Archives For Race Reports

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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!

courseThe 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.

My Race

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Last Saturday, I ran the ZombieRunner Quarry Lakes Marathon in Fremont – my 3rd marathon. The run was put on by Zoom Running Events, which always does a fantastic job. The event actually had four dinstances: a 5K, a 10K, a half marathon, and the full marathon. Zoom events are typically smaller than the other events in the area (which is nice) and the four distances had 66, 63, 128, and 74 finishers respectively.

The weather was perfect: a brisk 37 degrees at the start with perfectly clear skies and no wind to speak of. It probably warmed up to the low to mid 50s by the time I finished.

courseThe marathon course was the same as the half marathon course only we ran it twice. I was familiar with the course already, since it was the same course that I ran when I did the Zoom Quarry Lakes half back in July. It consisted of a loop/pair of out-and-backs that took place in the Quarry Lakes Regional Recreation area and along the Alameda Creek Trail. The course was a mix of crushed rock and paved trails that was nice and flat.

As with all Zoom events, course management and marking was great! Volunteers at Zoom events and the aid stations are always excellent and ZombieRunner Quarry Lakes was no different. The volunteers are friendly and encouraging and the snacks are great quality, with a good variety, and they never run out! The finish area had great food and drinks as well and offered a great environment to recover and comiserate with other runners. The only downside being that the majority of the runners did the shorter disntaces, so by the time we marathoners finished, it was pretty dead in the finish area. (not that it mattered to us…we were just jazzed to finish!)

My Race

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On Thanksgiving, I ran the 10K distance at the Silicon Valley Turkey Trot. This was my third time running this annual event, which has become one of the largest timed Turkey Trots in the US. The event has several races, but the main events drew 11,823 finishers for the 5k and 7,509 for the 10k – by my calculations, 200 and 403 less than 2012 (respectively.)  Still, I great crowd of people!

The weather was perfect: just a touch of high clouds and cool (46 degrees at start time), with no wind. I wore shorts, but sported my arm warmers.  Doesn’t get any better than that!

courseThe course started at the intersection of Santa Clara and Market in downtown San Jose and made its way around downtown, out on the Alameda, near the edge of the Rose Garden neighborhood, then back toward downtown, finishing just east of the SAP Center.  It’s a flat course, unless one counts the train underpass near the SAP Center.

The post-race festival was great and very organized – tons of water, bananas, etc and staffed with quite a few volunteers.  I didn’t really stay too long. I grabbed a some SWAG, browsed quickly, picked up the requisite Sports Basement coupon, and then headed home.  Mission accomplished – the next mission awaited: PANCAKES!!!

My Race

Results:

  • Garmin time: 46:38 at an 7:23/mile pace [pace delta due to gps distance of 6.3]
  • Official time: 46:39 at an 7:31/mile pace
  • Standings: 1st among 3 10Ks
  • Strava

results

Recap:

I’ll lay this right out there: My goal for the race was to set a new PR.  So, anything under 47:55 would be success.

To that end, I was all business for this one.  I got to the parking lot about an hour and a half early and just waited in my car keeping warm until about 40 minutes from start time.  My plan was to:

  • Stop by a porta potty
  • Take my “start line” photo
  • Do some warm up strides along a side street
  • Find a spot in the 7-8 minute per mile corral
  • Wait
  • Then GO!

Everything went according to plan…no deviations.  I was mission-minded…

My corral selection was made after learning from last year: In a large race like this, when allowed to self-seed, people go toward the front or to a corral that is faster than they are.  Last year, I observed that many of the people in the 7-8 corral probably should have been in the 9 minute and above corrals.  My plan: If I wanted to avoid weaving in and out of traffic and have a faster start and overall time, I needed to move up!  So, that is what I did – and I still ended up weaving around people…just not as much as it could have been if I seeded in the 8-9 minute corral, playing it safe.

For the first mile, I wanted to maintain at least an 8-minute pace to conserve my energy and allow for start line crowd weaving – yeah right.  Here’s how the race went down:

  • When the first mile beeped on my Garmin, it read a 7:30 average pace…gulp.  Don’t screw this up Dennis.  I knew that I needed to finish with better than a 7:43 pace overall, so that was where I wanted to stay close to on my pacing.
  • Mile 2 beep: 7:25.  Dennis, DO NOT screw this up.
  • Mile 3 beep: 7:27.  Dennis, half way there, you can back off just a bit – don’t blow this.
  • Mile 4 beep: 7:27.  OK, I’m pacing OK and am not really tiring.  Keep it going – keep it steady.
  • Mile 5 beep: 7:29.  OK, still in control…still feeling good…still under 7:43.  Feel free to kick it if you can!
  • Mile 6 beep: 7:14.  WEEEEEEEEEE!
  • Finish line: 46:38.  BOOYAH!!!!

