The Interval, 5/10/17

Tayghen Sanchez and Stephen March, photo courtesy of Laurie Zahn.

My friend Andy Bitner ran in the Travis Country 5K on Sunday and sent me his view of the race:

For a May morning in Austin, it was pretty pleasant running weather. High 60s and sunny. Tayghen Sanchez and Stephen March took off to the lead right away and were able to avoid a particularly aggressive dog around the 1/4 mark. It came charging out of a house barking and growling. Fortunately, it stopped at the curb and ran back inside. I’m pretty sure if it had come after me, I would have pulled something jumping to dodge it. Happiest I’ve ever been not to be in the lead.

The two leaders were also able to survive the next 2.5 miles of the race with Gilbert encouraging them from the pace vehicle immediately in front of them. I’m assuming it was encouragement, as by the 1/2 mile mark, they were far enough ahead that I couldn’t make out what Gilbert was shouting. Spoiler alert: I finished a very distant 3rd. Presumably, the younger Tayghen was more impressionable to Gilbert’s exhortations as he pulled away to win by 6 seconds with a time of 17:04. Sanchez and March were also able to escape the bird of prey on the arm of a spectator in the 3rd mile. My puzzlement at the screeching noise was a welcome distraction from my usual 3rd mile of a 5k thoughts.

Despite the predatory animals, it’s actually a really fair 5K course—a single loop that rewards some local knowledge. After a short and immediate climb up out of the Blue Valley pool area, the course settles into a relatively flat first mile. The second mile is the sort of gradual uphill you don’t really notice, even as you’re checking your pace on your watch and wondering why it doesn’t match your effort. Fortunately for the field, after a turn right at Hilltop Park, runners are treated to a pleasant gradual downhill until the finish which gets a short but steep downhill back to Blue Valley for a 100 yard cruise to the finish.

Very fun small and spectator friendly race and on the same day as the Sunshine 5K, so most of the fast 5K runners go to that. I’ve done it every year it has been held and always have an enjoyable time. I’ve had good luck finishing on the podium, so anyone fast reading this should really go do the Sunshine 5K, which I hear is a great race. Forget I mentioned anything about the Travis Country 5K.

The women’s winner was Kenzie Marsales, who ran a 22:11. Michael Wedel won the male masters in 19:06 and Kathy Lietzke won the female masters in 23:42.

The men’s winner, Tayghen Sanchez, is coached by David Yin at Austin High. Tayghen, a sophomore, runs cross country and track for the Maroons and he answered a few questions by email:

1. The race was close between you and Stephen March. Did you ever trail? Describe the race and your strategy.

The race was indeed close but I do not remember ever trailing but for almost the whole race we were side to side. The race was pretty fun especially since my legs were feeling good. During the race the weather was very nice, and especially making the race not so exhausting. I really wanted to win the race so I was going to just try and go out really fast and get some distance from everyone but when I noticed Stephen was right behind me I decided I would just stick with him because running with someone is easier than running alone and he was keeping a good pace for the race. While I was warming up I had scouted out some signs in the neighborhood so I could see when I really needed to pick it up and so when I saw that towards the end of the race I really started to go.

2. You ran the 800 and mile in track. How did you like the longer 5K distance? Was it hard to maintain an even pace?

Just coming out of track season running some shorter distances, something I have always really liked about longer distances such as a 5K is because you have more time to work your way up if you get behind. Also with the longer distance more people usually burn out because they start out too fast so sometimes people do not have the right race strategy and go too fast or too slow but with my experience from past 5K races I knew what mile splits I could run and to try and run with someone so I would not run alone. Pace is something I personally struggle with as a runner because I always start out pretty quick but my second mile is always slower by at least ten seconds. Maintaining an even pace is definitely the hardest aspect of long distance race.

3. Aside from the dog chasing you right after the start, how did you like the course?

That course was one of my favorite courses for sure. It was so nice because the street was nicely paved with no potholes and the trees draping over the street provided nice shade along the whole course. Another good thing about the course is that it was one big loop which is what I like instead of running two loops that are both one mile and a half each. Along the course there were two hills but where they were was actually beneficial for me. There was one hill at the start of the race which really helped me wake up and get out quick because i always like to run up hills quick if I have the energy. The second hill was a downhill which was right before the final one hundred and fifty meters of the race where it was flat. This hill aided my burning legs because I was able to just stride down the hill and take deep breaths letting me recover just enough so I could sprint the final stretch.

4. Do you think running will be a part of your life when you’re as old as Coach Yin?

At first I really dreading running and it was not one of my favorite things to do but as I have been running more I have come to like it more and more. A lot of people say running is a stress reliever but I never really saw it like that, I always saw it as a time to really think about things and what I want my goals to be. I think I will definitely continue running even if I do not get any offers to run beyond high school and I would like it to become a big part of my life.

Thanks to Andy and Tayghen.  Full results of the Travis Country 5K are here.

The bigger races on Sunday were the 2017 Silicon Labs Sunshine Run, 5K and 10K.  Nearly 600 people completed one of the races, both on the traditional routes along Cesar Chavez and finish at Auditorium Shores.

The men’s 10K was won by Alfred Kiplugat in 31:03.  JT Sullivan of Austin was second in 32:03.  James Greenham was a distant third.  The masters winner was Danny Hernandez.

Katie Ruhala won the women’s 10K in 38:56, followed closely by Krysten Tucker and Tamie Bogle.  Suzanne Bellamy was the masters winner.

