Thursday, June 28, 2012

Watermelon Solstice 5k 2012 (Don't forget to check your knots!)

On and off the last 15 years I have spent the majority of my Thursdays at El dorado Park in Long Beach California.  Back in 1997 shortly after graduating High school I started playing frisbee golf.
 (some people call it "disc golf" but  wammo illegally pattended the name "frisbee" so I use that term in protest.)

(Old Disc Golf trophy)
Part of the reason I chose to go to Long Beach State for college was that my home course at EL Dorado was only 1 mile away meaning that in between classes, before and after school I could play frisbee golf. Throughout college I supported myself by gambling on just about every round of golf I played often times 7 days a week up 10 rounds in a day.

I could go to El Dorado at anytime or day and find friends to golf with from homeless dudes to doctors and important people such as teachers and less important people such a lawyers. It has served as my home away from and I even used the screen name Teameldo for years and still have the email address
El Dorado 2003
I have been taking my nephews to El Dorado since they were babies.  One of them even had a birthday party when he was 5.
As recent as last month I took my other Nephew to the archery range at Eldo for the very time.
"Hey Lucas stand very still while I shoot that Bulls Eye."
"So close, at least no blood was spilled."
El Dorado even plays a part in my Ultra Running career. (career Ha!) On the river bed bike path just outside the park I won my first Ultra the "2008 Orange Curtain 100km" Also they only time I have ever received a bouquet of flowers and the first time I met Barefoot Ted.
A few weeks ago I came across this flyer for a race.  "Thursday night at El Dorado and free watermelon! How could i resist?" Chances are I was gonna be there anyway to golf.  Upon further inspection of the flyer. I noticed that the late John Pagliano was a sponsor.  John was my foot Dr. who went out of his way to take care of me,  he saw me at his house and even snuck me into his office free of charge for X-rays.  To say he was a nice guy is an understatement.  He loved helping younger runners succeed and did a lot of pro bono work for those that could not afford to see a Dr.  Sadly he lost his battle with cancer just a few months ago.  I would run this race with thoughts of him in the back my head.  John was world renowned Dr. and I considered him a friend.
Race day
As expected I played 3 rounds of frisbee golf prior to the race.  The weather was beautiful and I had a few Stone Ales in the car on ice for after the race.  Although I was quiteparched I did my best to refrain from drinking before the race,

El Dorado is huge park. from reading the flyer it looked like the starting line was next to the archery range where it cost $6 to park.  It's about 1 mile from the frisbee golf park so I decided to walk in order to save a few  bucks.  It was about 5:15 when I left, the race started at 6:00 and I still needed to sign up.

When I got to the archery range the place was empty? Instead they had a series of signs directing traffic to the other side of the park, about 2 more miles away by car. (uh oh) If I knew the final destination I could take a short cut but since I had no clue I was forced to follow the road jogging barefoot to the starting line.

I made it there with a few minutes to spare but in my rush I forgot to but on my compression sleeves and check the knots on my Luna Sandals.
 Well the entry fee was $35 (kind of pricey for what you got) I normally pay around $.15 a lb for my melons so let's see if I eat 334 lbs I'll be turning a profit. I better get to it.  I'd only had yellow watermelon once before and it was nice surprise.  Before the race started I ate about 2 lbs of each only 330 more to go. 

If only they had some Watermelon music
One of my all time favorite songs
When you finish do you metal?
You get a melon I thought that was pretty cool.

I have no pictures of the race yet so I might is get on with what transpired.  In the past I had ran some of the bike paths through this park before but in this race we'd be running on the street and I wasn't sure how confusing it would be but I was't too worried.  The course consisted of  a 2 mile lap on the North side of the park then 1 mile on the southside before repeating the first loop a second time.

From doing a little research online this race draws some fast runners .  To win it normally takes an average of between a 5:05 to 5:10 mile.  My body felt like it could do 5:30 pretty easily a5:15 if all went good and 5:05 if something magical happened.

The starting line was full dudes wearing onesies for various track clubs (I found out after the race from a few the runners that would gladly give there track club for the Stone Ale Gargoyle.) Anyway these guys meant business and I was excited

With so many good runners we were packed in a tighter than i would of liked at the start.  I recognized a few faces from races I had ran in Orange and San Diego County's last year.

On your ,Marks get set, Go.

It was pretty warm out my legs felt a bit beat from playing disc Golf all day along with the extra couple of miles to the starting line but all that was behind me once the adrenaline started flowing.  It took a few hundred yards to break away from the main group (who honestly I thought would be going out at a faster speed) I ran the first mile just a little bit over a  5 min pace and found myself tailing one guy who looked to be of masters age. 