Mission accomplished – a new PR…by 1:16!  GOBBLE, GOBBLE!

Pre-race & race-day fuel: I didn’t do any specific, pre-race carb loading. I just followed my normal fat/carb/protein ratio goals leading up to the race, didn’t eat anything ahead of the race, and ate a GU  and took a salt cap before the race.  As far as liquids, I have been training the past month to run six to seven miles without fluids.  I usually carry a water bottle when I run, but didn’t this time, since I felt comfortable without it at shorter distances.  My plan was to grab a water, if I needed it, at one of the aid stations.  I didn’t need it, so I was glad I left the handheld at home.

Wrap-Up

  • Bottom line: A new 10K PR – ‘nuf said!  OK, I’m also, very happy with my placing…even though I race against myself.
  • Post-race meal: Short stack of buttermilk pancakes and two scrambled eggs!

GIDDY-UP!


Training Journal – 12/2/12:

  • Current plan: ZRQL Marathon Training Plan – Taper Week 2 of 3
  • Today’s session: 20-mile ride
  • Comments: I rode for 1:22:01 for 23.3 miles @ 17.1 mph avg & avg cadence of 84 [Strava]

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Last Sunday, I ran the US Half Marathon up in San Francisco – my 19th half marathon. It was the twelfth edition of this picturesque run that features a run over and back across the Golden Gate Bridge. For a big city event, they do limit the runners to 5,000 – for the 12th edition, there were 3,510 finishers: 1,809 women and 1,701 men.

The weather was perfect: about 46 degrees at the start with perfectly clear skies. There wasn’t too much wind to speak of at the start area, though I wondered what it would be like crossing the Golden Gate. Heading North on the Bridge, there wasn’t any wind to speak of at all. Coming back across, it was barely noticeable. It probably warned up to the low 60s as the run progressed.

courseIn a word, the course was beautiful! The perfect weather made it even better.  The course started and ended in the Aquatic Park area, making its way along the Bay front, up into The Presidio, across the Golden Gate and back, along the Bay front again, and then finishing back at Aquatic Park. Most of the course was paved, but it did include a short section of dirt trail (heading from Vista Point, under the Bridge to the South bound access road) and sections of crushed rock on parts of the San Francisco Bay Trail. It was a really great course that was well marked and managed by volunteers and SFPD – both of whom did a great job. Volunteers at the aid stations were also fantastic, shouting out which side the water and Gatorade were one.  Incidentally, this event used the same course that the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Francisco did back in April – that event actually used to be called the US Half Marathon 2 (The Other Half) and was managed by the same RDs – I think RnR simply bought the rights to the event and re-branded.

The post-race expo was great: food, drink, SWAG, etc.  They gave each runner a reusable bottle vs. handing out bottled water, which was great/green.  Huge water containers were located just past the finish, so this didn’t impact recovery at all.  They also gave each runner a Peasant Pie, which was excellent – going to have to try them again.  I got my SWAG, looked around, rested for a bit, and left before the traffic got too heavy. I parked at Ghirardelli Square, though the noticeable difference between the RnR event and this one was the parking.  In April, RnR offered $10 parking at Ghirardelli if you left before 1pm – I paid $32 for the exact same spot and probably the same amount of time (OUCH!)

My Race

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20131025-145313.jpgApologies up front: This, like my “first marathon” and “first ultra-marathon” posts, is a longer one…

This past Saturday, I rode in Foxy’s Fall Century out in Davis, CA.  Foxy’s, an annual event hosted by the Davis Bike Club, dates back to the 1960s, so it’s an established event that draws 1500 riders of all ages and abilities each year.  The event offered three distances: the traditional, 100-mile century, a metric century (100 kilometers or 62 miles), and a 50-kilometer (31 mile) Family Ride.  A friend of mine invited me to ride the 100-mile distance with him in late summer, so I shifted my predominately running-focused training to prepare.

The weather was excellent: clear and cool at the start (~50 degrees) and it warmed up nicely as the ride progressed.  I’d guess it was in the upper 70s when I finished.

The 100-mile course which, according to my friend and several blogs I consulted during my training, has changed slightly over the years (route and actual distance); but, at its core, the circular course departs Davis and makes its way through Solano and Napa counties – through Davis, farmlands, vineyards, rolling hills (including a climb up “Cardiac Hill”), foxys_mapand then back through the farms into Davis. There were three rest stops along the route, with lunch being served at Wooden Valley School (~mile 51.)  The Davis Bike Club’s website describes Foxy’s as “the ideal first century ride” and I would agree.  It was just the right mix of flats, rolling hills, and good climbs/downhills to make it challenging yet achievable for a newbie…like me.

