Monday, February 27, 2012

Chillin' at Chabot

This past weekend I revisited a course I ran twice in a row for Brazen Racing's New Years Eve/New Years Day half marathons. I think since I had already run on these trails for 5 hours within a single weekend, I felt much more confident going into Inside Trail's Lake Chabot 30K than CTR's Steep Ravine (my first ever 30K).

Mike picked me up that morning at not nearly dark o'clock (the sun was actually up!) and we headed towards Lake Chabot for our 30K. The weather was PERFECT. The highs for the day were in the low 60s with slight wind and sunshine, sunshine, sunshine. We got started right on time at 8:30AM with a fairly unceremonious 3, 2, 1 GO! start.

The best part of this course was namely that we didn't have to go up the Hill of Horror that we had to deal with during Brazen's race. There was still a LOT of of climbing in ITR's course, but I'm really happy I didn't have to deal with that monster that hit you at mile 3 in Brazen's race.

Here's the elevation map of our course we ran on Saturday for ITR:

The run started out awesomely. You begin on a paved section for the first 3 miles with gently rolling hills that help get your legs warmed up and ready to start putting in some elevation. Then you get to your first major hill at mile 3. I was super proud of myself on this climb, as I was able to do my run 1 minute walk 1 minute strategy. First and last time I was able to do that, haha!

This first 5 miles was so so so pretty. You get to run through some awesome single track areas that take you through the Lake Chabot Regional Park. I got to see two of my favorite things on my run as well. First, I saw a banana slug:

And Lake Chabot's beautiful eucalyptus trees:

I was so happy in my forest-y running habitat I had almost forgotten about one of the most unique aspects of any run through this part of Lake Chabot forest. The frightening, scary, make you run a PR sound of a gun going off! That's right, I had totally forgotten about the gun range that happily disrupts your illusions of running through an area untouched by human hands. After a series of deep BOOMs there were a number of louder shorter bursts which I believe were pistols. Screw bird watching, a great activity at this part of the course is the "guess the gun" game. I think we were even closer to the range on this run than Brazen's, and I definitely high tailed it out of that area.

After running for my life, I was rewarded with an aid station at mile 5! Here I am, happy in the knowledge that I had survived any gun shots and that I had made it over the first of 4 major climbs during the run.

Do you see how happy I am there? That is because I hadn't fallen yet (like I did within the first 5 miles of my first 30K), and it was still nice and cool out. I only drank a small sip from my water so far, which may have been a big mistake, but at the moment I was sweating nicely, feeling strong after my successful first hill, and ready to conquer the next 13 miles.

The next section of the course was completely new to me. This was the "orange" loop extension that adds an additional 5-6 miles onto your run for your full 30K distance. If you have run with me frequently, you know there are four major things I hate to deal with when running:

1. SUN

The orange section of the course had all of these things combined in a nice happy little package. You are essentially running through an entirely exposed meadow with the sun beating down on you and the trail winding, never ending-ly, ahead of you. When I saw that giant meadow I had to run through, the first thing I thought was oh no. MEADOW OF MISERY. When I can see a trail stretched in front of me for a few miles, I tend to enter a state of running depression. However, I was saved by one of the things that I thought would make this section even sadder. The wind! The wind was amazing! It wasn't a heavy wind, but it was really really cool and helped alleviate any of the pain the sun might have brought on.

So, with the wind cooling me off I was able to avoid running sadness. Instead, I started thinking about what this meadow section reminded me of. It was so familiar, and I spent the first 15 minutes wracking my brain trying to figure out why it felt so familiar. And then it hit me. SUPER MARIO KART.

If you ever played Mario Kart on Super Nintendo, you will fondly remember this course:

I had a TON of fun imagining I was Toad, driving my way through this big meadow with its multiple animal holes. I was waiting at any moment for a giant gopher to come out and run with me!

Haha, OK, clearly distance running does not encourage sane thinking while running. But hey, it got me through to the 13 mile mark :) At this point I had completely stopped sweating, so I blame dehydration for my visions.

After the 13 mile mark, we headed back into familiar territory. The third aid station was set up right where the one was set up for Brazen, so that made me feel a lot more comfortable about running the final 4.2 miles. Unfortunately, I was so caught up in my reminiscing about my Brazen race that I took a sharp turn into the forest which Brazen's course followed. I got a few steps in, looked up, and then was like OOPS! Totally turned when I shouldn't have! ITR decided not to take this forest section, so I backtracked a bit and got myself back on course.

The final few miles were a little tough. My legs were definitely starting to feel the 15 miles I had already put in, and I knew there were some more rolling hills in store for me. I walked a few of the last hills, but overall was able to push myself in my last mile and really giving a strong kick to finish strong. Here I am (close to) 3 and a half hours later:

Smile not quite as happy, legs not quite as fresh, and water bottles remarkably empty. This is the dam that you have to cross over before you enter the final couple miles of the race. I really hate this dam. A lot. But I made it over and made it to the finish line! Yippee!

30K number 2 = COMPLETE! This run was a bajillion times better than my last 30K. I didn't feel like I was going to die afterwards, I didn't fall, and I didn't get lost. All things that are equaling to a huge success for my second ever 30K. Not only that, but I scored a 35 minute PR by finishing in 3:35 and I placed 2nd in my age group!! Check out the age group medal:

So happy! This is my FIRST EVER age group medal. I've finally figured out how to place in races... out-last the fast runners in longer distances, haha! Also, there were remarkably few under 29 year olds out there running the 30K or 50K. Works for me!

Congratulations to everyone who ran on Saturday at Lake Chabot, I hope you had as much fun as I did! I also got to see a few friends out there, including Diane and Allen (although I was being incredibly timid and didn't go say hi). Mike also had an amazing run, and got to relax about 40 minutes before I ambled my way across the finish line. It was nice seeing familiar faces at a non-Brazen race. I'll definitely be doing an ITR event again in the future, most likely the Woodside Ramble 50K! They are very organized, the course was well marked, and the aid stations were well stocked.

All in all a great experience, a great morning, and a great run!


  1. You are amazingly inspiring!! Great job and keep up the great work! I'm going to run one of those someday!! :)

    Breezey :)

  2. Thanks Breezey! They are really a lot of fun, and definitely worth the pain!

  3. You did some flying through that course! It was funny how much time I spent trying to remember which bits I had been on from Brazen events and the Golden Hills Marathon I did last fall - there were definitely a LOT of new trails we used for this, which really helped. I not a fan of all the pavement at the start and end, but it's a fairly small part of the course, and once you hit the pavement near the end, you know you are near the end. Hopefully I'll see you at another race soon.