This dude knew how to run but  with that came a really loud heavy breathing. His gasps were encroaching on my bliss so I ran a little faster and jumped out into the lead which I held for the better part of the first lap. It was then that some track super stud came out of nowhere and left me in the dust.  During the second lap  a couple other guys pulled up next to me during the first half of mile three and we took turns jumping out in front of each other but we were about 150 behind the leader.  At about the halfway my right sandal started to feel loose?  The only other time I have felt this sensation is when I had my one and only blow out (knot coming undone or tearing off)

There was no time to check it it.  It felt like the lace was still stick through the sandal and I hoped it would hold up to the finishline.  I was running strong, the sandal felt awkward but at this point it wasn't hindering my pace very much.

All of sudden the leader out in front of  us pulled off the course? It turned out he was a bandit just out to get a few miles in. Personally that pissed me off a bit! He hadn't payed to race and his running had effected my strategy for better or for worse.

I was now in the lead  by about 10 feet over two strong runners.  Just as we passed the 3 mile mark my presumed blow out when from bad to worse and my sandal flopped off  to the side of my foot, still holding on the by the laces traditionally wrapped around my ankle.  Fixing the sandal was out of the question I would have to run with one barefoot for the final two miles and I would have to stop to untie the lace.

It felt like it took about 20 seconds to get the sandal off (realistically it took less than 10) the 2 runners i was battling soared out in front along with a third runner.

Once I finally got the sandal off I started to sprint. The road felt fine on my bare skin and I was going at about 4:30 mile (way to fast)  I caught back up to the leaders in about 90 seconds but I was  shooting my load too early and my pace slowed as quickly as it started closer to  a 6 min mile than a 5 min one.
The two runners regained the lead and I began to run a little more caution.  The discrepancy between the two feet made running awkward. I'd of been better off completely barefoot than in one sandal and I really did not want to hurt myself.I had another race planned  less than 36 hours away and the Hermosa 24 in less than 10 days and really this race was not that important to me.

Eventually the third guy passed me and I finished the race in 4th place running with my sandal in hand.
Time for some more watermelon.
What do you wash watermelon down with?
Watermelon juice (really it's mostly High Fructose Corn Syrup I presume) I drank half a cup because all the other kids were doing it.  
The highlight of the day was seeing my friends Laura and Tracy (you may remember them from my trip to Catalina back in January)  They are both big fans of Luna Sandals and they came out to watch me run.

Tracy the woman on the right is no slouch she has won a 100 mile race outright and also has the unofficial world record for women by running over 250 miles in 72 hours. She also does ceramics for living ans made me a few custom pendents and then cooked up sweet vegan dinner in exchange for a few Stone Ales.
Thanks Tracy and thanks Laura for putting up with her for over 12 years.

If you need some custom trophies or awards for your next race I highly recommend using Tracy.

I lost my race and my streak of wins had been broken once again.  Who cares I'd be racing again over the weekend and the outcome would be different.  :)

Time to watch the kids race
These little dudes look fast
How dare she stick her tongue out at me?
This little dude made a rookie mistake by forgetting to lube his nipples.

On to the awards

What was I gonna win this time?  I thought for sure I had won my age division(maybe second) the winner looked younger than me 2nd place was deffinetly a master and third place I could of sworn he was around 50 years old
 I was wrong.
Third place it as oh well, the flyer said merchandise prizes for 1,2,3.  First place got a pair of shorts (kind of cool) 2nd got socks (Ehh not too bad) and 3rd?  WHat would yours truly recieve .
They actually gave me choice.  Either bottle of antibacterial soap (something I try not to use) Or cheap plastic jug (something I try not to use).  I decided to be gracious and take the jug (gave it to my sister)
At least I got water melon.
My car was still a few miles away and I spent the jog (with a heavy back pack) on the Course for the Orange Curtain.  It turns out the jug was a perfect prize? As I ran i used it to hit myself on the side of my head as i spoke to myself  "Hey stupid don't forget to check your knot's next time, if you want a better prize your gonna have to earn it."

Luna Sandals
maybe the worlds greatest running sandal but they are far from idiot proof. But this idiot still loves them

 Parting shot:
The race was fun but a bit over priced. The race director seemed pretty stressed out and was unintentionally taking it out on the runners.  Unless yo are capable of eating 100's of pounds of watermelon in single sitting I would not recommend this race to anyone and will not be back next year although I really do have a soft spot in my heart for both El Dorado Park  and for Watermelon.

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