Monday, January 27, 2014

Coyote Hills Trail Run

I am so glad that I have at least two Brazen Racing events on the calendar this year. They put on such great races, the past couple of years have been spent on immersing myself into triathlon and working on speed, so sadly it's been a long time since I have competed in a Brazen Racing event. Most of their runs are located in East Bay Regional Parks and are trail runs. Mary Sue and I did this race in 2011, and while I remember it being fun, I also remember being frustrated because of the single track and lots of folks walking the single track portion when I wanted to run it. You can read my blog post from 2011 here. Hilarious read, for me anyway!

Since this is a 3.5 mile long course (trail runs are difficult to get to an exact 3.1) I didn't have too many expectations for the day. As part of my half marathon training, the schedule calls for you to race one 5k and one 10k distance during your training. I wanted to go out and have a nice solid run and be thankful that I was only running 3.5 versus 6 miles. It was also a great opportunity to wear my new Emergen-C branded shirt and hand out samples post race. Being part of the Emergen-C team means that I will wear their branded logo and hand out samples at events that I participate in.

This year, I followed their advice when they said if you expect to finish in the top 1/3 then line up in the top 1/3. I didn't want to make the mistake I had made in 2011 and get stuck behind walkers. As we hit the paved section of the course we were off to a fast start, a little bit faster than I wanted to be considering there would be hills later. A young boy was running and dropped his iphone and didn't notice it. So I yelled out "you dropped your phone!" To his parents, you are welcome.

As we hit the boardwalk section of the course, the drought in CA really struck home. This is what it looked like in 2011.

This is what it looked like this year.

 After feeling slightly sick to my stomach, I returned to focus on my running. Ironically in the photos below, the woman in green passed me and I tried to so hard to catch her at the finish line! I was so close!

Most of the run I found someone to tuck behind and maintain a pace. I had been behind this gentleman for a good part of the race, the guy in gray shorts. There was a 6 year old boy and his Dad who were playing leap frog with me. They would walk and I would pass them, then they would run again and pass me, I am familiar with his strategy. Eventually it appeared that the gray shorts guy was pacing slowing down, so I passed him and had to find someone else.  As I worked on finding a new buddy, the 6 year old boy and his Dad's run pace had also slowed down as we were running uphill. Sadly, they were running two wide which made it difficult to pass them. Eventually, I found a spot and said "hey buddy, I'm going to pass you now" which meant, please don't dodge back in front of me as I pass. I had to laugh as his Dad said to him "You're just letting her pick you off like that?" I figured they were probably using me as marker in my brightly colored Emergen-C shirt. Eventually I found my own brightly colored to pace off of.

Thank you to the lovely woman in yellow for being a pace buddy. At this point my body seemed to tell me that I was running to slow and to pick up the pace. So I did. Lots of great scenery to enjoy on this course but I wanted to be done.

Once I hit the section of the course that I had warmed up on I knew it was time to sprint to the finish. The lady in the green shirt was in front of me and I tried so hard to catch her, but I ended up finishing one second behind her.

Overall, I'm very pleased with the how day went. A 7:25 course PR, which can be attributed to Brazen eliminating the single track portion of the course, being faster, the ability to run hills versus walking them, and a lot of hard work over the past three years!

7/54 AG
101/453 OA

We'll do it again next month! 

Thank you to Emergen-C for letting me represent your brand and keeping me healthy this winter!

*Course photos courteous of the numerous Brazen volunteers taking awesome photos!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Nor Cal 10 Miler Series 5k

That was so much more fun than I thought it would be. I spent most of yesterday with a headache which did nothing for my mood. To top it off I slept terribly, waking up every one to two hours. Finally at 5am I gave up and just got out of bed. I didn't have any plans for today's race other than to just have a good run and enjoy myself. That was proving hard to do with a headache and lack of sleep.

As I left the house way ahead of schedule, in the dark, I realized that I was actually very tired. This made the drive to Foster City seem to last FOREVER.

Once I arrived I found myself faced with every side of the four way intersection coned off. I was super confused with where to go and since I was so early there was no one out directing traffic or any signs to give me a clue as to where I could or should go. I ended up driving too far, making a u-turn and heading back to the building where I was pretty sure I was supposed to park. I went to turn into the driveway only to find cones blocking the driveway. Um, how am I supposed to get into the parking garage??? I ran over the cones, yes, I really did. Maybe not exactly ran over them, but I squeezed passed them and I have may have knocked one over in the process, but it was dark, I couldn't tell for sure. Once I got into the garage, I circled around several times trying to get my bearings and figure out the best parking spot, I realized that it felt slightly creepy to be all alone in the garage. I decided to go scope out the start area and hopefully find some bathrooms. I arrived 30 minutes prior to packet pick-up, and I got some strange looks for apparently looking creepy while lurking in the dark, trying to scope out port-a-potties. I went back to my car and waited until 7am for packet pick-up to be ready and not be creepy.

On my second trip over I was able to quickly get my bib and sit around and wait for the building to open up that had the bathrooms. By this time, I really had to go. Thankfully I got up to walk around and realized the doors to the other side of the building were open and found bathrooms! Yay! With that I went back to my car to stay out of the cold.

