December 29, 2011

First Day Hikes

Start the New Year off with a hike. Many state parks across the country are participating in the First Day Hikes program. The program is aimed at promoting healthy lifestyles throughout the year and recreation at state parks. Participating parks will have guided hikes on Jan 1 for people to begin the year. Local parks include Big Basin, Henry Cowell, Ano Nuevo and more. So get out there and embrace the outdoors in the new year.

December 4, 2011

California International Marathon

For the second year in a row I ran the Calfornia International Marathon (CIM) from Folsom to Sacramento. It was my second time running CIM, and my second time running a marathon. When I ran CIM last year I was very nervous with it being my first marathon. Although I did feel much better at the finish than I thought I would, it was the most physically and mentally grueling thing I had ever been through. As my sore legs carried me back to the car after the race I was asked if I would do it again. I think I said something along the lines of "Nah, I'm glad I did it once and now I can say I did a marathon but I don't think I'll do it again". Well, as the soreness dissipated and time went on I started thinking about doing it again. Maybe if I continued to train I could beat my time. That thought became more and more appealing so after a few months I registered for CIM again. Aside from the marathon there was a four person relay and a 2.62 mile marFUNrun in Sacramento. Over 14,000 participants took part in the events. Bib pick up was at an Expo at the Sacramento Convention Center. It took place the Friday and Saturday before the race. Bib pick up was well organized but there did seem to be a lot of stops. First I got my bib and timing chip, then made another stop to check my timing chip to make sure it was programmed correctly, then made another stop to get my shirt and goody bag which doubled as my sweat check bag. Along with bib/shirt pick up there were various vendors at the Expo selling running clothing and gear. There were also several booths promoting upcoming races. There were also free cliff bar samples of new and popular flavors which were good. There was also a Medical Symposium  and Marathon Speaker Clinics where speakers discussed various topics related to marathon running such a preparing for CIM, avoiding injury and motivation. After the Expo we headed out to Folsom and did a little shopping before dinner time. Last year we had eaten at a well known Italian restaurant but we ended up waiting about 40 minutes and were disappointed with the food so this year we opted for pizza and it was great. After dinner we headed over to our hotel to check-in. We stayed in a hotel in Folsom again this year and glad we did because they had the VIP warming tent for Folsom guests again. The night before the race I laid out my clothes and gear and went to bed early. Weather for the weekend was expected to be cold and clear. I was thrilled since it was a rainy weekend the year before, even though it didn't really rain during the race. On the day of the race I got up really early after a bad nights rest. I kept waking up during the night worried that I would oversleep and miss the race. My plan was to wake up at 4:30am to be on the shuttle bus at 5:15 but I was wide awake at 3:30am and just kept going through my mental list of things to take. I finally got out of bed and got dressed. I had packed my extras like sweats, water and peanut butter sandwich in my sweat bag so I wouldn't forget them on race day. Just before 5am I made my way down to the hotel lobby where they were serving breakfast. They started it at 4:15am, much earlier than usual, because of the marathon. It was great for the runners participating in the race. I sat and ate my peanut butter sandwich and grabbed a banana for later. When registering for the race there was an option to pay $10 to take a shuttle bus from the hotel to the race start and I had opted for that. The "shuttle bus" (school bus) arrived at about 5am and seats began to fill soon after. It left the hotel at about 5:20 and made the drive over to the start. Last year when we had arrived we were one among several buses but this year we were the first ones to arrive. Although it was still dark, I could see Folsom Dam from the bus itself. We were given the option to stay on the bus as long as we wanted but most of us got off the bus and made the short walk to the warming tent. It wasn't too warm to start but warmer than just standing outside in the 27 degree air. Several chairs were set up in the tent and 6 portapotties were lined up just outside the tent. Like the warming tent, the portapotties were for use only by the Folsom guests. If I continue to run CIM the VIP Folsom area would be reason enough for me to stay in Folsom again. Back to the race. Race start was scheduled for 7am so I ate my banana at about 6:15 and started getting my gear together soon after. After a couple of bathroom stops I made my way out of the tent into the cold. I shed some layers of clothing and packed it in my sweat bag. There were three big rental trucks used to transport the sweat bags to the finish, they were organized by bib number. I gave mine to the appropriate truck and then started making my way towards the starting line. The sun was just starting to come up as I found the pace group I was planning to run with the 3:55 group which included Diedre Fitzpatrick.

