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

May 20, 2012

Avenue of the Vines Half Marathon

Avenue of the Vines is a 5k and half marathon race that takes place in Lodi. It was in its sixth year this year. I have participated in the 5k twice before and enjoyed the flat course. This year a couple of friends decided to do the half marathon so I decided to join in. The race benefits the local emergency food bank and takes place at Woodbridge Winery in Lodi, about 45minutes south of Sacramento. Early bib pick-up was at Fleet Feet Stockton, a local running store. I stopped by the store the day before the race and got my bib, timing chip (disposable D-tag), goodie bag and technical fabric shirt. A couple of great things about the shirt this year were the color-black, which is rare for race shirts and it was gender specific. Included in the goodie bag was a wristband to wear if you are 21 and over. This was required to participate in the wine tasting postrace. It wasn't mentioned that you had to wear the wristband to get the free wine glass included with your entry fee, even if you skipped the drinking itself, so I was glad that I had worn mine even though I hadn't planned on drinking any alcohol. Since the race started and finished at the winery, there was a large parking lot and once it filled up there was plenty of street parking. I had learned in the years prior to get there early enough to park in the lot and did so again this year. There were porta potties close to the race start with a large line. Luckily a few other people and I found the winery's unmarked public bathrooms that were empty and I was in and out quickly. There were a few booths set up, most were informational pre-race but they did have some goodies post race. Race start for the half marathon was 7am and 7:15am for the 5k. The half start was right on time. We headed out on the main road in front of the winery and shortly after turned left to head north. The half marathon course was a loop course through wine country and farmlands. It was on a one lane paved road the entire time and was closed to traffic most of the time.

It was a well marked course with mile markers at each mile. There were police officers at each major intersection directing traffic as well. The main hazards were dogs in the area that would come out to fences and bark at us. There was one in particular that was running towards a group of runners in front of me but stopped at the edge of his owners property, just shy of the runners. There was an aid station at about 1.5 miles-close to the 5k turnaround point. There were about four or five more aid stations on the half marathon course-all with water and a sports drink but some of the volunteers were very young and didn't notify the runners if they had water or sports drink. Surprisingly there weren't any energy gels or chews offered on the course. After turning east again we passed through some cattle farms and ranches and could really feel the sun beating down on us. It was getting warmer quickly. After a few more turns the course headed south on a road that was lined with large trees that thankfully provided some shaded areas.  At about mile 7 or 8 there was a cooling station where cold sponges were handed out. This was the first race I have done where this was provided and it was great. A few more turns and then it was back on the initial street but heading west this time toward the finish. The course was lined with spectators as I got closer to the finish line and their cheering helped me pick up my pace near the end. Once across the finish I was handed my finishers medal and then was ushered to walk around the winery's visitor center to get water. It would have been nice to have the water closer, especially on a warm day. Another stop to get my wine glass and then there were wine tasting booths which I skipped. There was some post race food such as fruit and wraps. There were also a few sponsor booths set-up at the finish line but my favorite booth was one that had free race photos that had already been printed out. Even though I didn't find any of me I thought it was a great idea.