I sat in my car, with the seat warmers on and waited until Mary Sue arrived. With 30 minutes until the race start we headed over to get ready. I did a very quick and short warm-up run and some stretches. It was enough to loosen up my ankles and honestly I wasn't really concerned because I was grumpy and wasn't planning on going out hard. As we lined up it became clear to us that at least 2/3 of the folks were running the 10 miler and only a small group of us were running the 5k. The 5k folks lined up behind the 10 miler runners, which I was totally okay with. Even when I had to pass a lot of those runners at the start. Hey, they were running 10 miles, they needed to pace themselves.

The path along the street was nice and wide and totally flat. I found a pace and settled in. I tried not to look at my pace on my watch, I did occasionally check the distance to gauge where I was and how the course was panning out. When I saw the first male 5k runner heading back, I started to pay attention. I like to keep myself occupied and I like to watch the leaders. When I saw the first place woman go by I started counting spots. Up ahead I could see the 5k turn-around and thought to myself "that's early". I had the thought that the course might end up being short depending on what our return route looked like. The next thought that occurred to me was that I was in 10th place in the women's division. Wow, I wonder if I can hold that. My question was answered at 1.77 miles when a 12 year old passed me. She didn't look 12 to me though,
I was sure she was older. I had seen her running with her Dad after I passed the turn-around and said to myself "she'll pass me". I didn't realize she was 12 until I saw the results. Shortly after that I was passed by another woman. I kept my eyes on the ladies in front of me hoping that I could stick with at least one of them long enough to make a pass at the end.

As I saw the finish line approaching, I started thinking about my game plan. I should have enough in the tank to sprint at the end and I had been keeping this woman in a white jacket who had passed me earlier in my sights, I was gaining on her. I was still thinking the course was going to be short until I realized we weren't running straight back up to the finish line, we would run past it and make a u-turn and come back in. Good thing I hadn't started sprinting yet. At this point I just stayed on the heels of the woman in front of me. I didn't want to pass her too early only to have her feel competitive and take me at the finish line. So I just stayed literally right behind her. Then without any warning she slowed to walk. Oh crap! I quickly dodged left but still managed to hit her in the shoulder. I apologized as I ran past and at least felt good about being in 11th. At this point I looked at my watch and realized I could earn a PR if I wanted it. It hadn't been the plan, but why not. I picked up my pace as I did, I could see a shadow approaching me and realized it was the woman I had passed, so I pushed harder and watched her shadow fall away. I sprinted across the finish line for a 29:41 finish and a 13 second PR.

Well that felt good. Maybe I should plan all of my races like that and I wouldn't be such a basket case pre-race. I headed over to gear check to get my bag and collect my race shirt. The race director asked my how the course was and I said it was great, except for the fake out at the end. i was told this was done so that we wouldn't have to cross a really large and busy intersection further out. Made total sense, and I really had no complaints about it.

As I came back over I saw the woman I had passed and gave her a thank you. I told her I was pacing right behind her and appreciated having someone to keep me going. Turns out she also earned a PR, so it was a good day for both of us.

After a quick look at the results I realized I had placed 3rd in my age group! The two people in front of me were ages 30 and 33, practically babies in comparison to my 38! Being that this was a small inaugural event there were no AG awards, but the race director was kind enough to give me a print out of the results showing I placed to make it all official! Thanks Gene!

Overall a great event and a great course. I would do this race again next year knowing that it is a super flat and fast, a great course to earn a PR on.

3/10 AG
11/56 Div
28/86 OA

We'll do it again in two weeks! 

A copy of the official results showing I'm 3rd in my AG

Monday, January 6, 2014

Happy New Year

The end of 2013 is a blur! We enjoyed a great winter break with The Nutcracker, a trip to San Francisco and lots and lots of food! Christmas morning was great and fun, even if it did start at 5am. We did all feel a little hole in our hearts while Tacoma opened her stocking and presents by herself for the first time ever.

We are all ready for 2014 to be an amazing year. Tacoma is really adoring being the only dog in our household. She used to be the slightly annoying younger dog in our home. The best example I have is when she should start licking your nearest body part if you were paying attention to Ike and not her. So gross! Now that she is lavished with attention all day long, she no longer finds the need to lick random body parts, with the exception of when I come home from a run. She has also been most accommodating in not being angry with me when I come home smelling like other dogs.

I come home smelling like other dogs because I've started a dog walking business. It started out as a favor to friend whose two year old Bluetick Hound needed some bursts of energy during the day. We've been running together for a couple of months and I love it. I've never had a dog I could run with, so it's nice to have some company and the days that we walk with his brother are most enjoyable. Since it's going so well, I decided to make it official in 2014. You can check out my website here.

The other bonus of this venture is it fills the part of my heart that desperately misses Ike. I really wanted to get another dog, however Tacoma continues to prove that she really does not want another playmate (sorry Gilbert for always being so snarky on our walks together). I'm coming to terms with her feelings and I get my extra doggie love from my clients.

I'm working on my race schedule for the remainder of the year. I'm currently immersed in half marathon training, once I finish that up I'll transition into triathlon training. I immensely enjoying the time to  focus on running. It's my first love and I could sense the frustration throughout 2013 about not being able to focus on my true love. Winter also happens to be my favorite time of the year to run and our weather in California has been ridiculously nice (minus all the spare the air days).

Up next is the Foster City 10 miler series. I'll be running the 5k thanks to my friends at Corrigan Sports. They really are awesome and put on great events, I'm thrilled to be participating in this inaugural race. There is still time to register and you can still use my code for a discount if you need something to do this weekend!