My goal was to finish under 4 hours. Someone sang the national anthem and just as we were about to go I took off my last long sleeve shirt and tossed it away from the crowd. It took me about a minute and a half to cross the start line and then made a quick right turn. It was right then that I got a little ahead of the 3:55 pace group and never saw them again. The course was the same as last year, the same as it has been for the last 29 years. As I went through Orangevale, Citrus Heights, Fair Oaks and Carimichael I passed several spectators cheering on family members, friends and strangers. There were a couple of firetrucks with fireman hanging out of windows and offering high fives. I ran along Fair Oaks Blvd, close to the American River. The weather was great-cool and sunny. It was perfect. As I kept running I noticed that I was on pace to finish closer to 3:50. I was exhilarated. Even though the first 17-18 mills consisted of rolling hills I was still on pace to finish close to 3:50, if I could just keep the pace. At the 20 mile marker there was a fake brick wall that represented hitting the wall in the race. Thankfully I felt surprisingly good. After crossing the Fair Oaks Bridge the course headed through the streets of downtown Sacramento leading to the finish at Capitol Park. There were about 18 aid stations on the course route, each with water and Ultima sports drink. The first few stations were very crowded but this year it was much easier to distinguish between which volunteers had the water and which had the sports drink.
It was always water first, Ultima second. Last year I had a difficult time finding those with the water in the first half of the race. GU energy gels were provided at around mile 13 and 20. Gels were supposed to be offered at about mile 23 as well but I must have missed it. I had GU's and Honey Stinger energy chews of my own so I was fine. There were also a few areas in the last half of the race where orange slices, banana slices and licorice were offered. Portapotties were sparse in the first several miles but as I got closer to the finish they seem to be everywhere. Spectators lined much of the course with the usual cowbells and motivational signs and there were bands at certain points, ranging from high school marching bands to local rock bands. There were three relay exchange zones which were very busy with the relay participants as well as spectators. Race organizers did do a good job of keeping the course clear for the runners and making it clear where to go if you were a relay participant. Relay chutes were always on the right and marathoners always continued on the left side of the course. The finish line at the Capitol was great and there were tons of spectators. There was a separate finish chute for men and women. After crossing the finish line I looked at my time-just under 3:50, woohoo! A volunteer put a finishers medal over my head while another gave me a blanket, someone then removed the timing chip off my shoe,  and then I was ushered towards some chocolate milk, it tasted spectacular.
I got some water and then waited my turn for my finishers photo to be taken with the official CIM backdrop. I met up with my family and made my way to the food area. I was in and out quicker than last year. There was fruit, bagels, cookies, tomato soup and freshly made pancakes. I got my food and ate as I walked towards the sweat bags on the lawn. Sweat bag pick up was a little further than last year but it felt good to just keep moving. The sun was out, it was in the 50's, it was great. I felt better physically and mentally than I expected and better than last year. After getting my sweat bag we headed to the car to head home. Once again, the race was very well organized, from the expo to the course itself, to the post race food and sweat bag pickup. The course is nice and despite the rolling hills it's a fast course with an overall elevation drop of just over 300 feet. Can't wait to do it again, maybe I'll set a new PR next time.