The women’s 5K was won by Jen Harney, of Rogue Running, in 18:41.  Samantha Evola was second in 19:06.  Katie Gwynn of Mondo Sports continued her fine spring by placing third in 19:32.  The masters winner was Tori Howard.

Steven Hernandez and Kevin Kimbell, both in their early 40s,  went 1-2 in the men’s 5K, with Hernandez at 16:32 and Kimbell at 16:41.  Lucas Manring was a close third. Andre Ditsch was the masters winner.

Full results are here.

A handful of the area trail runners started the second year of the monthly Vagabond Time Trials held by Spectrum Trail Racing.  The course this month was a 10K route that links together favorite Greenbelt sections the Hill of Life, Dump Truck, Rudy’s Loop, and the Super Highway.  The main attraction was that the Strava Course Record (CR) for this route was held by Lance Armstrong, since 2013.  Here is the segment leaderboard after the Vagabonds finished up:

Vagabond newbies Mike Kurvach and Mike McGinn tore it up, dropping Lance down to third.  I suspect that Lance could get back to second place, but he won’t be able to touch Kurvach.

I didn’t watch either of these races or run the Vagabond route because my wife, Katara, and I were in Cozumel for a long weekend. I went for a few runs, but Cozumel isn’t very well set up for runners. The main road around the island has too much traffic and it’s always too humid. I ran on a frontage road between the shoreline and the main road. It was fine, but boring, a green walled tunnel. I was just running easy on a boring route so I indulged in a daydream. I had looked at my Strava results from the day before and noticed that I was way down the list on a couple segments and that the top times were obviously not legit, 4 minute pace, clearly bikes or scooters. How could Strava let this happen!

But what if there were a world class runner hiding in Cozumel? Cue daydream. I finish my run, back at the condo Katara is ready to head to the snorkel beach. I throw my wallet, phone, and watch in a string bag and we drive off. Stop at a store for water and sunblock, I chat with the cashier, late teens, good English. He is wearing an Arsenal shirt. We agree that the Gunners will beat Southampton today. A few minutes drive and we’re at the beach, getting our fins and masks on when the cashier runs up, breathing hard and sweating. I had left my bag at the store. I thank him, give him $20, we snorkel.

A few hours later I post my run on Strava, don’t pay any attention to the stats, focused on writing a mildly humorous title, “the run of the tres iguanas.” I check Strava later and see the following comments:

Erik Stanley:  6:15 pace for 5+ miles! I told you that tempo workout last week was good for you.

Matt Fletcher:  Re: mile 5. Has to be a Garmin jetpack issue. I looked at your GPX file and you need to update your firmware, ASAP.

Thomas Orf:  Dude.  3:58 on mile 5.  Word.

Anthony Jacobs:  I’m getting that CR next week.

Andy Bitner:  Typical Arsenal.  Wait until May to start winning games.

What is up? I check the run and I did indeed post a 3:58 mile. Then I realize that it wasn’t me, it had been the cashier with the Arsenal shirt. He had my watch in the bag and the auto-pause feature actually worked. He must have been on a scooter. We hit the same shop the next day and he’s there so I ask him about riding a scooter. No, he doesn’t have one, he walks or runs everywhere. Are you a serious runner? No, I just play football. Did you run from here to the beach yesterday with my stuff? Yes, I tried to be fast because I’m the only one working at the store.

I get his name, Arturo Diaz, and cell number, not sure why. Back home I start talking to people about him. Most scoff at the idea that a poor Mayan kid in Cozumel has world class speed. But enough are interested that I contact Arturo. What do you think about running for a US university? He’s cautious, but curious. We start a Gofundme effort and raise a few grand to get him to Austin. Steve Sisson gets him a workout at UT. He’s not world class, but better that any US high school miler. (There was a Garmin firmware problem, Fletcher is never wrong.) UT offers a scholarship.

The next couple of years speed by. Coaching by Sisson, mentoring by Stanley, motivation by Gilbert, workouts with Leo. Arturo goes All American in the 1500 for UT. Runs for Mexico in the 2020 Olympics. Breaks the El Guerrouj world record of 3:43 in the mile as a pro. Sends boatloads of Nike cash back to Cozumel.

Daydream over. I think it should be a movie. Daniel Day Lewis?

Interesting news and articles

The Nike Breaking2 effort seems to have been a qualified success.  I haven’t yet had time to watch the video.  The coverage I’ve read points more to the talent, dedication, grace, and courage of Eliud Kipchoge than to the strategy, tactics, and equipment of Nike.  The coverage by Wired has been great and I liked this article on the shoes by Runner’s World.

Gilbert’s Gazelles have found a new home.  Nomads since Luke’s Locker went under, the Gazelles are going bricks and mortar with a location virtually next door to Luke’s.  Best of luck to Gilbert.

Excellent article on Emmanuel Mutai, a pre-race favorite for Boston who had a bad race.

Funny article on hats.  I also have a bunch of running hats.  I might need to write about them.

Upcoming races

The Tri Doc 5K is this Saturday, up at Brushy Creek in North Austin and/or Cedar Park.

Also on Saturday, trail runners will have another shot at the sweet trails of Flat Creek Crossing with the second annual Texas Switchback races by Trail Roots. Racers will choose between 10K, half marathon, and marathon distances, all based on a half marathon loop course.  I’ll be running the half marathon.