Sunday, May 14, 2017

"Training" for a Half!

That title is supposed to be a joke/pun of sorts - I think I read somewhere that the best jokes/puns are those that need to be explained.

The Brazen Racing Western Pacific event has a train for its mascot. Training is something I have been failing at recently, so running a race that involves a train (even if it's just the image of a train) charging down the trails made me reach a long ways for that title.

This was also a bit of a momentous race for me - it was going to be the first time since November of 2015 that I would be doing races of at least Half Marathon distance on consecutive weekends. I was a bit surprised by that statistic - it's not all that meaningful but I would have bet money that I had accomplished this at least once last year. (It was also going to be my 13th racing weekend in a row, so it's not like I've been spending all my time eating Pringles and watching Monkees reruns, although, there was a lot of that too.)

The course is not too challenging to follow - it's basically a lollipop with a bit of the stick exposed at the top of the candy, but the proper bit of the stick goes on forever. It's pretty much flat on wide gravel trails, with some bonus pavement in the middle. 

"How many of you think you could beat that "Little Engine that Could? Not That, put your hand down."
Note the blue sky and sunshine. This is a course that can really do you in with heat - it's mostly exposed, and that long out-and-back bit forces you to deal with the sun and wind relentlessly. But today was pretty cool, so overheating did not appear likely.

And we are off! Don't fall in the lake!
Of the four distances offered at this race (5K, 10K, Half Marathon, and the Full Marathon that's also an official Boston qualifier), the Half had the most runners. Because of the Full going on, it meant the Half runners had no real cutoff to worry about, which, combined with the flatness and many aid stations, makes this an attractive first Half.

"Hi Acire, not your real name!" I like how it looks like this is a prison aid station. 
A kind of fun thing about how the course is laid out is that we spend time running along a fence that separates us from the long out-and-back bit. I got to see a number of friends running the Full that were about three miles ahead of me.

"Which way do I go?" There were some turns, but they all had volunteers to make sure you headed the right way.
"Which way do I go?" 
The first and last part of the course is spent hanging around Quarry Lakes.

"Hey Nafets, not your real name, I can't believe I caught you!"
There was no early start option, as happens at most Brazen races, so I got to see some runners that I don't normally see.

This looks a lot more chaotic than it really was. We turned right here and started on the "stick."
The first aid station was at about mile 1.8. We would see this aid station later. In my case, much later.

"He Racso Rj, not your real name, which way do I go?"
At this point, we left the lake area and started on the long trail along Alameda Creek.

The "prison" aid station. Acire giving me the boot.
Our second aid station was at mile 3.3, and also served as the 10K turnaround.

Almost all of our climbing was due to going under these overpasses.

"Hi Eiram, not your real name!"
The third aid station was at about mile 4.6. As much as I whine about how exposed this bit of trail is, you'll note that there are also a lot of trees providing shade.

"Which way do I go?"
There is an odd stretch randomly in the middle of the long out-and-back where the trail is paved and includes a bit where you borrow this road's bridge to cross a creek.

The fourth aid station was at about mile 6.75. This aid station was great for two reasons: It was the Half turnaround and it had a porta-pottie (of which I took advantage). A third reason was that the lead Full runner just happened to pass through as I filled my bottle.

This was the end of the stick, so most of the rest of my race was retracing my steps back to that first aid station.

There were little lizards in those rocks that enjoyed making fun of us runners. Well, maybe just me.
The trail along the creek isn't my favorite - on the left are people's backyards - but the creek is pleasant to look at.

The little boy was a bit alarmed that his mother was cheering on the runners and offering high-fives. I think the smell of us was getting to him.
This is a popular trail with the normal people that live around here, and it was fun to see so many of them out walking their dogs.

The fifth aid station (was third) at about mile 9.1.

Racso, Htenaj, and Acire (not their real names) trying to get me to peel them a few grapes.
The sixth aid station (was the prison second) at about mile 10.3.

"Hey Racso Rj and Les, not your real names, I'm back! Which way do I go?"
This is where we turned left and headed back into the lake area. (Full runners kept going on a bonus out-and back.)

"Hi there Kasi, not your real name! That's a lot of cups!"
The seventh, and final, aid station (was the first) at about mile 11.7. The end of the stick and back to the lollipop bit.

If you look really hard, you can see the finish arch over there. It was also starting to warm up a bit.

"Which way do I, oh never mind - I think I'll just hang here at the party!"
At this point, I was about 200 yards from being done. I was really tired and so thrilled to be so close.

A fun thing - as I was slogging up the small hill to this chute, the winner of the women's Full blasted past me! So cool that I got to see her finish!

And that's about it. The race went pretty good for me - certainly better than I had any right to expect, with a sub-2:43 finish. I did end up with a weird blister (for me, anyway) on the back of my right heel, but beyond that, I was fine - just really tired.

This event requires a ton of volunteers, and they made it so fun. (Well, except for the whole grape peeling thing.) A huge THANKS to them and Brazen for putting on this event!

My second Half in two weeks went surprisingly well. Next weekend will push me even further as I go for my third Half in three weekends. And it will be a bit of a challenging course with actual hills.

I'm not sure what I was thinking.

That's it - move along…

PS: You can see more of my pictures from this race here.

No comments: