March 30, 2013

Lagoon Valley Park

We had a chance to visit a park this weekend that we didn't know existed until a few months ago. Lagoon Valley Park is just a few minutes off of Highway 80 in Vacaville, CA on Pena Adobe Road. Entrance fee is $3 and there is ample parking. We were there for a trail race which was based out of the Rotary Grove Group Area. Aside from several group areas there is also an enclosed dog park, BBQ pits, trails for hiking/running/biking and of course a lagoon for fishing and non-motorized boating. We were there for the Lagoon Valley trail race by Brazen Racing which took us on a loop around the lagoon as well as high into the parks hills. Of note none of the parks trails are named so it is really important to have a map with you to find your way back. We were lucky in that we were there with a large group of runners doing the race and the race organizers temporarily named the trails for the event so as to match with the maps they provided. The loop around the lagoon is about two miles and flat, making it a great place for a walk. There are single track and wide fire roads leading into and out of the surrounding hills for people up for a more challenging tour of the park. We were lucky in that the race course took us up into the hills providing some great views of the lagoon and surrounding area. With the park being so easily accessible from the freeway we definitely plan on going back for some more exploring.

Lagoon Valley Trail Race

March 24, 2013

Sunol Regional Wilderness

We headed out to Sunol Regional Wilderness for a trail run and also to pick up our 2013 Trails Challenge T-Shirts. This is our fourth year doing the challenge. It's also it's 20th anniversary. The shirts are cotton and gray in color this year with their 20th anniversary logo on the front. The East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD) Trails Challenge is a self guided hiking program with the purpose to encourage people to get outdoors and enjoy their regional parks. The program is free for Alameda and Contra Costa County residents. It is also free for Kaiser Permanente employees who reside in Northern California. Upon registration you will be able to download the guidebook and pick up your free t-shirt at select park visitor centers. To complete the challenge you either travel five of the trails or travel 26.2 miles of the featured trails from the guidebook. Upon completion you submit a trail log and will receive a commemorative pin. Remember t-shirts and pins are available while supplies last.

As for our run we started off at the Visitor Center on Geary Road and climbed up Indian Joe Nature Trail and Canyon View Trail. We passed close to Little Yosemite before enjoying the relatively flat Camp Ohlone Road, a fire road. We took a moment to enjoy the "W" tree, then it was more climbing on Backpack Road, McCorkle Trail and Cave Rocks Road. We passed by the group camping area and got a little closer to some cows than we would have liked to. Then it was downhill from there back to the visitor center via Hayfield Road and Indian Joe Nature Trail. The tough loop was about 8 miles. It was a clear day and we got some great views but it did start to heat up near the end so we were glad we went out there early and took our hydration packs.

Sunol Regional Wilderness
EBRPD Trails Challenge 2013
Sunol Flag Hill Hike
Sunol Hike

October 1, 2012

October Events

Here are a few things going on in October:

10/6   Fall Showdown 5k, 10k, Half Marathon in Orinda
10/6   Mermaid Triathlon and Duathlon in Capitola
10/6   Neon Night Run 5k in Tracy
10/7   RNR San Jose Half Marathon and 5k in San Jose
10/7   Golden State Triathlon in Sacramento
10/13 Golden Hills Trail Marathon at Lake Chabot
10/13 Run in the Park 5k and 10k at Point Pinole
10/14 Tour De Valley bike event in Castro Valley
10/14 Nike Womens Marathon and Half Marathon in San Francisco
10/14 Briones Crest Trail Run 10k, Half Marathon and Marathon
10/14 Primo's Run for Education 5k and Half Marathon in San Ramon
10/14 Princess Promenade Women's Bike Festival in Sacramento
10/20 Sierra Trial 5k and Half Marathon at Folsom Lake
10/20 Rocky Ridge Trail 5k, 10k, half Marathon at Las Trampas
10/20 Tarantula Run 5k, 10k, Half Marathon at Los Vaqueros
10/20 DU the Bears 3.6 mile run and Duathlon in Orinda
10/20 Mud Blast 3.6 mile mud run in Modesto
10/20 Wheels for Meals Ride in Livermore Valley
10/21 SF Sunday Streets bike event
10/21 Grape Stomp 5k, 10k, Half Marathon in Livermore
10/21 St. Joseph's 5k and Half Marathon in Stockton
10/27 PUMP It Up 5k and 10k in Lodi
10/27 Zombie Run 5k in Sacramento
10/27 Warrior Dash 3.21 obstacle run in Hollister
10/27 Down and Dirty 5k and  10k obstacle runs in Folsom
10/28 Down and Dirty 5k and 10k obstacle runs in Folsom
10/28 Morgan Hill Marathon, 5k and Half Marathon
10/28 Falcon Crest Trail Run 10k, Half Marathon and Marathon in Folsom
10/28 Four Bridges Half Marathon in Folsom

