On December 28th, I ran Brazen Racing’s New Year’s Eve (Almost) Half Marathon in Castro Valley. This was my final race for 2013, my 11th half marathon for the year, and 15th race for 2013 (whew!). As with all Brazen events, the New Year’s Eve (Almost) event had several distances to select from: a 5K, a 10K, and the half marathon (which also includes a hiker option for non-runners.) Brazen events have really grown in popularity over the years and this event proved that for sure. The final event email from the RDs shared that the event was sold out with over 1,000 registered for the various distances. Sold out it was, boasting a great spread of finishers in each of the distance options: 423 in the 5K, 344 in the 10K, 24 in the half hiker division, and 391 in the half marathon run – for a whopping total of 1,182 motivated people!
The weather was great for a run: a brisk 32 degrees at the start with clear skies and no wind to speak of. It probably warmed up to the low to low 50s by the time I finished. The thing about this course is that it’s nice in the sun, but cccoold in the shade…and the first three miles have quite a bit of shade!
The half marathon course is hilly and a mix of paved and dirt trails (30 and 70% respectively) that circles Lake Chabot and runs through sections of Chabot Regional Park in the counterclockwise direction. I ran this event last New Year’s Eve, so I was familiar with the course already. READ: I remembered the hilly first five miles. Last year, it had just rained, so that put a different slant on the course. This year, with the absence of rain for the Bay Area, it was dry and actually hard pack in many sections – though the section through the eucalyptus grove was covered in bark and leaf debris, which made for interesting running!
It goes without saying: all Brazen events have superior course management and marking; and their volunteers and aid stations are awesome. The finish area had great food and drinks as well and offered a great environment to recover and hang out with other runners – also a standard at Brazen events.
- Garmin time: 2:13:04 at an 10:12/mile pace [GPS distance: 13.0]
- Official time: 2:12:54 at an 9:57/mile pace [Official distance: 13.36]
- Standings: 19 among 20 half marathons
My race goal was twofold: Enjoy myself (run when I felt like it, walk when I needed to) and try to beat my time from last year. That said, I DID NOT intend to push myself too hard as I was just getting over a head cold…and knew I was running another half marathon in four days. I met both goals!
Knowing the event was a sell out, I got to Lake Chabot by 0700, hit the still-fresh pota potty, picked up my bib and shirt, then hung out in my warm car until about 0800. One thing that I’ve started doing is not wearing my full kit until I get to the race location. I’ve found that wearing my compression sleeves, arm warmers, beanie/hat, and shoes for an additional one to 1.5 hours is unnecessary…so I put them on in the car while I wait.
At about 0800, I went to the start area, hit the porta-potty again, milled around the crowd, and then lined up around the mid-pack area of the start corral. The start horn blew at 0834 and we were off. I tried my best to keep the pacing slower than normal, given that the first few miles are relatively flat and generally succeeded. The next 11 miles were a mix of running and short bits of fast walking (mainly on the uphills.)
It was a great run. I pushed myself just enough to make it challenging and allowed myself to ease off when needed on the uphills and when chatting with fellow runners. I did tire toward the end though, but that’s the point of it all: push just beyond your comfort zone and finish with just a tad in the tank. OK, maybe that’s just me…
Given that I was on a two-week vacation and this was not an A or PR-eligible race, I didn’t really follow my normal half marathon carb loading regime (36 hours of >80% carbs and +500 calories above my normal day) – I only loaded the day before. E for effort! I did follow my usual race fueling plan: bagel and jelly at -3 hours, GU at -45 min, GU & salt tab at -15 minutes, and GUs and additional salt tabs along the way – plus 20 oz. electrolytes during the race. Given my success with my carb loading regime, I wonder if I would have faded at the end if I’d followed the full plan? Maybe in 2014…
Equipment/Kit [head to toe]: Polar Reversible Buff (worn as a cap), ASCIS tech shirt (from Big Sur Half Marathon), Road Runner Sports arm sleeves, Garmin 910XT, tech touch knit gloves from Target (I’m secure enough to admit that they are women’s; but hey, they’re cheap and work!), Amphipod Hydraform Handheld Pocket, ASICS 55 Shorts, CEP Compression Sleeves, Drymax Maximum Protection Trail Running socks, Hoka One One Stinson EVO trail shoes.
A few shots from the day:
- Bottom line: Great race – and I met both goals. I had a nice run and finished 20 second faster than my 2012 time!
- Post-race meal: After cooling down (and cleaning up slightly and changing into the race shirt I just earned in the parking lot), I headed back toward home and met my wife and mother-in-law for lunch at a local diner. My feast: Avocado/Bacon Burger and Fries!