Course and event management was excellent.  There were tons of volunteers and CHP to ensure riders stayed on course and the roads also had signage just to be sure (color-coded arrows stuck to the road.)  The rest stops and lunch stop were placed at perfect intervals and were stocked with a great selection of food and water/electrolyte drink (stop two was water/electrolyte only though.)  Lunch was great, though I didn’t eat too much.  The ride started and finished at Veterans’ Memorial Center in Davis, which was a great location.  At the start, they had coffee and breakfast-type fare, though I didn’t partake (I followed my normal fueling regimen.)  Riders were provided a pasta dinner at the finish…I didn’t pass that up!  They also had a bike swap meet, which was nice as well – I picked up a jersey for my wife to give me at Christmas!

I am not an experienced cyclist, but this was an excellent event and one I’d definitely ride again.

My Ride

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[aka: “no base, no base, no base, …” – a la that Chevy Volt commercial]

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This past Sunday, I ran the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Jose Half Marathon – half marathon number eighteen for me.  As with all Rock ‘n’ Roll events, it was a great one and big!  The half drew a total of 10,272 finishers.  For the second year, they also ran a 5-mile, “Mini-Marathon”; but this year they did not time it or report results (to the dislike of many, I’m sure), so I don’t know how many people participated in that distance.

The weather was excellent: clear and cool at the start (~54 degrees.)  It probably warmed up to the low sixties at the time I finished. I saw many shedding their layers two to three miles into the race; though I stuck with my standard shorts and tech shirt (I sported my RnR Philly shirt.)  Again, great weather for a run!

courseThe flat and fast course which, according to a fellow runner, has not changed since RnR started coming to San Jose, made its way through downtown, portions of the Rose Garden area, and then back downtown to finish at Plaza de Cesar Chavez. Course marking was excellent and there were volunteers everywhere to make sure people stayed on course – especially at the split where the mini-marathon and the half separated.

Footfalls…nothing but footfalls.  I distinctly remember that between miles 1.66 and 1.78 in the area around Jackson and 11th streets, everything just got quiet and the sound of footfalls was all I could hear.  People were just getting in the zone and no one was conversing – at least in my area.  It was totally cool and peaceful: hundreds of footfalls.  The sweet sound of running.  [Interestingly, I also wrote about this in last year’s race report.]

As with all RnR races (I’ve now run four), on course entertainment was great.  They had the usual “official” bands staged at certain points along the course and there were even a number of people from the various neighborhoods we ran through that were either playing live music or blasting a boom box in their yard.  Some houses even had aid stations, though I passed…  The various cheer squads along the way were great as well – there was even an elementary school cheer squad…I guess they start younger now.

The finish area was laid out great – good flow after crossing the finish line for photos, SWAG, and then hanging out all around Plaza de Cesar Chavez.

My Race

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On September 15th, I ran the Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon – my seventeenth 13.1.  No, I didn’t make a special trip – I actually had a business trip.  When I first found out that I would be traveling to Philadelphia, it happened to be when I was registering for the San Jose RnR…and noticed that the Philadelphia event was on the weekend I would be traveling East.  Why not?!?  So, I left a day early and had a great time.

The weather was great: clear and cool at the start (~50 degrees.)  It probably warmed up to the low sixties at the finish, but not too much warmer. Again, great weather for a run!

courseThe course started and finished near the Eakins Oval and was a quick 4.5-mile loop through parts of downtown Philly, with the balance of the 13.1 a loop along the East and West sides of the Schuylkill River.  The finish was in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, a la Rocky…though access to the “steps” was not easily gained after crossing the finish.  The course was pancake flat and paved the whole way, though there was an ever so slight incline at the finish, for good measure.

As with all RnR races, on course entertainment was great, though this race didn’t have an many cheer squads as the San Jose and San Francisco races.  Water/Gatorade stations were well staffed, though stop one was almost out of water when I passed by…people were worried and miffed (I carry my own bottle so I was OK.)

The finish area was great.  They took over the whole Eakins Oval area and had things set up in a great flow from finish line to SWAG areas to the main stage/post-race area.

My Race

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This past Saturday, I ran the half marathon distance of Brazen Racing’s Summer Breeze run in San Leandro. Brazen Racing is another fantastic, local organizer that always puts on a quality events.  Summer Breeze was their largest event so far this year and had 5K, 10K and half marathon distance options that drew a field of 558, 520, and 511 finishers respectively.  If you are reading this and live in the SF Bay Area, give Brazen a try…you won’t regret it.  Their events are great for runners of all levels.

