US Masters Swimming

Mountain View Masters

2006 Silicon Valley Marathon

by Patrick Wright

This race report is brought to you by the letters B, O, S, T and N, and the numbers 3 and 20.

7am. I'm sitting in a portapotty next to Almaden Boulevard in downtown San Jose. Lots of people outside are talking animatedly. A cheer goes up down the street. The 2006 Silicon Valley Marathon has started. I get the hell out of there, and John, Franklin and I start running towards the start.

7.02am. The back markers are just crossing the line, 2 minutes after the gun goes off. We run right into the back of them, and hop up onto the sidewalk, working round the edge of the pack. We're not going hard. We've taken no warm-up, and this is a training exercise. We're here to sort out our nutrition and pacing for our pending qualifying attempt, at Cal International Marathon, in 5 weeks' time. John Cummings, Franklin Fredrik and I have already run 150+ miles together in training, so this feels kind of normal.

7.10am. Still on the sidewalk. We've passed to 5 hour pace group. Still hordes of people in the street. John is just in front of me. Franklin is right behind. We're going 7.45 mile pace, and chatting. Feels good. It's 50 degrees, and the sun's shining through some haze.

7.40am. We leave the mean streets of San Jose for the Los Gatos Creek Trail. We've passed the 4 hour pace group and we've all but caught the 3.40 pace group. Still chatty.

7.55am. We're in Campbell. John nearly wipes out head-on into a runner coming the other way. A tandem is trying to get up the trail from behind us, through a bunch of maybe 50 runners. Their cries of 'on your left' aren't getting a whole lot of respect. There's a group of guys in orange shirts ahead of us. I kind of want to catch them. Our pace spikes, and Franklin drifts off behind us, unwilling to go 7.15's. The sun is covered by a thin layer of cloud.

8.25am. John and I are in Vasona Park. We're chatting and feeling good. The aid station volunteers are doing an awesome job of handing up water. I'm wishing I wasn't wearing my bottle belt, as I'm doing ok with 2 cups every station. We can see the 3.30 pace guy ahead of us. A woman we passed told me the group covered the first mile in 6.45 or so, so they are way ahead of schedule. We pour on the gas to catch them.

8.44am. We're halfway, cruising round the Los Gatos high school track. 1 hour 42 for the first half of the race. I start to do some math about when we'll be finished.

8.58am. We're at the 15 mile mark. We've just run 2 sub-7.15 miles, we're passing lots of folks who are looking kind of done, and I realize that if we can keep this up, we'll finish inside our qualifying time for Boston, 3:20:59. I tell John. He looks at me sort of funny. He's not hurting any yet. Nor am I.

9.21am. 18 miles in. Still stamping it out at 7.25-7.30 pace. The net downhill on the trail is helping to keep things rolling. We're passing a handful of people every mile. We have 8.2 to go, and 62 minutes to get it done. We've kind of stopped talking, because it's starting to hurt. I'm holding my form ok, and each time I focus on that, I surge a little. John and I take turns being slightly in front, working off each others' pace.

9.44am. We're back on the streets of San Jose. We're thanking all the cops and volunteers as we run by. It keeps my mind off my sore left big toe. The camber of the pavement makes my left knee grumble. We're holding 7.30's. The sun's out and shining. It's starting to feel warm. I need to hold this together for 40 odd minutes and I'll be done.

10.08am. I'm started to feel cooked. We go through an underpass beneath the railroad. On the rise on the far side, John gaps me and he's gone. I see him string it out ahead of me. Not sure where he found that burst.

10.12am. I pass the 25 mile marker. Gotta hold it together for 10 more minutes. I have a side stitch. My eyes don't want to focus. I'm near threshold. My form is going. My butt sticks out, I lean forward, my stride lengthens. There's no strength left in my core. I must look a mess.

10.17am. I turn onto Almaden Boulevard, and see the freeway overpass. It's scenic as all get-out. The finish is not much past there. It's gonna happen.

10.22am. I enter Discovery Park as John finishes, 30 seconds ahead of me. I try to sprint across the grass to the line. I get it going, and cruise over the timing mats. My watch says 3:19:47. We're going to Boston!

10.40am. Franklin comes cruising in, looking fresh, in 3:38 and change. Not too shabby for a first marathon.

10.55am. We shamble back to John's SUV for the ride home. Some guy walking by tries to sell me drugs. I don't need any. I'm kind of high already.

We're off to Cal International Marathon in December, to see if we can go any better. Wish us luck! Thanks for reading.