February 26, 2012

Coyote Hills

This weekend we got outdoors and spent some time at Coyote Hills Regional Park in Fremont, CA. The trip was two fold. We wanted to do some trail running, and also to pick up our 2012 Trails Challenge T-Shirts. The shirts are light blue this year and not bad looking. See our previous post for more information about the trails challenge. As for our run we stuck to the Bayview Trail and then tackled the climb up Red Hill Trail. Only had a chance to take a couple quick pictures.

Trails Challenge Shirt

Related Information:
Trails Challenge 2012
Coyote Hills Bike Ride
East Bay Regional Park District Website

February 19, 2012

Rock 'n' Roll Pasadena Half Marathon

We ran in our second Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon. This time it was the inaugural event in Pasadena. We didn't decide to participate until just a few weeks before the race. Having had a good experience at the Rock 'n' Roll Arizona Half Marathon and knowing that we could just drive down to Pasadena over the  holiday weekend we decided to register. Knowing we would get a special double medal after completing the two races was a little added motivation. When we registered we had the option to purchase a parking pass for the race for $10, we paid for one parking pass. Since the start and finish were at the Rose Bowl there wouldn't need to be any transportation from one to the other. We had never been to Pasadena so we were looking forward to spending some time there. The day before the race we went to the race expo at the Pasadena Convention Center. We paid for parking at one of the public garages and made a short walk to the expo. Bib, shirt and parking pass pick-up were all very well organized and easy. It was very similar to the set-up in Arizona. We then picked up our race bags that would double as our sweatbags and then walked through the merchandise area. There was race merchandise and Brooks merchandise. After this we made our way into the health and fitness expo itself. When we got to this area we were very surprised. Although there were booths with food samples and gear, there really weren't many. It was about a third of the size of the Arizona expo. There weren't that many giveaways or that many interesting booths.  A large portion of the expo was taken up by the Dodge advertisement, Dodge being one of the main sponsors. There was a section advertising future RNR races with computers for people to register for them at a discount. We made it through the expo fairly quickly. We had time after to walk through downtown Pasadena and do some shopping. We headed back to our hotel early and got our gear and food ready for race day.
Race morning we had to get up really early because we had to be parked at
the lot before 6:30am, an hour before the race start. It took us only about 15 minutes to get to the Rose Bowl area from our hotel and we were among many cars making their way to the designated lots. We ended up in a car line that got us to the parking lot closest to the race start. We actually parked very close to the start and the corrals. We could actually see the corral numbers from inside our car. Since it was so early we stayed in the car for a while, and those around us did the same thing. We slowly got our gear ready, ate and made a few bathroom stops before it was time to head to the corrals. It was really great that we were so close that we could just wait in our car longer than usual. As usual with RNR races there were portapotties, prerace food with bagels and water, and UPS trucks for sweatbag check. We had planned to check a bag but didn't since we parked so close. With the Pasadena race being an inaugural event there were only ten start corrals. For comparison RNR Arizona had over twenty. We lined up in our designated areas and got ready for the start. The race began on time. It took us out of the Rose Bowl and into the surrounding neighborhoods. Even though the street was closed it was narrow for a race start and it was difficult to get around people.
The street went uphill so many people slowed down. The course then went out of the residential area and into Old Pasadena via a more significant uphill . We crossed a bridge and went onto Colorado Blvd, a main street through town. We had driven through some of this area the day before when exploring the town so it was nice to see it from a different perspective. Miles three through nine took us up and then back down the main street with three out and backs along the way. When we first saw the race course we weren't excited about the shorter out and backs, it just seemed like an easy way to add mileage to the course. When we actually ran the race we ended up really liking the out and backs since we were able to see several other fellow runners that we wouldn't have had the chance to see otherwise. When we were headed out on the main street we were able to see the race leaders coming back on the opposite side of the street. It's rare in a half marathon that you get to see the leaders and it was very exciting and motivating. We definitely liked that about the course. Right after the last out and back the route led us back onto the main street where we were able to see even more runners. These several miles were rolling hills, nothing too steep. We ran across the beautiful Colorado Bridge, which is on our finishers medal. Then it was a short steep climb before a steep downhill where we went under an overpass. We were then back to the residential area before we got back to the Rose Bowl area. The last few miles consisted of a loop around the Rose Bowl. These last few miles seemed to be the toughest. RNR races typically have bands along the course but I don't remember seeing any in the last few miles and there really weren't many spectators here either. Plus the first mile by the stadium was a consistent incline before we got to go downhill towards the finish. Finally we could hear the music from the finish line.
There was great crowd support as we crossed the finish line. There were volunteers giving us our finishers medal along with water and gatorade too. Then we were all divided into different chutes to take our official finisher photo before getting to the postrace food. Here was another obvious difference between this race and Arizona. While there were energy bars, bagels and fruit, it was much more limited than the Arizona race. Maybe in several years it will match what is offered postrace at Arizona. There was a medical tent just after the food that was clearly marked with volunteers ready to help. Then there were more volunteers handing out mylar blankets to those that wanted them, one perk that was not done in Arizona. The area with the mylar blankets marked the end of the runner only area and once we walked out there was no re-entering. The course had several water stations, some with sports drinks and one with GU. Medical booths were clearly marked along the course and there were several bikes going up and down the route checking on runners. The gathering area past the finish line was on a big grassy area. There were merchandise and food booths as well as a stage for the race headliner which was Sugar Ray. On the grass there were signs with the letters of the alphabet so that people could plan to meet up with family/friends at a designated letter. After the busy Arizona race we did pick a specific letter to meet up at after this race but since there weren't as many people as we had planned for we didn't actually need it.

