Thursday, June 16, 2016

Let's Try This Again: Danville 10K Race Report

(Not long after leaving the country on June 1, I saw that a few folks mentioned in the comments that the pictures for this post weren't showing up. Alas, being computer-less, there wasn't much I could do about it. But behold, I have returned victorious from the Emerald Isle, and I think I've figured out what the issue was & how to fix it. Please let me know if not.)

(Also, apparently, I misspelled Cathryn's name through the ENTIRE POST. D: I suck. But that's fixed now too. Please enjoy.)

A few months back, Cathryn sent a bunch of us an email about the Danville 10K/Half where she was planning to go after a 10K PR. I knew I'd only be about 4 weeks post marathon at that point, but I love running with these ladies & it was only $35 through 3/1, so I decided what the heck & signed up. (And then....promptly forgot about it until post-Eugene.)

I felt like trying to actually race a 10K less than 4 weeks after a marathon was probably epically stupid and not likely to end well, but I was signed up & still wanted to run & see my friends. Since Cathryn was trying to PR I offered to pace her (read: inflict my debut pacing attempt on her), and she agreed.

A few days before the race she sent me a plan about exactly what she wanted to do--basically I would wear her watch & try to run somewhere in the 8:02-8:09 range, with kind of an "A" goal of sub-50 & a "B" goal of a PR (sub-50:38). We knew it would probably be a hot day but were both excited to see what we could make happen.

The drive was significantly shorter than I'd thought it would be (I guess there's no traffic at 6:30am on a Saturday....) so I arrived around 6:50 for the 8:10 start. This meant I had my pick of parking spots, got my bib in seconds, & was in & out of the bathrooms (the LDS Church where the race is staged graciously opened their doors for runners) before they had a chance to be fouled by everyone else.

Not too much later I ran into Cathryn's husband & son, then Cathryn, & then Jen & her sister-un-law, almost all at once. We chatted & pinned on bibs, & then some of us headed for the bathrooms while others amused ourselves by sitting on our asses & watching the group warm-up. (Yes....we're those people. But to be fair this was still 30-40 minutes before the race so hell yes, I'm sitting on my ass.)

At 7:45 Jen & I jogged about 5 minutes down the course & back (wanting to be back before the half marathon went off at 8:00), & then I did some strides & stuff on my own before meeting up with Cat again at the start. She gave me her watch, & we said goodbye to IronHubs & TriDude & worked our way towards what seemed like the appropriate spot at the start line.

I wore both Cat's watch (set to distance, pace, & time) & mine (set to distance remaining, estimated finish time, & average pace), & between the two of them just tried in that first mile to settle us into a comfortable 8:00-8:10 pace. While I'm terrible at racing even 10K splits myself (I tend to negative split WAY beyond what is appropriate), I know it's the most efficient way to run any given time, so my plan was to keep us right in the range of Cat's goal range, start to finish. (I also always count on my watch recording the course slightly long due to bad tangents & plain old GPS error, so I thought that if we could stay right around ~8:04-8:05ish, that would put us within striking distance of a sub-50 if we got to mile 5ish & she was feeling amazing, but even if not she'd still have a solid shot at a PR.)

Just a couple miles in, I was definitely feeling the heat & was very grateful that most of the course was shaded. I hit 'lap' on both our watches when we passed the mile 1 marker, which I think may have been a bit short because our watches only read about .96 miles & the split was 7:45-7:50. The error seemed to work itself out over the next mile, though, when our watches beeped right at the mile 2 marker & clocked ~8:11 for the split.

We saw Cathryn's husband & son at the turnaround, which was a nice boost. At this point she said she was feeling really good, which was awesome! I found out later that we hit the 5K in like 24 minutes (ie, at ~48:00 pace), but when I remembered that it was a slight downhill out & slight uphill back, I didn't feel too bad about that.

Courtesy of Cathryn's instagram ;)

5K down & feelin' good!

Also at this point they yelled to us that we were 3rd & 4th women. I hadn't anticipated that we'd be that close to the front and immediately my brain went "OH HELL YES I AM GETTING THIS GIRL ON THE PODIUM."

Of course mile 4 is where the bear climbs on your back in a 10K (or at least it usually is for me), not to mention that it was now so, so hot. I was asking Cathryn occasionally how she felt & it was towards the end of mile 4 I think that she mentioned it was starting to feel like work. She started to slip back a little in mile 5 but I tried to keep my pace under 8:09 so that she'd still have a clear idea of what we needed to do for her PR.

As I mentioned this was the first time I've officially paced someone, & a lesson I learned for next time is that you should talk ahead of time about what the plan is if the runner starts to struggle with the goal pace. Does the pacer stick to the pace anyway so that the runner knows what they'd ideally be running, or dial it back a bit so that they're not abandoning the runner? Since we hadn't talked about it I think I ended up kind of splitting the difference--I tried to stay under 8:10 so that if Cat did stick with me she could still meet her goal, but didn't want to get beyond cheerleading distance.

