mile mark, I came in around 32:40, which again meant that I had time in the bank - even if I died a little, I would still get it. I was working hard to pass women - one of my strengths is to pass people toward the end of the race.
Last downhill - almost over!
It is a great confidence booster and it helps me to pick up the pace toward the end. I was trying to fly in the final mile, especially once I hit the last downhill. As I approached the finish line, I could see the clock displaying a time better than I expected. There was a gap between me and the other people around me, so it felt like my personal finish. I lifted my hands to encourage a little clapping, and was positively rewarded with cheers.

6:26 pace
228th overall out of 12,665
46th woman out of 7,896
30 in my age group out of 1,367
Beyond better than expected. Not only did I get my goal of top 50, I slid in well under. I also smashed the sub-40 goal. By being in the top 100 women, they will mail a jacket to me later on in the summer.
Wahoo! First pumping for victory!

Walking around after, we bumped into Chris Solinsky (first on African to run under27 for the 10k) and actually had a chance to chat  him. No picture, since our cameras were back in Santa Cruz, but he was very friendly, even though he wasn't happy with his race (10th). We also chatted with Stephanie Rothstein-Bruce, one of the top American road racers. She came in fourth, and was hoping to win, but it was very cool to meet her. She has Celiac Disease as well, and we had actually been emailing back and forth prior to the race. It is amazing how gracious the top distance runners can be - so open and friendly. I can't think of another sport that even compares.
The race, the whole weekend was better than I could have imagined. It wasn't just great because of the great race, but because of the whole experience. Spending time with friends, participating in such a large event, and just truly enjoying being in California was what made it great.
On my apartment porch after the race

July running is coming to an end, and this was the perfect way to cap it all off...and the mimosas helped too.
Toasting our successes!

1 comment:

  1. Would love to know any tips you or Stephanie have for fellow celiac/gluten-intolerant distance runners! (like me) Congrats on great race!