December 1, 2011

December Events

Here are a few things going on in December:

12/3  Bah Humbug 5k in San Ramon
12/3  New Balance Girls on the Run 5k in Rohnert Park
12/4  California International Marathon
12/10 Walnut Creek 5k, 10k and Half Marathon
12/31 Brazen's New Year's Eve 5k, 10k, Half Marathon races at Lake Chabot

REI Free Clinics (all at 7pm)
  Snowshoeing Basics
    12/1 Mountain View
    12/1 Dublin
    12/8 Brentwood
  Avalanche Awareness
    12/6 Saratoga
    12/7 Concord
    12/20 Stockton
  Snowcamping Basics
    12/7 San Francisco
    12/7 Corte Madera
    12/7 Berkeley

REI Used Gear Sales (all at 10am)
  12/3 Brentwood
  12/3 Concord
  12/3 Saratoga
  12/3 Mountain View
  12/3 Berkeley
  12/3 San Francisco
  12/4 San Carlos
  12/10 Stockton
  12/10 Corte Madera
  12/30 Brentwood
  12/31 Fremont
  12/31 San Francisco
  12/31 Mountain View

November 27, 2011

Quarry Turkey 10k

We participated in our third Brazen Racing event over Thanksgiving weekend. Again, we were not disappointed. There were actually two Brazen Racing events over the holiday weekend, the Nitro Turkey race at Point Pinole on Thanksgiving Day and the Quarry Turkey race at Quarry Lakes two days later on Saturday. Each included 5k, 10k and Half Marathon distances. We did the Quarry Turkey 10k. We had been to Quarry Lakes once before when we biked on the Alameda Creek Trail from Coyote Hills Regional Park in Hayward to Quarry Lakes Regional Recreation Area in Fremont but didn't get a chance to see much of the park then. (See Alameda Creek Trail Bike Ride post). This race let us explore the park a bit more. Registration fee for the race varied depending on the race distance and when you registered. As with other Brazen Racing events there was an option to register for $5 less if you did not want a race shirt, or pay $6 more for a technical fabric shirt. We opted out of the shirts. We had been warned in the days leading up to the race to get to the park with plenty of time as there are only two lanes to enter the park and it would be crowded. We were grateful that we were warned as we did leave earlier than usual and the lines to enter the park were long. Park entrance fee was $5 and once we paid we made our way toward the Brazen Racing banner. There was plenty of parking in the lots so we quickly found a spot. We made our way over to bib pick up and after a short wait and signing our waivers we received our bibs. We made our way over to pick up our timing chip and race bags which we could use as our sweat bag as well. There were copies of the race routes available for racers to take as well. There were park bathrooms as well as portapotties available. We had time to use them and check our bags before the races started.   
As usual the Half Marathon started off first at 8am with the 10k fifteen minutes later and the 5k fifteen minutes after that. The race start was on the grass and then the route headed downhill onto the unpaved Old Creek Trail before turning left onto Californio Trail. This took us back to Old Creek Trail which crossed through two of the parks lakes. It was a clear day so the views of the surrounding water were great. When we got to the first aid station we made a right onto Western Pacific Trail, this was the place that the 5k and 10k routes split, with the 5k racers making a left. We turned onto Alameda Creek Trail and our turnaround point was at our next aid station. Half marathon racers continued past the aid station to their turnaround point further up the trail. We retraced the route back to the aid station at the 5k/10k split area and ran straight past it continuing on Western Pacific Trail. It was here that we joined up with some of the slower 5k racers and it took quite a bit of maneuvering to get around the slower participants. We ran towards the parking area and stayed on the paved road for a brief time before seeing the finish line. To get to the finish we had to climb back up the grassy hill that was the race start and then just run through the cheering crowd. Most of the race route was unpaved-dirt and gravel. The aid stations all had drinks and one also had snacks like trail mix. After crossing the finish line we turned in our timing chips and received our finisher's medal. Like other Brazen races, all race finishers receive a medal, regardless of the distance of the race they participate in. One perk with this race was that if you participated in both this race and Nitro Turkey then you received a special double medal that would allow you to connect the two individual race medals creating the Thanksgiving Mega Medal. This was a great motivator for many people and there will be a special double medal for their upcoming New Years races. People who participated in both Thanksgiving races were able to pick up their special medal near the race finish. After crossing the finish line we got our water and then made the short walk to the covered park area where the post race food was located. The selection of food after the race was as good as always and included water, coffee, hot chocolate, cookies, fruit, bagels, danishes, candy, ice cream and even pumpkin and pecan pie this time around. After doing many races we have to admit that they have some of the best selection of post race food. We had our share of food and waited a little while before the 5k and 10k results were posted. After checking results we made our way back to the car to head home. As usual, race pictures were taken along the course and at the finish and were available online for free a few days after the race. This is yet another great Brazen perk. With it being Thanksgiving weekend, there was also a food drive benefiting the Alameda County Food Bank. This was another well organized Brazen Racing event and it will not be our last.