May 15, 2012

Tour of California

We were able to catch a stage of the Tour of California again this year. Stage 3 of the tour this year started in San Jose, went up through part of Mt. Diablo and ended in Livermore. People in the area have been waiting for years for the tour to go to Mt. Diablo and although it didn't go all the way up to the summit it was still exciting to have the route go through a place we know well. Mt. Diablo is a State Park with lots of hiking and mountain biking trails and a campground. The road up through the park is always busy with cyclists. We've hiked at the park before (Balancing RockFalls Trail) and have camped there as well. When the route for the stage was released we knew we definitely wanted to make it to the finish in downtown Livermore and decided to try to see them on Mt. Diablo as well.  We decided to ride to the park from a friends house who lives a few miles away. After about seven miles of riding we starting climbing. Not doing much riding I was a bit concerned about how I would do and got even more worried when my thighs starting burning at the bottom of the climb. Once the climbing began the discomfort continued but I had the  reassurance that we would only go as far as I could. I climbed up with a mountain bike but it was very light in weight so that helped. There were tons of other people there as well, lots of them passing me by but I did manage to pass a few. After a few miles we stopped for a break. After water and some energy chews we started climbing again and then we saw signs for the KOM (King of the Mountain). We decided to try to get to that point and after a few more tough miles we made it!! There were lots of other people there; some cycling groups and others who had driven up earlier and set up to watch the tour. At this point we had ridden about 14 miles.
We hung out for a little while and took some pictures. It was getting warm and I was glad that I took my CamelBak. We scouted out a place to wait and watch for the riders and found a section of the shoulder of the road that was empty- we had it all to ourselves. We had our PB&J sandwiches and waited in the heat. We were lucky that someone was giving out free ice cream at that time-they were promoting their product and we had jasmine flavored popsicles that surprisingly tasted really good. After waiting a little longer the breakaway came by, then the peloton. It's amazing how fast they ride. As soon as the road was open to us we started making our way down the mountain. This was a new situation for me-descending. I hadn't really thought about it before since I didn't think we would actually climb that much. I made good use of my brakes as I flew down the mountain. There were a few sketchy curves but I managed to stay upright. It helped that the road had very few cars and was taken over mostly by cyclists who could maneuver around me. Back down at the bottom of the mountain we rode back to the house. After just under 30 miles of riding we were back at our starting point..  I couldn't believe I had ridden that far, and up/down part of Mt. Diablo. We were soon in the car and heading over to Livermore. We parked downtown, just a few blocks from the finish. We made it in time to check out some of the booths before trying to elbow our way to a view of the finish. We didn't have a good view but did see the riders just after they crossed the finish line and as they headed to their team cars. We made our way by the team cars and took some pictures before heading back to our car. The tour riders completed 115.3 miles, but I did my own ride of just under 30 miles in under three hours and it felt great. It was a great day with an amazing ride and great Tour of California stage route. Can't wait until next year!

Amgen Tour of California Website
Our Tour of California 2011 post
Our Tour of California 2009 post

May 1, 2012

May Events

Here are a few things going on in May:

5/5   Western Pacific 5k, 10k, Half Marathon, Marathon at Quarry Lakes
5/5-5/6   The Relay
5/6   Peace Officers Memorial 5k, 10k in Modesto
5/6   Big Trees Trail 10k, Half Marathon, 30k, 50k at Joaquin Miller
5/6   Divas Half Marathon in San Francisco
5/6   Mermaid Run 5k, 10k, Half Marathon, 18 mile in Fremont
5/6   Delta Century Ride in Lodi
5/6   SF Sunday Streets bike event
5/12 CPOA 5k and 10k in Pleasanton
5/12 Cinderella Trail Run 10k, Half Marathon, Marathon, 50k at Joaquin Miller
5/12 Folsom Lake Triathlon
5/12 Ride for a Reason bike event
5/12 Ride for Mom bike event in Modesto
5/13 Mother's Day Duathlon and Triathlon in Folsom
5/13 Run Like a Mother 5k in Elk Grove
5/13-20 Tour of California cycling event
5/19 Wildcat 5k, 10k and Half Marathon at Wildcat Canyon Park
5/19 Scavenger Dash in Sacramento
5/19 Golden Gate Headlands 7 mile, Half Marathon and Marathon
5/20 Avenue of the Vines 5k, Half Marathon in Lodi
5/20 Daffodil Duathlon in Livermore
5/20 Ohlone Wilderness 50k
5/20 Bay to Breakers 12k in San Francisco
5/26 Danville Half Marathon
5/27 Wounded Warrior 5k in Manteca
5/27 Earthquakes Challenge 5k and 10k in San Jose
5/28 Stockton Rotary Run 5k and 10k

REI Free Clinics (all at 7pm)
  Basic Cycling Basics
    5/15 Stockton
  Intro to Bike Safety
    5/22 Stockton
  Cycling Destinations
    5/29  Stockton
  Bike Maintenance Basics
    5/1    Saratoga
    5/2    Brentwood
    5/2    Concord
    5/3    Mountain View
    5/31  Dublin
  Half Dome in a Day
    5/10  Brentwood
    5/29  Saratoga
  Marsh Creek State Park: A California Treasure
    5/3   Brentwood

