Friday, November 29, 2013

RunDown: Zoom Turkey Trot Half Marathon 2013 (and a SNAKE later)

I enjoy running Coastal Trail runs..and a couple of years ago they started another set of events under the Zoom logo.  Zoom races are focused on fast, mostly flat road courses (i.e. not hilly  trail runs) . 

A nice  website feature : you can add their event calendar into your google cal (and I had done this a while back). Early this week I saw that there was a Zoom Turkey Trot and I realized that I'd be in town for Thanksgiving and it would work out. Hmm. I was coming off of a cold that had kept me from running over last weekend and was itching to do something.

The course looked like a good one: the Coyote Creek trail South of San Jose. It's got tree cover and small rolling dips and bumps here and there but not big hills. The weather was going to be great: cool (50F ) at the start and mild sun with clouds. Let's do it!

The online preregistration was close, but they always do day-of registration. Turkey Day  morning I got up at 6:15 am, pulled together my stuff without waking Toni, and headed down the 25 minute drive on highway 101 to be there when the registration opened at 7 am. 

When I got there it was already hopping. Big problem: the bathrooms at the park where the race starts were not working! The power lines had been cut by vandals and the power company was working to fix. (the toilets in the park need power to work...probably a pump to help with the water pressure out there). Lots of bushes and trees around though so not really a problem and if you needed you could drive 2 min back to the other side of the park.

At 7:50 am we got the call by Wendell on the megaphone to follow him to the start. Gave us the usual little talk on how the course was marked...this was NOT a problem I can tell you. A very simple course and not much confusing about it: a big out and back along the trail.

Off we go and I had been mulling over the pacing..I have some good base miles but not any lactate work or much speed work so I figured a slow 8:40-ish might work. For about the first 4 miles I kept to that pace and was holding a nice 2:4 breathing.

At about mile 5 I felt better and got a kind of second wind and clocked it 20s faster. My breathing popped to a 2:2 which is where it stayed for the rest of the race. Besides just being raw fun to get out there and bang out a fast run it is also good to practice eating and and drinking, pacing, running tangents and holding good form and pressing on hard  even when hurting.

BTW: I'm always amazed how lazy people are about running tangents, it was very easy in this race: In the beginning the HM and 10k people are together (i.e. a bit more crowded) but nobody is coming back on this out and back course so you can run them perfectly. Later, the halfers are along and so by the time you turn around to come back you are spread out so much that you can still run them...being careful if somebody coming the other way NOT part of the race...bicycles especially.

I did a good job with the tangents, reading exactly 13.12 on the Garmin at the finish. I was shocked by this as the turn around was at about 6.7 but I had forgot we do a loop around the small pond at the start but not on the way back.

Just before the turnaround I reflected on things to be thankful for...mostly that everybody we know is doing well and here I am having a wonderful run in super weather in a great place! 

At the turnaround I stopped for a tiny cup of water. I had eaten a GU at about mile 3 (and had some cliff blocks before the start). The stop slowed me down a bit and I had my slowest mile at 8:49. I resolved no more stops and I ate my 2nd GU on the run at mile 7 without water.

It had seemed on the way out we were going up more than down on the little rollers and so I deduced that the river must flow south to north here because we are climbing very very slightly. After the turn around for whatever reason I did feel things were a bit easier so my paces crept down to the 8:30 ranges.

We were pretty spread out now, the only people I saw coming the other way were walk-runners and people that had blown their about mile 8.5 I came from behind  upon a tall  fellow that seemed to slowed down pacing a bit or was having trouble.... as I was coming up on him.

When I passed him ..after I sent by he said "oh! There goes my AG award!", he had jet black hair still so I asked him back "How old are you?" and he said "52" I said "58" and he said, "see, there you go"....BUT little did we both know because of the higher turnout this year (172) Wendell had decided to do 5 year age groups not the usual small race 10 year groups, so we were NOT in the same AG...I will check if he got one. (Ans: His name is Nik Tehrani and he did get third (of 5) too  in M50-54 with a 1:56:00! I feel better having not stolen his 3rd. ;)
Nik Tehrani

He got me thinking that there might be low enough turnout in my A.G. that I could place. In trail marathons I have placed a number of times in 2,3...(out of 5-6 people ;) never get 1st b.c. there's always some amazing guy that runs like a bat out of hell. Your only hope for 1st is that guy staying in bed...Or getting lost on the way to the race or during the race 8)

I keep going and I pass a couple of younger folks...always good for the aging ego ;). Then I see a young guy that passed me early on in the race way ahead. I decide to make it my goal to stick to him like glue and try to pass him.

I dog him the next 4 miles to the finish. I can tell he is working it too..he's leaning forward a lot more now than earlier. He stops at the water stop at mile 11 and I gain on..I know I can probably beat him...but in any case he's making a great rabbit for me.

There are some bigger hilly bumps now and I am dialing back a bit on the ups and then trying to rock the downhills and my rabbit stubbornly stays about 50-60 feet ahead of me. 

A young guy with his dog passes both of us going a lot faster..he must have been socializing or sandbagging the first half. The dog looks like he's out for a slow trot...not working at all ;)

Finally, I see landmarks that say it's the last 1/2 mile. I pour on the coal gradually..once I'm around the corner and can see the finish that's all I need..I am sprinting at a 6:30 min/mile pace. About 50 yards from the finish I pass my rabbit going like a rabbit myself and cross the line showing 1:52:09 / 8:33 pace...not bad!

I turn around and high five my rabbit and thank him for dragging me along for the last 4 miles. He had no idea I was there of course and was amused. His name is Frederico Garcia and he came in just 2s behind me. He was in the 45-50 AG and alas, came in 4th, so no medal.

2013-11-28 Thu Zoom Turkey Trot
SplitMiles  Pace      HR% WHR  Elev+  Elev-   YPB

Time 1:52:09
Place 51/172
AG place 3/5 (I would have to run a 7:39 pace to beat the 2nd place runner in my AG !)

My third fastest HM: 40s slower than my old PR of 1:51:30/8:30 pace which stood from 2009 (until April of this year when I knocked it down to 1:48:xx/8:16 pace). Not bad considering my complete lack of speedwork so far this cycle.

Here's how the negative splitting looked:

This graph shows that after the first mile I was already 12s off my eventual final pace. That got worse until mile 8. Then I decided I could pick the pace and took  the 45s seconds off before the finish. The last 12 secs came off so fast the graph barely shows's all in that final sprint.

Some good negative splitting which is always nice. Could I have gone faster. Hmm I don't think much if any. I was working pretty hard.


After a shower and some eating Toni and I went to Russian Ridge to do our favorite 4 mile  hike up Borel hill for views of the bay and the pacific ocean (and the mostly wild area between us and the ocean) as well as the Ancient Oaks trail.

Ancient Oaks

Finally the SNAKE the title promises 8)
Pacific Gopher Snake (I think) found by a family we met on the trail.

View toward pacific ocean 

deer leg. Many coyotes around..we heard a pack of them howling in the woods


  1. Congrats on the half and ICK to the snake (hate them!!!)

  2. Love the medal! Congrats on your 3rd place :-)

  3. Love the medals. Fast time, can't believe it was third, not first. Flew right by the snake pic. Thanks for the warning.

  4. Awesome post! Congrats on your win.. excellent pacing!

  5. Congratulations. That was a great race and a really good time.


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