November 12, 2011

Old Koloa Sugar Mill Run

While vacationing in Kauai we were lucky enough to participate in a local race, the Old Koloa Sugar Mill Run. The proceeds from the run went to scholarships for various programs at Kauai Community College. We hadn't originally planned on doing this but while waiting to pick up our luggage at the airport I picked up a brochure with "things to do" in Kauai and while flipping through it the next day I found out about the race. It was taking place in a few days and just a few miles away from where we were staying. It was a 5k, 10k and 10 mile. Online registration was available as well as same day registration.  Since we would be flying home on race day we weren't sure initially if we wanted to do it, seeing as we would be in a rush to pack our bags, check out of the hotel, then go catch a late morning flight. Two days before the race we decided to participate. After all, when would we get another chance to do a race in Kauai? We both had planned on running about 6 miles on that day anyways so we signed up for the 10k. Online registration was easy except for the Wi-Fi connection at the hotel. We paid $30 each and surprisingly there was no additional fee for online registration. The registration included a race t-shirt or tank top (we got to choose) and a post race continental breakfast. Race packet pick-up was available the day before the race so we made the 20 minute drive to a shopping center in Lihue. There we were able to pick up our bibs and t-shirts. The night before the race we packed as much as we could knowing that we would be short on time the next day. On race day we got up early and packed a few more things before getting ready for the race. We headed out of our hotel and drove a few miles to nearby Anne Knudsen park which was basically race headquarters. About a block away was the race start and finish. There was a very small lot at the park so most people, including us, parked along the street on the narrow shoulder. We walked over to the start and waited. The 10 mile participants started first at 7am, the 10k was next at 7:15 and the 5k was last at 7:30. Quite a few people lined up for the 10k but it didn't feel crowded since the race was not chip-timed and there was no timing mat. The course for all three distances headed south on Ala Kinoiki Road, a two lane paved road that was closed for the race. We then turned onto a narrow dirt road towards the old sugar mill. The road was muddy in some areas from the recent rains (it rained daily while we were in Kauai) so we just had to be careful not to misstep, although I did miscalculate at one time and ended up stepping in a puddle. After doing a loop on this dirt road we were back onto Ala Kinoiki Road and continued south on it before reaching the 10k turnaround and heading back on the paved road to the finish. The course was well marked with signs and because there were very few turns it was an easy route to follow. There was lush green foliage lining the course and you could see the mountain in the background on the way back towards the finish line. There were three water stops for the 10k which were appreciated in the humidity of Kauai. The temperature was in the 70's for the race and it was definitely humid. We were glad we were doing this at the end of our trip since we had some time to acclimate. The finish line was marked with cones but there wasn't an official mat to cross since it wasn't chip-timed. There weren't separate chutes for the different races either which made it a bit confusing and also made for congestion at the end. We think this probably paid a part in incorrect race results too. After finishing we walked back over to the park where breakfast was being served from the snack bar. We lined up and got our breakfast burrito (vegetarian or not), fruit, croissant, juice/coffee and yogurt. It was a hearty breakfast and the best one we've had from a race yet. Awards were to start at 9:15 but we asked after eating and were told they would start at around 9:30 or so. Since we were pressed for time but didn't want to miss the awards we rushed back to the hotel, showered, packed and rushed back. We made it back in time. They were finishing the 5k results as we got there and they moved on to the 10k shortly after. We noticed something was wrong with the results when a few people returned their ribbons and when people we were fairly certain did not participate in the 10k had fast finishing times. Nonetheless I got my ribbon for my age group finish and rushed out to make the drive to the airport to head home. The race was really convenient and we were lucky it was so close. There were local participants, several participants from the mainland and even a few international participants. The course was well marked, registration and bib pick-up was easy and the breakfast was great. The only thing we would change is the timing of the course and the incorrect finish results. Regardless we can now say we ran a 10k in beautiful Kauai.