REI Used Gear Sales (all at 10am)
  5/5   Berkeley
  5/5   Concord
  5/5   Mountain View
  5/5   Saratoga
  5/6   Fremont

April 29, 2012

Pleasanton Half Marathon

We ran in the inaugural Pleasanton Half Marathon. There was also a 5k. Start and finish were at the Pleasanton Sports Park although they were actually .75 miles apart. The event was put on by South Valley Endurance. This was our first race put on by SVE and we were impressed. It was very well organized and there were more people than we had anticipated for an inaugural event-1532 participants in the half marathon and 542 in the 5k. It was the first race in a series of three races-all part of the CA Running Series. Early bib pick up was at a local running store. Same day pickup was available for an additional $10-this is the first time we had seen an additional fee at a local race for same day pick up. We went the day before the race to pick up our bibs. There were a lot of people at the store but it was not chaotic. Bibs were picked up inside the store and a re-usable bag and race shirt were picked up outside. The shirts were technical fabric which we always prefer over cotton, and they were black in color which is rare. We realized we were fairly close to the race start/finish so we drove by. It proved to be helpful because we got a preview of where the finish line was going to be and even the parking lay out. On race day we parked in one of the parks lots about halfway between the start and finish. We made our way to the start, looking for our friends that were running it as well. They had a little trouble with parking so they got to the race start just a few minutes before the start, which was right on time. We ran along the parks parking lots before making a u-turn on the residential street that was parallel. It was nice to be able to see other racers on this switchback.

It wasn't long before we were on a fire road that we ran on for a few miles. Some of it was paved, some was gravel. We were warned of there being a few miles of gravel in the course in the pre-race email.  It was on to residential and city streets for a few miles before heading back onto the fire road. There were several aid stations along the course with water and sports drink but no gels. At about mile 12 the course was back in the park on the concrete walkway. There were more spectators here and we could hear the cheering, this is always motivating. Coming across the finish line there were already a lot of people enjoying the post race goodies since the 5k participants had already come through. Past the finish line were race medals, cold water and towels soaked in cold water. It was a warm day but not hot, still the wet towels felt great. There were several booths set up, the largest had the free food for participants which included some tasty burritos and fruit. A stop at the coconut water booth was a must. There were a lot of sponsor booths too with gear and food for sale. One of the great things about this race was that we could check our finish time online soon after crossing. There was an option to have your time texted to you as well and they had a live camera at the finish that could be watched online. For an inaugural event it was very well organized and we had a great time. We would definitely do this race again, or maybe another SVE event.

Pleasanton Half Marathon Website
Race Results
CA Running Series Website

April 1, 2012

Santa Cruz Half Marathon

We ran the Santa Cruz Half Marathon for the second time. We first ran it in 2010. This year there were nearly 4000 runners that participated. There was a half marathon and a 10k. We picked up our race packet at a local running store two days before but had to wait for the finish before getting our shirts. Two years prior it had been cold and windy with rain welcoming us at the finish. This year it looked like it might be the same or worse. We camped at the nearby New Brighton State Beach the two nights before the race and saw rain on and off during that time. Surprisingly on race morning the sky was clear and there was no rain in sight. We packed up all of our gear and made the 20 minute drive to the race. The start was only a few blocks away from the Boardwalk as it had been in the past so we knew to leave extra time to navigate through the traffic and find parking. We parked in the designated lot for the Boardwalk, paying $12. We made our way towards the start just a short walk away. Although it was a little cold being by the coast, the sun was out and we were hopeful that the rain would stay away. As we approached the start we saw masses of people standing in lines and then realized that they were waiting for porta potties. Unfortunately the porta potties had been placed along the block leading to the start so it was really congested. We waited our turn then tried to get as close to the start line as possible but there were just too many people and there was no organization. Glad it was chip timed. As in years past, the course started out on a street along the coast. The street was wide but with the unorganized start it took a while to maneuver around slower people that started ahead of us and walkers.  After a couple of miles it quickly narrowed and stayed that way for most of the course. The course had a few rolling hills and was mainly an out and back route with one loop in Wilder Ranch State Park. Once in Wilder Ranch the paved road was replaced by gravel and dirt and we had to be careful not to twist an ankle. The dirt path through the park was the narrowest part of the course making it difficult to pass other runners. There were also several large puddles on the trail since it had rained so much the days before. We could definitely feel the wind when running close to the coast but the views were spectacular. Once out of Wilder Ranch we re-traced our steps back towards the Boardwalk. 
Back on the wide street it seemed that it was open to car traffic but there weren't signs or volunteers directing us out of the street so we continued on the street itself. The finish seemed very abrupt as we made a sharp right turn only a few steps from the finish line which is on the beach itself. Having the finish line on the beach is nice in theory but caused us to get sand in our shoes and socks and slowed us down. Once at the finish we received our medals and then picked up our shirts. The race shirt is made of technical fabric which we like much more than the typical regular cotton shirts so it was a pleasant surprise when we picked them up. Water and sports drinks were handed out at the finish line and booths were set up on the beach with food including bagels, granola bars and fruit. Although the ocean breeze kept the area cool, the sun was out the entire time, we didn't get one drop of rain during the race. The course and views are nice but organization at the start could be improved.

