Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Plagued by car trouble and a faulty alarm, my friend Ari and I were nearly no-shows at Brazen Racing’s Bad Bass Lake Chabot in Castro Valley last weekend. Luckily, the event was small enough that even arriving 20 minutes before the gun allowed us ample time to retrieve our bibs, take a bathroom break, complete some dynamic stretching, and free-associate while waiting for the 10k to begin. All in all it was a splendid morning of firsts, and at the end of it I had an It’s-it.
(Thanks to Sarah @craftyxplorer for vouching for these Brazen races and informing me of the snack situation. Honestly, about half the motivation to do this was the prospect of a post-run ice cream sandwich.)
So in addition to food — Lots of goals achieved by finishing this race, none of which were time-oriented.
1) Fulfill a 2014 goal: first 10k race
2) Fulfill a secret bonus 2014 goal: first trail race
3) Continue my streak of 1 race per month since March
Focusing on these milestones alleviated some of the pressure, still I was anxious about the heat, elevation, and of course doing “well” (although I wasn’t sure what that meant in this context, given the unknowns of never racing this distance or practicing on trails). Oddly, coming off a big PR at See Jane Run, I’ve been struggling to stay consistent with my Santa Rosa half training, and thus felt a little under-prepared. I remained consciously non-committal in terms of a strategy other than “have fun,” and to do whatever seemed necessary to tackle the gargantuan godzilla hill at miles 2-3.
Dragging a chatty and fun friend along kept me at ease. I’m so used to standing alone in a corral avoiding eye contact with the pacers, or making awkward jokes to exasperated participants, just itchy to get running. Unsurprisingly, buddying up was much more entertaining, even if I performed the actual racing part solo — BIG congrats to my talented friend who finished 5th place overall and won his age group with no training and those goofy Tarahumara Born to Run sandals — seriously!
Mile 1 + 2 — 8’57” / 9’10”
After quickly getting ditched by Ari on his way to glory, I lagged behind some kid and slower runners, but it was actually my fastest split at just under 9 min pace. By the time I hit the second mile marker I remembered the mountain looming ahead, felt the heat a bit (it was maybe in the mid-seventies but we SF runners are very sensitive…), and kept things easy. I’d gun it in the second half if I felt like it (spoiler: I didn’t).
Mile 3 + 4 — 14’53” / 10’26”
Holy hill! It was what you might expect for a 700+ foot climb in 1 mile. Steep. Felt long. Wasn’t that easy. Everyone around me complaining. My power walking was on-point, and I actually passed a few people on the way up. I watched the leaders come back looking happy to be on the descent, and indeed I hit the turnaround encouraged and feeling speedy. In reality I managed the downhill pretty gingerly, which I’ll attribute to inexperience with the trail racing and poor technique overall. And fear of falling.
Mile 5 + 6 — 9’37” / 9’35”
Upon returning to the flats I felt my energy drain and my positivity weaken. These. Miles. Sucked. I leapfrogged with a couple of seriously overdressed dudes who seemed to be hurting as well, which wasn’t helping me mentally. “Just don’t let any women pass you,” I thought (and stuck to this). But man was this a long 20 minutes. I took a couple of short walk breaks to get my head together, stopped at the final aid station to dump a cold cup of water on my head. Kept reminding myself that this was supposed to be my fun race. Fun?! I was surprised to see these miles at under 10’00” paces. I was certain that I was totally blowing it.
I hallelujahed at the 6 mile marker and willed myself a little boost, getting up to about an 8’00” pace for the home stretch. My initial excitement turned to grumpiness when I realized that this was in no way only 350 yards to the finish line and indeed results revealed a long course of 6.4 miles.
Shockingly, I took 4th in my age group out of 35 participants! It’s not 5th place overall (jesus), but I’ll take it! 🙂
The race organization was totally awesome (and actually kind of woke me up to the chintziness of See Jane Run. Sorry. I enjoyed that race but other than the booze there were not a lot of perks, or even basic amenities – like easily available water at the finish!) Brazen’s pre-race email correspondence (I had questions about race day registration, followed by a very speedy response and helpful information from the director), bib pickup, shirt and medals, the deluxe spread of edible goodies, the beautiful course…5 stars. I’ve discovered through other blogs and reviews that killing it on organization is just Brazen’s par for the course, to which I thank and congratulate the volunteers and organizers on another successful event! Can’t wait for the next one (although I’ll be icing my ankles first. Gotta work on those stabilizer muscles!)