Race Website
Race Results

November 1, 2011

November Events

Here are a few things going on in November:

11/5    Tri-City Healthy Run 5k in Fremont
11/5    Lake Chabot Trail Run 5mile, Half Marathon, Marathon, 50k
11/6    Diablo Trail Adventure 5k, 10k, Half Marathon
11/6    World Run Day
11/11-11/13  National Parks Fee Free Days for Veterans Day
11/12  Mermaid Run 5k and 10k in San Francisco
11/24  Run Against Hunger 5k and 10k in Stockton
11/24  Nitro Turkey Run 5k, 10k, Half Marathon trail races at Point Pinole
11/26  Quarry Turkey 5k, 10k, Half Marathon races in Fremont

REI Free Clinics (all at 7pm)
  Winter Paddling Destinations
    11/1  Stockton
  Exploring Patagonia
    11/1  Fremont
  Snowshoeing Basics
    11/22  Stockton
    11/29  Berkeley
    11/30  Concord
  Cool Weather Hiking Safety
    11/8   Stockton
  Polar Bears of Churchill, Manitoba
    11/2   Concord
    11/3  Brentwood
  How to Adjust Bike Brakes and Gears
    11/2  Brentwood
  Tao of Everest
    11/14  Stockton
  Antartica: Barometer of Climate Change
    11/8   Berkeley
REI Used Gear Sales (all at 10am)
    11/5   Berkeley
    11/5   Concord
    11/5   Mountain View
    11/5   Saratoga
    11/6   Fremont

October 26, 2011

REI Dublin Grand Opening

The REI Dublin grand opening is finally upon us. The new store is located at 7099 Amador Plaza Road in Dublin, CA. Opening day is Friday, October 28th but they are celebrating all weekend long. They will be having a free continental breakfast Friday, Saturday and Sunday starting one hour before the store opens. The first 200 people through the door all three days will receive a CamelBak water bottle with a $5, $10, $25, $50 or $100 REI gift card inside. They will also have a gear package sweepstakes. If you're not already a member and sign up during this weekend you will also get a free REI OXT Tech T-Shirt, while supplies last. Pedal to the store, and they'll give you a 15%-off coupon and a free bike maintenance check by REI techs. Doors open at 10am all three days. 