Race Website
Race Results

April Events

Here are a few things going on in April:

4/7   Grizzly Peak 10k, Half Marathon, 30k, Marathon and 50k at Tilden Park
4/7   American River 50 mile Endurance Run in Sacramento
4/14 Granite Bay Duathlon in Folsom
4/14 Run for Health 5k and 10k in Modesto
4/14 Hit the Streets 5k in Manteca
4/14 Run for the Parks 5k and 10k in Livermore
4/14 Footwear Festival at REI Berkeley
4/15 Icebreaker Triathlon in Folsom
4/15 SF Sunday Streets bike event
4/15 Diablo Trails Challenge 5k, 10k, Half Marathon, 50k at Mt. Diablo
4/19 thru 4/22 Sea Otter Classic bike event in Monterey
4/21 thru 4/29 National Park Week: free entrance to National Parks
4/21 Challenge Failure 5k and 10k in Lodi
4/21 Survivor Mud Run obstacle run in Lathrop
4/21 Cycle for Sight in Napa Valley
4/22 Earth Day
4/22 Capital City Classic 5k, 10k in Sacramento
4/22 Silverado Half Marathon and 5k in Napa Valley
4/28 Great Spear-It Run 5k, 10k in Stockton
4/28 Every Step Counts 5k, 10k in San Leandro
4/28 Parkway Half Marathon in Sacramento
4/28 Urban Bike Adventure in San Francisco
4/28 Dirtiest Duathlon in Folsom
4/28 Terrain Mud Run in San Jose
4/28 Ridge to Bridge hiking and biking event
4/28 Folsom Lake 10k, Half Marathon, Marathon and 50k
4/29 Urban Bike Adventure in Sacramento
4/29 Pleasanton Half Marathon and 5k
4/29 Big Sur Marathon, 5k, 9mile, 10.6mile and 21 mile
4/29 Best Ride Ever Ride in Lodi

REI Free Clinics (all at 7pm)
  Kilimanjaro: "Everyman's Everest"
    4/26  Dublin
    4/27  Saratoga
  Poles for Hiking and Outdoor Exercise
    4/11  Concord
    4/24  Fremont
  Triathlon Basics-Try a Tri?
    4/4    Concord
    4/5    Dublin
    4/11  Corte Madera
    4/12  Brentwood
    4/13  Berkeley
    4/13  Fremont
    4/26  Mountain View
  Backpacking Basics
    4/4   Corte Madera
    4/10 Fremont
    4/12 Dublin
    4/12 Mountain View
    4/17 Saratoga
    4/18 Concord
    4/19 Berkeley
    4/26 Brentwood
  Climbing Mount Shasta: Tips for the Novice and the Expert
    4/24  Saratoga
    4/26  Berkeley

REI Used Gear Sales (all at 10am)
  4/7   Berkeley
  4/7   Concord
  4/7   Mountain View
  4/7   Saratoga
  4/14 Brentwood
  4/14 Corte Madera