REI Free Clinics (all at 7pm)
  Climb Kilimanjaro
    10/16 Saratoga
    10/17 San Francisco
  Zombie Preparedness
    10/25 Saratoga
    10/29 Berkeley
    10/30 Stockton
  Peru: Hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
    10/2   Fremont
    10/17 Corte Madera
    10/18 Dublin
    10/23 Saratoga
  Starry Night: A Remarkable Story of Survival in the Andes
    10/25 Mountain View
    10/26 Berkeley
    10/31 San Francisco
  Minimalist Running Basics Class
    10/11 Berkeley
  Just Ride: How to Have More Fun on Your Bike
    10/3   Berkeley
    10/10 Concord
    10/24 San Francisco
  Trail Running Basics
    10/11 Brentwood
  Classic Hikes of North America
    10/30 Saratoga
    10/31 Corte Madera

REI Used Gear Sales (all at 10am)
  10/6   Berkeley
  10/6   Concord
  10/6   Mountain View
  10/6   San Francisco
  10/6   Saratoga
  10/7   Fremont
  10/13 Brentwood

August 11, 2012

Los Gatos Creek Trail

We are always looking for new places to run in the Bay Area and this time we headed to the South Bay to Los Gatos Creek Trail. We had seen part of this trail in the past when driving by on the nearby CA-17 freeway and finally got around to going.  It's a paved path in Santa Clara County about eleven miles long that goes through San Jose, Campbell and Los Gatos. There are several access points for the trail as it passes through several different parks. We decided to start at Campbell Park. We had read online that the trail does get crowded but were not prepared for how crowded it really was. The two small lots for the park were full and parking on the adjacent street was full as well. We ended up parking a few blocks away. Next time we will probably try a different park. There were several people milling around from a yoga class that had just ended and what appeared to be a running group with a table set up for their members at the start of the path. We made our way through and started on the trail. It was just as busy on the trail with lots of people walking, running, walking dogs, biking, etc. Most people did a good job of being mindful about others out on the trail but it did get a bit messy at times when there were large groups taking up the whole path although this is not unique to this particular trail. The first few miles were exposed and there was a water station manned by some junior high aged kids at about 2.5 miles. Not sure if they were for one of the several running groups/clubs we saw out there or for everyone but they did offer us aid-water and energy gels. It was a nice gesture.  Over the next few miles we passed dog parks and local parks such as Los Gatos Creek County Park, Vasona County Park and Oak Meadow Park. Each with public restrooms, picnic areas, water fountains and benches in the shade. There were some rolling hills on the path but nothing major. Once further from Campbell park there were some shaded areas and easy access to the creek. After 5.5 miles we headed back. It was definitely warming up and there were fewer people on the trail. We made it back to Campbell Park and it was a little less crowded but still lots of families enjoying the day. The trail is great but definitely crowded. With lots of exposed areas be sure to get there early if you are going on a summer day like we did.

