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Palo Alto Moonlight Run & Walk - Run10k

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Palo Alto, California
United States
Total Time = 53m 27s
Overall Rank = 298/920
Age Group = 30-39
Age Group Rank = 22/168
Pre-race routine:

Since this was a night-time race, there wasn't really a "routine." I had a beer with a co-worker at about 5 p.m., then went back to my office to change clothes. It took about 45 minutes to drive from SF to Palo Alto and I drank some Gatorade on the way, but I'd eaten a pretty late lunch so I wasn't really hungry. I thought about getting some coffee but that didn't work for me too well last time I caffeinated before a run.

I was surprised at how crowded this race was! Good thing I gave myself plenty of time to drive down there and register, because there were tons of people and I had to park pretty far away. I'd been planning to register then walk back to my car to dump my ID and T-shirt and stuff, but there wasn't time so I fretted for a while about what to do with my crap. I ended up getting creative and pinning my ID/cash to my shorts and just tying my sweatshirt and T-shirt around a pole and hoping for the best.
Event warmup:

I ran a mile at my hoped-for race pace. Nice try, Erin.
  • 53m 27s
  • 6.21 miles
  • 08m 37s  min/mile

They set aside the first 30-50 yards for the really fast folks -- those planning on running sub-7 miles (in the dark!) -- and made the rest of us wait in the back, which kind of sucked for a non-chip-timed race. Obviously the big selling point of this race is that you run by moonlight. I'd figured it would be relatively well-lit, then on the day of the race I saw that they recommended runners use flashlights or headlamps. Oops. Yeah, it was pretty dark. I have no idea how much that affected me, in terms of slowing down just for safety, but especially after we got off the roads I felt like I was putting a lot of energy into watching where I was going.

Still, I love running in the dark and there was a lot of cool camaraderie among the runners. (For example, every time we'd come up to an obstacle in the road people up ahead would yell it out, and then it was your responsibility to yell when you passed it so the folks behind knew what to expect.)

In the first mile a guy caught up to me and paced me for quite some time. He was breathing pretty hard, but I couldn't tell if he was just a hard breather or if he was struggling; he stopped at the water station about 2.5/3 miles in and I never saw him again, so I guess that answers that.

It got pretty dark after the water stop, as the trail wound into the marshes on the bay and away from any ambient light, and I was mostly on my own. That's when my speed really suffered, and I'm not sure if it was a) not being able to see my Garmin and keep myself on pace; b) a fairly strong headwind; or c) running in the dark and being careful. My guess is a combination of A and B. It was pretty lonely out there, but peaceful and beautiful too. I think it would've been nice with a true full moon.

Most of miles 3-5 were on a gravelly path, so it felt good to hit a paved trail again, and then the road. I picked up the pace a bit (again, I'm not sure if it was the lack of headwind or me just speeding up because the end was in sight, so to speak) and caught up with a group of runners who were pretty chatty, which was a nice change.

Somewhere around the last mile we hooked up with the 5k runners -- I never saw them joining us, and I didn't even realize they had until after the race when Cynthia mentioned it. I got really annoyed by how many people were passing me in that last mile, so it was nice to know it wasn't just 10k folks with great kicks.

All in all, it was an OK race for me. I'd hoped to do better than my last 10k, but a few factors might have held me back: running at the end of a work day; running in the dark; not being able to use my Garmin for pacing; a pretty good headwind for two miles. According to the official time I was slower in this race, but my Garmin results for both races show the exact same pace. I'm pretty sure this race was long, because my Garmin had 6.38 miles -- the last 10k I ran, my Garmin had 6.35 miles, but that was including me getting a little lost and having to backtrack a section of the trail. (Another thing that makes me think this race ran long is how I placed -- I did pretty well, comparatively.)

I hate to admit that it was tough keeping my pace without being able to see the Garmin. Although it's interesting that I ran this 10k almost exactly as fast as my last 10k -- same overall pace, different pacing throughout the race. My first miles was way too fast, the second two were just right, the next two were too slow, and the last mile was good, which was nice since I felt rough.
What would you do differently?:

I just need to learn how to pace myself better based on RPE. If I'd been able to see my Garmin I would've kept it a little slower in the first mile, but more important, I would've made more of an effort to pick things up in the middle.
Post race
Warm down:

I hadn't been able to find Cynthia (MovingSouth) before the race but I was pretty sure she'd be finishing the 5k after me, so I found a spot on the side of the finishers' chute and hoped I'd remember what she looks like. I was shocked when I actually spotted her! I'm terrible with faces. She looked great. I met her at the finish line and we hung out for a little while, talking about upcoming races and our plans for next year. It was nice to chat, but then we both got pretty cold.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

The blackness of night.

Event comments:

A very popular and well-run race. I was a little anxious about the start, with everyone but the very fastest runners expected to stand back, but it worked out OK (even if I lost about 10 seconds). The run was well-marked, with lots of volunteers at any place that could be confusing. I was surprised by all the swag being given away before and after, and the long-sleeved race T-shirt was neat.

Last updated: 2008-09-15 12:00 AM
00:53:27 | 06.21 miles | 08m 37s  min/mile
Age Group: 22/168
Overall: 168/920
Performance: Average
Laps: 7:58, 8:20, 8:25, 8:53, 8:39, 8:14, 3:03 (8:02/mile)
Course: One loop on a mix of closed roads and paved and gravel trails. In the dark!
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Average
Mental exertion [1-5] 3
Physical exertion [1-5] 4
Good race? Ok
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Average
Race evaluation [1-5] 4

2008-09-16 12:04 AM

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Berkeley, Calif.
Subject: Palo Alto Moonlight Run & Walk
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