October 22, 2011

Wheels for Meals Ride

We did the Wheels for Meals Ride for the second year in a row. The bike ride benefits the Meals on Wheels Program in Alameda County. Again there was a 15 mile ride, a 35 mile ride and a 70 mile ride. We did the 15 mile ride last year and had planned to do a longer one this year but because we would be doing this the day before a race we decided to do the 15 mile ride again. We pre-registered online for $20 per person and were glad we did because the event sold-out. We drove out to Shadow Cliffs Regional Recreation Area and paid the $6 entrance fee. There are several paved and unpaved parking areas at the park and we ended up parking in a dirt/gravel lot. We got our bikes and gear together and rode over to the check-in area. In attempt to avoid congestion, the three routes were given a designated hour to be able to check-in and start the ride. We were able to check-in and start our ride between 9am and 10am. At check-in we received bibs for our bikes and a color coded wristband that matched our route markers on the ride. The route markers for the 15 mile ride were green so we followed the green route markers on our ride. The wristband would also be needed after the ride for our t-shirt and lunch, both of which were included as part of the event fee. There was water and bagels available before the ride. After check-in we got back on our bikes and headed through the parking lot and up our first hill to make our way out of the park. The route for the 15 mile ride was very similar to last years route. First we headed east on Stanley Blvd which was under contruction. Because of the construction we rode on the street itself instead of on the bike path we used last year. We then rode through some quiet and beautiful residential streets in Livermore. After about five miles we reached our first rest stop at Charles Borromeo Church. The volunteers here were dressed up in a patriotic theme, even the dog had a costume. They offered water, lemonade, candy, fruit and PB&J mini sandwiches. We had some snacks and rested in the shade for a few minutes before continuing on our ride. After a short while we found ourselves riding on Vineyard and Wetmore bike paths where we were rewarded with great views. After climbing and descending we found ourselves at the second rest stop. This stop was at Sycamore Grove Park. The volunteers here had decorated the area with a Hawaii theme and wore island attire. They had Hawaiian themed music playing as well. There was water, fruit, candy, jerkey and PB&J mini sandwiches. After another brief break in the shade we hopped back on our bikes and on the bike path. After some turns we made a right onto Isabel Road and continued on the bike path until we reached Stanley Blvd. We turned left here and road back to Shadow Cliffs. As we rode back to the Lakeside Picnic Area there were volunteers cheering us on. We found a spot for our bikes in the "Bike Parking" area on the grass and then picked up our event t-shirts. We then lined up for our BBQ lunch which consisted of ribs, sausages, chicken, muffins, potato salad, coleslaw and fruit. We took a short walk to a shaded picnic table and enjoyed our food. We passed by the sponsor booths on our way back to our bikes and then rode back to our car to head home. It was a great event again this year. It was very well organized and the weather cooperated-it was wam and sunny. We will definitely participate again next year, maybe we'll even do a longer ride.

Wheels for Meals Website

October 16, 2011

Ragnar Relay Napa Valley

We recently got the opportunity to do Ragnar Relay Napa Valley. So what is Ragnar Relay? It's when 12 runners run about 200 miles, day and night, relay style. The Ragnar tag line is “Run, Drive, Sleep? Repeat”. Make special note of the question mark. So how about a few more details. The 12 runners split into two vans or other similar vehicles. Van 1 starts the relay and after each runner runs once, they then hand off to Van 2. Each runner in Van 2 runs once and then they hand back off to Van 1. This continues until each runner runs three times and the team as a whole completes 36 legs, passing a slap bracelet at every exchange. Each exchange has a parking area for the team vans and a designated area on the road for the two runners to hand off. Most also had porta potties which definitely came in handy. The exchanges where one van handed off to the other van were considered major exchanges and aside from the parking and porta-potties, many of them also had food for sale from local groups, water, sometimes coffee and hot chocolate and one had a sleeping area inside a high school gym. Each individual leg varied from the shortest being around three miles to the longest at about nine miles and have varying levels of difficulty. Each runner's total mileage varied from 13 to 22 miles. Most legs did not have any aid or water support but the team van was allowed to give aid to their runner. The few exceptions were those legs that were on roads where it would have been too dangerous for team members to provide aid and on those legs there were hydration stations. Most teams finish the race in around 30-something hours.
Ragnar Relay has been around for several years but this was the inaugural race for Napa Valley. The race began in San Francisco at Marina Green Park. The race took us from SF, across the Golden Gate Bridge, through the north bay and eventually ending 186 miles later in Calistoga. In San Francisco there were staggered starts every 30 minutes starting at 5:30 am until about 3pm. Slower teams usually started earlier as they needed more time to complete the race. We reached the start an hour before our start time. We had to check in, show our safety gear and go to a safety briefing. Come 8:30am our first runner along with runners from 30 other teams took off and the race for us was on. Now the thing about Ragnar is that it's not really a competitive race, it's more about having fun. Teams usually come up with creative and funny team names. Many get custom made shirts for their team. Some teams are even out there running in full costumes. Van decorating are also a must do. Running is normally an individual sport and as runners we spend a lot of time running the roads by ourselves. Ragnar provides the unique opportunity to get 12 friends or even strangers and run as a team, supporting and cheering each other along the way. The fun aspect along with the challenge of the day and night race is what attracted us to participate. This was our first Ragnar, so despite researching as much as possible beforehand we didn't really know what to expect.
First thing that surprised us was how rushed everything was. Not in a bad way. We thought that there would be a lot of time to kill, but there wasn't. It seemed like we were always in a rush to get ready to run, or get to the next exchange or get some food. Running in the middle of the night was something I had really looked forward to. Some members of our team were worried about the night running. After doing it, running at night was a non issue. No problems, but not that exciting either. Running with oncoming car headlights in your face gets old pretty quick. The other issue with running at night is if you're running then you're not sleeping. If you're doing Ragnar you should expect to only get a couple hours of sleep. In our team, Van 1 just slept in their van. Not exactly very comfortable but it was easy. Van 2 slept in a high school gym at one of the major exchanges. While it was a chance to stretch out in our sleeping bags, a gym with 100 other runners who are all coming and going at different times doesn't make for a peaceful nights sleep. Food was another issue. I personally didn't eat enough during the race, probably didn't hydrate enough either. I didn't exactly get to keep to my usual meal schedule. So it was a lot of snacking, cliff bars and gels. During the last leg for the runners in Van 2 the temps actually got pretty high and they struggled to stay hydrated. We saw lots of other teams having to walk during this stretch of the race. But eventually we all made it to the finish. For Ragnar, the whole team joins the last runner to run the last 100 yards so that everyone gets to cross the finish. After crossing the finish line everyone got their medals and a team photo is taken. I must say Ragnar has some very cool medals. There is a finish line expo to checkout as well with a few product samples and actually every team got two free pizzas. Much needed as everyone was pretty hungry. There is also a merchandise tent at the finish. But I think the trick is if you want to buy some Ragnar gear purchase it at the race start as many things ran out by the time we got to the finish.