Los Gatos Creek Trail Website

August 5, 2012

Fast and Furious 5k

It was the second annual Fast and Furious 5k this year and we decided to participate. It takes place in downtown Pleasanton and also includes a festival, mile race ("Mile of Truth") and criterium. A portion of the proceeds go to fight ALS. We heard good things about it last year so wanted to check it out for ourselves this year. We ended up registering for it months in advance when a discount was offered. We got a technical shirt included with our race entry so it was a great deal. Early bib pick up was at Fleet Feet Pleasanton the two days prior to the race so we took advantage of that. Aside from the technical shirts we also got a reusable shopping bag. There was plenty of parking in the downtown area-street parking and public lots. There were road closures for the days events, mainly the cycling events but we didn't experience any delays getting to the race. There were the usual booths for race day bib pick up and race day registration. Plenty of porta potties scattered throughout which made for shorter lines than usual. A good portion of Main Street was closed off so there was plenty of room for us to warm-up. The race start and finish were on Main Street and about ten minutes before the race we were directed up the street to the start. There was plenty of room on the street for the just over 600 participants. Although there was a timing chip attached to our bib there was no timing mat at the start so everyone got the same start time. This was a bit disappointing but nothing we could do about it. It did cause some chaos for the start though because there were people lined up near the front that probably should have been further back but they probably wanted to lose as little time as possible. The gun went off and we were off. The race course was a loop through and around downtown. There was at least one water station, possibly 2. The race course was easy to follow and the last segment had us running south on Main Street before making a turn to run on a street parallel to Main Street. Then it was a couple of more turns before we were back on Main Street and headed north to the finish. Across the finish there were water, fruit and nuts. There were booths set up for sports related products and some freebies like Clif Bar. There was also a local CrossFit club hosting a competition. We made our way through downtown and had breakfast before watching the kids races and then part of the first Criterium bike race. There were activities going on all day including bike races through the evening. It was a great event and we will definitely be back.

Race Website

July 3, 2012

July Events

Here are a few things going on in July:

7/7   Dirty Dozen 5k, 10k, 6 hour and 12 hour events at Point Pinole
7/7   Tri for Fun Triathlon and Duathlon in Rancho Seco
7/7   DU-TOES 3.6 mile run, Duathlon and Triathlon in Orinda
7/8   Tri for Real Triathlon in Rancho Seco
7/8   Run to the Lake 5k and 10k races in Castro Valley
7/14 Color Run 5k in San Francisco
7/14 Run in Good Company 5k in Pleasanton
7/15 Crazy Eights 8k Trail Race at Lake Commanche
7/15 Napa to Sonoma Half Marathon and 5k
7/22 SF Sunday Streets bike event
7/22 Wharf to Wharf race in Santa Cruz
7/22 Sacramento International Triathlon
7/22 Jail Break 5k and 10k at the Alameda County Sheriff Training Center in Dublin
7/28 Bad Bass 5k, 10k, Half Marathon at Lake Chabot
7/28 Run in the Park 5k, 10k at Briones Regional Park
7/29 City Solve Urban Adventure Race in San Francisco
7/29 San Francisco Marathon and Half Marathons

REI Free Clinics (all at 7pm)
  Camping Basics
    7/18 San Franciso
  Camp Cooking Basics
    7/10 Saratoga
    7/12 Brentwood
    7/12 Dublin
    7/17 Fremont
    7/18 San Francisco
    7/19 Berkeley
    7/19 Mountain View
    7/25 Concord
  Half Dome in a Day
    7/10 Fremont
    7/11 Berkeley
    7/26 Dublin
  Hiking the Camino de Santiago in Spain
    7/24  Saratoga
    7/26  Berkeley
  Introduction to Sports Food
    7/10  Stockton
  Introduction to Hiking
    7/17  Brentwood

REI Used Gear Sales (all at 10am)
  7/7   Brentwood
  7/7   Concord
  7/7   Mountain View
  7/7   San Francisco
  7/21 Berkeley