Glancing at our watches in mile 6, I knew we weren't quite going to get in under 50 minutes but if she really gunned it she could still PR and I shouted something to her of that effect. (She'd told me from the beginning that I shouldn't be afraid to channel my inner drill sergeant!) I tried to cheerlead her all the way across the line and I was thrilled to see that although we didn't break 50:00, her watch still read 50:14 (a 0:23 PR I think?) when we crossed the line & I hit stop.

Unfortunately, I got so caught up in cheerleading & desperately hoping Cat would get her PR that I'd completely forgotten that we were in 3rd & 4th & about my plan to get her on the podium. We crossed the finish basically at the same time--even had the same official time!-- but for whatever reason apparently I was counted as the 3rd woman & Cat was 4th.

As soon as I realized what happened I was sick about it. The way I see it, I wasn't racing, just helping a friend try to meet her goals. I know this probably sounds a bit poor-me-my-diamond-shoes-pinch but it felt completely wrong to me that Cat had raced her guts out & I got a trophy.

Ill-gotten loot. :-/
Seriously. Sick about it the whole way home.

She was a little bummed that the race distance read 6.15 instead of exactly 6.2 and that our official time was was 50:21, which I can understand. My take is that ~0.05 is well within GPS error for a 10K so I have no problem calling it that distance-wise. (I feel like my bar for calling a non-certified 10K course "short" is maybe ~6.1-ish.)

Time-wise, it turned out that the chips only registered finish time, not start time, so everything was a gun time. We were pretty close to the front but not right on the line, so it probably took us a few seconds to cross the start. (Also, looking at our finish pictures which have the race gun time up, it looks to me like we crossed the line at more like 50:19 than 5:21.)

Which is all to say, if it were me, I'd call the time 50:14 & the distance 10K, no question. (Obviously certified, fully chip timed races are awesome, but you can't always find one where you want & when you want, & as long a course is not obviously woefully short, I have no problem going by my watch as long as I know I started and stopped it at the right time.)

Then again, as I mentioned to Cathryn, maybe those little niggles are just motivation to go out & find another nice flat 10K on a cooler day. By sheer luck, I have never had to run a 10K in warmer than maybe 55°F, and I have to say WOW what a difference 20° makes! Having run a 24 second PR on a hot day, my personal opinion is that if it had been say in the 50's, she would have easily gotten her sub-50 and I'm super excited to see what she does at her next 10K. :)

Layla, Cat, Danielle, Jen (who also PR'd!!), & me. #bloggers

Victory French Toast!

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~LOGISTICAL STUFF~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Location: Danville, CA

Date: Late May (May 28, 2016 this year)

Price: Pretty reasonable if you get in early. From the website:

I remember the days when you could run a quality 10K for $20 but sadly the times they are a-changing so these days I consider it a deal if I can run a good one for under $40. (Also, this one is a charity for the Semper Fi Foundation so really, it's completely fine.)

Deadlines/sellout factor: This is a small local race so there was still race day registration.

Field Size: Finishers:

  • Half Marathon - 186 finishers
  • 10K - 111 finishers

The Course:

Both races started behind the LDS Church in Danville and within a quarter mile or so entered the Iron Horse trail & were out-and-backs. This meant both races were fully paved & almost flat with very few turns. There are a few road crossings, but traffic was being managed by volunteers so there was no worry of having to stop for cars. (THANK U VOLUNTEERS U DA BEST!!!)

Half Marathon:


The portion we ran on was smooth, plenty wide enough for the number of runners, and mostly shaded (for which we were grateful). Water & gatorade were provided about every 2 miles.


The race was staged behind the LDS Church in Danville, which has convenient access to the Iron Horse trail. It seemed like there was plenty of parking in their lot (I arrived pretty early & parked in like the 3rd closest spot), & they had graciously opened their bathrooms for runners' use. (PRO TIP! If there's a line at the front bathroom, go around behind the basketball course to find the SUPER SECRET EXTRA bathrooms. I would like to say this was savvy on my part but honestly I just got lost & those were actually the first ones I found.)

Race day bib/shirt pickup was super easy. Like I said I arrived early & the table was obvious, so I literally walked right up & had my bib in seconds.


Nice medal & logo cotton T, plus mini trophies for top 3 men & women in each race. (I have a giant giveaway bag of race shirts in my basement as it is so I skipped this one.)


Also, plenty of post-race snacks & beverages.

If you decide to run:

Just know that it will probably be warm. Everything else about this race was fantastic & it was super well organized, but it's Danville at the end of May so even at 8am you're almost guaranteed 70+ temps.

Overall Assessment:

This was a lovely local race at a reasonable price and really the only thing to even kinda-sorta complain about was the weather, which we knew going in. If you magically happened to get a cool day, this could be a PR course. (Or, you can just be a hot weather #beast like Cat. ;) )


  1. Photos and pictures now showing perfectly :)

  2. Cathryn will definitely get her sub-50 if she can do a cooler race. Great running - both of you.