While race reports aren't the sort of thing that usually i would think that most people are interested in, the Dipsea is such a marin tradition that I wanted to at least share the short version of the race, so forgive the indulgence!
I hadn't run the Dipsea since 1985, but was intrigued to see if I could get my invitational status back after a 24 year layoff. Especially with the 100th coming up in 2010, I was hoping to secure one of those coveted 750 spots! Also, the course had changed in the last 20+ years, so I knew that i had a learning curve to worry about here.
Two practice Dipsea, one of the salmon runs and a morning run with prepetual black shirt winner Jenny Wong (tech rep for New Balance here in northern California) gave me an idea of the changes to the course. My plan to somehow break 70 was in jepardy when I realized that the course was now 7.4 as opposed to 7.1.
Why 70 minutes? I had looked over prior results and realized that 70 would pretty much secure a spot on the Invitational section for next year. My all time fastest transits of the course occured in the 1980's as a college runner, when breaking 60 minutes was a given. Now, it would be a goal for 70 to help me make next year.
I was also coming off of being really sick most of the spring, not swine flu sick but walking pneumonia style sick, so there was no base to speak of. I got my postcard announcing my place in the 2009 Dipsea after my second run of 2009: a 4 mile run at 8:30 pace with one hill that left me quite exhausted. Just how much work could I do in 6 weeks of training?
I did as much as I could with 4 weeks, and then pulled back for two weeks. The Stick and the foam roller were my companions to get me to the starting line. Come race day, I parked in my secret Mill Valley parking place and warmed up the start. Picked up my number and checked my bag and then warmed down to the car. Stripped off the warm-ups to my Tamalpa Runners racing vest and went to put on the racing trail shoes... and realized that i had checked them already. My good friend Tim quipped, "Your racing shoes are so fast that they'll get to Stinson before you."
I proceeded to rummage through the back of the car and found one pair of lighter shoes. This then, thanks to my rookie mistake, would be my companion to getting that Invitational status.
The Dipse has always, like the Boston Marathon, the only race older in the United States that the Dipsea, been a thinking person's race. You can, of course, just go run it, but to run it well requires a little ingenuity: knowing your strengths and weaknesses and running accordingly. You can run better than you think with a plan. There are those races where the strategy is, "Go out and run and see how you hold up," but this is not one of them.
72 minutes later i was at the final straight, trying to not do a face plant in front of the assembled crowd at Stinson. I had a sprint ready to uncork in my legs, but in the last 15 minutes my calves had started to cramp, ever so slightly, and on that final last half mile they had moved from "ever so slightly" into "outright rebellion" so holding form and keeping pace seemed to be the better part of valor.
Little did I know that my 72 minutes and 18 seconds and 12 places would be the margin that would get me in to that coveted Invitational for next year. It appears that my best that day would be enough to get me there again in 2010. the photo above was by Craig Stern, who has taken some great photos from the Dipsea race as well as others. Thanks Craig.