Willow Hills xc recap

Hello Spartan runners and supporters,

Saturday we had a strong contingent travel to Folsom to run the first Willow Hills open. Over the past few years, a few of us had run a similar course but not the same course. The new course is the high school course and is a very good cross-country course. It is beginning to solidify much like a seasoned ski run. The most noticeable thing to me was they have a nice grass starting line…when I last ran here, the grass area was a barren hillside. The course may not be so friendly if it had been raining or if it was muddy. However, we got the course on a beautiful day…a wonderful day for some cross-country action. Sunny, mild temperature with a cooling breeze, and a dry course..

The course is tough but in a different way than the Presidio course. This course gets your attention up front like going on a roller coaster ride. I think roller coaster best describes it.

So, we had Art, Sal, Kurt, Nick, Paul, and I take on the challenge.

The day started out fine as everyone basically showed up on time…..however, we lost a little time in route to picking up Paul and taking a rest room break at a nearby doughnut shop. The short story is that this put us to the race with little or no time to spare….we arrived at like 20 minutes before race time. We did not know the course, we had to register, and of course after a long ride, we needed another rest room break. The start came up very quickly. I think all of us paid a price for this. The lesson is that when traveling a long distance to a race, it is better to allow for more time than thought. It is probably safe to say that you also need more lead time before the race…like having a warmup, being able to use the rest room, and getting familiar with the course…..and not feeling so rushed or anxious.

Art ran a good race and we really appreciate him driving for us. I think for Art the course being short helps as his training has been scattered. However, for a 5k, the race is intense and starts out that way. Art had a busy day on Friday….it was nice that he brought his youngest son to see “the old man’s” race and witness some cross-country action instead of nascar. Thanks Art for being part of the team. We always enjoy having you join us and drive as needed. Glad to have you…and thanks for being a Spartan!.

Sal was kind enough to join us and his day was very long as he had to come from Santa Cruz meeting us for a 6:30 am departure. As it turned out, we didn’t get on the road until like 6:40 am so there went 10 minutes. Sal ran a strong race and seems to be improving each week. He is not running with the same injuries as the past few years. Sal missed the Presidio race last week so he got his share of the action this week. Sal is the best teammate one could have….his commitment speaks throughout the years. Thank you Sal!

Kurt liked the course and brings a lot of enthusiasm to the troops. Kurt keeps the Spartans message alive and always has some good jokes to share. Kurt loves cross-country and his participation is evidence. We had a good discussion about Obama being awarded the Nobel prize…..Kurt is having a good season and is a great teammate.

Nick joined us again as he is our replacement for Brian. Nick loved the course and also brings much enthusiasm to the troops. Nick is gaining more strength each week and has helped us in forming a team this year. Good to have you Nick! Nick is especially good to have along just in case us older folks may need medical attention… .Nick also loves cross-country and trail races and looks for any excuse to get off the pavement. I share his sentiment.

Paul reunited with the Spartans and ran a strong race. He is also anxious to hit the Shoreline course in a few weeks. It was good having Paul back in the fold and he shared his experience regarding his Somnio shoes. Seems like these shoes, made in Santa Cruz, portray an interesting idea. We discussed the many reasons why the Giants choked down the stretch this year and may do the same next year if corrective decisions aren’t made. Paul, thanks for making it happen!

For me, I never felt like I got going on this course. Right from the get-go I was tight as a knot and never felt fluid. I felt better on the course when re-running it as a warm down (to pad the miles) after the race. I also felt more familiar with the course and actually liked it once I got to know it. Another problem I have is that I have been running with a groin injury all season. This kind of course brings out the worst for such a strain. Last but not least, I inaugurated a new set of orthotics which I just got on Friday. This turned out to be a mistake as I felt a big knot in my right hamstring the last mile and could not push the pace…

Anyway, I think the overall turnout was a little smaller and hope it helps us garner some points. We figured out the problem with Art’s card and all should soon be OK. We had a nice trip and all of us going together made it a much better experience. I really appreciate everyone’s commitment and performance. Thanks guys! Thanks for carrying the Spartans message this week.

Our next event will be at Shoreline… .October 24th. The course will be over a mile longer but will not be as tough. The start will suck as usual and we will all be herded together, men’s open + masters combined. Watch out for those fire hydrants at the start !! If I remember, we should have another ex-Spartan rejoin us at Shoreline… ..that being Steve Radigan. We all look forward to seeing Steve once again. The course may be more of a road race than a cross-country race…held on the “garbage heap” called Shoreline Park. I guess the good news is that it is close and we will not actually be car pooling unless we decide beforehand.

The race is scheduled for Saturday Oct 24th. Men’s race is at 9:45 am for 4.6 miles. The women’s race is scheduled for 9:00 am and will be a 5k distance. It is to be held at Shoreline Park in Mountain View.

Exit Hwy. 101 at Amphitheater Pkwy. From North, take right onto Amphitheater Pkwy. at 1st light and head over Hwy 101 OR from South, merge onto Amphitheater Pkwy. Once on Amphitheater, go straight through light at Charleston Rd. At about 0.5 miles, turn right into Google parking lot. Course is across the street.

By-the-way, Check out the Pacific Association site. Lynn Walker (Tamalpa) has been doing a nice job of providing some cross-country coverage for many of the races this season. The past few races show starting line photos, course photos, and a video of many of the race finishers. Included in the WiIlow Hills coverage, you may find glimpses of Greg Burk if you look closely.

Go Spartans!

Thanks, pb

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