Overall Ragnar Relay is a very unique running experience. We had an absolute blast doing it. We had a great time with the friends on our team. We had a great time meeting runners from other teams. And we had a great time cheering for and getting cheered on by complete strangers. We will definitely be back for Ragnar Relay Napa Valley 2012. Actually we will probably try to do one of the other Ragnar Relays located around the country.

Ragnar Relay Website

October 2, 2011

October Events

Here are a few things going on in October:

10/1    Reach for the Stars 5k race at Del Osso Farms in Lathrop
10/2    Urban Cow 5k and Half Marathon in Sacramento
10/2    Bridge to Bridge 7k and 12k races in San Francisco
10/2    Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon in San Jose
10/2    Mount Diablo Challenge Bike Ride
10/8    Golden Hills Trail Marathon and 50k at Lake Chabot
10/8    Muddy Maul & Crawl 2 mile obstacle course in Lodi
10/9    Happy Fish 5k and 10k races in Fremont
10/9    Primo's Run for Education 5k and Half Marathon in San Ramon
10/9    Muddy Buddy event in San Jose
10/15  Redwood Park 10k, 20k, 30k and 50k trail races
10/15  Footwear Festival at REI Concord
10/16  Nike Women's Marathon and Half Marathon in San Francisco
10/16  Silicon Valley Brain Tumor Bike Ride in Palo Alto
10/22  Rocky Ridge 5k, 10k and Half Marathon trail races at Las Trampas
10/22  Out for Blood 5k race in Oakland
10/22  Wheels for Meals Ride in Livermore Valley
10/23  St. Josephs 5k and Half Marathon in Stockton
10/23  Golden Gate Bridge Vista 10k race
10/23  Grape Stomp 5k, 10k and Half Marathon races in Livermore
10/23  SF Sunday Streets Cycling Event
10/29  P.U.M.P It Up 5k and 10k races in Lodi
10/29  Down & Dirty Mud Run in Sacramento
10/29  Napa Wine Country 10k, Half Marathon and Marathon
10/29  Warrior Dash 3.15 obstacle course in Hollister
10/30  Warrior Dash 3.15 obstacle course in Hollister
10/30  Down & Dirty Mud Run in Folsom
10/30  Four Bridges Half Marathon in Folsom
10/30  Halloween Spirit Run 5k in Pleasanton