The sun was out and it was just slightly warm which was perfect for a race, couldn't have asked for better weather for a February race. We took advantage of the nice weather and sat on the lawn to enjoy Sugar Ray for a few songs before we made the very short walk back to our car and headed out. The Pasadena race was a good race but much smaller than expected which wasn't necessarily a bad thing but it did feel like we missed out on some typical RNR perks. It was well organized and the weather was great but not sure if we would make the drive back down there for this race again. However, with it being our second RNR race, we should be getting a special medal in the mail in a couple of months, can't wait for that.

February 5, 2012

Davis Stampede

We participated in the Davis Stampede for the first time. There was a 5k, 10k and half marathon. It was the 30th annual event so there were a few special perks. They included a finishers medal for all three distances, age group medals that were 5 deep instead of the usual 3, post race pancake breakfast, post race beer, personalized bib numbers for those who registered by a certain date and pacers for the half marathon. The half marathon is part of the California Half Marathon Series where you complete 4 of the half marathons in the series including the championship race in Walnut Creek in order to receive a special series medal. Anyways back to the race. We participated in the 5k and the half marathon. All three courses were flat. Race registration fees ranged from $27 to $55 depending on the distance and registration deadlines. There was also an option to upgrade from the typical cotton shirt to a technical fabric t-shirt for $5. We opted for upgrade. More on the shirts later. There was early bib pickup for a few days leading up to the race at the local Fleet Feet. There was also race day pick up starting at 7am. The event was based at Central Park which is downtown, with parking available on the streets and on in a few public parking lots in the area. We made sure we left with plenty of time to look for parking and glad we did because we had just enough time to do everything we needed to do before the race. As we drove to the race and got close to the freeway exit we found cars were backed up onto the freeway.