The weather was great: overcast, about 59 at the start, and a slight wind coming off the bay at a few sections. It probably warmed up to the low sixties at the finish, but not too much warmer. Again, great weather for a run!

courseThe half marathon course was an out-and-back that began in San Leandro’s Marina Park, proceeded south along the shoreline, into the Hayward Regional Shoreline area, and the back to the Marina Park. It was a mix of gravel and paved trails and was nice and flat. As with all Brazen events, course management and marking was great and the volunteers were excellent!  Brazen recruits volunteer photographers as well for their events, so the free photos taken along the course are an awesome thing.  As of today at lunch, there are over 17,000 photos from Saturday’s event posted online for free download!

The finish area had a great spread of food and drink and offered a great environment to recover and chat with other runners.  Brazen events have grown in popularity and, with the large group of participants, are starting to draw vendors with SWAG at the post-event finish area.  Very cool for Brazen and us runners!

My Race

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[NOTE: I’m writing this over a month late, so I know more about my “knee” issues now. At the time of this run, I didn’t really know what I was dealing with…]

On June 16th, I ran the Second Half of the San Francisco Marathon.  The main races drew a field of 14,950 finishers: 5824 for the full marathon, 6004 for the first half, and 3122 for the second half. This was down about 3,000 total from last year, possibly because it was Father’s Day…

The weather was perfect – about 59 at the start and increasing to the high 60s at the finish, no wind to speak of… Again, perfect!

This was my second San Francisco Marathon event, doing the First Half last year. I will say, the Second Half is more calm and sedate. I’m sure that has to do with the fact that it isn’t as scenic and, thus popular, as the First Half. The start line is pretty calm as well – with no real control over the waves. I’m not complaining, just commenting.

courseThe Second Half’s course starts in Golden Gate Park, loops through sections of the Park, passes through Haight/Ashbury, the Mission District, into Mission Bay, and passes AT&T Park, finishing just before the Ferry Building at the same finish line as the Full Marathon. As for elevation, it was a nice steady climb of about 200′ over the first four miles, then level/mild rollers, followed by a pretty steep downhill section (260′) over about 1.5 miles, then pretty much pancake flat for the final few miles.

At the finish line, which was the same as the Full Marathon’s, there was food and drink for runners. It was really a great atmosphere to recover from the run. I breezed through it twice actually(!) and then headed to pick up my sweats bag. I took the leisurely walk back to my car and drove home…with a smile!

My Race

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This past Sunday, I ran my first ultramarathon: Coastal Trail Runs’ Horseshoe Lake 50K. The event was held in the Skyline Ridge Open Space Preserve, Palo Alto, CA and had several other distances to it: 5 mile, a half-marathon, a marathon, and the 50K – drawing a sellout crowd of 68, 113, 38, and 29 respectively.

The weather was excellent. It was about 54 degrees at the start and I would say that it had warmed up to at least 80 when I finished. There wasn’t too much wind to speak of, though there was a nice breeze at certain points on the course.

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50K Course (from my Garmin)

The course was a beautiful mix of rolling fields and forest (I love the Bay Area!) and had a nice mix of single track and dirt road (59% & 41%.) On the first portion of the course, you could see the Pacific Ocean off in the distance (that’s it in the distance on the header photo) and the SF Bay on the 5-mile section. As far as elevation, it was a good mix of climbs, associated downhills, and flats. The total gain listed on Coastal’s site was 4,560′ (my Garmin showed 5,676′.) All runners except for those doing the 5 mile, started a the same time and did an out and back 13.1 route – those doing the full marathon and 50K, did that twice. The 50K runners then ran the 5 mile, out and back route. I wasn’t sure if I would like the routing, thinking it would be boring; but I actually ended up liking it. Running it twice enabled you to know what was coming and plan accordingly (which we’ll see that I still need to improve upon.) All in all, a great course and one that was well suited for a first time 50K: doable, yet challenging (just as Wendell from Coastal had told me when I asked about it prior to registering!)

50K Elevation (from Coastal website)

50K Elevation (from Coastal website)

As usual, the race was well-managed and marked – though I did yell at a few fellow runners I saw heading off in a wrong direction at an intersection. With the out and back course, the aid stations were at the start and mid-point on the half/full/50K course. Aid stations were excellent and the volunteers were super helpful when you arrived. To me, it made the day even better. WAY TO GO COASTAL!

All in all, a great race and one that I will be back to do again…yeah, again!

My Race

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