REI Free Clinics (all at 7pm)
  Bike Palo Alto! 2011 (10am-4pm)
    10/9  Mountain View
    10/9  Saratoga
  Exploring Patagonia
    10/25 Berkeley
    10/26 San Francisco
    10/31 Saratoga
  Best Bay Area Hikes with Kids
    10/24  Saratoga
    10/25  Fremont
  Transit and Trails
    10/5   San Francisco
    10/11 Berkeley
  Hell on Two Wheels
    10/17 Saratoga
    10/19 Concord
  Circumnavigating the Bay Area Ridge Trail by Bike
    10/18  Berkeley
    10/26  Corte Madera

REI Used Gear Sales (all at 10am)
    10/1   Concord
    10/1   Mountain View
    10/1   Saratoga
    10/1   San Francisco
    10/9   Fremont
    10/15 Berkeley
    10/15 Brentwood
    10/15 Corte Madera

September 24, 2011

San Leandro Marina/Hayward Shoreline Bike Ride

This weekend we decided to get the bikes and go for a ride. We headed to the San Leandro Marina. We hopped on the bikes and headed south along the shoreline trail. The first 1.5 miles is a paved path. This area close to the marina is pretty busy. Lots of walkers, runners and bikes. When the trail headed toward local housing we simply turned right to continue to follow the shoreline. The trail then turned to hard packed dirt with a bit of gravel. We continued to follow the trail as it entered the Hayward Regional Shoreline crossing several small bridges along the way. We found less people as we got closer to Hayward although we did pass a group of birdwatchers. The weather on this occasion was perfect with only a light breeze. But be warned it can often be extremely windy along the shoreline. We turned around just before reaching the Hayward Shoreline Interpretive Center. We took a few pictures and retraced our tracks back to the marina. We ended up riding just over eleven miles.

On a side note, a brand new dog park just opened at the San Leandro Marina.

September 10, 2011

Tracy Bean Run

The Tracy Bean Run took place again this year for the second year in a row although the race location was different than the year prior. The Bean Run used to be an annual event years ago and is now well on it's way to becoming a well established annual event again. The run is named for the Tracy Dry Bean Festival that happens annually in downtown. There was both a 5k and a 10k. I ran the 5k. Last year the race began and ended by the city's Chamber of Commerce. This year the start and finish took place a few miles from downtown in front of the Tracy Public Library. There is a very small parking lot at the library and part of it was closed off for the event so we parked on the street close by. There was plenty of street parking. Bib pick up was quick for pre-registered runners but there was a line for same day registration. Race t-shirt pick up was easy but there were limited sizes, Large or XLarge. The flyer for the race did state that there were no guarantee of shirt sizes but I didn't think it would be this limited. Hopefully this will change for next year. There were goodie bags as well. There were some breakfast bars available before the start which was nice. No timing chips for this race though, maybe next year. It was a mass start with the 5k and 10k runners starting together at about 8am. The street in front of the library was blocked off but that proved to be the only part of the race course that was closed. We started by heading east on Eaton, passing a church and school before heading north on Parker Avenue into a residential area. We turned west then south through neighborhoods before getting close to completing our loop. The course was marked with construction cones and chalk markings on the streets but there were very few volunteers to help guide the way. This is another thing that could be improved upon before next years' event. They did have a one mile marker that was misplaced but no other mile markers that I saw. As I approached the finish line I did notice that my gps showed that the course was a bit short. Having passed the finish line I quickly grabbed some ice cold water that was nearby since it was really starting to warm up. I started making my way back toward the library parking lot and realized that in order to get there I had to cross the course, all the finishers would have to. This was not a huge deal in a small local event but should be avoided if possible, maybe next year. Post race goodies included fruit, water and breakfast bars. Race awards began at about 10am and I was glad it wasn't any later in the day because it was hot, hot, hot! Although there is still room for improvement, I look forward to participating in the race again next year.

5k Results
10k Results