Sunday, October 21, 2007

Running Through the Colors

At the Start with Sean and Rocky
Today, I joined what seemed like a record crowd (200+) for one of the biggest local races, the annual Run through the Colors 5 and 10K in Nevada City. The race lived up to its name in a big way; the trees seemed to be having their own competition for most beautiful fall colors.
For different reasons, Team Lubbers decided to switch gears by running the 5K distance instead of the usual "longest available race on the menu." Last year, I had picked the 10K option at Run through the Colors race and lost what could have been a nice 3rd place age group finish in the 2006 Gold Country Grand Prix series. So, still recovering from the recent ultras, and trying not to have history repeat itself, I entered the 5K myself. Rocky had just recovered from a flu and Sean had just undergone a major dental surgery on Friday, so the boys entered the 5K as well, with Rocky running and Sean walking. It was actually amazing that Sean could walk at all, since he had not eaten since Thursday night and was still in a lot of pain. And since all of us were running the 5K, Sean and Rocky's friend Hayes decided to switch to the 5K as well. Vicky and Hayes's mom were on hand to cheer for all of us.
In order to win this year's 30-39 age group, I needed at least two second place finishes (good for 7 points each) in the final two races of the season to keep Larry Defeyter, the hard-charging local champ (See Steve Bond's Union Newspaper article), from overtaking me. As it turned out, Larry was running the 10K today, so I had a good chance, although it was hard to tell at the starting line which race the other 30 to 39-year old grand prix runners were running. Hmm, all these calculations and strategies, this sounds suspiciously like that other grand prix series that I am running in. One thing is for sure, participating in two grand prix series will make you a better mathematician!
Sean was pretty much guaranteed a second place in the grand prix series for his 12-and-under age group, but Rocky was going to have to run hard for the remaining two races to make it into the top three of the age group and with local national class 12-year old Zach Stoll present, it was going to be even harder.
The Top of Nevada City's Broad Street in Fall Colors
It was very cold at the start, so we could not wait to get started. At exactly 8:30, all the 5 and 10K runners took off in a mad dash to make it to the narrow turn onto the main road without getting trampled. Everyone was running very fast, but that abruptly changed when we made our first right turn, which marked the start of a brutal uphill (Nevada Street) that slowed everyone, except perhaps eventual 10K winner Chris Bodelato (in an amazing 35 minutes and change), down to a crawl.
After about a mile, the 5K and 10K courses split and I found myself in fourth place overall of the 5K, right behind Zach Stoll and with the ever-dangerous Greg Ngo not far behind me. The course wound itself up and down the streets of Nevada City; I don't think there was a single flat section! On the uphills, the featherlight Zach would pull ahead of me, and on the downhills, I would pull even with him again.

The Long Downhill on Broad Street

The last part of the course is my favorite: a huge downhill on Broad Street (the main street in Nevada City's downtown area), followed by a slight uphill before the final straightaway to the finish. Greg was still pretty close, so this was my chance to increase the gap. I started hammering down the hill and passed Zach just before the final climb. Realizing I now had a chance to put some extra points in the grand prix bank, I sprinted to the finish and arrived in third place overall (1st in the 30-39 AG) in about 20:45.

Hayes finished the race in 28 minutes and change and Rocky came in around 32 minutes. Larry Defeyeter won the age group in the 10K (41 + change) and Frank Plucker and Sid Heaton ran some excellent 10K races as well. I met many fellow Sierra Trailblazers, including Catherine, the Sierra Trail Runner (who ran a great race herself -- check out the great pictures on her blog) and it was fun catching up with all of them. We had a fun time watching the other racers finish. The most dramatic finish of the day was Troy Vahidi's. His super-charged finish sprint reminded me of the recent women's finish at the Chicago marathon, as he blasted by an unsuspecting race finisher in the final 50 yards.

And, hey, I was not the only ultrarunner participating in the short distance today! Gordy Ansleigh, the man who basically invented ultrarunning, ran the 10K and won the 60-69 age group.

With Gordy at the Awards Ceremony

After most of the 10K runners had finished, race director Richard Thomas handed out the great awards that this race is known for: the Sierra Club Calendars for the top 2 in each age group. Last year my dad, who came in second in the 70-79 age group, had won one and and fortunately I was able to pick up another one of these great calendars this year. The amazing Boutte family from Nevada City had a great day with four age group wins and (I think) two overall wins as well, so look for them selling calendars in the mall :)

Richard Thomas Hands out the Famous Calendars

V. Neelankantan Picking up His Annual Calendar -- Photo by Rocky Lubbers

After the race we went for our traditional coffee at the Wisdom Cafe on Broad Street. We had actually passed the cafe during the race. I ordered a large latte and was not disappointed!
The Wisdom Cafe on the Race Course

Redefining "Large Coffee"

Many thanks to Richard Thomas and his wife for organizing this great race, and to the small army of volunteers who monitored every intersection of the course and made sure this race went so smoothly.

Next up, The Helen Klein 50 on November 3rd!


Catherine said...

Nice post Pete. I think between the two of us we got the race covered. Caitlyn's doing great today. I think it was the 4 hour stomach bug, I've heard it's going around.
PS. Now that's a BIG coffee.
See you at HK.

Jean Pommier said...

Isn't it so cool to run with the family? What beautiful colors, not much to envy to the East Coast, isn't it? Cool picture with Gordy. I've submitted one on Wikipedia, but not sure how to make it used in Gordy's bio.

Anyway, if all goes well next week at Whiskeytown 50K, I will see you at Helen Klein 50M the following week!


Peter Lubbers said...

Hi Jean,
Yes, running with the family is the best. I've been enjoying the stories on your blog about that as well.
I looked at the wikipedia site and it seems that you can upload your picture by clicking on the placeholder image at the top of the page, provided you are logged in and it is your own picture.
Good luck at Whiskeytown and hope to see you at HK50.

Dave said...

Nice race report and congratulations on a strong finish!

Alan Fletcher said...

Hi Pete - nice blog. you are definitely running a lot more than I am.... Alan

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