Oakland

Canyon Meadow Trail Half Marathon

Canyon Meadow….. such a nice name. It conjures peaceful green fields of wildflowers lilting gently in the spring breeze. It belies the hard race of the same name. Coastal Trail Runs put on this race yesterday, June 16th in the gorgeous Oakland hills and I took part in the half marathon distance. What a hard and fun course it was!

Canyon Meadow Race

Beautiful views were to be had throughout the race

My friend picked me up at 6:00am and we rode to the East Bay with hardly any traffic on the road. If only travel was this easy all the time! The start and end was in the Chabot Science Center’s parking lot, right in the Oakland Hills next to Roberts Recreational Area. I’ve lived in the Bay Area all my life and have never been in this part of the East Bay. It just goes to show how much there is to do here. It was a slightly chilly morning that blossomed into a warm day. The morning clouds evaporated, leaving bright sunshine.

The day included a 5K, a Half Marathon, a 30K, a Marathon and a 50K. 400 people signed up in all, which is considered a large crowd for trail racing. There are hundreds of trails here, some easy and some very difficult. This course included all kinds. As you can see by the picture of the half’s terrain, the first part was mostly downhill, then flat, then mostly uphill. That one steep uphill….it was a KILLER!!! About a half mile straight up, that tested all of our lungs, legs and hearts.

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Beast of a hill around Mile 8!!

I am not a fast runner, at all and on the trails, I slow even more, so I brought up the rear. I wasn’t the last of the half runners, but I was in the back for sure. And I don’t mind. I took a few pictures and helped out a gal who brought water and sugary foods instead of electrolyte mix and salty snacks. She was suffering from bad leg cramps due to loss of salt. I gave her most of my Skratch mix and walked with her a little bit. I offered to walk with her to the next aide station, but she told me she would be ok. She finished about 20 minutes after I did. I hugged and congratulated her, very happy she finished strong!

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The start line

When it’s warm out, it’s a much better idea to drink electrolyte mix and eat things like potato chips, salted potatoes, pretzels, mustard, dill pickle juice, etc than chews, Gu or anything sweet. Your body is losing tons of salt, so if you don’t replace it, your body will tell you and it’s no fun.

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These trails cannot be beat!

The course was superbly beautiful, one of the best trails I’ve ever run on. It was challenging and ever changing. It was mostly well-marked, there was only a couple times when I questioned which way to go, but I didn’t get lost, so that’s a plus!

My friend and I finished about a minute apart and enjoyed a great lunch in Berkeley after the race. I’m very proud of my effort, even though I hadn’t really trained for this one, all of my training going for the 6-hour endurance race I did a couple weeks ago. I’d like to do this one again, but this time, get some real work in beforehand.

Enjoy your running, enjoy the outdoors! Keep Moving Forward

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SF BAY BRIDGE RUN

Last Sunday, I ran on the newly opened San Francisco Bay Bridge bike/run path. It’s a little over 4 miles each way and goes all the way to Treasure Island. The way to the island is flat for 2 miles and then a very gradual incline for 2 miles.

Once at the Island, the running path isn’t open yet, but it looked like they were working on it. Hopefully it will be opened in the next couple of months.

This is a great course, easily accessible by car or BART to MacArthur Station and then the free Emeryville Shuttle to the shopping mall. I really enjoyed my run and will do this again in the next few weeks.

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The Bay Bridge Path 

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The only part left of the old Bay Bridge

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Treasure Island ahead

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Treasure Island from the Bridge 

Look forward to more runs and more posts!

Cheers!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oakland Half Marathon

Oakland Half Marathon, March 20, 2016

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View of West Oakland & San Francisco from my hotel room

I had planned on running the full marathon, but to my surprise, I was mortal and unable to get in the training necessary in three months, so I switched races down to the Half three weeks before race day.

Leading up to race day, I was extremely apprehensive. I suffered from an earache, which luckily, wasn’t infected, but was quite painful. It still is, although it is getting better. I don’t have a cold, so I think it might be allergy or hay fever-related. Every time I chew too hard or talk too much, it hurts. But, life continues…

I made plans to stay at the Marriott in Oakland. They had a great group rate and it was close enough to the start/finish. What a beautiful hotel! The rooms are lovely, a little small, but perfect for me. The staff was outstanding and the amenities were superb.

I was able to check in early which is always a HUGE bonus! I dropped off my bag and scurried down to the Race Expo in the hall on the ground floor. It was pretty good, not the largest I’ve ever seen, but it was cool.

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Pre-race Snow Park

The Half started at 9:10am Sunday. Everything happened at Snow Park close to Lake Merritt. I walked to the start, about a half mile from the hotel and passed some of the marathon runners already on their course. I cheered and clapped and encouraged them. There were a few spectators, but it was pretty quiet. In fact, on most of the course it was very quiet, one of the quieter races I’ve done, spectator-wise. Oakland just doesn’t get up early, I suppose.

Snow Park is a nice urban green refuge in a financial neighborhood of Oakland. There were lots of vendor booths, refreshments, sponsors, bag drop-offs and other things as well as lots and lots of porto-bathrooms.

The 13.1-mile course is flat, with only a couple very small and short uphills and most of it was well-marked, except for one bit after the third mile. There was some confusion that caused around 30 of us to run too far in the wrong direction. I lost about .3 miles because of it. Other than that, though, I like the course. I enjoyed the Taiko drummers, the Capoeira experts and the blues band. I especially liked the burning arch The Crucible created.

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The Crucible Arch 

My favorite part, even though it was my most difficult part, was running around Lake Merritt. It really is beautiful. Around miles Eight through 10, my right IT band started bugging me and I had to walk a couple times. And then, as we had about a mile and a half left to run, it started pouring! It rained like it never rained before! The weirdest part is it only lasted about five minutes and stopped as soon as it started. As I turned into the last mile, I gathered up all my reserved energy, what little there was and pushed myself to finish running and running just a little bit faster. That was fun!

I gave it all on that course. It wasn’t my best race, but it was a great time. I’m thinking I will do the full Oakland Marathon next year. Why not?