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Lake Chabot Trail Challenge - RunHalf Marathon

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Castro Valley, California
United States
Golden Bay Runners
Total Time = 2h 25m 32s
Overall Rank = 184/243
Age Group = 35-39
Age Group Rank = 11/14
Pre-race routine:

I didn't get much sleep the night before (maybe three hours?), but I felt all right when I woke up. I left the apartment at 6:30 and tried to find a place for coffee, but no luck. It was a quick drive to Castro Valley, plenty of parking, and I had my number and was ready to go before 7 a.m. I ate a Luna bar on the drive -- I've decided to quit with the Clif bars because they're so heavy and I have to force myself just to eat half of one -- and grabbed a cup of black coffee at registration. After getting my number I walked back to my car to dump my backpack and ended up chatting with a woman who was running the 5k. I missed having my usual cheer squad at this race, but it was kind of nice to be there alone and get a chance to talk to the other runners.

I hit the bathroom once before starting, but the coffee wasn't really doing it's job. This would be a problem later.
Event warmup:

Nothing. I haven't reached a point yet where I'm ready to do a warmup for a 13-mile run -- the first couple of miles are my warmup. I spent much of the pre-race time standing with other runners studying the scary-looking elevation chart (it's at the bottom of the RR).
  • 2h 25m 32s
  • 13.1 miles
  • 11m 07s  min/mile

Unlike my last race, I did plan to *race* this one, although I had no clue what that meant since this course is billed as "very challenging." I couldn't find a good course map or an elevation chart online so I didn't have any strategy, and I'd been feeling off all week -- sluggish on my runs and dealing with stomach issues. Plus, this was a C race for me, and I was running it mostly as preparation for the SF Half Marathon in July.

My Garmin hasn't been working and there weren't any mile markers on the course so I was running totally blind. I went out pretty conservatively, knowing that the first major hill -- the biggest hill of the race, a 600-foot-plus climb over a mile -- would be coming up quick. Even the "small" hills early in the race were significant, but I was powering up them just fine. Somewhere in the second mile or so there was a really fun suspension bridge that you had to cross single file. It was so bouncy!

Shortly after the bridge we hit the hill. This thing was scary -- before the race, it was all anyone could talk about, pretty much. It goes on forever and long sections of it are incredibly steep. I was determined to "run" the whole thing. While I can't honestly say I was *running*, I definitely did not *walk* any of it. There were long stretches where I was literally the only person not-walking and I passed a ton of people on this hill. It was really tough and I'm proud of myself for pushing through it. I think strategically it was the right choice -- I got up the hill faster than if I'd walked it and I felt strong and ready to really run when I finally reached the top. I'd worried about both factors, especially the latter; I didn't want to blow up by running the hill just to make a point.

At the top of the hill, at 4.4 miles, was the first aid station. I grabbed some water (with ice!) and Gatorade and took several swallows of each. I decided to skip the bathroom here. I was having some very, very mild GI issues but I was hoping they'd go away, and if they didn't, I figured I'd just make a stop at the next aid station. Mistake!

The next four miles were a blast, mostly. It was a lot of downhill on gorgeous trails -- beautiful trees, occasional views of the bay, quiet and peaceful, shady and nice-smelling and everything I love about hiking and trails. On one quarter-mile downhill a woman came up behind me and ran right on my heels, which was annoying. Was she drafting off me? I can't imagine it would help much. But the trail was wide and there was no reason for her to run so close behind me. When she finally ran up alongside me she sort of apologized for sticking so close and we ended up chatting for a while.

During this section I started to feel my right IT band act up, like it was getting stiff, near my hip. It wasn't painful, just sort of distracting. The discomfort only lasted a mile or so.

At around the halfway point the course went by a shooting range, which was both fun and stressful. I kind of like loud noises, so that was entertaining, but on one really steep uphill the trail was very close to the range and the shots were super loud. Every time someone fired my heart jumped. Not what I needed!

Around this time the GI issues started becoming a bit more demanding and I was looking forward to the next aid station and, hopefully, a bathroom. So when we finally got there, at about 8.5 miles, I was pretty disappointed to see no bathroom. Yikes! I wasn't in trouble, exactly, but I was kind of uncomfortable. Oh well, what can you do. I grabbed a little more water and Gatorade and moved on.