July 2, 2012

Gear - Garmin Forerunner 405

I had been thinking about getting a new GPS to run with for some time. I had used the Garmin Forerunner 101 for hiking and running for a while, then switched to the Garmin Forerunner 205 and was glad that it was smaller but still wanted something even smaller for my wrist. I made a quick decision to get the Garmin Forerunner 405 after finding it for a good price online. As soon as it arrived in the mail I put it on and noticed how good it felt on my wrist in comparison to the previous GPS units I had used. It didn't arrive with a users manual so I ended up having to use the internet and my intuition to figure out how to use it. After charging it fully I took it on a short run around the neighborhood. I had read reviews about the bezel on the GPS being really sensitive when it gets wet like with sweat or rain. Mine got sweaty and I didn't have any problems with the bezel. I've since taken it on several runs in varying weather including light rain and have never had a problem with the bezel being too sensitive. Actually I've had more of a difficult time with the bezel not being sensitive enough when I'm running.  The unit has been so comfortable that I've taken it on several hikes and some bike rides. There are a few perks with the 405 that I didn't have with the previous GPS units like having the screen light up by double tapping the bezel. I like that it shows the time as well and can be used as a watch if I choose. The plain black color is nice and I have been pleased with its smaller size. It can be set to beep at a designated interval, I've set my interval to be one mile so it beeps every mile and briefly shows me the overall pace for that mile. Unfortunately it doesn't show me my current pace which I had been used to with the other units nor does it show my overall pace for the entire run up to that point. It does have a display that shows battery percentage but I've found it to be inaccurate as the percentage gets lower. For example, I've had it display 30% or more and have the unit die on me just a few minutes into my run. It did take me a few tries before I figured out how to turn off the satellites after my run to save the battery and I can see that being a problem for others. It did come with a heart monitor but I don't use it so I don't have anything good or bad to say about that. After several training runs and races with the Garmin Forerunner 205, I am convinced that it was a good purchase.

205 vs. 405

Garmin 405

June 22, 2012

Yosemite Hike - Cathedral Lakes

We try to visit Yosemite National Park at least once a year. This year we camped at Lower Pines Campground again and did some hiking as well as some trail running. On our second day at the park we made the hour plus drive up to the high country to do some hiking. We've done a couple of hikes up in the Tuolumne Meadows area but this was our first time hiking to Cathedral Lakes. This hike is eight miles long to visit both lakes with an elevation gain of 1,040 feet. The trail head is off of Tioga Pass. There aren't any designated parking lot so cars just park on either side of the road, which is what we did. There were a couple of portapotties and bear lockers at the trail head but no running water so be prepared. Hiking in Yosemite's high country is always beautiful (hiking anywhere in Yosemite is beautiful) but one thing to keep in mind is the elevation at which you are hiking and making sure you give yourself enough time to acclimate to it prior. The trail head for this hike is at around 8,600 feet. With our packs and plenty of water we headed out on the trail. It was mid morning by this time and it was a little cold so we were glad we hadn't started any earlier. The trail was fairly flat for the beginning then it climbed for about two miles. There were some switchbacks and some fairly rocky and uneven areas. We definitely felt short of breath early on from the elevation. Most of the trail was exposed but there were a few shaded areas, usually by some creeks we had to cross. There were several people on the trail including lots of backpackers since this trail is part of the John Muir trail and leads all the way down to Yosemite Valley 21 miles away. It connects with other trails as well. After about three miles we got to the turnoff for Lower Cathedral Lake. It was on this trail that we got some good views of Cathedral Peak. The trail became sandy and soon it opened up into a great big open space and we were in a meadow. More great views of the peak here. Through the meadow and after some rock scrambling we were right at the edge of the lake. Although it had gotten warmer it was windy here and had to put some layers back on that we had shed along the way. With the lake in view we took a break before heading back. Once back at the junction to the main trail we took the main trail to Upper Cathedral Lake. We were climbing again when we heard some rustling and saw a couple of deer. A trip to Yosemite is not complete until we see some deer. We could see Cathedral Peak from here too. We couldn't get too close to Upper Cathedral Lake because there was some trail maintenance going on so we took some pictures from afar and headed back. We retraced our steps back to the main trail and made our way back, glad that it was mostly downhill. There were less people on the trail now but still some were heading out. Four hours and 40 minutes after we started our hike we were back at our car. It was a short drive to the Tuolumne Meadows Grill so we headed there for early dinner, knowing that it would be over an hour back to the valley floor. It was a good way to end the day. If you are spending some time in Yosemite's high country this hike is a great one to include on your trip.