There is really only one exit off of the freeway to get to downtown Davis so we just sat and waited. It was stop and go but traffic moved a bit quicker than we had expected. Once off of the freeway there wasn't a back up on the city streets so we drove through some of the downtown streets and found parking a few blocks away from the race. Once at Central Park we picked up or bibs which contained the disposable timing chip attached to the back of the bib. Shirt pick up had a long line so we split up, one took the bibs to pick up our shirts and the one with the earlier race start stood in the bathroom line. There were several portapotties but there should have been more. We had heard in the days leading up to the race that the technical shirts were way too small. The race did offer shirt exchanges on race day as available. When we picked up the shirts we noticed that the womens shirt defnitely ran small. I had to exchange mine to a men's size because the women's larger sizes were out, probably because so many people were exchanging for the larger sizes. Unfortunately we assumed that the mens sizes were fine until we got home and realized that the mens ran small too, darn it, too late to exchange.
The start line was right by the park and the 10k and half marathon races started together at 8am, although we started a few minutes late because of some problems with the timing system. There were pacers for the half marathon and I lined up between the two that I thought I would finish between. We took off on the downtown streets of Davis and at first had a tough time maneuvering around people that really should have started further back. It took about a mile and a half for people to really spread out. At about half a mile we went right and saw a sign where the 5k runners were to turn left. We ran alongside railroad tracks through an industrial area of Davis. Not a great view but I've have gotten used to these sights on half marathons. There wasn't a mile marker at mile one but there was one at every mile after that. Just after mile two we turned left and the 10k participants had to make a sharp turn to go across an overpass while I continued straight before turning onto a gravel path. The course took us on a loop around some parks and schools on concrete, which I was happy to be off of when we did a loop on loose gravel around a golf course. After this the course took us back to where we split from the 10k participants and then it was my turn to climb up the overpass. The rest of the half marathon course was the same as the 10k course, heading back onto a bike path before being back in downtown and the finish. This bike path was my favorite part of the course because it was paved, flat and had some shaded areas. Once back in downtown it was just a few turns before crossing the finish line. There were water stations about every 2 miles on the half marathon course with one having cliff bars and sports beans. There were also a few portapotties along the course. The course was well marked with many ROTC volunteers keeping us on course.
The 5k course was basically a big loop around the downtown area. There was one water stop which seemed a little early as compared to other races.
Finishers medals were handed out right after the finish line. After the race there was water, gatorade and fruit. The pancake breakfast was a short walk from the finish but just like everything else there was a long line. The pancakes were fresh and good. There was a booth with coconut water-my favorite. Needless to say I made several stops at that booth. There were a few other booths as well, typical of what you see at other races. The 5k race results were up but results for 10k and half marathon were still missing so we made the walk towards our car, stopping at Fleet Feet. We made the stop at the store because they were having a New Balance giveaway. We got a pair of socks and a plastic cup. We made our way to the car and parked about a block from the event and checked the half marathon results before heading home.

Race Results
Race Website
California Half Marathon Series

February 1, 2012

February Events

Here are a few things going on in February:

2/4   Gumby 5k and 10 in Folsom
2/4   Dirty Duathlon in Folsom
2/5   Kaiser Permanente 5k and Half Marathon in San Francisco
2/5   Super Bowl Sunday Run 10k in Sacramento
2/5   Super Sunday Relay in Modesto
2/11 Valentine Run 1.8 mile and 4 mile in Sacramento
2/18 Bay Breeze 5k, 10k and Half Marathon in San Leandro
2/18 Escape from Folsom Run 5k and 10 mile
2/18 Double Duathlon in Folsom
2/25 Almond Blossom Run 1mile and 8k
2/26 Getty Owl Run 5k and 10k in Sacramento

REI Free Clinics (all at 7pm)
  Great Canyon Hikes of the Colorado Plateau
    2/7   Fremont
    2/9   Brentwood
    2/15 Concord
    2/23 Dublin
  Muir Ramble Route: San Francisco to Yosemite
    2/21  Saratoga
    2/23  Berkeley
  Snowcamping Basics
    2/2   Brentwood
    2/8   Berkeley
  Southeast Alaska by Kayak
    2/23 Mountain View
    2/29 San Francisco
  World Travel 101: Tips for Independent Travel on a Budget
    2/8   San Franicsco
    2/21 Fremont

REI Used Gear Sales (all at 10am)
  2/4   Berkeley
  2/4   Concord
  2/4   Mountain View
  2/4   San Francisco
  2/4   Saratoga
  2/5   Fremont