The next few miles went by pretty fast -- the trail by now was mostly easy rollers. The uphills were still pretty steep, but at least they were short. Runners were pretty spread out but every now and then I'd run alongside someone and we'd chat a little. Everyone was so nice and supportive, and I liked the "we're all in this together" mentality, which was the same for Tilden, but everyone was so miserable during that race and there wasn't a lot of chit-chat. I saw several people who'd done the Tilden race, and we talked a little about the trail running series (although no one brought up the third race in two weeks, which is supposed to be the most difficult). Everyone agreed that this race was easier than the Tilden one, if only because the heat was so bad at Tilden.

At about mile 10 the trail looped back toward the lake and *finally* I saw a bathroom. Yay! I made a quick stop and felt so much better. I was glad to be out running again. When I hit the last aid station I heard a volunteer tell another runner that it was only 1 1/2 miles to the finish so I decided to skip the stop. Another mistake -- I'm sure it's just mental, but my energy started flagging big-time and I feel like a swallow or two of Gatorade would've helped.

Still, the last mile or so went by fast and then I was making the turn to the finish. It was weird because there were tons of people in this section -- the lake is popular and lots of families were there -- but no one was paying any attention to the race. Although I did get one high-five from a little kid.

I saw The Boy at the finish line and gave him a grin, and I was smiling so big when I crossed that the volunteers made some joke about me not trying hard enough. Heh. They were probably right.
What would you do differently?:

I'd track down an elevation chart and actually come up with a strategy for this run. I think I could have hit it a lot harder in the middle -- I definitely had a lot left in me by the time I got to the finish. I think I could have worked the downhills a lot harder and sped up when I was feeling fresh and strong, which was most of the race.

As I said in my training log, this was a sucky race for me but a very good training run. I think with a decent strategy and just pushing myself harder I could have shaved off at least five minutes. But I'm really happy with the way I handled the hills, and that I felt strong and comfortable the whole time. This was a really tough race but I came out feeling pretty damn good. This was the first race where I felt like my recent training paid off, especially all the hill work.
Post race
Warm down:

I found the boy and drank a bottle of water and a Hansen's soda, and ate a few orange slices. We decided to stick around for the raffle and awards ceremony. On the very last raffle item they called a number and the person wasn't there, so I waved and got the attention of one of the volunteers, and she smiled and called my number. Yay! I "won" movie tickets and a race bag (which I totally don't need, but whatever). I stretched a lot and walked a little and ate a giant breakfat a couple hours later.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Mostly my head.

Event comments:

I was a little worried going into this race that it wasn't going to be very well organized. The race changed hands this year, from the Golden Bay Runners, which had run it for 25 years, to the Castro Valley Track Club.

The new website was short on information. Most notably, the website said there would be three aid stations, but it didn't say where they'd be or what would be available. There was a course map, but it was too small to really be useful, and there were five aid stations marked. Plus, there was no elevation chart, which for a race known to be especially hilly would have been useful.

So yeah, going in I was worried that it wouldn't be very well organized, but my concerns were unfounded. They had all the information we needed at the start area and the organizers were very nice and cheerful and helpful. There were plenty of volunteers to direct traffic on the trails, and considering how maze-like the course is, everything was very clearly marked and easy to follow. They could have used another aid station (in previous years they had five aid stations, vs. three now), but it wasn't a problem for me.

All in all, a great race. A beautiful course, challenging but not awful, and really nice volunteers and runners. I definitely want to do this one again.

Profile Album

Last updated: 2009-02-09 12:00 AM
02:25:32 | 13.1 miles | 11m 07s  min/mile
Age Group: 11/14
Overall: 184/243
Performance: Average
Course: Very hilly run, mostly on fire trails, although they're more like wide hiking trails than fire trails, in my opinion. Beautiful course but *tough*.
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Below average
Mental exertion [1-5] 3
Physical exertion [1-5] 3
Good race? Ok
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? No
Post race activities: Average
Race evaluation [1-5] 4

2009-06-08 8:57 PM

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Berkeley, Calif.
Subject: Lake Chabot Trail Challenge

2009-06-09 1:59 PM
in reply to: #2203878

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Extreme Veteran
Subject: RE: Lake Chabot Trail Challenge
Sounds like a fun one Erin. Your report is really great too...I want to run with you now. You'd leave me in the dust of course but still... Nice job!
2009-06-09 7:11 PM
in reply to: #2203878

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Liverpool, New York
Subject: RE: Lake Chabot Trail Challenge
Yikes!  what a tough course!

great job Erin

2009-06-09 7:28 PM
in reply to: #2203878

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West Chester, Ohio
Subject: RE: Lake Chabot Trail Challenge

Holy Moly those elevation charts would have scared me if I had seen them pre race!  GREAT JOB!!

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