Friday, July 04, 2008

35th place but what a victory!

I ran the 34th annual Coronado Independence Day 15K (9.3 miles) in San Diego again this year. I also ran it back in 2006 (1:02:24 that day). It's a great race. Here's the course map:

And here's my hand-made elevation profile:


Ok, races don't get any flatter than this one. There's not a single hill. It's all at sea level starting at Tidelands Park on Coronado "Island"... which really isn't an island but a pennisula (but that's not important right now).

Race day for me started at O'dark thirty... actually 4:15am. Drove 90 miles to San Diego for the 7am start. Big race. Lots of people. I got there an hour before the race start and still had problems finding parking.

I hoped to run sub-60 (6:27 pace)... but here's my splits...
mile 1 - 6:30 uh oh, a bit too slow
mile 2 - 6:09 oops, a bit too fast
mile 3 - 6:23 ah, just right... the Goldilocks zone
mile 4 - 6:20 a bit fast, but nice
mile 5 - 6:43 what the... BTW, this exact same mile split was slow 2 years ago
mile 6 - 3:42 no, just kidding, I missed the mile marker... just checking to see if you're reading :-)
mile 7 - 13:14 or 6:37/6:37... 10sec off pace for those 2 miles
mile 8 - 6:40 maybe I can still go sub-61 for a personal CR
finish - 60:33 (6:30 a mile; missed sub-60 by 4sec per mile)

The last couple of miles were fun because three of us masters runners (i.e., runners over 40) were running side by side, neck and neck. We all three knew it'd be a race to the finish line. One guy took off with a quarter mile to go. I thought he kicked too soon so I let him get ahead a good bit. Then I started kicking. I was closing in on him but I ran out of real estate before the finish line. But I did beat the other guy.

A couple minutes after I finished, I heard it announced that Steve Scott was coming to the finish. Sure 'nough, it was him. I finished 2:27 ahead of him. I was rather proud of myself for beating Steve Scott. Of course, in his prime he could have torched my tail by nearly that much in the mile alone (not just a 15K).

For runners, the name Steve Scott doesn't need any explanation, but for the non-runners realize that he held the American Record for the mile (3:47) for 26 years until Alan Webb broke that last year (2007). He also has run more sub-4 minute miles in history than anyone else (136). My kids thought it was cool that I beat someone who has his own wikipedia page. :-)

Now I'm having too much fun reminding all my family and friends that I beat Steve Scott today (even though I am 12 years younger than him). I remind them every couple of minutes about it. I'm spinning every conversation in a way to make the point that I beat Steve Scott. My son was playing Wii tennis a few minutes ago. He said, "Hey dad, I just beat all the players at tennis." Me: "Yeah, but did you beat Steve Scott?" :-)

And now I'm telling the story with great dramatic effect (and a tad of poetic license )... "I was racing neck and neck with this supreme athlete in the last miles of the race. Neither of us was giving an inch to the other. We were digging deep to outrace each other in those last couple of miles. Steve was running so fast to beat me that he realized he might have to log his 137th career sub-4 mile at the end of this race to get me. But I didn't let him have an inch of the lead. We came flying into the finishing chute side by side and I leaned at the tape and beat him by a hair. He just shook his head and patted me on the back as he realized there was a new kid in town." :-) :-) :-)

Ok, maybe I'm having a bit too much fun with this. I never got to meet him and I didn't run with him, but I did finish ahead of him. Seriously, from all I've heard, Steve Scott is an outstanding person with great integrity and character, and obviously one of the most talented runners in history. He's a great competitor and I wish him all the best with his running, his life, and his career.

This is one of the many fun things about running road races. You never know who might be in the race with you. A mediocre recreational runner like myself might be lining up right next to a former Olympian. A few years ago, I managed to finish the San Dieguito Half Marathon ahead of Paula Newby-Fraser (the "queen of Kona" who won the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii a record 8x)... and someone else with her own wikipedia page. Again, in her prime, all I would have seen is the bottom of her shoes as she would have left me behind.

I discovered after I got home that I placed 3rd in my age-group (M40-44). But I didn't stick around for any awards. I guess I really ought to start doing that since I've missed out on 2 AG awards so far this summer. Hopefully, I'll get the nice polo shirt in the mail for placing 3rd.

Got home in time to enjoy a pool party with friends and see fireworks that night. It was a good day.