Saturday, December 28, 2013

Brazen New Year’s Eve Half Marathon

It seems like I just ran a race here.  Like last month or so.  Oh yeah, I did.  This weekend was Brazen’s New Year’s Eve half marathon at Lake Chabot.  

After a less-than-stellar morning awakening, I arrived tired, and unfortunately without enough sleep.  It was cold!  Lots of frost on the ground, but sunny.  After checking in and a brief stretch and warmup, we started the half.  It was a fairly large and energetic crowd too.  Recalling a number of runs here, we headed out on the east shored trail, which is paved for quite a while. It was far easier this time around, although my legs felt tired right from the outset, starting with my calves.  I picked up some new road-friendly trail shoes specifically for running races in this park, as my usual trail running shoes don’t handle pavement at all well.  This was the first time running a race with them, and it made the course overall much more comfortable.  Skipping the first aid station, we rounded the small hill loop before crossing the rather bouncy and oddly designed wooden bridge.  The bigger crowd made the bridge hard to run on, as I was in and out of phase with the bridge’s bouncing this time.  Different from my last race here, we then rounded a corner and headed straight up to the ridge.

Photo from Brazen.

I backed off running uphill a fair amount from this point, saving the tired calves for later in the race, as well as another event only a handful of days away.  At the top of the hill was the next aid station, and I grabbed a cookie and some fruit.  We then followed the ridge for a while, and the course made a number of switchbacks on this longest stretch of the course.  There’s a lot more uphill on this course than I had really paid attention to when looking at it, as there were a number of decent climbs along this stretch that added up.  We eventually dropped down to the stone bridge, which is the current end point of my long runs from home, and the course headed south up the ridge along the west side of the park.  

We came to the third aid station, and here’s where I needed a lot of water/electrolyte/etc.  We would be in sunlight for the rest of the course, which would be mostly the same as my last race here.  It’s a nice stretch of rolling hills on trail and pavement, along the west side of the lake.  The shallow water, overhead sunlight, and likely the time of year, made the water clear enough to see the bottom of the lake quite clearly from the course.  By this point my calves felt good, but my quads were just too tired to push my speed much, likely due to a hard bike ride on Friday.  Going out on a hard bike ride the day before a race is hardly the best idea for maximizing race performance, but I was antsy about getting a good ride in, since I had to hold back effort on riding for a couple weeks.  Priorities.  :-)  

There was a final aid station not far from the end.  Past this, I slowly picked up effort over the last mile or so, and finally picked it up to a good pace for the last whole tenth of a mile or so.  I finished in 2:33:27, decently six and a half minutes under my target time.  208/391—the entrants as a whole were faster this year.   I noticed the trend, since I pick my target times on non-flat trail races using the distribution of results from a prior run.  Again, another runner had followed me as a pacer most of the way; I seem to do that well.  

Snacks and ice cream and stretching and some cheering for more runners coming in, and it was done.  The course caught me nicely off guard on the amount of elevation--it's good to be surprised when you think you know a park.  In a switch from my expectation, the Brazen course had significantly more elevation than the Coastal course.  This half marathon had about 600 more feet of climbing than the 30k I ran here in November.  And having increased both my training volume and top race distance over the last few months, I felt great, although still tired, after the race was done.  Next time I’ll consider tapering a bit better.  Well, at least I say that now, but I also said that last week about this race.

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