May 29, 2012

Anza Borrego Hike - Borrego Palm Canyon Trail

We were spending time in the San Diego area prior to running the Rock 'n' Roll San Diego half marathon and had a free day to do some hiking. After doing some searching online we found that a must-do hike in the area is the Borrego Palm Canyon Trail at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. We left our campsite at Carlsbad State Beach early and made the two hour drive to the park. The park website listed the visitor center hours so we expected it to be open so our plan was to go to the visitor center, get a map and suggestions on what other things there are to see there then head out on our hike. When we arrived there was a notice that the visitor center was closed on weekdays for the summer. Luckily we had brought some information with us so we headed over to the park campground where the trail head was. We placed our $5 day use fee in the designated envelope at the campground kiosk and placed the tear-off tag on our dashboard. We drove through the campground to the day use parking lot. We still had not seen a single person in the park. It was a hot day and we thought that maybe people were staying away because of the heat. Still, we thought it was unusual to not see anybody camping at all. We got to the parking lot and were relieved to see a couple of other cars there, as well as a park ranger. She was ticketing cars that did not have the paid tag displayed and made certain we knew it was going to be a hot day and to take plenty of water. We grabbed our packs and water and headed out towards the trail.
A quick stop to the bathroom ended up being a stop at a stone building without a roof, with two bathroom stalls without doors, hadn't seen one quite like this before so had to take a picture. The trail head was well marked and close to the women's restrooms. There were pamphlets there for the self-guided tour on the Borrego Palm Canyon trail so we took one. Initially the trail was flat with packed dirt and some loose rocks. It was easy to follow the trail out at first then as it became more difficult to follow there were rock cairns to lead the way. The marked numbers that matched up with the pamphlet we picked up at the trail head also reassured us that we were going the right way. We made our way on the exposed trail in the surrounding desert, making sure to hydrate along the way. The pamphlet taught us about the history of the area, about the flora and fauna of the area as well. It even mentioned Peninsular Bighorn Sheep which made us excited and hopeful that we would see some. On our way along the canyon towards the palm oasis we heard something and when we looked it was there-a bighorn sheep! It was walking in the middle of the canyon, going across the dry creek crossing that we had passed several minutes earlier. We always enjoy seeing wildlife on our hikes and with the exception of our trip to Yellowstone National Park, this was the only other time we have seen bighorn sheep. Once it was out of sight we marched on towards the palm trees.
 The trail became even rockier and a bit more uneven before it turned a corner and led us to water. On the other side of the water was the palm tree oasis. It was a refreshing sight in the desert. The air was cooler here too so we took a few minutes to cool down. We decided not to continue on to the oasis as we could not tell what the ground or trail conditions were from that point. Besides, the view from this side of the water was beautiful already. We snapped pictures then turned around and headed back on the trail. On our way back we kept hoping that we would see the sheep again but knew that we probably wouldn't. Imagine our excitement when we did see it again. There it was-right in the middle of the canyon again but this time standing on a big rock. We got as close to it as the trail allowed and took more pictures. It didn't seem to be bothered by us at all so we took our time before making our way back to the car. On our way up the trail we came across two groups of hikers and with the heat we thought we wouldn't see any on our way back but we actually saw several people heading out on the trail. The temperature was well in the high 90's when we finished our hike and we were glad we had started out in the morning. This hike was three miles round trip with about 600 feet of elevation gain. Driving out of the campground we still didn't see any people camping but realized that it's probably too hot in the summer for people to camp there in the desert. It was a nice hike and definitely a place to go if you are in the area, although it may be better to hike in the park during a cooler time of the year. The park itself is quite large, it is actually the largest state park in California. So there are lots of other trails to hike if you have more than one day in the area, just be sure to bring plenty of water!

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park Website