Thursday night I entered my age as 46 on a race entry for the very last time possible. I had decided to take part in the Summer Trail Run Series at Peters Canyon in the OC. This is a three race series, 5 miles each. I had wanted to do this series last year but didn’t and I can’t really remember why not. I had run Peters Canyon before with the Cruisers. It is a small, tame wilderness area tucked in among typical Southern California subdivisions. I figured it was a gentle entry back into trail running and the 5 mile distance wasn’t pushing the mileage boundaries too much.
I arrived early. The next car to park was driven by someone I recognized. It was smsmh and tc, wife and child of the amazing hip. It turns out Jeff was going to be there as well but was arriving separately and parked in another lot. It was fun to meet little tc in person. He seems to be a pretty happy guy. At the registration area, Jeff found me. It was good to see him and catch up a little bit. Jeff seems to know everyone so our visit was much too short. It will be while before we’ll be able to share a run again. Unbelievably the last time we’d run together was August 2006.
There were 15 CA Cruisers there for the event. I know many abhor the idea of just training through, but that was really my only intent at this race I just wanted to get in a solid 5 miles and ease back into the trails. I lined up about mid-way in the pack.
The race starts out on a gravel path at Cedar Grove Park in Tustin and makes its way over to Peters Canyon. About a mile into the race we head up the hills through the eucalyptus grove. The trail runs pretty much straight along the ridge, rolling up and down. I felt fine, but needed to walk, along with many others, up a couple of the hills. Although it was significantly cooler in Orange County compared to my home in Los Angeles County 30 miles to the north, it was plenty warm on the hills.
At the turn around point we descended into the canyon proper and ran into a really nice cool breeze on a gentle down slope all the way back. Running through this section felt really good. Although I couldn’t muster any real speed, I was able to just maintain a solid, but slow, consistent pace. My time for the five miles was 49:05. Jeff on the other hand who had planned on taking it easy finished in a blistering 34:03, 19th overall. Now you see why we won’t be running together for a while.
One fun thing about this series is the BBQ afterward. We hung out over burgers, chicken and the biggest bag of chips ever. None of the Cruisers won anything in the raffle.
I was cool with my sub 50:00 finishing time. My 9:50 pace was right on for a training run. Then I realized that my 50 State inspiration, the 74 year old Dr. John, finished in 44:24. I got schooled by a man 25 years my senior! I tried to tell myself that he was racing while I was just running. It didn’t really help. I can’t recall every losing a race to him. It was a humbling experience. Slow (just not so slow) and steady is the only way back. Race #3 in the series is August 7 and I’ll be gunning for Dr. John (so much for respecting your elders). I may not catch him but I expect to narrow the gap. Catching Jeff on the other hand is going to take something akin to a miracle.
Today, my first day on the planet as a 47 year old, was a complete rest day. No running and no gym. My wife got me a really cool present. I’ll have to tell you all about that one in another post. I hope all your Saturday long runs or races go well.