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