March 17, 2012

Badger Cove Trail Race

We ran the Badger Cove race at Del Valle Park. It was a trail race put on by Brazen Racing and had 5k, 10k and Half Marathon distances, with about 800 people participating. As always, the entry fee for the race depended on the race distance and date you registered but ranged from $29 to $60. As with other Brazen Racing events there was an option to register for $5 less if you did not want the race shirt or pay $6 more for a technical fabric shirt if you registered for the 5k or 10k. If you registered for the Half Marathon the technical fabric shirt was included. We had been to Del Valle Park in the past to camp and hike and knew that there was really only one entry lane to the park so we left with plenty of time. We paid the $6 entry fee and followed the rest of the cars to the designated parking lots for the race. It had rained the entire week leading up to the event so we expected it to be wet and muddy, which it was. There was plenty of parking with some porta potties in one of the parking lots as well as park bathrooms nearby. We had picked up our race bibs, shirt, etc a few days before the race so we got to skip that on race day. But this all seemed very well organized. There was some pre-race food too like coffee and danishes. The most difficult part of the pre-race morning was deciding what to wear for the race-gloves or not? jacket or not? I decided on no gloves, no jacket and hoped that it didn't rain during the half marathon. It was my first trail half marathon so I was nervous to start anyways and the unpredictable weather didn't help. The race was timed using D-tags which I really like because they are easy to use, disposable and not noticeable when I'm running. Races started on time with the half starting at 8am, 10k at 8:30am and 5k at 8:45am. The courses for all three distances were similar.

The 5k was an out and back. The 10k was a lollipop course, with the loop being shared with the half marathon except the half marathon course covered the loop twice and had an additional out and back section about two thirds of the way on the loop. The second out and back portion of the half marathon was a last minute change since the original course was not easily accessible by the rangers to disperse aid station supplies after the heavy rain the night before. The first half mile or so of the course was paved road/sidewalks but the rest of the race routes were dirt. The out and back portion shared by all three distances consisted of some rolling hills. All distances passed an aid station twice, the half marathon passed it a third time by doing the loop twice. Initially everyone ran past the aid station and while the 5k participants turned around soon after passing it, the 10k and half marathon participants continued straight on East Shore Trail where the real climbing began. The trail at this point was very muddy making it tough to move at a quick pace and then it turned into single track for a little while with some low hanging trees. Then it was back to a wider trail on Ridgeline Trail where the climbing continued and the mud was on and off. I have hiked in muddy conditions before but hadn't run in this much mud so it was an interesting challenge. It was tough going uphill because my feet would get stuck in the mud and then downhill was a bit slippery and so I had to focus to stay upright. It was a little more climbing to the next aid station that was fully stocked with water, sports drink, GU, candies and salty snacks. Then it was a detour to the out and back section that was added to the route with the course change. More mud, more small rolling hills, and then the turn around to head back to the loop. The rest of the loop back to the first aid station was packed dirt and was overall downhill but there was one slippery muddy portion. Hetch Hetchy Trail led back to the aid station and it was a right turn to get back on the course where we had been before but this time had to share with the 5k walkers. It was a tight fit since the trail was muddy and it seemed like everyone was avoiding the mud. Some quick maneuvering got me past the 5k walkers and onto the loop again. The second time around the loop I was able to push a little more since I knew what was ahead. Some of the muddy areas were better because there was some areas that were packed down after the 10k and half marathon runners had passed through. After the second loop and to the intersection where the main aid station was it was a left turn back towards the finish. There was very little mud for the rest of the route, it was mostly packed dirt with rolling hills and then paved trail back to the finish. Soon after passing through the finish I got my finisher's medal, then water and postrace food. As always with Brazen races there was plenty of post race snacks such as fruit, bagels, coffee, hot chocolate, water, cookies, candy, ice cream, etc. Age group medals could be picked up from the awards table once results were posted. The mud made for a fun and difficult race and the fact that the rain stayed away was great. Hopefully more trail half marathons to come.

Race Results
Race Photos
Brazen Racing Website
Embrace Running Podcast #11: Badger Cove